Freeman says, “I’ve been obsessed with home decor most of my life. My mom had done interior decorating work and I had considered going to design school.” But her career took a different path. In 2003, finished with college and graduate school, she moved to Washington. After working as a Hill intern and at a nonprofit, she got a White House job in 2005. She began as a presidential writer and ended as an assistant staff secretary in the West Wing. “Our office was a funnel of information to the Oval Office,” Freeman says. “It was a front seat on history.”
After George W. Bush left office, she moved home to Alabama and did some freelance writing. As she reevaluated life post-White House, the blog was her creative outlet. Meanwhile, she missed Washington. She moved back in January 2011 to work as a congressional aide. Determined to get her own place after a series of group houses, she stumbled upon a teeny studio in a 1940s Capitol Hill building with parquet floors and lots of light. When she unloaded her moving truck, she had only her clothes and a few vintage pieces, and a whole lot of ideas.
Green was a good way to combine two favorite design themes: bold beachy Palm Beach style and chinoiserie, a look defined by fanciful Chinese-inspired furnishings. “My parents had lived in Asia before I was born, so we had some Asian furniture in the house,” she says. In a stroke of good fortune, she located two crates before she left home that contained two 22-inch-tall ceramic green foo dogs that her father had flown back from Saigon, where he served as a Navy pilot in the Vietnam War. On three walls, she used Mythic Paint’s Hanging Vine high-gloss paint that she picked up at Frager’s Hardware and hunted down $20 green ikat pillows from Wisteria.
Even her walk-in closet is a temple of orderliness. Green document boxes from the Container Store hold necklaces and bracelets, and Target plastic stacking drawers lined with wallpaper contain clothes and other accessories. “The problem with a small space is that all your weaknesses are on display,” she says, eyeing a shoe rack of Tory Burch flats. “In this small of an apartment, everything is living space.”
On the wall next to her bed are prints of paintings commissioned for official White House holiday cards during the four years she was at the Bush White House, a traditional annual staff gift from the president. “They are reminders of the Christmas season at the White House, a beautiful and special time,” Freeman says. “This kind of personal memento makes your home an honest reflection of who you are, and not just an anonymous space.”
Naturally, Freeman added her own touch: The prints are displayed in four matching carved gold frames she scored at a hotel liquidation sale for $10 apiece.
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