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Environments for Aging Conference Takaways

HDG Managing Director Daniela Maniezzo and Senior Designer Betsy Penaherrara attended the Environments for Aging Conference in Atlanta last week and have shared a several insights and takeaways with the team about this event . HDG interior design team members have attended this event for several years now and always benefit from the multi-day event. This year’s “Ultimate Education, Networking, and Product-Sourcing Event in Senior Living Design” was no different.

Tour of an Urban Senior Living Community

Daniela and Betsy arrived ahead of the conference to take part in a great community tour of an urban-based luxury senior living facility that exemplifies how creative solutions can drive successful results. Heartis Buckhead is a high-rise building with 213 independent living, assisted living, and memory care residential homes.

The tour underscored the challenge posed by the limited footprint, urban zoning requirements, and setback regulations, which necessitated careful planning by the project team. The result was an 18 residential floor tower above ground with six levels of valet parking below grade. These components were seamlessly integrated with the existing medical office building, around which the Heartis Buckhead community was constructed.

Mind the Chatter

There was a great opening keynote presentation from Dr. Ethan Kross about “Chatter”, which refers to the constant stream of negative, self-critical, or repetitive thoughts that can plague our minds and impact our well-being. He posits that the most important conversation we have each day isn’t with our boss, our spouse, or our friends: it’s the one we have with ourselves. When we’re facing a challenging task, our inner voice can motivate us and help us keep our focus. He offered strategies to transform our self-saboteur, determined to undermine our success, into an internal life coach that will buoy us up and help us expand our potential.  The takeaway was a laundry list of practical strategies and techniques for managing the inner chatter and improving emotional resilience.

So much to take in, so little time!

The packed agenda posed a problem for the HDG duo: Which sessions to attend? In the end, they wisely separated and took in such wide-ranging topics as “Designing for Purposeful Programming”, and “Building Bridges of Connection” and “The Next Generation of The Green House Model.” The good news is, Daniela and Betsy were able to debrief after sessions and share learnings right then.

Aging, Accessibility, Autism and Dementia: Designing for Everyone?

Daniela’s other favorite session was one that addressed the concept “Designing for Everyone.” Hosted by Dr. P.K. Beville, it covered consideration of the capabilities of residents, patients, and the public. Care professionals’ experience with Americans with Disabilities Act  Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG) has taught that incorporating accessibility solutions benefits everyone. The panel explored the benefits of incorporating elements of inclusion, equity, and diversity to improve all healthcare environments.  And Dr. Beville emphasized the importance of empathy-driven design in creating environments that promote dignity, autonomy, and well-being for individuals with cognitive challenges. She shared insights from her research and practical experience, highlighting the unique needs and perspectives of this population and offering strategies for designing spaces that are intuitive, supportive, and inclusive.

Vendor Information

Arriving back at the office, Daniela and Betsy kindly shared not just their impressions and learnings, but also a number of brochures from vendors the team will want to know about for future projects. From medical equipment to lighting and art to furniture, it’s all been arranged for a quick read by anyone in need of such information.

Do you have an active adult or senior living project in the pipeline? Reach out to us to schedule a meet and greet and learn about our award-winning capabilities today!

Affordable age-restricted multi-family communities can be

Want to see what affordable multi-family age-restricted communities can be?

As interior designers of multi-family communities in all economic categories, our approach to affordable housing comes from the following beliefs:

  • We believe that affordable housing works when it provides more than just a place to live, when all stakeholders are committed to making a long-term investment in our community and in the health, safety and well-being of residents.
  • We believe that affordable multifamily buildings that look, feel, and live like market-rate apartments promote a sense of place and self-worth.
  • We believe that a beautiful home fosters feelings of sanctuary and elevates pride in one’s surroundings.
  • We believe that the connection to nature enhances wellness and it is our duty as design professionals to merge the built environment with the natural world.
  • We believe that through collaboration and design excellence, we can create engaging, healthy, energy-efficient, affordable homes for people of all socioeconomic backgrounds.
  • We believe that solutions take shape when caring professionals partner for the good of our community.

This charming 62-plus high rise multi-family community is nestled on a quiet block within Rockville Town Center, a walkable community. Residents enjoy the village green, restaurants, shops and cultural centers. The design is light and fresh and uses biophilic patterns throughout to enhance the health, happiness, and wellness of the residents.

Check out the following video walkthrough for more about this lovely residential community:

If you’re considering development of a new multi-family project, whether affordable or luxury, workforce or market rate, contact us to learn how our interior architecture / interior design services can enhance the tenant experience and your KPIs.

Spring 2023 Hartbeat Newsletter


Presenting: Carlyle Crossing


Centered in Alexandria, Virginia’s Carlyle and Eisenhower Valley area, the Carlyle Crossing development has transformed the region for the future. Anchored by a Wegmans grocery store and surrounded by restaurants and retail, this area is home to two large federal agencies and served by two Metro stations.

HDG was tasked with designing the amenity spaces in two of three of the multifamily communities in the development, The Easton and Reese Tower are conjoined by an expansive outdoor plaza. We’re pleased to introduce you to both of these properties at this time.

Visit this link to view the entire Spring 2023 Hartbeat newsletter, featuring more information about these two projects. You can also get the latest news about recent awards HDG has won and answer our survey to deliver the most relevant information you want in future Hartbeat newsletters.



Use Books as Interior Design Accessories

It’s #WorldBookDay and we can’t think of a more appropriate day to celebrate the inherent beauty and timeless role played by books as a design accessory. More than just paper, ink and words, books offer a sense of warmth and create a sense of comfort. Books add a certain alchemy if you will, a je ne sais quois and yes, we celebrate them, both for their utility as a design accessory and for the words and messages they hold within their covers.

