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Beyond the Bio : Debbie


Meet Debbie – HDG’s very own senior interior designer and self-taught artist.

When did you get into painting?
Ever since I was a child, I expressed myself in a creative form through painting, sketching, and drawing. Art has always been an integral part of my life, and it continues to be an outlet for me to relax and renew.

Have you ever worked in the industry as an artist?
I have been an interior designer for over 30 years and an artist for even longer. Prior to 2004, when I joined the HDG team, I worked as a professional artist designing and executing commissioned murals and art. As a side-line, I had the pleasure of teaching art at the elementary school level. It is deeply satisfying to know that my love of art has brought joy to others and inspired young people to explore their creativity. While I no longer work as a professional artist, art is and will remain my great passion. My work can be found throughout the homes of many residences of Darnestown.

Are you working on anything at the moment?
I take inspiration from nature, so right now, you’ll find me sitting on my the porch painting cicadas!

Does being an artist help you become a better designer?
Of course! Interior design is a 3-dimensional painting. The same concepts used in painting and drawing are analogous with interior design – proportion, color, texture, and lighting.

Do you have a painting tip for new artists?
There are no mistakes in art. You can tear it up, paint over it, change the art to something new and different, but there are no mistakes. The key is to express yourself and give light to the creative person within you.

Where do you find your inspiration?
Nature is my inspiration. We are blessed with the most beautiful colors and textures in our natural environment.


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Beyond the Bio: Christine

Meet Christine, our one-of-a-kind interior designer, and tea maker!

Christine’s passion for tea-making started when she was on a hunt for some nerdy-themed teas for a party. An acquaintance pointed her towards a website where they had a “create your own” function and her passion blossomed from there.

+ How do you pick the flavor profiles?

My three current collections are all Disney-themed, so I try and pull from the movies and the characters for what inspires the flavors: roses and strawberries for Alice in Wonderland, Earl Grey and cream for Beauty & the Beast, etc.

+ What’s a great lesson you’ve learned pursuing this hobby?

I’ve learned about different taste profiles and how to tell what flavors match whether I enjoy them or not: I make no money from this but do donate my 5% to charity and so I want to put together teas that people will enjoy. Sometimes that means stepping outside my comfort zone in terms of taste, so I’ve learned to gauge how to fit those flavors together. Fortunately, I have plenty of guinea pigs… I mean, tea-loving friends who are willing to accept a care package of teas to taste-test for me.

+ How do you find time while working a full-time job?

Typically, I’ll only create one or two blends at a time and just take maybe a half hour to put a blend together while I’m watching Netflix. Each blend requires its own artwork, which is what takes the longest: for my current collections I’m pulling from existing artwork that I have laying around, so it doesn’t take that long. Currently I’m working on some different artwork for my next collection, which is taking a little more time.

+ What’s your next tea collection?

My next collection is “Pangolins in hats”, which will have 8 teas that I’m releasing weekly! Pangolins enjoy the distinction of being the most trafficked animal in the world, to the point where it’s directly responsible for their “endangered” status. I learned about them while choosing charities for a different tea, so I decided to do a collection where every tea was linked to the Pangolin Conservation charity.



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All Stars : Karla


Meet Karla… an HDG All Star!!!
Passion for design goes beyond interior design. Apart from being a key member of the HDG design team, Karla has a passion for baking that rises to any occasion.

Let’s do a little Q & A:

+ How did you become interested in baking, Karla?

“I have been interested in baking since I was a child. My mother baked for us all the time, and I loved watching her turn raw materials into something beautiful. As a college student, I became immersed in the world of baking when working part-time at a bakery. There I learned the magic and art of pastries. Five years ago, I found myself suddenly jobless. A friend suggested that I take orders to bake cakes while looking for another full-time job. Slowly, by word of mouth, my clientele grew to what it is today”.

+ How do you find time while working a full-time job?

“When you love what you do it doesn’t feel like work. Most days, I go straight to the kitchen for 3-4 hours. People tend to underestimate the number of hours that go into making a cake, especially when it involves making fondant figurines. On an average, it takes me about 8-12 hours per cake. It is a labor of love and I am inspired by each creation”.

The HDG team is delighted to feature Karla as one of our All Stars!!!

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Nooks and Balconies: Rethinking Multifamily Design Post-Pandemic

In partnership with Newmark, HDG was proud to produce this report exploring considerations around the future of remote work along with a sampling of the multifamily industry’s response to this fluid environment.

COVID-19 has wreaked economic and humanitarian havoc in 2020, yet the multifamily industry has remained resilient due to a fundamental need for shelter.

