Design

A Treehouse Apartment in Washington D.C.

Washington D.C. Apartment Tour

Experience designer and leadership coach Amira El-Gawly‘s apartment is surrounded by trees and full of plants — 35 of them, to be exact. “I attempted to name all of them, but I had to stop because I couldn’t keep track,” she says. Amira has lived in the United States, Egypt and Abu Dhabi, and each place is now a part of her and her house. “I’m from many places, and I want my home to feel like that, too.” Take a look inside…

LIVING ROOM
Washington D.C. Apartment Tour

Sofa: Room & Board. Throw blanket: Salt & Sundry. Side table: West Elm. Lamp: West Elm, similar. Coffee table: Wisteria Tray: Anthropologie, similar. Rug: rug market in Turkey, similar. Tan floor pillow: Fragments Identity. Blue floor pillow: Fragments Identity.

On love at first site: You would’ve been shocked to see what this place looked like when I moved in three years ago! The living room walls were yellow, and the bedroom was a pharmacy blue. It wasn’t attractive, but I fell in love with the space because it had so many windows — it felt like a treehouse.

On small spaces: My 560-square-foot apartment isn’t huge, but I have big furnishings, which somehow makes it feel more spacious. I also like big pillows from independent makers, like Fragments Identity. Too many small things can make a space feel cluttered.

Washington D.C. Apartment Tour

Pink and white pillows: ABC Carpet & Home. Marble lamp: West Elm. White chair: Arhaus. Shibori pillow: ABC Carpet & Home, similar. Pouf: Joss & Main. Wall hanging: The Rich & Strange.

On humanizing plants: When I moved in, the first thing I bought was a fiddle leaf fig tree, and I named her Dolly. So began my love affair with plants. I’d never had plants before — other than the random orchid from Trader Joe’s — but now I have 35. Dolly is still the famous one. When my family calls from Egypt, they always ask about her. I’ve learned that the best thing for plants is consistency. They like to know that they’re going to be watered on the same day every week. If they don’t get fed, they get upset like a human would. My friends make fun of me, but if you treat plants like humans, they’re so much happier.

Washington D.C. Apartment Tour

On wind-down rituals: I went to college in Egypt and then moved to D.C. to go to grad school at Georgetown. Within my first three months, my professor asked me to help him start a marketing and experience design agency. So, I spent the next five years working like crazy, going to grad school and building a startup. I didn’t have a life outside of work, so my only chance to take care of the plants was Friday night. I would come home, put a record on and water my plants — I was your typical 27-year-old grandma.

Washington D.C. Apartment Tour

Lamp: West Elm. Planter: Foxwood Co. Magazine holders: Anthropologie, similar.

On third-culture kids: I’m Egyptian, but I was born and raised in Abu Dhabi. When I was seven, my mom brought my siblings and me to the States so we could get our citizenship and secure our future, and we spent our time going between Abu Dhabi and Danbury, Connecticut. We then moved back to Abu Dhabi when I was in high school. In contrast to glitzy Dubai, Abu Dhabi feels like a small town, and we were part of a very tight-knit community. There were other Egyptians, Lebanese, Jordanians and Palestinians. I went to British and American schools, so my teachers were French, American, British, German, Slovenian and Spanish. They call people like me ‘third culture kids’ — I’m not really Egyptian, I’m not really Emirati, I am not really American, I am a blend. I feel really lucky to have grown up in a melting pot.

Washington D.C. Apartment Tour

White vases: West Elm, similar.

On female portraits: I brought the artwork in the fireplace back from Egypt and Abu Dhabi. One is my mom as a little girl; the other is a painting of an Egyptian woman I found in an antique shop in Cairo, where my grandparents still live. I love her so much, she seems so thoughtful. I always think women are so beautiful. Their expressions say so much about life.

KITCHEN AREA
Washington D.C. Apartment Tour

On sabbaticals: Last year, I was so burned out from working around the clock, almost every day for five years straight, I decided to take a three-month sabbatical. I wanted to peel away all my bad habits. When I was working at my old job, I would come home, eat a grilled cheese sandwich on my couch, fall asleep watching TV, wake up at three in the morning and drag myself to bed. The first thing I did on my break was to create a better evening ritual. I’d never a skincare routine before, but now, as soon as I start to feel tired around 9 p.m., I brush my teeth, wash my face and turn off all electronics.

Washington D.C. Apartment Tour

Radio: Marshall. Gold vase: Pottery Barn, similar.

On starting to cook: Two nights ago, I hosted my first ever Sunday supper. It was the first meal I had ever cooked from scratch. I am 33, so it’s about time! I didn’t usually ask anyone over because I don’t cook, but I invited an old grad school friend to come by sort of accidentally. So, I cooked dinner for her and another friend, and it turned out to be delicious. I made an Egyptian pea stew that my mom made growing up — plus rice, cumin roasted potatoes and a simple tomato salad. My mom recited the recipe to me over the phone on her way to the airport. I’ve already invited a friend to my second supper.

Washington D.C. Apartment Tour

Gold face planter: Target. Hand soap: Murchison-Hume in Original Fig.

On dinner parties: There’s a legendary guy in Paris — Jim Haynes — who hosts a dinner party every Sunday in his house. He has hosted 100,000 people over the past 30 years! I am an introvert, so I don’t usually do things like this, but when I was in Paris two years ago, I went on a whim. People were eating dinner and drinking wine in the house and garden; there were teenagers and there were 80-year-olds. It was the most beautiful experience. I ended up talking with him about how I found D.C to be a difficult place to create community. He said I should host dinners, even if I just make a big salad. It took me two years, but I did it.

Washington D.C. Apartment Tour

Table: Room & Board. Chairs: Restoration Hardware. Pendant lamp: Horchow. Pillows: Chairish, Target, Loom Goods.