Hartman Design Group uses books in our commercial interior design schemes for lobbies, co-working areas, reading nooks, models and other amenity spaces within the many multifamily, senior living community and other projects we design for. Whether hardcover or paperback, books can be a great way to add color, visual interest and texture to an otherwise bland area. Even more, they can serve as a centerpiece and to showcase your interests too. Here are a few our favorite tips when incorporating books in your interior design scheme:

Use books to reinforce a theme

Books can convey a consistent look and overall vision: Use books to reinforce a theme. If you have a room decked out in a nautical style, think sailing, marine animal and coastal living-themed books. If the area you are designing is airy and light with big windows showcasing the gardens, perhaps floral and garden-style books would fit. Books on the motion picture industry, musical instruments, and celebrity biographies would be great additions to any media room. You get the idea.

Interior design using a book in a mint green color referencing a garden and outdoor theme is strategically placed near a breezy window area to bring nature indoors.
Reinforce a theme: A model unit at Haven National Harbor, designed by Hartman Design Group featuring a book in a mint green color referencing a garden and outdoor theme is strategically placed near a breezy window area to bring nature indoors.



Use books to showcase your interests and personality

Show off your confidence and individuality by strategically placing books about your favorite subjects in an area lacking personality and warmth. A dog lover? A stamp collector? An oenophile? Set up a collection of books featuring your passions to serve not only as a point of interest but a great conversation starter.

Interior design - Shelves with books flat against the wall displayed as artwork but ready to pick up and read.
Designed by Hartman Design Group, The Easton’s co-working lounge window seating is accented by books as art.

Add depth to a room by choosing books covered in patterns or textures. There are a range of textural choices in covers, ranging from glossy, to intentionally textured, to matte. Printed covers can feature repeated geometric patterns, organic patterns or abstracts. Choose books featuring these characteristics to strategically complement or serve as a foil for a room lacking in texture or patterns.

Use books to add a pop of color

Infuse your space with color: Books come in all colors of the rainbow and provide a great way to reinforce your existing color scheme or add contrast and interest. Group like-colored books together for emphasis.

Use books in a bookshelf display

Create a bookshelf display with carefully selected bookends to stand books upright, or stack several on their sides, spine facing the room, pages to the wall, with a decorative item perched on top, such as a candle, small plant or small figurine as a vignette. On another area of the bookshelf, add framed photos, perched on easels, other plants, or vases to add more interest and variety. Repeat as necessary to create your own personal work of art.

bookshelves with a grouping of green books, white books and other accessories, along with a black bar
A grouping of lime green books near another grouping of white books to break up the expanse of wood from the bookshelves at The Signature Co-working space.


Use books as a centerpiece

Finally, there’s always the use of a single book or book grouping as a coffee table centerpiece. The size of the table will dictate your choice here. This can enhance any room.

So remember, if you are looking for a way to add contemporary yet timeless depth and interest, take a look at books.  And if you are looking for an experienced, award-winning commercial interior design firm for your next multifamily or senior living community project, contact Hartman Design Group.

Designing Mixed Generational Multi-Family Buildings


The multifamily apartment market generates a vigorous $173 billion in revenue from rental income in the U.S. according to National Apartment Association and National Multifamily Housing Council statistics for 2020. The U.S. Census Bureau reports this sector houses more than 43 million renters or 35% of all households nationwide.  Such a competitive environment demands that apartment building owners provide quality housing along with truly innovative products, services, and amenities. According to, nearly 60% percent of respondents prefer to rent, since this provides them an opportunity to enjoy a maintenance-free lifestyle combined with convenient access to amenities.

As of 2020, there were approximately 73 million Americans aged 20 to 34 (the prime years for renting) according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau and from it’s American Community Survey (ACS) in 2020, there were approximately 42 million households in the United States headed by individuals aged 55 and older. Of those 55 and older, many are empty nesters. Today’s Empty Nesters are healthier and more active than at any time in the past and many will opt to rent, preferring simple luxury living that comes without the burdens of homeownership.

In actuality, the amenities that both groups look for in a property are quite similar. Transcending age, today’s educated renter expects a multitude of amenities including fitness centers, business centers, dog walks, pet spas, socially-active lounges and lobbies, club rooms, game rooms, bike storage, and workshop, as well as great outdoor living spaces and swimming pools…all with an atmosphere that equals the quality of a fine hotel. So the idea is not to necessarily target a specific age group but to design for people of different generations with common interests.

Millennials, Generation Y, Generation-Xers and Empty Nesters alike have demonstrated that they prefer hanging out in groups and like to participate in social activities frequently. Yet people also want to feel comfortable spending time alone in public areas. Whether indoors or out, defined intimate spaces provide cozy areas for groups as well as for the resident who is solitary yet prefers a social setting.  Regardless of age, amenities with options for both singles and groups create socially-active spaces that provide a sense of home and community.

The Avant at Reston Town Center, a project HDG completed a few years ago, demonstrated that a mixed-generational design approach is successful.

“The vision for the Avant, architecturally and operationally, was developed with a multi-demographic focus,” Rich Ellis from Boston Properties said. “Market studies and the Company’s experience in the Town Center told us that the project would attract a wide range of prospects, from young professionals to empty nesters to divorcees to corporate users seeking a home 5 nights a week. The goal was to create a community and building that made each of these groups feel comfortable while also tapping into their shared interests.” 

Hartman Design is currently working on another multi-generational multifamily community, One University. In addition to an affordable senior independent living community, the complex has a market-rate family building and a student housing building (which HDG did not work on) as well.