Find out how local and national developers are planning to address both challenges and opportunities while avoiding the trap of overcorrection. This white paper examines a mix of formal surveys, interviews, and research, as well as engaging in a wide-ranging conversation with industry participants on what may – or may not – change in multifamily design and development.

Download White Paper Here


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New Multifamily Condos in Alexandria, VA!

What a designer needs to thrive is inspiration. Well, there was no shortage of it when we sat down to imagine The Venue. Our goal was to develop a motif that tells the story of Alexandria while weaving in the contemporary comforts you see pictured in this stylish condominium community. The HDG design team’s methodology starts and stops with attention to detail. The story begins with the history of the place and the building’s locale being on the site of a historic bottling plant. Close proximity to the Torpedo Factory Art Center just down the street and the nearness of the bike trail provided the team with the perfect nexus to bring art, history, nature, and craft together in one unique multi-family experience.

Working closely with the Carr City Centers, Lessard Design, and the McWilliams Ballard marketing team, the HDG designers collaborated to create a curated interior design experience for Old Town Alexandria.

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New Multifamily Buildings at Rockville Town Center

While it’s always exciting to see one of our projects under construction, it is doubly so when we can watch the buildings go up from our studio window. The Ansel, a luxury apartment building and it’s neighboring affordable, age-restricted apartments are slated for first occupancy mid-2021. HDG is thrilled to have had another opportunity to partner with Duball, LLC; Torti Gallas + Partners; Paradigm Construction; Bozzuto Management; and Victory Housing on this project. We could not ask for a better team! HDG can hardly wait for our new neighbors to open their doors next year, bringing 250 market-rate luxury apartments, 150 senior affordable apartments, and 20,000 SF of retail to downtown Rockville!


The Ansel Lobby

The Ansel Clubroom

Age Restricted, Affordable Apartments

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Turning to our Natural Surroundings

Have you noticed how many people are walking and hiking since the Coronavirus has forced us to stay home? Physically distanced from our family, friends and favorite haunts, we have turned to our natural surroundings to help us emotionally heal during this stressful time. Stepping into one of the many preserves the DC area is blessed with, the internal monologue of to-do lists and worries begins to melt away.

I love to hike and find that communing with nature lifts my spirit like nothing else can. When wandering through the woods, one of my favorite activities is looking for unexpected inspiration. In nature, there is an ever-present tension between warm and cool; between raw and refined that creates a sense of mystery, balance, and beauty. Integrating the palettes of nature and its organic textures into the design of interior space creates a sense of peace and tranquility. Something we could all use more of now.

-Phyllis Hartman

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Remy Phase II Set to Break Ground

We’re thrilled to share that construction on The Remy Phase II will begin in August 2020! The HDG team is honored to have provided interior design services for this multi-family building in the Harkins District in Prince Georges County.

A neighbor to Remy I; Remy Phase II will have its own amenities, including a social co-working lobby, a sunny living room, a clubroom/game room, fitness and yoga, and a co-working lounge – all surrounding the expansive courtyard. Providing a healthy connection to the outdoors, a four-season lounge opens to a roof deck, and a transit café is the place to stop for a cup of coffee before hopping on the train. Both buildings have immediate access to the Marc Train and Amtrak for commuters heading north or south to DC.

Developer – Berman Enterprises
Architect – BCT Design Group
Interior Designer – Hartman Design Group
Management Company – LIVEbe


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Touchless Everything

One of the most critical elements in the spectrum of design is touch. As designers, we think about touch. We argue about touch. Touch is everything. The materiality of fabric, finish, or surface is something we spend a great deal of time troubling over. So, the idea of moving to a touchless experience, though understood, does not come without a subtle sense of loss for us.

However, touchless is the word of the day. Touchless entry, access, dispensers, etc.. Touchless everything. As designers, we embrace the challenge of touchless while looking for ways to add our own touch. Copper is a finish that seems the most resistant to COVID-19, specifically. However, companies like INOX have developed Antimicrobial Door Hardware that keeps microbes at bay between cleanings. We are also looking at antimicrobial surfaces made of quartz, all in recognition of the fact that we were meant to touch the environments we inhabit.

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Multifamily Design in the Post-COVID Era

HDG was proud to collaborate with Newmark Knight Frank in crafting this white paper examining design trends for US office and Multifamily properties.

While many of the office and multifamily design trends that were prevalent before the pandemic will continue, new trends that focus on mitigating the spread of disease will become standard. This white paper examines design trends for U.S. office and multifamily properties both pre- and post-pandemic, and what developers, owners, and occupants of these buildings can expect going forward.