On morning routines: During my sabbatical, I started something called morning pages from The Artist’s Way. It’s an incredible book for all types of people, not just artists, who are looking to unblock something. One of the first exercises is when you wake up, before you check your phone, sit down with a notebook and write three stream-of-consciousness pages. It can be on anything — your dreams, what happened yesterday, whatever. It takes about 15 minutes and is a very cathartic, emotional, sometimes even boring experience that helps you start the day with a blank slate.

FOYER
Washington D.C. Apartment Tour

Barstools: Butler Specialty. Pendant lamp: West Elm, similar. Pink sneakers: Club Monaco.

On old meeting new: I’m drawn to things with imperfections where you can tell it was made by a human, rather than in a factory. I like tattered old books where strings are coming off the spine. My home is peppered with those accents, but all the big items — the chairs, the sofa, the tables — are actually new. I wanted them to be all white and wood, so they’d blend in.

Washington D.C. Apartment Tour

Mirror: Mob Vintage, similar. Woman drawing: Etsy. Totes: Apolis.

On reminders: Since I’m so far from my family, I like to have reminders of them around me. I have a pair of my grandfather’s sunglasses on my entry table, although nobody would ever know they’re his. My grandfather is like the Godfather. He has such a presence; he wears sunglasses both outdoors and indoors. My family always says that I look like he did when he was young, so last year he let me pick a pair of sunglasses from his very cool collection.

BEDROOM
Washington D.C. Apartment Tour

Bed frame: Urban Outfitters. Bedding: Pottery Barn. Dark pillow: The Rich & Strange. Light pillow: Flea Market Fab. Throw: Merci Paris. Mirror: Goodwood. Rug: Calypso. Sheepskin rug: Rugs USA.

On a calming space: My bedroom is all white with touches of nature. I want it to be a true sanctuary. The only things I use my bedroom for are getting dressed in the morning and going to sleep at night. I don’t go in with my laptop; I don’t dump my handbag there. It looks the same all the time, it’s the way my brain has learned to turn off. 

Washington D.C. Apartment Tour

Side lamps: IKEA, similar. ‘a’ print: By Garmi.

On reading before bed: I love to fall asleep reading. I’ve been doing that since I was a little kid. One of the best books I’ve read recently was Belgravia by the guy who wrote Downton Abbey. I’m into family dramas and that time period — it’s such a fast read.

Washington D.C. Apartment Tour

Plant print: The A Estate. Chair: Safavieh. Pom pom basket: similar. Pillow: bought in Cairo. Trunk: vintage.

On lotion: Another life-changing thing that I’ve started doing — right before I climb into bed — is to cover my body with L’Occitane Almond Milk body cream. It has a slightly sweet scent, and it changes the way you experience your bedding. When your body is soft and moisturized, and you get into the soft sheets, it’s like having a massage without all the effort and money.

Thank you so much, Amira!

P.S. More home tours, including a book-filled loft and house in the Japanese countryside.

(Photos by Alpha Smoot for Cup of Jo.)

  1. Jen says...

    I’m curious what the white paint color is throughout the apartment? I’m trying to choose paint colors now and whites are so hard to get right.

    Thanks!

  2. This space is beautiful. We love the subtle pops of color!

  3. Emily says...

    Those bedside tables are gorgeous. Does anyone know where they are from?

    • Shannon says...

      I’m a year too late :) but they’re the Penelope by West Elm.

  4. Valerie says...

    Thanks for sharing! I live in paris and I ve never heard of Jim but I ll definitely try. Would it be weird for me to go on my own? I am definitely an introvert but I need to socialize and try out new things. Not ready yet to host myself but toi male it would si East. Love your plants.

    • Valerie says...

      Didn t re read my sentence, french auto correct.. Sorry. “But you make it sound so easy”

    • Amira El-Gawly says...

      Not at all weird. I went alone! I hope you have a great time :)

  5. Nathalie says...

    Loved her apartment and life story! What a radiant and inspiring woman!

  6. I would move right into her place! Best home tour ever on Cup of Jo! In my humble opinion! And the plants!

  7. This is my absolute favorite home tour to date! Everything about her space and her commentary is just YES!

  8. So beautiful both you and your space. I loved seeing you and your home on one of my fav blogs! And thanks for getting GoodWood mentioned!

  9. My husband, daughter, and I had dinner at Jim’s in Paris a year and a half ago. It was such a fun experience. We met some very interesting people & I would go again when in town. Having dinner at his house also inspired me to have simple dinner parties.

  10. Her home is gorgeous! I wrote Morning Pages every day for a few months a couple of years ago. I’ve been out of practice for a while, but it truly is a cathartic, cleansing, and altering experience. Even if you’re completely bored you will finish with a sense of accomplishment. It can set you up for a really good day. I was going through a bout of depression at the time, and even though my days would usually end up emotionally chaotic anyway, the Morning Pages helped me pinpoint exactly what it was that was hindering my mentality. Even though I couldn’t always work through it successful it was good to know where the problems generated, because it benefited me later on when I was well enough to start seeking some treatment. I always love reading about other people engaging in the practice! :)

    • Amira El-Gawly says...

      Wren, I love this… this is exactly why Morning Pages was such an important practice for me. I was going through a painful time and it was a reliable practice that became like a friend to me.

  11. Kathryn says...

    I would love to know where her headboard is from!

    • Amira El-Gawly says...

      It was from 55 Downing Street, but it looks like they’ve shut down. It’s a pretty simple beige fabric headboard, maybe you could check Overstock?

    • Kathryn says...

      Thank you!

  12. Tala says...

    Finally! A term I can familiarise myself with! “Third culture kid” rings so true to me as a Lebanese who grew up between Bahrain and Montreal, and now in London for over 10 years. Thanks Amira :)

  13. Winnie says...

    This is such a lovely, serene home. I would love to know more about the sofa. The link provided connected to a sofa with a linen look fabric that is high performance. If so, can you please tell me if this is your fabric, how you like it? I absolutely love this sofa. What a lovely post!

    • Amira El-Gawly says...