Realizing that the mixed-generational trend in housing will continue into the future, at HDG, our design approach for residential buildings is creative, holistic and practical.  Considering the needs of various age groups is important, yet finding the common thread allows for design that will bring generations together.

At Hartman Design Group, we take pride in delivering exceptional multifamily interior design solutions. Contact us today to learn how we can elevate your next project to new heights.

Why Art is a Neccessity for Design

How does it feel to walk into a home with blank walls? Maybe it feels like the owner is there only temporarily—or that he or she just moved in. Either way, there’s a sense that something’s incomplete, or worse, that something’s just plain wrong. Such is the power of art in our lives: It defines and grounds us; it can lift our spirits and sense of wonder; it can make us smile; it can challenge, surprise and entertain.

Art as a focal point

“From a design perspective, art can be the focal point from which a room’s palette and style emerges. On a more personal level, an art collection transforms that room into one’s own sanctuary.” 

Just as we’re rewarded with sweeping views once we reach the top of a mountain, art provides an interior vista as we walk in the door or turn the corner into a new space. From a design perspective, it can be the focal point from which a room’s palette and style emerges. On a more personal level, an art collection transforms that room into your own sanctuary.

The same idea extends to public spaces, particularly in condo and apartment buildings. At a time when the cost of construction is rising, developers are building smaller units with larger public areas to get the biggest return on their investment. This trend puts the onus on us as interior architects and designers to conceive public space that can double as an extension of one’s home.

Art Tells a Story

“Empty walls and spaces devoid of hand-made objects can be unsettling – like opening a book to find only blank pages with no story to tell.”

The question then becomes: Where do you start? When the project begins, it’s rare that an individual or team of people will express their personal tastes and preferences for art style or genre. At times, of course, the building owner might have a personal collection he or she wants to display, and that collection becomes the design driver. But most often, we start from scratch in determining how to beautify communal space that includes lobbies, lounges, meeting and recreational rooms, chef’s kitchens and eating areas—even pet spas and outdoor “rooms.”

The Building and its Surroundings Provide Clues

That’s when we as designers look to a building’s location for direction. Whenever we can, we like to bring in local artists whose works tell a story about the community. Is it an area like Georgetown, DC, with a deep sense of history? Or maybe Hyattsville, Maryland, which has a thriving art scene? Perhaps it’s a central urban environment with a grittier vibe or a big sports town? There are all sorts of ways to bring in that local flavor.

At SoNYa – a mid-block high-rise multifamily community in the NOMA district of Washington, DC, the area is chock-full of graffiti and street art. It’s a vibrant hub of urban life and the HDG design team played to its strength in art curation when many of the bespoke accessories and works of art it selected were custom designed by HDG in collaboration with partners, including three showstopping images of the city with surprising punches of neon lighting integrated into the works to hint at the unchecked energy of the community.


At The Signature in Reston, Virginia, for example, we reached out to artist Susan Main, the curator, and director of galleries and exhibition programming at VisArts in Rockville, Maryland. We admired the swirling, whimsical lines in her work—just the kind of thing you’d want in a commissioned piece focused on signatures. We asked her to create a large encaustic work representing 25 autographs of famous people who hail from Northern Virginia—from historical figures such as Booker T. Washington and Thomas Jefferson to contemporary standouts like basketball veteran Grant Hill and comedian Wanda Sykes.

Reinforcing “The Signature” brand over the concierge desk, a large encaustic piece by local artist Susan Main incorporates signatures of famous figures throughout history who’ve lived in the Reston region, from Thomas Jefferson to Tina Fey.

There’s a different narrative in the Crystal City section of Arlington, VA, where The Bartlett—Arlington’s tallest apartment building—enjoys sweeping, uninterrupted views across the Potomac River to Washington’s monuments. We brought that vista inside with commissioned photography of iconic DC images, while we asked acclaimed DC artist Maggie O’Neill to create oils that reinterpret Washington’s symbols—the Capitol building; Uncle Sam; the Washington Monument—with wild splashes of color.


While location always has a large impact on the art curation of these multi-family residences, the building itself can wield influence as well. A great example is Stonehall, a small luxury condo project in Bethesda that channels the charming European boutique hotels where centuries-old architecture plays into the design. Here, we’re combining architectural details with art to create a mood of quiet, urbane elegance. Every elevator lobby features beautifully framed, old maps of a great city—Paris, Madrid, Washington, Chicago, New York, and Amsterdam are a few—to identify that floor.

Hartman Design Group’s interior design scheme employed maps of major cities in the elevator lobbies of each floor at this European styled multifamily condominium community to distinguish them.



High Time for Art Selection

Each design project is special in its own way, and choosing art as the finishing touch is always a favorite endeavor—both for the developers who’ve hired us and for our entire staff as well. The energy palpably rises when the discussion turns to art, and trips to galleries both local and around the country inspire the most passion amidst the countless other furnishings, fabric and finish selections we’re making throughout the designing of a building’s public amenities.

Earth Without Art is just “Eh”

Empty walls and spaces devoid of hand-made objects can be unsettling—like opening a book to find only blank pages, with no story to tell. As the interior designers of large buildings that are home to hundreds of residents, we take our mission seriously—and joyfully—in creating environments through curated works of art that make you feel properly at home the moment you step through the lobby door.

At Hartman Design Group, we take pride in delivering exceptional multifamily interior design solutions and art curation is important to us. Contact us today to learn how we can elevate your next project to new heights, whether with carefully considered art curation or interior architecture that maximizes your space.

5 Key Principles of Interior Details

The artist and architect, Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe once said, “God is in the details”. As interior designers, we create comprehensive environments that tell a story about each community. Carefully thought-out details that become an integral part of a space might not be immediately obvious to the eye – yet, are nonetheless crucial to a successful design.  Here you will find 5 key principals of interior details.

