Condo Living

Hot Hues in Virginia

By Jennifer Barger
Tuesday, May 9, 2006; 10:18 AM

Kristyn Ivey bought her one-bedroom, one-bathroom, 826-square-foot condominium in Alexandria in May of 2004. "But it was kind of standard and boring when I moved in -- everything was builder's beige," she said. "It definitely needed color and an upgrade."

So Ivey, 24, who works for a large consulting firm, set about transforming her place into a hip, color-saturated spot for entertaining pals and, sometimes, burning the midnight oil in her home office. She talked to Express' Jennifer Barger about how she did it.

Remodeling is a Family Affair

"My dad and I refinished and remodeled the whole apartment," said Ivey. Her father put in new cherry floors they purchased at Lumber Liquidators ( and installed dark marble countertops from the Countertop Company ( over new, honeyed wood cabinets in the kitchen. They replaced dated linoleum in the kitchen and bath with sand-colored Italian porcelain tile. Ivey's godfather helped, and her mother pitched in when it came time to paint the walls.

But Come on, Wasn't It Hard?

"Every project my Dad and I would tackle, we'd have a set schedule," remembered Ivey. "But lots of things ran over!" They accidentally ordered kitchen cabinets in the wrong size, "but we eventually figured it out," she said.

Some things came easier, like the South Beach-meets-South of France color scheme. "I wanted something dramatic, so I went to Home Depot and used this computerized paint-coordination system." The computer kiosk spit out a recommended set of hues, which is how Ivey ended up with a purple kitchen and a living room with an Hermes-box orange wall. "I think the warm colors create a modern, young look," said Ivey.

And in the boudoir, "I wanted a tranquil feeling, so I used cool colors -- blues and greens," said Ivey.

Personal Touches

A funky, tall-backed chair in orange velvet sits in the living room like a mod throne. "My parents bought it when they got married," said Ivey. "It reminds me of my family, and people who have sat in it." With racy, wine-colored shades, a pair of her grandmother's lamps got a new lease on light in the bedroom.

Other artful, personal touches: Ivey hung necklaces on the wall, reupholstered a chair with a silk scarf of her mother's and decked her fireplace mantel with dolls she bought on a Caribbean cruise.

Getting Crafty

Ivey made her own headboard, combining denim with pleather. The faux leather also covers the end tables, which flank the bed. "I was thinking of an outfit, maybe one that combined jeans with a neat purse," she said.

Inspired by HGTV, Ivey stained square pieces of plywood different colors and hung them in grid patterns in her dining area.

Spending and Saving

"To get an eclectic look, I mixed bargain pieces with more expensive items," said Ivey. For example, the spiffy khaki sofa comes from Ethan Allen (, but the vibrant, ethnic-looking throw draped over it was a Pier 1 ( steal. She scored the exotic lantern hanging over the orange chair at Marshalls. The curvy drawer pulls and bathroom sink top were eBay deals.

Home Sweet Condo

Now that she's created such a welcoming nest, Ivey said, "I throw parties, I work from home in my office -- I basically do everything here. It's a nice place to relax after working all day."

This article first ran in Express on April 28, 2006.

© 2006 The Washington Post Company