Friendship Heights has a split personality. Straddling the Maryland-D.C. line, this neighborhood is a densely packed maze of malls and shopping centers offering luxury home goods as well as deeply discounted bargains.
Whip out your credit card for a sleek $12,000 white leather European sofa from Roche Bobois (5301 Wisconsin Ave. NW) or a chic $3.99 faux coral napkin ring from World Market (5335 Wisconsin Ave. NW). Can’t afford the $495 Moore black leather waste bin at Ralph Lauren (5471A Wisconsin Ave., Chevy Chase)? Check the shelves at TJ Maxx (5300 Wisconsin Ave. NW), a great source for under-$25 wastepaper baskets, decorative pillows and table linens. Or indulge in a bar of Pomegranate/Melograno Bath Soap, $32 at Santa Maria Novella (5454 Wisconsin Ave., Chevy Chase).
As you navigate the patchwork of shopping centers clustered around Wisconsin and Western avenues — Mazza Gallerie, Chevy Chase Pavilion, the Shops at Wisconsin Place, the Collection at Chevy Chase — you’ll stumble upon some intriguing stores.
You might say that the shopping terrain here is an unusual friendship between high- and low-end retailers. Not many neighborhoods offer a Nordstrom Rack (5333 Wisconsin Ave. NW) as well as a Gucci (5481 Wisconsin Ave. Chevy Chase). But that’s not why this area is named for friendship. According to Julian Mansfield, manager of the Village of Friendship Heights, it’s because in 1713, Lord Baltimore granted a tract of land called “Friendship” to Thomas Addison and James Stoddert.
What this ’hood lacks in charm (no cobblestones or window boxes dripping with verbena) it makes up for in walkability and sheer variety. You can pick out the china, crystal and silver for your gift registry at Neiman Marcus (Mazza Gallerie) or Tiffany & Co. (5841 Wisconsin Ave., Chevy Chase), and then you can explore the mothball aisle at Rodman’s (5100 Wisconsin Ave. NW).
Confession: This is my own closest retail therapy fulfillment center, and I invariably go to Bloomingdale’s (5300 Western Ave., Chevy Chase) when I need a new bed pillow and Sur la Table (5211 Wisconsin Ave. NW) for the always-missing holiday turkey baster. And I was one of the Washingtonians who was happy that in February, Pottery Barn and Pottery Barn Kids opened at Mazza Gallerie, after closing up the street at White Flint Mall.
Although it’s difficult to define Friendship Heights’ borders (Marylanders tend to call it Chevy Chase), it doesn’t really matter. “All the different kinds of stores bring a real energy here,” says Pam Kellogg Green, owner of the classic home furnishings shop the Kellogg Collection, which opened a location here in 2011. “The funny thing is, District residents think Friendship Heights is in the District, and Maryland residents think it’s in Maryland.”
Roche Bobois (5301 Wisconsin Ave. NW) Got a floor plan you’re looking to fill with luxury European-designed contemporary furniture? Check out Roche Bobois, the innovative supplier of those drop-dead gorgeous modular sofas, elegant chaises and slate-topped dining tables that look like they belong in a fashion photo shoot. The French company has 240 stores in 40 countries and introduces two new collections a year, with designers including John Paul Gaultier, Missoni and Sonia Rykiel. It’s known for its fabric or leather sectional sofas (mostly between $10,000 and $15,000) that can be custom-fitted with adjustable headrests, electric recliners and USB ports.
Calligaris (5252 Wisconsin Ave. NW) Head upstairs to this bright, airy store and you’ll discover a fresh take on Italian contemporary design. The company has been around since 1923 and is known for clean lines and furniture for urban spaces. Dining tables run about $1,500 to $3,000; dining chairs from $100 to $700. The store has tables that pop up and extend, great bar stools and platform beds with storage underneath, plus a collection of chunky shag rugs in fun colors. Ask for a demonstration of the Orbital extending elliptical dining table with the tempered glass top, something that Calligaris store manager Sean Amini calls “the Ferrari of tables.” It was created by Paninfarina Design, creators of Ferraris and Maseratis, among other Italian auto classics.
Kellogg Collection ( 5215 Wisconsin Ave. NW) Many pieces of the quintessential Washington power look can be assembled at the Kellogg Collection: sink-down sofas and club chairs, cozy throws, painted furniture, rugs, gilt mirrors and Chinoiserie lamps. Kellogg launched in 1982 when it brought the hottest rug in the design world, the flat-weave Indian dhurrie, to town. Through the years, the store has updated its offerings with the times, always keeping a classic approach. It has a large collection of stylish pillows ($100 to $300), romantic bed linens and chic trays. It also offers design services. There are other locations in McLean, Baltimore and Richmond.
World Market (5335 Wisconsin Ave. NW) Everyone seems to have a different item they go to World Market for — outdoor furniture, candles, entertaining supplies. The store has lots of staples for everyday living and cute decorative accessories to freshen things up. Originally opened in San Francisco in the late 1950s, this national chain brings an international bazaar of home goods, gourmet products and seasonal gifts. Things that caught my eye on a recent trip included indoor/outdoor knitted poufs ($79.99) and scalloped white metal cake stands ($19.99).
Rodman’s (5100 Wisconsin Ave. NW) You might think Rodman’s, which opened in this nondescript location in 1965, is just a funky international discount food, wine and beer market. But this place is known for its global treats — South African Ouma rusks and Georgian pomegranate juice — which is why its parking lot is packed with diplomatic license plates. Once inside, park your shopping cart and take the escalator to the lower level for a magical mystery tour. The housewares department is laden with gadgets, small appliances and a cache of hard-to-find cleaning supplies. Says owner Roy Rodman: “Our customers are really into coffee and tea, so we specialize in whatever equipment and accessories that go along with that.” So you’ll find that plus shelf paper, flat or round toothpicks and entertaining supplies, from acrylic party tubs to Latvian chocolates.
Bryan Voltaggio’s place Range (5335 Wisconsin Ave. NW) is a local foodie fave for lunch. But there’s no better end-of-shopping treat than a margarita and guacamole and chips at Rosa Mexicano (5225 Wisconsin Ave. NW).
Take Metro’s Red Line to the Friendship Heights station.