Make a Statement with Lighting


Lighting is a key feature in all successful interiors. When done right, it becomes a design statement, a way-finder and sets the mood.

At Instrata Pentagon City, the decorative lighting is used to focus the attention to the center of the space, over the seating. The placement helps to direct the eye to the concierge on the left and the leasing office on the right.
Selected for their quality and unusual design, these Italian pendants with handcrafted shades are used in lieu of architectural lighting to create a brand identity. Multiple shapes arranged in what appears to be a random placement speak to the quality of the property while introducing a design story that captures the energy of a chic European boutique hotel. Like the artwork in the room, this low-energy, LED fixtures are both practical and represent a significant design detail.

Create a Sense of Place


Over time, residents will develop a relationship with their apartment homes. Each time they experience a space or building detail that they connect with; the association is reinforced. The idea is to create a design that residents feel a personal attachment to. Special details that that resonate with an individual personalizes the space and help them love where they live.

Paying homage to the property location is one way to create this connectivity. At 1800 Oak Street, the design concept embraces wood materials reminiscent of the “Oak theme”. Details include oak bark at the face of the concierge desk and custom cast bronze, oak branch door hardware featured at the entry door and throughout the interior. With an eye to subtlety, design details that nod to the location creates a sense of place.

Make Function Beautiful


Functional details like convenient charging opportunities for smart devices and laptops speaks to today’s trend to blur work and play. Searching for a charging port need not happen when design details that consider easy access are paramount to the design concept. Mindfully electrifying tables, upholstery, and coworking spaces can be beautiful as well as handy. In this coworking library, table-top ports are built into each workspace creating a well-designed power source that masks cords and unsightly electrical devices.

Create the Unexpected



Walking through the doors of this building on DC’s hip H Street, Coda on H, residents, and guests are greeted with whimsical A-OK door hardware. The custom handles, that create the initial intrigue, were cast from the hands of our project manager’s daughter and put a smile on everyone’s face. They set the tone for the building design that is all about street art and playful experiences in this gritty-chic apartment building.

Details that surprise and delight are not just memorable, they create a building’s personality. People will engage on a deeper level if they feel the place reflects who they are or aspire to be.

Tell a Story


Storytelling through interior design details creates a powerful, memorable impression, especially when aligned with the property brand. Seth Godin, author, blogger, and former dot com business executive said that “Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but about the stories, you tell”. A great brand story is about creating emotion. What better way to enforce the building brand than to continue the story into the interior?

Branding the building with its name, “Cheval” (French for horse), this high-end Bethesda condominium had a story to tell. The connection between horses and humans is a powerful one. Winston Churchill said, “There’s something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man”. The long wall in the lobby provided the blank canvas for a subtle nod to the theme and began the interior story. Inspired by Irene Suchocki’s ethereal horse photography, a glass mosaic artist translated a fine-art photograph of galloping stallions into this dream-like vision.

Boutique, elegant and understated.

Design is all about the details that ground a property in its geographic location and tell a story that helps residents love their home. Whether it is a funky, edgy neighborhood or a sophisticated urban center, how the elements of design are curated, make each building unique.

Small Space Large Personality

Living affordably in a thriving urban environment often means giving up space—but that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice style along with it. Developers are offering smaller apartment units to make them more accessible in sought-after, high-rent districts. At Hartman Design Group, we like to get creative when designing model apartments to show prospective residents how much personality and function you can fit into these pint-sized pads. Take a look:

Studio Apartment at 2 Hopkins
Downtown Baltimore

Try introducing multi-functional pieces when your bedroom is basically a nook, and it faces the only wall where you can place the sofa. A queen bed leaves room for a dresser that doubles as a bedside table. A console table becomes a desk when you pull up a chair. The dining chairs also provide extra seating for guests, as do the ottomans that serve as accent tables when not in use. A pop of color on an accent wall adds a personal touch without taking up any space at all.


One-Bedroom Apartment at 360 State
New Haven, Connecticut

Several tricks are at play to visually expand this living room, like a large mirror behind the sofa to reflect the views and bounce light throughout the space. Allowing for a wider sofa, oversized wall lamps eliminate the need for side tables, and the furnishings have open legs to maintain a spacious feel. White, gauzy window treatments allow for natural light to flood the room without giving up privacy. When coordinating a model, we’re not afraid to mix styles—eclecticism makes a personal statement by mixing vintage and recycled furniture with new and updated pieces: Do your dining chairs have to match? Absolutely not! A transparent “Ghost” chair from Homegoods adds a great vibe without any visual weight.


One-Bedroom at Insignia on M
Washington, DC’s Navy Yard

The lesson here is not to be afraid of color in a small apartment. The tangerine accent wall makes Ikea’s white lacquered modular storage unit pop and highlights the fun, mid-century modern floor lamps. Mixed in with a vibrant rug that anchors the colorful upholstery, the energy of this living room is much more the focus than its size. And like other small models we’ve designed, the open legs of the dining table, coffee table and chairs visually expand the space.

What a view! In this small bedroom, the floor-to-ceiling windows open the space and connect it to Navy Yard’s hip, up-and-coming neighborhood. A low European-style queen bed maintains the broad sightlines, while wall lamps allow more surface area on the nightstands.


One-Bedroom at Insignia on M
Washington, DC’s Navy Yard

Here’s a great way to maximize living function. Ikea’s modern, modular white-lacquered wall system surrounds a “found” vintage dining table that doubles as a work surface. Shelving expands the function of small spaces and provides the opportunity to display special objects, books, photos, and art.