      Winnie, thank you… The sofa I ordered from Room & Board is the Max 88″ Three-Cushion Sofa in Tatum Oat. Hope this helps. The fabric is soft, durable, easy to manage and it’s overall super comfy. I’ve removed the two back cushions and that makes it deeper and more lounge-able :)

  14. myhanh says...

    Her aesthetics is so calming. I haven’t lived anywhere long enough to make a space my own. One thing that struck me is that Amira’s bedroom is just for sleeping and getting ready. My husband likes doing everything on the bed– work, sleep, eat, lounge. This also means we have a tv in the bedroom. I like more distinct places and keep my work area separate from my sleeping area (most of the time). I’m curious to know how couples co-create their home space, especially if they have different living/sleeping patterns. Perhaps a future post?

  15. Anna says...

    Beautiful home, she has incredible taste!

  16. I says...

    Growing up between cultures, I never expect to see myself represented in the media. But it has literally brought tears to my eyes to see someone who is like me out there. I love the term “third culture kid” and it’s wonderful to see someone so far away from home, because home is scattered across the world. You can’t ever be in all your homes at once. It’s beautiful to see how she created her own space and home and you did a wonderful job portraying it.

  17. Laura says...

    I love it. What a beautiful space!

  18. I love this! Her approach to home life and plants is so refreshing and I love it!

    xx

    bombshell-to-be.blogspot.com

  19. Colette Brown says...

    What a beautiful, peaceful apartment! I absolutely love falling asleep reading and have recently taken up reading books set in countries or cities I’m travelling to soon. Highly recommend “Love and Death in Kathmandu” which is somewhat of a novel meets investigative journalism about an Australian couple in Kathmandu, Nepal investigating the true story of the prince who murdered his entire family. It’s incredible and gripping, and gives an awesome insight into such a small country!

  20. Ver says...

    Jo, my favourite things about these posts (and beauty uniform, a week of outfits, etc.) is there is ALWAYS someone that comments something to the effect of “I love all of these so much but this one is my absolute favourite.” It’s so wonderful to see that we all love and connect with different aspects of what/who you are featuring, and it’s ok that we differ in which ones we like the best :)

  21. emily says...

    what a beautiful home, amira! fellow goodwood fan here : ) and would love to come to sunday dinner – or host! just a little further west in glover park and going to go buy another plant in hopes my row house starts feel as peaceful as your place.

    • Amira El-Gawly says...

      Emily, woohoo for Goodwood. I love Anna and her space there. Send me an email – I’d love to have you over for supper! You can find it on my Instagram @amiraelgawly.

  22. Holly says...

    Beautiful home! I’m curious what an experience designer and leadership coach actually is. Can anyone shed some light on that?

    • Amira El-Gawly says...

      Ha! Holly, I had so much trouble boiling down what I do into a short phrase. I’m a communications and marketing person by trade, but my passion is designing experiences (whether that’s an event, a traveler’s journey, an employee’s work experience or a customer experience) and helping people be their best selves. As a consultant in my former agency life, it was easy to do all of that! Now, I’m building a practice offering these inter-related but different services to those who believe in creating meaningful lives and work environments. Does that help?

  23. Megan says...

    I love your house tours!! I never get enough!!

  24. Michelle A says...

    Adore her apartment – please do a fashion style post on her, she sounds so fascinating and warm!

    • Amira El-Gawly says...

      :) thanks, Michelle! xx

  25. Emma says...

    After a rough break-up, in which I won the apartment, I remodeled the entire thing and got a fiddle leaf fig tree, my first ever plant. I named her Figgy and managed to keep her alive for almost a decade now. I have branched out to other plants too. My brother has helped me move Figgy several times and asks about her at social events. I can’t believe another human has the exact same story!

    • Amira El-Gawly says...

      Emma!! I love this so much. I may be doing a project on plant stories. If you’re interested in being part of it, send me an email. You can find it on my Instagram profile @amiraelgawly. – A

  26. Amelia Ryan says...

    I looove her pink sweater. Amira, would you mind sharing where you got it?

    • Amira El-Gawly says...

      Thanks! I got it from Madewell last year.

  27. Those plants!

  28. Lena says...

    Loved this! Related to Amira on so many levels, from being a third-culture kid, being an introvert trying to create community and of course, her beautiful decor! xo

  29. Alyssa says...

    Really loved this one. Appreciate her thoughts on self-care!

    Had to laugh because the picture featuring her grandfather’s glasses, also features a tote. Before I read the note of where it was from I thought, that looks like my beloved tote bag. And it’s from the same company! It’s a slightly different style but I so loved seeing someone else have something from that company. I get compliments on it all the time!

  30. Megan says...

    I’m gonna need a follow-up post about these plants, please.

  31. Ashley says...

    I love Amira’s home and, as a fellow DC-er, I particularly love her incorporation of pieces from great local DC stores like Goodwood and Salt & Sundry.

    I can empathize with the difficulty of finding community in DC too, especially as an introvert. DC is such a transient place and it often feels like NO ONE is from here. The flip side of that, though, is that because hardly anyone has family here, friends can more easily become family. Keep at those suppers! It’s slow, hard work to build friendships in your 30s but it will happen if you keep at it. Best of luck and maybe I’ll run into you one day at Goodwood :)

    • Amira El-Gawly says...

      Ashley, looks like we’re going to have a special supper for all the DCers on here. Send me a message or email! xx/Amira

    • Caryn says...

      Amira/Ashley– I’m another DC transplant and also think often about the difficulty of creating community here. Would love to join for supper sometime!

      And Amira, I actually studied abroad at AUC and work in communications so we have a bit in common. :) Your aesthetic is beautiful and your home is inspiring! Thanks so much for sharing…

  32. Cláudia says...

    Love, love, love the apartment. :) I’m kind of addicted on buying second hand furniture, or even collecting it from the street and having it restored. I like to know that it has some history, a past, a previous life… :)

  33. Grace says...

    I live in DC! If you need a friend come hang with me!

    • Amira El-Gawly says...

      Grace, you have one of my favorite names :) Send me a note – let’s meet up. xx/Amira

  34. Elisabeth says...

    My favorite house tour ever!