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What’s Next for Co-Working?

As our understanding of the impact of COVID-19 virus continues to evolve, we find ourselves examining the impact this pandemic will have on the way we work and live in multifamily communities. What has become clear is that professionals that once commuted to work daily will likely find that the office they left in early March will not be the office they return to.

As employers prepare to reopen, many have begun to plan for social distancing by creating less dense open office environments and meeting spaces, which means fewer employees per square foot. In conjunction, a lot of leaders have found that their teams are very productive working from home and happy to avoid rush-hour commutes, at least part of the time.

What seems evident is that more people will be working from home than ever before this crisis. Pre-COVID, coworking spaces had become a critical amenity in apartment buildings. Post-COVID, the demand will be greater than ever. Our job as interior designers is to embrace this work-from-home shift, and through design, we can create safe and healthy environments that draw us back together again.

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What’s Next for Package Rooms?

0ver 1.9 billion people were online shoppers at the end of 2019. By 2021 that number is estimated to reach 2.14 billion. Grocery delivery alone is expected to grow from $111 billion in 2020 to $154 billion by 2023. This trend began long before COVID-19, so you can imagine the impact now. From food to clothing to furniture and sundries arriving by truck multiple times per day, the most significant amenity transformation in multi-family buildings is likely to be the package room. Along with this shopping trend has come the technology needed to relieve operations staff from the burden of managing this onslaught of packages. Package lockers and secure self-serve package rooms have become an operations necessity and a resident expectation.

In multi-family buildings, the space required to provide residents the package service they have come to expect is transforming the way interior designers program, space plan, and design. When so much space is required, why make package storage back of house?

Creating a package experience that looks great and functions well becomes an amenity that is a proud part of the tour and a feature that drives resident engagement.

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What’s Next in Apartment Living?

Just as we got used to living small, the pandemic has forced us to examine how apartment units may need to shift to accommodate “staying home to stay safe.”

Eventually, we will move past the jolting adjustments we have all made over the last months. However, we believe this crisis will be an indelible memory. With amenities closed in multi-family buildings and residents sequestered, how many apartment dwellers are wondering if they need more or different space to accommodate a transformed lifestyle? Paradigm Companies have long been known for designing enclosed balconies in their high-rise multi-family buildings. These separate spaces provide a flex room that can be a roommate bedroom or a den and office. Their vision now appears to have been prescient. In the recently opened Meridian on First, these sunny rooms with glass sliding doors create a work from home experience not found in most apartments.

None of us know for sure how our place of work will change to meet the health concerns of the future. We are confident that more companies will promote telecommuting and that more residents will value an apartment, mindfully designed for times to come.

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This is not a time to be quiet…

As we observe and honor this often-forgotten moment in history, President, Phyllis Hartman shares this letter to HDG employees and colleagues:

While racism in the U.S. has been the elephant in the room for centuries, the pandemic has exposed the suffering of our Black Americans. people of color, and immigrant communities like nothing has before. The loss and pain experienced in our country have left communities, institutions, and even our democracy tested. Our thoughts are with all of those impacted as well as their families and friends.

As citizens, this is not a time to be quiet. It is a time to reexamine our views, share our thoughts, seek to understand, solidify our beliefs, and stand together for what is right, compassionate, and just.

We stand strong as a nation when we embrace our diversity and come together to share our culture, creativity, and experience. To our colleagues in the Black community — we see you. You matter, your lives matter, and you are valued. To those of you who have come from another land and have chosen this country to be your home, thank you for all that you bring to our nation and communities.

The beauty of this country lies in the diversity of its people.

-Phyllis Hartman

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7 Tips That Make Working From Home a Breeze!

Set Up Your Office

Carve out a space where distractions can be minimized. If you have a room that allows you to turn off the lights and shut the door at the end of the day, it will help you to separate work from your personal time.

Look the Part 

While casual is fine, take time to look presentable. Resist working in your pajamas (no matter how cute they are). You never know when one of your colleagues is going to facetime you! And when you look good, you are more prepared to meet the challenges of the day.

Develop Structure 

Keep a daily schedule for work and personal time. Routine will help you to stay on task. To develop the mindset that will drive productivity, get up at the same time as you would on any other workday and commit to a time to “turn on the lights” in your home office.


For those of us who love to be around our colleagues and clients, working from home can be isolating. Take a break to clear your mind and boost your endorphins. A workout or a walk will sharpen your focus and help get you in touch with the world.

Eliminate Distraction

Eliminate background noise like TV, radios, podcasts, etc. Most of us are used to an active, social atmosphere and feel uncomfortable with quiet. Embrace silence and concentrate on the task at hand.