One-Bedroom at Vy
Reston Heights, Virginia

Make every wall count when you’re living small. This long entry provides an opportunity for both design and function. The stripes—an easy do-it-yourself touch—add color, make a personal statement and provide an intentional place for jaunty hooks from World Market to hold hats, bags, scarves and the dog leash. The design naturally draws your eye across the airy living space to the broad, outdoor views beyond.

In this compact, one-bedroom apartment, the window nook provides a natural enclave for the dining table, which can easily turn into a light-filled workspace. Imagine having your morning coffee or afternoon tea overlooking this lovely nature scene. And instead of a simple end table for the sofa, use a bookshelf with storage options.

Create your own artisan vibe! You don’t have to own a ton of artwork to generate impact. Paint and molding from the local home store go a long way. A neutral palette provides solid grounding for changeable accent colors in pillows, accessories, or rotating works of art.

The brightly colored credenza in the main living area not only adds personality to the room, it’s the perfect place to store AV equipment, games and anything else that might clutter the space.

Mother’s Day Gift Ideas for the Interior Design Lover!

Happy spring! Mother’s Day is coming up soon and if your mother is anything like us, a lover of interior design and beautiful surroundings, we have the perfect stylish gift suggestions for her! We surveyed our team at HDG for some thoughtful gift ideas and these are what we’ve come up with:

House Plants

Always a sure thing. Plants add color and shape to both indoor and outdoor rooms. They add a biophilic element – connecting one’s interior space to nature.

How about this Levitating Pot? You heard right! Levitating pots are an amazing combination of nature, classic design and technology, employing a zero-gravity system allowing you to cultivate your favorite plants in mid-air. Your plants will be nourished with 360 degrees of sunlight exposure, allowing them to grow straighter and healthier, all while floating supernaturally. House Beautiful has a myriad of great choice options, including the one pictured below:

Impressive, majestic, and tropical, you can never go wrong with Bird of Paradise! This low-maintenance plant is considered the queen of the indoor plant world and adds the perfect tropical touch to every room!

If your mom loves low-maintenance plants, show her you love her with this heart-shaped succulent garden from Pro Flowers. The perfect biophilic touch for any room, filled with a colorful array of succulents:

If Mom travels or would prefer a trouble-free biophilic addition, check out this artificial pair of jade plants in gorgeous geometric wall planters from Amazon:


A garden in a bowl! Terrariums are easy to care for, add that biophilic touch, and no two terrariums are alike. Doddle Bird Terrariums offer a miniature scene with live moss. Each piece is handcrafted using the highest-grade plants and supplies.

If Mom is more traditional, a la English garden, try this conservatory-style terrarium container from Spokane-based Ritters Garden & Gift and, yes, they do ship.

Or how about this High Borosilicate Glass Terrarium from Wayfair:

If you need plants for your terrarium, stop by the Little Leaf Shop on 14 th Street in Washington, DC or shop virtually, because, yes, they ship too!

Flower Vase

For elegant, feminine beauty, Michael Aram’s sculptural vases are the way to go. Here’s a stunning example:


It’s a classic accessory, standing at the ready to hold all manner of objects from the bar to the coffee table to the foyer or boudoir. So many options!

Designer and blogger Paloma Conreras has many to choose from, ranging from burlwood to glitz. Here’s our favorite, called Octagonal Ceramic Tray by Paul Schneider, in Dark Green/Greens Geode:

Does mom have a playful spirit? This Man on Edge granite sculpture in the Horchow John-Richard Collection will sure get her eye:

Tea Pots

For many, there is something truly soothing about warm cup of tea and having a beautiful tea pot from which to serve it enhances the pleasure. Check out Food & Wine Magazines 8 Best Teapots of 2023 showcasing teapots practical and beautiful like this gorgeous Wedgwood beauty:

To fill the pot, choose from a fabulous assortment of custom-blended teas head over to Adagio Teas Tea Maiden Blend selection, including the Mother’s Day-themed Mother-Knows-Best (pictured) Earl Grey, Lavender, Rose and Cornflower. Disclaimer: these one-of-a-kind blends are produced by our very own tea-blend-aficionado Christine Watts.

Throw Pillows

Throw pillows are like a punch of personality on an otherwise neutral chair, sofa or bed. So it’s just a matter of figuring out where your mother’s personality lies.

Pfeifer Studios is all about organic texture and color and have a stunning array of choices:

Serena & Lily is its preppy cousin offering even more splendid choices:

And John Derian is full of decadence and whimsy:

Throw Blanket

As everyone who appreciates spatial design knows, throw blankets enhance and add color, texture, and personality to any room; a lived-in feel to an otherwise sterile space. West Elm offers a nice assortment of soft ombre throws:

If Mom wants understated elegance, perhaps this Pottery Barn ruched faux fur throw would be her preference:

Herb Garden

Beauty and function come together in a kitchen herb garden.

This windowsill garden is a riff on the traditional tulipiere, from Plow & Hearth:

Combine several herbs into one garden in this contemporary fluted earthenware container from West Elm:

Coffee Table Book

It’s the ultimate accessory for Mom’s living room or den.

A young mother will appreciate the stunning photography and moving narrative in this ode to motherhood. Available at Aussoline :

Is she a wine connoisseur? Then this master guide will not disappoint. Available at Wine Folly of course!

Does she love interior design? Joanna Gaines knows how to create spaces you will never want to leave, from Magnolia Market.

Instrata Apartments at Pentagon City Transformed!

Bozzuto and Invesco partnered with Hartman Design Group to transform Instrata Apartments in the Pentagon City area.