  35. What a cozy home! It looks so zen and peaceful.

  36. She has such a beautiful spirit and outlook on life! And I love the way she describes her grandfather as having a Godfather-like presence. :) This is inspiring me to host more casual dinners.

  37. Gorgeous apartment and I love the little expose on this young lady and her plants. Dolly is a great name for a plant.
    I would like to adopt that Sunday supper idea too. I used to do a bit of entertaining but in the past few years, I’ve been focused on other things. I think it’s time to start doing that again, meeting some people and broadening my horizons.
    Thanks for the inspiration, Jo. I always get something when I click on your blog.

  38. I love this aesthetic! Such a light atmosphere combined with punctual highlights. Fantastic.

  39. Lillian says...

    Pleaseeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee do a plant post, joanna :)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      haha will do for sure! just put it on our schedule :) :) :)

    • Helen Ng says...

      I second this! It’s hard to get light in NYC, which is probably why my bird of paradise looks nowhere as healthy and vibrant as Amira’s.

  40. Thank you for including a photo of my art! It’s never looked so good as it does it Amira’s breezy and picturesque apartment. I agree with the sentiments above. We all want to move in/be your best friend :)

    • Amira El-Gawly says...

      Your art has made its way all around my little home. I love her so much :) Thank YOU!

  41. Jade says...

    This is my favourite one yet! From Dolly to dinner with Jim to body lotion before bed- I feel like I have just met a kindred spirit! Xx

  42. shopgirl says...

    That white chair… divine!

  43. Lee Ann says...

    these home tours are one of my favourite features, but this post in particular might be the best one yet! loved her spirit, warmth & style.

  44. Kehri says...

    LOVE everything about this post! Can we be friends? Coming from a Filipina, growing up in the States and living/working in Doha… I GET you. How’s your koshary, by the way? It’s my fav! Willing to take a trip to DC on my way home to Atlanta if you can make it happen! :)

    • Amira El-Gawly says...

      Haha! I love it. I’ve never made koshari, but it’s on my list to try. Not sure it’d be worth a trip to DC from Atlanta just yet :)

  45. Chrisy McConnell says...

    So beautiful…so relaxing…

  46. Carol says...

    Love this space—what a breath of fresh air! The floors look just like my friend’s former place in Georgetown….I wonder….

  47. Lizzie says...

    I’d love to know what kinds of plants she has, they are beautiful and I am always interested in good indoor plants to add.

    • Amira El-Gawly says...

      Lizzie, I have so many different ones, including:
      – Fiddle Leaf Figs
      – ZZ Plant
      – Snake Plant
      – Bird of Paradise
      – Pothos
      – Jade Plant

      xx/Amira

  48. Leila BY says...

    what white did u use to pain the walls? and was the trim the same color? Love the home – from another 3rd culture kid. :)

  49. Frankie says...

    Can Amira be my best friend?! Is it weird that I feel honored that I share a name with her Bird of Paradise? Seriously though, this was lovely from beginning to end. Thank you for sharing!

    • Amira El-Gawly says...

      I love your name!!

  50. Such a small world! Amira went through my graduate program at Georgetown and Don Neal of 360Live Media was one of my professors as well. My favorite professor at that. Beautiful apartment!

    #HoyaSaxa

    • Amira El-Gawly says...

      Hoya Saxa! Yep, Don and I built 360 Live Media together starting in 2011. Thanks, Shakirah xx

  51. lulu says...

    Favourite spotlight yet! Amira’s style and aesthetic is so lovely. I like that she has minimal but significant reminders of her family back home, as I am a sentimental decorator too. Fantastic post!

  52. Emma says...

    It would be nice to see a tour of a house that is not white. And the random small reading nook or bedroom that is a dramatic color does not count! Does everyone paint their house white these days? Maybe I just need to stick to Fixer Upper episodes for my color fix!

    • Lauren says...

      Totally agree! I live in a smal artsy town and everyone here paints their walls as many vibrant colors as possible!

    • Twyla says...

      Agreed. It’s funny to me that she thought how horrible the yellow walls were prior to moving in – because my whole house is painted a warm yellow, and I love it.

    • Amira El-Gawly says...

      Emma, I have a confession. While I love the white and it is a massive breath of fresh air for me… I’m already itching to get color. So I’m painting soon! Going dark green in some spots and peachy in others… That’s the hard part about owning a home now – as soon as I finish something up, I’m already bored and ready for something new. xx/Amira

  53. Kacie says...

    I loved this interview – it resonated and inspired me to create healthier rituals that give meaning to my day. Thank you. :)

  54. Katie says...

    Ditto-the sunglass part was so cool. I’m a infamous recycler and am always donating everything away, but this reminded me to keep things that are nice even if I don’t use them all the time. Someone might want them someday and it might be a nice reminder of me to someone!

  55. Loved this space and post!

  56. Wow! Such a gorgeous apartment space :)

    xx, Hannah

  57. lucie says...

    OMG! EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS. I saved all of the pictures. (!)

    Also, this made me realize how good a soft pink looks in a room… so feminine and welcoming and crisp and lovely

  58. Bridget Ausman says...

    Everything about this is beautiful. Thank you for such a lovely and inspiring post.

  59. Jessica says...

    What a beautiful space, and Amira seems like the loveliest person! Also, thanks CoJ for featuring the home of a woman without a spouse or kids–I found this one to be especially relatable.
    P.S. Any chance we can find out where the gorgeous nightstand in the bedroom is from??

    • Rachel says...

      Hi Jessica, it looks like the Penelope Nightstand from West Elm with the pull changed!

    • Emily says...

      Yes! I love the nightstands and seeing the living space of a single woman.

    • Kc says...

      I second that, those tables are lovely

    • Courtney says...

      I thought the same! There is still such an emphasis in society on partnering, with that model reflected in blogs, ads, etc.

      I’m married now, but was single for a long time through my twenties, and feel strongly that showing and celebrating the lifestyle of women who live on their own is essential to breaking free of the idea that couples and families are the default ideal. Thank you, COJ, for continuing to diversify your content.

