Right now, Nicole Crowder’s dining room is probably filled with chairs, but good luck finding a place to sit. Crowder, 33, uses the space as her in-home studio, where she’s been reupholstering chairs, couches and more for five years — at first as a side gig, and now full time. She also teaches basic reupholstering classes around town — including at The Lemon Collective in Park View, A Creative DC’s Brookland studio and AR Workshop Alexandria — and she created a collection of furniture for West Elm last fall, but most of her business is creating custom pieces for clients. It oftentimes means Crowder’s tasked with turning beloved family items into something a little more 21st century-friendly. “I love trying to marry [a client’s] aesthetic with the history of the piece,” she says. On her dream day, Crowder is stepping out of her Van Ness apartment/studio and hitting the road.
I’m such an early bird. I like getting up early and having a nice breakfast at Open City. It’s right down the street from me. They [used to have] this migas dish there that I love: It’s eggs and it has salsa and tortilla. I really like savory foods for breakfast.
I’m a big road-tripper. I love on the weekends, especially, getting out of the city for a bit. So I would take a few of my girlfriends and we would just road-trip out to Butler’s Orchard for a morning of picking peaches, tomatoes and berries. Butler’s Orchard is in Germantown, Md. — it’s so beautiful. It’s really lush, and they have this huge orchard that’s just nothing but raspberries. I am a farmer’s granddaughter to the core, so anytime I can walk around barefoot in the grass through orchards, I’m doing all of that.
I really love being by the water. So there’s this beach in Maryland called Chesapeake Beach. My friends and I would go there to spend a few hours and hang out. But we really love going there because there’s this place called Abner’s Crab House right down the street. And we always go set up at a nice table right on the water. We just roll out the paper, get our crabs laid out — sometimes we add shrimp — and we just post up there for a few hours with a little wine or beer and just enjoy the afternoon. It’ll be blue crabs, king crab, whatever they have. We get the works.
I love picking up plants and trying to fill up my home and my balcony as much as I can. So driving back into the city, I stop at American Plant in Bethesda. It’s this beautiful nursery. They have anything you can think of — they have trees in there! It’s wild. So I’d pick up a couple of plants from that nursery.
I love Mediterranean food, so my ideal restaurant in terms of the decor and the food is Masseria over on Fourth Street by Union Market. I love that place. I could post up there forever. It’s pricey, so I don’t go often. But that would be a dream place to end up for dinner.
Then I’d have a glass of wine up on the rooftop [where] one of my girlfriends [lives] — she lives in Dupont Circle and has a really nice view of the city. That’s probably it: a lot of drinking wine, eating food and just enjoying being outdoors.