Home to sports figures, government consultants and older professionals, Instrata Pentagon City is set back from busy 15th Street, making it a quiet respite in a thriving urban location. Completed in 2003, the building was showing its age and not competing well in the marketplace.

A full renovation of the property’s indoor and outdoor amenities to a premier level was necessary to retain current residents. HDG’s mission was to create a boutique hotel experience that would differentiate the property from its competition. The new design encourages connection among the residents, provides work and play space, and solidifies a sense of community. As a result, says Lesley Lisser, Senior Director, Asset Management, Invesco Real Estate, “We noticed significantly higher retention rates, rent growth and strength in leasing. We realized that we created an overall lifestyle experience that residents are willing to pay for.”


















1800 Oak Street Transformed

Equity Residential partnered with Hartman Design Group to transform 1800 Oak Street Apartments in Rosslyn, VA to a Class A apartment community that competes with new product in this competitive market place. Now a stunning urban living experience with all of the amenities that today’s resident demands including multiple co-working spaces, a dramatic lobby, a sports bar, and a brand new state of the art fitness center.

Before completion of the major renovation in November, JiRod Freeman, the community manager, doesn’t remember anyone hanging out much in the lobby at 1800 Oak Apartments. “There was a lot of nonfunctional space.”

Since the new lobby opened, Freeman reports that these spaces are consistently occupied with residents who work from home or telecommute part-time—one day, he says, there wasn’t a single empty seat. “Everyone loves it. You’ll see random people come in here, taking pictures and selfies,” he says. “When you compare it to what it used to be, it’s just mind-blowing.”

1800 Oak Street comprises of 314 apartment homes and was originally built in 2004.



















Love of Fire

When we think about design as a journey that leads to new possibilities for how we live in a built environment, biophilic design opens-up new horizons for interior designers and architects to connect people to nature.

As individuals become more isolated, it is important that design professionals intensify their efforts to re-connect buildings and interiors to our natural environment. Extensive studies have established the relationship between nature and human health.


The fireplace at The Signature in Reston, Virginia, brings the outdoors inside, with its glass enclosure as the centerpiece of the lobby.

Lifeforce elements such as light, sky, fire, and water draw upon on our survival instincts. Fire is perhaps the most dramatic way to infuse nature directly into the built environment. We are drawn to the color, warmth, movement and social engagement that fire elements compel.

“One of humanity’s greatest achievements has been the control of fire that allowed the harnessing of energy beyond animal life, and facilitated the transformation of objects from one state to another,” Stephen R. Kellert and Elizabeth F. Calabrese wrote inThe Practice of Biophilic Design .

A warm fire enlivens the club room at The Remy in New Carrollton, Maryland.


The dual-sided fireplace anchors the outdoor living space and allows for a lively connection between the indoor and outdoor spaces at  The Haven in National Harbour, Maryland.


That flickering of the flame, Rebecca Lindenmeyr writes inSustainability , is a “complex, dynamic natural scene” (like waves on the water or leaves rippling in the breeze) that can “capture and hold our attention better than artificial environments or stimuli.”

Header Image by Dominic Sansotta from

Pretty In Pink

Get ready to see more of the hue in 2019 as Pantone Color Institute announced “Living Coral” as its 2019 Color of the Year.

It’s hard to imagine that the movie “Pretty in Pink” came out 3 decades ago, but as we celebrate Valentine’s Day this year, the term filmmaker John Hughes made famous is more relevant than ever—and NOT just for women.

Millennial Pink is “all the rage” and now, there is no longer any debate that pink is pretty on everyone.

So, let’s bring out our faded Nantucket reds and Lilly Pulitzer’s because pink is back and swaggy-er than ever before.

“With Millennial Pink, gone is the girly-girl baggage; now it’s androgynous,”

Lauren Schwartzberg wrote in this detailed timeline on The Cut of how pink has surpassed fad into fixture.

As we look ahead in 2019, notions of what’s Pretty in Pink are evolving yet again. “Symbolizing our innate need for optimism and joyful pursuits, PANTONE 16-1546 Living Coral embodies our desire for playful expression,” says the company’s announcement.

More saturated than Millennial Pink, coral is not afraid to make a statement, as we can see in this collection from Anthropologie:

In these home accessories featured in Aspire Design and Home:

In this collection featured by Underscored:

Want to memorialize this shade with more permanent features in your home? Products Magazine has some great ideas. How about appliances for your kitchen?

Try sprucing up an accent wall. Sherwin Williams has 18 shades of coral.

Whatever you choose, it’s a safe bet that pink—whether it’s used as a neutral shade, as an alternative to gray or beige, or invoked as an assertive accent color—is a worthy investment for our wardrobe and home.

Color and It’s Visual Connection with Nature

“One of the great challenges of our time is to bring the beneficial experience of nature into the design of contemporary buildings, landscapes, communities, and cities”.

– Stephen R. Kellert, Nature by Design: The Practice of Biophilic Design

Biophilic design is an innovative way of connecting nature to the interiors of the places where we live, work, learn and heal. Considering that the average person spends 90 percent of their time indoors, we as design professionals need to consciously embrace the principles of biophilic design for multi-family condominiums and apartment buildings to ensure that in this stressful world, people feel that their home offers the ultimate health and wellness benefits. These benefits include reduced stress, enhanced creativity, clarity of thought and overall improved wellbeing.

In this first installment of a three-part post, we focus on the use of color as a visual connection to nature—one of 14 biophilic design patterns.

Photos, clockwise from left, by Kris Atomic, Thom Masat, Carlos Domínguez and Chris Lawton via Unsplash


Color is more than eye candy. Hue, saturation, tone and brightness define the ambiance of a space and impact our mood, motivation, productivity, creativity, and enthusiasm. When selecting a palette for a project, we closely consider the feeling that each room needs to evoke, and select color combinations that will help to express it.