Control Urges to Multi-Task

In the office, there is no opportunity to bake a cake, run the vacuum, or throw in a load of laundry. When working remotely, fight the urge to get things done around the house. It can throw you off your work-from-home productivity.


Keep your workspace tidy. Straighten up at the end of each day so you can start fresh the next morning.

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5 Multifamily Interior Design Trends of 2020

The Healing Power of Nature 

There is a new-found appreciation for the therapeutic properties that plants and botanicals bring to the built environment. Spaces come alive with the introduction of floral patterns and greenery. Whether real or through imagery, a connection with nature supports our physical and emotional well-being. In Emma McGowan’s article in Bustle, Emma attests that plants, a green palette, images of foliage and views of nature enhance creative thinking, reduce anxiety, clear your head and make you more productive.

1800 Oak in Arlington, VA – Preserved Moss Wall at the renovated fitness center

Parc Meridian in Alexandria, VA – Connecting the interior to the natural grasslands on site

More than a trend, this lifestyle shift exemplifies our desire to embrace wellness where we work and live. In the design world, this movement is showing up in homes, restaurants, the common areas of multi-family apartments, condominiums, and in the materials that we use to design interior spaces. The wall covering, tile, and floor covering industries are introducing natural scenes and botanical images in new and inventive ways, all supporting our desire to bring the outdoors in.

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Personal Spaces

“Creating a sense of security is one of the underlying roots of all of my designs…In fact, the notion of feeling cocooned, protected, and pampered underlies my whole design ethos. And it is no crime to design with comfort in mind.” Timothy Corrigan, The New Elegance.

1800 Oak in Arlington, VA – Acoustically sound booths create intimacy within a social environment

The Signature in Reston, VA – A room within a room provides an intimate personal space for work or socializing

The desire for intimacy and personal comfort, especially in common and large volume spaces, is well established. Rather than a trend, we see it as a lifestyle shift. Living and working in an urban environment can be lonely. By nature, we want to feel included, to be a part of a group. Finding your personal space in a coffee shop, a multi-family building, or at work fulfills the need to be with others and, at the same time, embraces our individual need to feel protected and secure. Whether co-working or relaxing, providing guests and residents with a place they can call their own creates comfort.

Mixed-Use Spaces

The demand to do more with less space is increasing. As land gets more expensive and the cost of construction continues to rise, multi-functional amenity spaces become increasingly more important. Rather than compete in the amenities race, another road to success is to shrink the square footage dedicated to amenities and make every inch fully functional as well as visually stunning.

1800 Oak in Arlington, VA – Repositioning is the perfect opportunity to add function to every space. Featured are the ride-share lounges where a previously over-sized vestibule dominated this lobby.

The Bartlett in Arlington, VA – The private residential connection between Commonwealth Joe Coffee Shop and The Bartlett lobby creates an energized vibe

Studies show that social interaction contributes to happiness. Active social spaces emanate a sense of community, create resident engagement, and positively affect resident retention. The “no one is home” lobbies of the past are a waste of space and create a negative first impression. Every nook and cranny can be programmed to provide an opportunity for residents and guests to find their personal space to work, play, and socialize. featuring a wrapping station for gifts and Amazon returns, the required mail and package rooms can be “experience centers.” If the building allows for a combined amenity/retail experience, a lobby that connects with a boutique grocery, wine bar, or coffee shop creates lots of energy and a great vibe.

Hand Crafted Materials

With our desire to connect to the natural environment, comes an exalted appreciation of authentic materials-especially those that have been handcrafted by artisans or by the “maker” within each of us.

When the textures, colors, and materials of nature are married to interior spaces, we are reminded of the gifts found in nature and the importance of sustaining these gifts for future generations. As interior designers, we have the unique opportunity and the obligation to use materials wisely, creatively and to embrace talented artisans that contribute so much beauty to our built environment.

Embrace Wanderlust

Photo by Kalen Emsley on Unsplash

Today, people are more traveled than any generation in our past. The desire to see and to experience other cultures is top on our bucket list. This is especially true of millennial’s, who are highly motivated to seek out new cultural experiences.  Their technological skills make it easy to find that special place in the world that offers a true authentic encounter centered on local art, music, and ethos.

Travel expands our design aesthetic.  Connecting with other cultures broadens our vision and view of the world. As our customers become more travel-savvy, the design profession is positioned to embrace the wanderlust trend by designing environments that recognize artists and artisans throughout the world. Furnishings, textiles, architectural materials, lighting are just some of the ways that we can introduce multiculturalism into interiors.

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