    • Amira El-Gawly says...

      Jessica, Rachel was right – it’s the large Penelope nightstand from West Elm. I switched out the pulls with ones I found at Anthropologie.

  60. Rebecca says...

    Thanks for the post! I second Katie’s question earlier about your shelves. They look great – where did you get them? How do you get your records to balance there?

  61. Loribeth says...

    I’ve been in a new city for about 9 months and I have made NO friends. Definitely gonna take that advice about inviting people for dinner, I love cooking and eating and sitting around and talking!

    • Carol says...

      Me, too! I used to live in a rental share in Oakland, Calif. where we hosted an open potluck every Sunday night. I’d love to resurrect that.

  62. Kalli says...

    Ps Joanna- can you do a post on house plants?? Which to use, where (light/little light), and how to tend to them?! :)

    • Lynn says...

      This would be great! I’m sure the info is in other places online but CoJ does such a great job curating and making things fresh.

    • Lin says...

      Yes, yes! I second that! I’m just starting out having plants in my home but half of them have died on me :( Please CoJ you need to do a feature on plants!

    • Suzanne says...

      I WOULD LOVE THIS!!

      I’m desperately trying to get into house plants but I have no idea what I’m doing and even less how to take care of them.

  63. Kalli says...

    I’ve been reading for years- this may be my favorite home tour! The details are so lovely: the plants, the tones, and the art. And I love the sunglasses story! Xo

  64. yaktail says...

    Apt goals for real! seriously. I really related to this post the most. I’m in the process of decorating my apt in DC and this is inspirational. Also, I volunteer to water your plants if you need someone in the DC area. :-)

    • Amira El-Gawly says...

      Oooh thank you lots :)

  65. Em says...

    I’m in love! With Amira and her home. What a cool chick. Does she want a roommate? :)

  66. Love all your plant babies. You might enjoy one of those meal delivery services like Blue Apron or Hello Fresh since they portion out all the ingredients you need to make a dish. Less risky to try something new.

  67. Emily says...

    I always look forward to each of your house tours, but this one might be my favorite! I feel so inspired by Amira’s beautiful story and serene style. Thank you for sharing a piece of Amira with us.

  68. Simmi says...

    I love this! Really want plants in my house but have a hard time with which ones would work indoors and wouldn’t create a puddle on the carpet. Also what kind of plant is the branch-looking one in the clear cylindrical vase?

  69. Shiwani says...

    This is my most favorite section of your already amazing blog! I love it that while other bloggers are getting bigger by mostly just doing sponsored post which not everybody can buy on a whim(or ever), you are featuring articles for the soul. This apartment and the plants are beautiful!!!

  70. This post made me feel like maybe I could handle plants? When Amira said all they need is consistency…that’s my strong suit! I just never thought of myself as a green thumb; I don’t have any “instincts” about plants. We have a snake plant that seems impossible to kill, and a hanging plant (philodendron?) that I’ve actually done OK with! Wondering what I should pick next?

    Also, this apartment is a dream. I love the neutral colors, the natural wood and plant elements, and the worldly/travel aesthetic that she manages to have without creating a cluttered look!

  71. Nicole says...

    Hi, another DC reader here, also an introvert and plant-lover :) Wow, such an inspirational space! I love the balance of old/new, and the little features like color-coordinated bookshelves. So envious of all the natural light! Any recommendations for indoor plants where light is limited?

    • NatalieDU says...

      Peace lilies do really well in low light :) And, once they grow you can divide them into more and more separate plants!

    • Nicole says...

      Thanks!

    • Laurel says...

      Some other plants that do well in low light are pothos vines and calathea. I’ve had a pothos vine in my office that gets no natural light and literally no light on the weekends and it’s been doing fine for years. Oh and you might also try spider plants, which are pretty dang hardy.

  72. Love this apartment! I have a recent houseplant addiction so I especially love all the plants! Any chance you can share what the vine plant with the purple and verrigated leaves is?

    • Amy says...

      That would be Tradescantia pallida, a type of spiderwort with the common name of “purple wandering jew plant”. Hope this helps. : )

    • Amy says...

      Wandering Jew (Tradescantia). It’s a weed here in Australia but looks beautiful here!

    • Rose says...

      I believe that is a “wandering Jew” plant / tradescantia.

  73. katie says...

    Gorgeous! My grandmother gave me $50 when I moved to NYC after college to get something for my place and I bought a ficus tree at the local plant shop. 13 years later It’s moved everywhere with me (and grown!) and I love having a tree in my living room. My question – did you install the bookcases? We are desperate for more shelf space and wall mounts seem the best way to go, however I’m terrified of trying to install. We own, so the decision is just up to us. (Alexandria, VA – loved seeing a DC feature!)

  74. Katie says...

    Such a bright, light, beautiful home! I love how she has incorporated so many healthy & nurturing habits into her living space – especially the bit about her bedroom being just where she reads & sleeps – LOVE THAT!

  75. d says...

    what a lovely home and her personality really shines through!
    I’m a third culture kid too so this post really resonated- I feel like we could be friends!

  76. Ramona says...

    I only have 2 1/2 plants….(but one is an orchid!!!)…I have a lot of catching-up to do! ;)

  77. Lauren E. says...

    This place is absolutely gorgeous! My world for a bedroom that is just for getting dressed and sleeping…

  78. Jaclyn says...

    LISTEN- I’m gonna need that salmon colored, nubbly sweater. Got any intel? I love plants. I have so many. I just got into ferns. They are cute and green and chic looking (if they’re nice and healthy). Thanks for sharing.

  79. emmy says...

    Hi Joanna –

    How do you choose the homes to be featured?

  80. mel says...

    Hello from DC! I love Little Leaf, and have been slowly building my own plant-friend collection. You’re space is inspiring – thanks for sharing!

