Abbey Slitor and Warren Weixler recently downsized.In March, the couple moved from an 850-square-foot one-bedroom in Mount Vernon Triangle to a 707-square-foot one-bedroom with a den in Shaw.
They were drawn by the growing, lively neighborhood, and they were ready to go smaller. They wanted to shed some of their things, dump their storage unit and live with only what they really loved or needed.
It was a challenge, but the two of them were up to it. “We work so hard trying to make our lives simpler,” Slitor says. “It makes us happy.” Slitor, 34, runs Social Market, a communications firm specializing in marketing and social media. Her office is in the tiny den in the couple’s new place at the City Market at O. Her boyfriend of eight years, Weixler, 32, co-owns Swatchroom, a design and fabrication firm a block away that does commercial interiors for places such as Twitter’s Washington offices and local restaurants including Lincoln and Copperwood Tavern.
Both share a love of clean, simple design and clutter-free living. They enjoy creative problem solving, whether figuring out where to keep the tea (a narrow Ikea sideboard) or where to stash the holiday decorations (two faux leather Target bins on top of a wardrobe). “We discuss what multiple uses we can get out of a piece of furniture before we buy it,” Slitor says. “We don’t keep things around just because we think we might need them someday.”
Weixler agrees. “I’m a pretty orderly person. Not as much as Abbey, but I’m not messy, and I like being organized.”
Like many urban dwellers, they enjoy the ease of living and working in the center of things. They were intrigued by this new apartment complex with amenities including a gym, a rooftop dog park and dog-washing station for Truman, their French bulldog, and a Giant food store store on the lower level. They knew they were trading in larger quarters, but they loved the open feeling of the modern kitchen and its big granite island. The prospect of having a full-size washer and dryer and a balcony with a city view sealed the deal. They accepted that sometimes love means having to say goodbye to your fondue pot and snowboard.
Once they decided to move, they started de-accessioning immediately, through Craigslist, eBay and charity donations. Weixler worked with the floor plan to strategize what had to go and what they would need to buy: He figured out they could hold only 70 percent of their furnishings. For example, their bedroom would be smaller, and with a king-size bed, they would not have room for a pair of nightstands, table lamps or a TV.
They devised a plan for storage of clothes and accessories. “It’s important to have both shared space and personal space,” Weixler says, “what drawers and cabinets are mine, versus Abbey’s.” They divided the bedroom closet, bought a bedroom chest for each and installed two narrow mirrored Ikea Brimnes wardrobes in the den for out-of-season clothes, beach towels, a sewing machine and bike helmets.
The new place is all white and has an open feel. From the front door, a hallway leads into the kitchen and then the living room lined with windows. The den, a small space with translucent glass sliding doors, is off to the left of the hallway, the bedroom and bathroom to the right. They decided to keep to a neutral palette for the furniture: white, beige and ivory, with some color added through accessories and one very bold Strandmom orange chair and ottoman from Ikea. The main source of color comes from the art they’ve collected, a lot of it by local artists.
On move-in day, even with the best of planning, they were in for a surprise. They had realized they had little space for clothes, but they were surprised at how little space they had to store their food.
Their glamorous new kitchen with its generous island had minimal cabinets and only two drawers. “The movers kept carrying in more and more boxes labeled ‘kitchen.’ We realized we were spoiled in our old place,” Weixler says. “We both like to cook, so we had collected a lot of stuff. We knew some of it had to go, so as were opening the boxes, we set aside things to get rid of.”
The kitchen island was great for prepping food, serving and eating, but they had counter space for only their coffee machine and their espresso maker. They needed a pantry. But with only a small sliver of hallway to work with, choices were limited to a long, narrow sideboard. They found Ikea’s Stockholm model, only 151 / 2 inches deep with two drawers inside.
Another storage-rich purchase was the compact Seguro media console they got at the Alexandria Crate & Barrel outlet, which has a sliding door, shelves and drawers to stash their modem, Playstation, record player and vinyl collection, plus board games.
Although Slitor grew up in a 4,000-square-foot home in Ashburn, she says her mother taught her not get attached to material objects. But there are exceptions, such as some pieces from her grandmother: a headboard, a jewelry box, two silver platters and her bottles of Chanel No. 5 and Shalimar perfume.
“I love to eat popcorn out of my grandmother’s crystal bowl,” Slitor says. “I’ve learned how nice it is to have attachments to the smaller things in life.”
‘Honey, that’s not going to fit’:
Regrets? There are a usually a few when living in a small apartment, such as the items you really just can’t find room for. Slitor and Weixler shared a list of things that aren’t in the picture for them right now in their downsized place in Shaw.
1. Large farm table: It would be swell to entertain at a rustic dining table for 12. Currently, they dine at two bar stools at the kitchen island.
2. Bikes: Weixler would love to keep his bikes in the apartment and has proposed various ways to hang them on the wall as art. In the meantime, they are in the building’s bike storage area.
3. Bar: It would be nice to have a wet bar, Slitor says, or any bar. It would also be nice if she didn’t have to use a stool to reach cocktail glasses, wine glasses and liquor.
4. Grandfather clock: Slitor’s grandmother had a couple of these and her mom still has one.
5. Decorative antiques: They parted with an old wood library card catalogue, a favorite of Slitor’s from their old place; it was too big and had no functional use. They recently passed up a funky vintage cigarette vending machine spotted at a Sweet Clover Barn sale in Frederick, Md. “I thought about it for weeks but couldn’t figure out a place to put it or what in the world I would do with it, ” Slitor says.
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