Consider the emotions aroused by these colors of nature:

Blues and Cyans are colors that call to mind a bright blue sky or clean, cerulean water. Through this fellowship with nature, blues create a calming experience and reduce tension.

Shades of green are associated with health. Textures and tones of green in fabrics and other surface materials put us in touch with vegetation.  Effective ways to bring the outdoors inside include green walls, moss art, reclaimed wood, and other materials that mimic the natural world. Greens are proven to lower both your blood pressure and heart rate.

Reds are the color of fruits such as apples and berries. Their range paints a summer sunset and sprinkles the autumn leaves. Like a cluster of berries on a holly tree, red delights us when used in small bursts. Too much red, and its intensity invades our senses.

Yellow is the brightest color; used in the right intensity, hue, and saturation, it reminds us of the sun’s warmth, arouses feelings of happiness, and improves creativity and optimism. Yet, if overused, it can have an unpleasant or even disturbing effect.


Biophilic Case Study: Signature at Reston Town Center

Boston Properties and Bozzuto

The award-winning Signature at Reston Town Center, located in Reston, Virginia, features broad outdoor vistas that echo nature’s colors throughout its public spaces. In this sunlit corner, a grouping of comfy blue chairs looks out toward a courtyard animated with a waterfall and reflecting pond. We commissioned abstract artwork in shades of blue, green, brown and white; the colors channel shades that could be found in a forest, while the texture and movement of the patterns echo the rippling waters outside the floor-to-ceiling windows.


Case Study: The Haven at National Harbor

The Peterson Companies, McWilliams Ballard

From the Potomac River on one side to the surrounding treetops on the other, nature flows in and out through The Haven’s expansive windows. Our eyes connect to the blue water in the pool and the river, and also to the greenspace surrounding this award-winning multi-family condominium building. The warm wood ceiling and the milky stone indoor/outdoor fireplace monolith are natural materials that further ground the design in its organic environment.


For more information on Biophilic Design:

“With biophilia comes a restless curiosity, an urge to investigate and discover the elusive places where we meet nature, where she plays on our senses with colours and forms, perfumes and smells”.

Sir David Attenborough


Header Photo by Jeremy Thomas on Unsplash

The Amenities Race

With increasing competition, apartment properties are competing for occupants with newer and more original amenities. Which work? Which are worth the investment, upkeep and floor space? We believe the winner of this race designs space that enhances well-being.

Amenities that promote well-being:

10 years ago, did any of us in the multi-family design and development world understand how renters’needs and desires would transform into what they are now?   Who would have predicted that in 2017 some of the most important and critical amenities would revolve around on-line shopping and pets?  As sociological trends shift, we find many flocking to urban environments, living small for the benefit of city life, embracing pet ownership, and the convenience of having every impulse buy and necessity delivered to their doorstep.

Recently while sitting in miles of bumper to bumper Washington traffic, I had a paradigm shift of my own.  If we have a choice to spend the time in grid-lock versus walking our dog, having coffee at a neighborhood cafe, relaxing on a rooftop deck with friends and working in a well-appointed cyber lounge with free wireless internet, then why would today’s renter not choose to find more enjoyment in how they spend their time?

So how can we design properties with amenities that enhance well being?



Work and play everywhere:

Great design is a good start and is fundamental to every successful project.  The art of architecture and design has throughout history had a significant impact on well being.  Yet it takes more than that.  The game-changer is to appeal to this societal transformation by reinventing communities and amenities that respond to the way people live in their local culture-inside and out.  This includes designing multi-family buildings that converge all of the features that people need to work, play, socialize and re-charge in a healthy environment.

Even though millennials may be the driver of this trend, regardless of age, people want a high quality of life and less stress.  Those in the workforce are spending more hours at work and many are constantly connected.  Developers and designers of multi-family properties can make the time more productive for residents and work more enjoyable by creating well-designed co-working amenity spaces.  Conference rooms, booth seating, work pods along with high tech audiovisual features create a live/work environment that allows for individual work as well as teamwork.  In a time when offices are being designed like homes, residential buildings that provide well-appointed workspaces support the trend of the live/work blur.  The owner, residents, and employers reap the benefit.  Less time spent in traffic or on mass transit translates to a more relaxed, happier, and more productive workforce and resident.



Online shopping:

Package receipt and storage are an expected amenity and one that is growing more important. Our clients frequently ask us how large of a package room is required.  As we look to the future, I am not sure we can predict the need, though we know that the demand is increasing.  Currently, we are recommending 2 SF per unit.  In a 300 unit building, that means 600SF should be devoted to a large, secure room to store packages.  Package lockers can supplement and, in our experience, have been very well received by residents and operations.  They provide flexibility for residents and save much time for the leasing and concierge staff.

Consider turning the package locker area into a social experience for the residents.  If there is space, consider a wrapping station for easy package return, shipping, and gift wrapping as well as a communal table.


We love our pets and it is proven that pet ownership reduces stress!  It is well known that interaction with a gentle pet has significant human benefits such as lowered blood pressure, endorphin release, pain reduction, and relaxation.  Pets are also social magnets.  What better way to get to know your neighbors than to get to know their pets?  Multi-family developers can create a sense of community by engaging and promoting a pet-friendly environment.  For planning purposes, we recommend that pet spaces move to the top of the programming list.

Much can be done to support your resident pet lovers without breaking the budget.  Instead of a closet with a washing tub, create a pet experience space.  Pet/human lounges that provide a place for pet owners to gather for conversation and pet play can be indoors or out.  Pet runs with play space and well-appointed spas are memorable and make a marketing statement about the pet-friendliness of the property.