  81. AJ says...

    Love this! Such a beautiful, stylish space. Amira- good luck with your supper parties! Sounds like you’ve created really good balance and sense of home since your sabbatical- so inspiring to read- I am going to try and take some of your great habits on board!

  82. I absolutely loved this post! I live in DC too and agree that it can be a hard place to live sometimes because of how difficult it can be to build a community or feel part of a close-knit group. I moved back to the US 2 years ago after spending over 5 years in Scotland and I still struggle to feel like I’m settled here.

    Amira, if you want to meet for a coffee, let me know! I live in Dupont so I’m not far from you :)

    • L says...

      All the DC people popping up in these comments are making me wish for a little DC party like Joanna had in NY!

    • Cristin says...

      YES to this! I moved from Philadelphia to DC a few years ago and have yet to find a community too. I would love to meet other COJ readers and even host a dinner. xo

    • Jenna says...

      I commented further down on this thread, but another recent DC transplant here (moved a year and a half ago after 5 years in Turkey) – would love to widen my circle and connect with other DC’ites if anyone’s interested! I’m @crustaceanisland on instagram – DMs welcomed :)

    • Alexis says...

      Seconding the vote for a DC meet up!

    • Jade says...

      Love this! I moved from Philly to DC 3 years ago and it is definitely a different crowd of people here but I’ve discovered so many great people and places to explore (Hi Boozy brunches!).

    • Hi ladies! If you see this comment, you can direct message me on linked in @cat33892! I’m going to try to get us all together :D

    • Lisa says...

      I would definitely join in on any DC party :) It can be a difficult place to build community – I am slowly but surely ‘collecting’ good eggs.

    • Cristin says...

      this is so great. i requested you both on insta. my name is cristinmac. xo

    • Sarah in DC says...

      Love to join a DC meetup! I’ve been here 9 years (wow!) and even though it was tough at first, it definitely feels like home.

      Hang in there!

    • Amira El-Gawly says...

      Wow lovely people. You’re all invited over. xx/Amira

  83. Lauren says...

    So beautiful – the apartment and learning more about Amira. So neat how someone’s space leads to so much of his or her story.
    Amira, your insights about life, rituals and friends are much appreciated. I am going to suggest The Artist’s Way for my book group. I’ve been keeping a one line a day journal and have found writing it right before bed a calming ritual- is love to find others to incorporate too.
    My husband and I have three friends over every Tuesday for dinner. It’s been a great touchstone in the first year plus of having a baby but you inspired me to push myself to invite others I know less well with more frequency (I’m a fellow introvert!). Many thanks!

  84. Lea says...

    I haven’t even finished the whole post yet but I’m already convinced Amira and I would be such good friends :)

    Fellow third culture kid here – born and raised in Istanbul to a Turkish mom and Swedish dad, went to an international school, moving State-side in August and went to one of Jim’s dinners while studying abroad in Paris! His dinners really are quite the get together!

  85. Susanna says...

    I second (and third!) everyone that commented that this is their favorite home tour to date. This is a very inspirational piece on how to build a home and a life that you love. I too, am a 33 year old grandma who is an introverted home body coming from D.C., lover of serene spaces with a splash of pink and plants everywhere, a reformed workaholic, and a big Julian Fellowes lover. Amira, you’re my spirit animal too! I love everything about this home tour, including the gracious and beautiful host. Thank you for letting all 1 million of us in to your home! We thoroughly enjoyed it :)

  86. Sasha says...

    Beautiful space. I have a suggestion- can you maybe identify the types of plants that are shown in the photographs? Often, there is a link to a planter, but no mention of the plant itself. For the less green-thumbed among us, I would appreciate a decorating post explaining which types of plants go best in which light (south, north, west, east) and how often they need to be watered, fertilized, etc.

  87. Lauren says...

    This apartment is stunning!! I just looked around my own plant-less apartment and thought, “you know what…”

  88. margaux says...

    i went to one of jim haynes’s paris dinners on my first trip to paris in 2009! it was packed and totally awesome and full of interesting people. i have since sent a few people to his parties. i totally recommend it. rumor has it he lives – and hosts the dinner party – in an atelier that once belonged to monet (or some famous french artist. can’t remember which. i clearly drank too much wine that evening).

  89. Janna says...

    I’m a TCK too! Grew up in Kenya and then Zaire, now DR Congo, but am American, and now live in the states. It’s comforting to me to think that Barack Obama is also a third culture kid, and think about how those experiences shaped his perspective. Even after 13 years of living in the states, I still don’t quite feel like I fit in and feel the most whole when I’m with people who are fellow TCKs and get that feeling.

    • I’m a TCK too! :) Mom is American, dad is Iranian, born in Albany, GA, attended pre-school and elementary in Bangkok, middle school in Dover, DE, high school in Frankfurt, Germany, with lots of summers in Tehran peppered in between. Been in the states now for 12 years and I also still don’t feel like I fit in. I wouldn’t have changed a single thing about how I grew up though. I hope to give my future children a similar experience.

    • Anya says...

      I’m a TCK too, having grown up in Nepal and Indonesia, but am American. I lived in Brazil for a few years as an adult. Yes, I thought the same thing as you about Barack Obama, Janna.. I’ve bonded quickest with other TCK’s and many of my friends have spent time overseas at one point or another… Cheers to being a TCK!

    • Yes! Loved the TCK shout out! I’m American but grew up in Ethiopia. My husband (also a TCK who grew up in Slovakia) and I are moving to Rwanda this summer!

  90. Kimberley says...

    Favourite house tour ever! L o v e the plants, love the light and airy vibe, love the artwork and artifacts. Amira, you sound wonderful too – so does your grandfather. Also struggling over here in the Netherlands to start hosting dinners as well. xo

  91. chrissy says...

    amira is my spirit animal :) so so lovely, all of it!

    • Amira El-Gawly says...

      thanks for putting a big smile on my face. wish i could meet my kindred spirit!

  92. As a fellow Third Culture Kid I loved reading her background and how it’s shaped her home. Mine also has a lot of influences from places I grew up in and objects that were in my family. Love the serene space, well done! Keep up the dinner parties. :)

    I also second the recommendation to read The Artist’s Way.

    • I’ve never heard the term Third Culture Kid but find it absolutely fascinating! I’m an immigrant (moved when I was 6 to the States) and have always struggled with defining my culture/identity (am I Polish am I American?) For some reason I always felt a bit disingenuous calling myself Polish-American as well though that would be the easiest way to describe me. Suffice it to say I’m so intrigued by your experiences! Would love to connect directly and learn more if you’d be interested in chatting with me? My email is themotherlandblog@gmail.com :)

  93. Any chance of the Egyptian pea stew recipe? As a pescatarian, I am always looking for something new. Fingers crossed.

    • Amanda says...

      I was hoping for the same!

    • Amira El-Gawly says...

      Annie! Sure. Send me a direct message on Instagram @amiraelgawly and I’ll share.

    • Kayla says...

      Yes! Mom’s recipe over the phone sounded so perfect.

  94. Love this apartment so much :)

  95. Ximena says...

    Love it! and I’m taking the book recommendation. Thank you

  96. I am in love with those wood stools! Another TCK representing…I lived in Dubai mostly!

  97. Brianna says...

    This might be my favorite home tour to date. It makes me want to remove my TV from the bedroom and fall asleep with a book on my face every night. I definitely need some plant life. I especially love all the white and wood – it’s so fresh and classic.

  98. Jamie says...

    Wow I really love this one. I guess I am like a grandma too because her record playing/plant watering ritual sounds heavenly. I also love the sentiment about women’s expressions “Their expressions say so much about life.” I never thought about it before but that is very true.

  99. Melissa says...

    By far my favorite space featured! Love how open and airy the space feels, and the mix of white and natural colors. Would love to be friends, too ; ) Thanks for sharing!

  100. Anne says...

    What a lovely home! Random question, do you have a source on the benches in the dining room? They are lovely, and that’s exactly what I’m looking to do in my house! Thanks!

    • Amira El-Gawly says...

      Hi Anne, thank you so much. The benches and the cushions are from West Elm. A caution to check the depth before buying–they’re a bit narrow if you’re going to place them against the wall like I did. If you want more depth, I think you can find other options or have them custom built!

  101. Tawny says...

    As I’m moving to DC in two weeks, I’m definitely dreaming of outfitting my new home with my current decor that I love (and adding some new items). Always looking for inspiration for my home. But with moving from CA, I’m obviously leaving my plants and starting over. I cannot wait to add even more. I love this series.

  102. So lovely! As a fellow plant lady, I can relate. I’ve also been to the Paris dinners at Jim Hayne on two separate very different occasions, and they’re such an experience!

    • Amira El-Gawly says...

      So cool! I loved them. Hoping one day I’ll have a home or garden big enough to do the same.

  103. CLD says...

    Any idea what that paint colour might be? It’s so white, but not too-white!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Thanks for your note! Amira can’t remember the exact color she used, but I can vouch for Chantilly Lace by Benjamin Moore. We’ve used it in all our apartments, and it’s great — not too yellow, not too blue, just perfect fresh lovely white.

    • Kirsten says...

      I also love Swiss Coffee by Valspar for the same reason!

    • CLD says...

      Thank you for the responses! I’ve got a large, but zero light (comparatively) English basement in DC… So I figure if I can’t have the plants, I can at least have the white paint colour!

  104. Megan says...

    Oh, how gorgeous! I LOVE that living room rug from the Turkish market. I, too, live in DC and agree with Amira about how difficult it can be to build community. It seems once you really get to know someone well, they’re off to another country for work or back home to grow a family. Dinner parties definitely help.

    • Genna says...

      Also agree, also living in DC. Three years strong and have parted ways with everyone I’ve grown close to. Most have moved overseas, the ones left are making plans to head out west or returning to their hometowns.

    • Jenna says...

      Another relatively recent DC transplant (going on two years here after spending the previous 5 in Turkey), and I agree that it’s tough to build a solid group of friends here, given how transient the culture often is. If any other DC folks ever want to grab an after-work drink or go for a weekend walk, please message me! (DM on instagram @crustaceanisland)

    • Catherine says...

      I have lived in DC for the past 2 years and feel the same! If seems like we should have our own dinner party! Feel free to direct message me on Instagram @cat33892 if you’d like to meet up! :)

  105. Thanks, Cup, for another great post! The apartment is beautiful. I’m also loving the diversity of the women featured. And lastly, thanks, Amira for the reference to Jim Haynes. I can’t wait to learn more about him. Who knew dinner parties could be such a beautiful expression of a diverse and friendly world? Love it all.

  106. Allie says...

    Love the shout-out to TCKs :)

  107. emmanuella says...

    I love how many different kinds of plants she has in a relatively small space. Everything is so thoughtfully placed.

  108. Amy says...

    I have a husband and three little kids and I love my life, but occasionally I’d like to escape to a quiet apartment with oodles of plants (I have plants, but they all have to be eyeball height or higher to survive) where I can walk back into a room that looks exactly the way I left it ;)

  109. Beautiful home! Especially love all the plants ;)
    A fellow DC area resident.

  110. Meghan says...

    Gorgeous!

  111. love it! where in dc is this?

  112. Jill says...

    I really love this! All the pink and green is so pretty and such a nice balance to the wooden decor. And Amira seems like such a cool lady.

    • Amira El-Gawly says...

      Thanks Jill :) This post has officially made my day.

  113. Amy says...

    Ohhh, I’m jealous. It’s a stunning place. I tried making plants work, but it’s been a real challenge. I bought some succulents, which are supposed to be hard to kill, and they all died within two months. No green thumb here!

    I love the idea of a white backdrop with touches of nature. So calming and easy.

    • Amira El-Gawly says...

      Amy, if it makes you feel any better, I can’t do succulents either. I recommend something easier to maintain like a ZZ plant, snake plant or rubber plant. Water once a week and you’ll be GOOD TO GO. Feel free to reach out if you need help.