Re-charge through connection to nature:

Our need for a connection to nature is deep and fundamental.  As we become a more urban society, designing spaces that bring the outdoors to our built environment is increasingly important to our health and well-being.  Incorporating elements of nature, even though graphics and interior plantings, have stress-reducing effects.  Biophilic Design is the emerging science that advocates the human connection with nature in the built environment as a way of soothing and energizing the mind and body.  Through thoughtful design, every common space can support our changing lifestyle and the tendency to blend work, play, and relaxation.  Buildings that are flexible and adaptable enough to accommodate our transformational and healthy lifestyle are the way of the future.

Written by Phyllis Hartman, ASID, LEED AP

How Art is Reflecting Change in One Baltimore Neighborhood


The Icon Residences at The Rotunda Apartments, developed by Hekemian and Co., is located in Baltimore’s historic Hampden neighborhood.  With deep roots in the manufacturing and industrial past of Baltimore, the community is now known as one of the city’s most vibrant places to live.  Quaint, artistic and multi-cultural, the neighborhood became the inspiration for the HDG’s design team.  The result is a combination of sophisticated and bohemian style design that uniquely defines the Icon Residences.


The HDG designers chose photography from Baltimore’s own Kevin Moore to showcase the energy of the neighborhood by featuring moments from Hampden’s iconic summer festival, HonFest. “Hon”, short for honey, refers to the term of endearment that has come to identify vintage Baltimore. The photos bring a smile to all by featuring this neighborhood masquerade, when people of all ages dress up in every exaggerated style from the 50’s and 60’s – large beehive hair, cat eye glasses, poodle skirts and allot of sass. Our designers chose black and white photos and added a playful spin by coloring just one element in each photo.


Kevin has more than 30 years of professional experience. He has won several national competitions for his nature, urban and people photography. His images have been featured in many publications and media, including The Boston Review, (Sports Illustrated,) Bethesda Magazine, Baltimore Magazine, AAA World, Delaware Beach Life, Backpacker, Bicycling, Gawker, Maryland Public Television, and The Colbert Report. Kevin has photos in collections at the National Institutes of Health, Smithsonian Institution, Adventist HealthCare System, CoreSource, and Lockheed Martin.

Lighting Your Way to Excellent Design


Lighting is one of the most important elements to consider when designing any space, and this important tool is continually evolving. Meeting the requirements of the state, county and national regulations, as well as the electrical engineer’s energy model, necessitates the evaluation of our client’s needs on a grand scale.  This evaluation must balance many factors including budget, aesthetics and energy efficiency.

Though the first cost is still considerably more than conventional fluorescent and incandescent luminaires, LED lighting is the way to achieve both the low wattage requirements and the appealing effect. With this in mind, a realistic approach to the lighting budget is important. Considering that the savings over time will well outweigh the initial cost, LED lighting is an investment that pays off.


Not only will the cost of electricity be substantially lower, the greatly reduced labor (to re-lamp) and bulb replacement expense quickly help to recoup the initial cash outlay. Additionally, when renovating a building, consider the many retrofits LED lamps on the market. There could be no need to replace light fixtures and Pepco rebates may well be applicable. Whether using retrofit lamps for a renovation or new construction, choosing the right color temperature and rendition is critical to setting the mood and obtaining the desired ambiance. For calm, relaxing spaces, consider using soft, warm lights with orange and yellow hues (2700K or warmer). For a room that is intended to be livelier, like a fitness center, a slightly cooler temperature (3000 or 3100K) is ideal. The color rendition of 80 or higher is recommended for the best color interpretation.


To create the mood, many different types of lighting fixtures are required. Downlights provide general lighting and pooling of light on the floor, accent lighting is used for special features and art, while sconces and chandeliers are used for additional layering of light as well as decorative elements. The good news is that there are LED lamps for most fixture types today so you can easily achieve the look desired and contribute to the green initiative. If you’re working with an interior design firm, make sure everyone has a clear understanding of the mood you wish to create, the budget and required energy efficiency. Your interior designer will know the best way to utilize the natural light coming into the room, and how to properly support that light with general, task, accent, or a combination of all three types of lighting.

Time-Less…is More


Timeless design can be functional and sensible. It is a style that suggests a quiet confidence. It’s not over the top, nor is it boring. The timeless design is perfectly scaled and proportioned. When using the elements of timeless design in creating a functional space you will see that the furniture will fit the room perfectly. It should belong to a room and be neither too large as to overpower, nor too small as to seem unimportant.

What defines Timeless Design? The irony is that it’s hard to quantify, but when you see it, you know it. It somehow stands out above that sea of mediocrity and looks, feels, or acts different. Timeless Design does not just happen. It cannot be rushed, nor is it hastily completed. It is borne of inspiration and preparation and executed with experience and skill. Timeless Design means that someone set out to create a space or product that remained relevant for the ages.

Timeless designs, much like classic design, steer away from overly decorated and overly busy patterns, shapes and spaces. It mimics the phrase “less is often more.” Be careful when incorporating a Color of the Year into your home. While fun and energizing, many of these colors will not stand the test of time. It may be best to incorporate this color with accent pieces and accessories.

Creating timeless design is relatively easy. Background colors should be neutral, and not busy. There should be an emphasis on clean lines and shapes. Furnishings should be timeless in design as well, drawing inspiration from antiques and items that continue to popular over the years. Hartman Design Group employs these timeless elements into their work, and nowhere is it more apparent than at Cathedral Commons in Washington, D.C. The HDG design team devised a sophisticated gray, blue and white palette accented by deep wood tones and natural stones to create a contemporary yet timeless, classic interior.