  114. Ashley says...

    Lovely apt and I completely agree with her plant philosophy. I name my plants too and I’m convinced that most plants enjoy to be in groups; sometimes I’ll move mine around so their leaves are touching.

    • Amira El-Gawly says...

      Amen, sister. They thrive together!

  115. Laura says...

    I second reading and doing The Artist’s Way!

    Amira seems so smart, hard-working, beautiful and has with a lovely home! Amira – do you have any openings for a BFF?

    • Amira El-Gawly says...

      Laura, wherever you are, you’re hired! :) Thanks for the lovely and super generous note. I’d love to hear what else you got out of The Artist’s Way. xx

  116. Charu says...

    Serious question..how do people travel when they have so many plants? (and that too high maintenance ones like fiddle leaf fig)I adore greenery but have already killed too many plants during frequent travels :(

    although part of the reason is I am also not very comfortable asking friends to take care of my plants while am away ..

    Great post!

    • Amira El-Gawly says...

      Such a good point, Charu. If you travel for super long periods of time (two weeks+) frequently, then this may not be a good hobby to have. I water all my plants once a week, consistently, and so the only time I need friends to water my plants is for the rare trip that’s longer than 10 days. When I do that, I gather all my plants in one place near my kitchen to make it easy for them. I also created a note on my iPhone that I share with all the instructions. A friend who waters your plants is a GOOD friend :)

    • Kirsten says...

      How long do you travel for? Most of my plants get watered only once per week, so I just soak them if I’m going to be gone for about that amount of time. I’ve also had good luck with “plant nannies”–terra cotta things you attach to a 2 liter bottle–for slightly longer trips.

      A more bizarre option is also this stuff called “water gel.” My in laws regularly travel for 1-2 months at a time, and my mother in law always puts these weird things that look like polenta tubes full of gel in her plants. They have never died, and she has complicated things like orchids which I can barely keep alive when I’m actually at home.

    • Charu says...

      Thank you for your reply Amira!

      Great tips! Agreed on GOOD friend part :) Again Loved your beautiful home and allll the plant buddies

      @Kirsten
      I have managed to kill an Orchid (that was a gift on Valentine’s) on a 3 day trip :( :( Always heartbreaking

      Guess I should stick to artificial ones :D

  117. Erika says...

    Serene and pretty home. I too was raised in Abu Dhabi :)

    • Amira El-Gawly says...

      No way! So cool. Hi Erika :)

  118. junny says...

    i’d love to hear more about her plants! what type of plants are in her home, if there are some indoor plants that are easier to care for than others, etc. i’m attempting to create my own indoor garden and historically have proven to have a black thumb. somehow i’ve been able to keep my current plants alive (!!) but want to add more to my collection and would love to learn more to set myself up for success. :)

    • YoungDirectionless says...

      Try your local farmer’s market. The growers can tell you which plants will do well if you have low light, dry air, etc. My place is dark and all my plants were dying, but I got a great recommendation from my farmer’s market.

    • Amira El-Gawly says...

      Junny, way to go! I have many different plant varieties, from Monstera Deliciosa to Fiddle Leaf Figs, ZZ, Snake, etc. The easiest ones to take care of and that are the least fussy with regards to light and water (IMHO) are the ZZ plant, snake plant and pothos (heart-shaped leaves that grow like ivy).

    • junny says...

      thank you!! heading to my local nursery tonight! :)

    • Kerri says...

      I also have like 40 plants after getting my first one only a couple of years ago! The easiest ones that I’ve found so far (they withstand serious neglect and low light…not sure about over attention though!) are peace lilly, ZZ plant, and inch plant (that purple viney one in the photos above). Beware, once you start…its addictive!

  119. SOOOOOOOO lovely. I’ve loved all your posts like these but this one fits me like a glove. Thank you for sharing!

    • Amira El-Gawly says...

      Awww, thanks so much Hannah! – A

  120. Maria says...

    What a lovely home and lady! I’d easily join her for a Sunday dinner :)

    • Amira El-Gawly says...

      Let me know if you’re ever in DC, Maria! :) – A

  121. Denise says...

    Too much white! But I do love all the plants. & that soft pink throw w the pink tulips are divine together!

  122. Lauren says...

    Forgot to mention that I am in LOVE with those floors!

  123. Lauren says...

    I adore this! Her place is lovely and has such a calm atmosphere. I’m moving to a different apartment at the end of July and this has given me some great ideas! In the fourth picture, may I ask what type of plant that is? I’d like to get into plants, and I love how this flows down the wall from her books to her record player. I think plants could help create the calm, relaxed mood I am craving :-)

    • Rebecca says...

      I’m sure it has a more official name, but I’ve always heard it called a Wandering Jew!

    • Lauren says...

      Yet another Lauren here: That purple and green plant is a Wandering Jew, and they are easy to grow.

      Love this apartment and the thoughtful ideas behind it. The bedroom is a delight.

  124. Anna says...

    Your home is a dream! My best friend was born in Abu Dhabi. Thanks for sharing.

    • Amira El-Gawly says...

      Thanks Anna! I loved growing up there. It’s an incredible place.

  125. maggie says...

    My favorite yet!! So, SO beautiful!!!

  126. Ellen says...

    What a lovely home and a lovely soul! Any idea what neighborhood of DC she’s in? I’m thinking of moving into the city from Arlington, VA once my lease is up. Great inspiration!

    • Amira El-Gawly says...

      North of Dupont Circle, just a few blocks from the 14th Street corridor.

  127. What an uplifting home!

  128. Kelcey says...

    This is really lovely. Thanks.

  129. Beautiful space! There’s so much character – my favorite when it comes to interiors!

  130. Meg says...

    That’s Woodley Park, amirite???

    • Amira El-Gawly says...

      Very close! :) North of Dupont Circle

  131. Tyler says...

    beautiful! my stepmom has that same bubble chandelier :) so fun!

  132. how serene! Love her night rituals and peaceful bedroom especially.