Contemporary Living With a Rustic Flair

To open up this condo and make one large living space, designer Rachel James worked her demo and designer magic, resulting in an open living space full of bright colors and cool accent pieces.
Orange Accent Wall Electrifies Contemporary Living Room

Orange Accent Wall Electrifies Contemporary Living Room

A bright orange wall livens up this otherwise neutral contemporary living room. The space is filled with fun touches, including orange-striped throw pillows, a shaggy area rug and a rustic sliding barn door.

Photo by: unknown


When designer Rachel James' client asked for a more open, bright and colorful living space, Rachel knew just how to make their interior design wishes come true.

Describe the homeowner's wish list.

The client wanted to open up the living space by knocking out the guest room wall and adding a sliding door. We used reclaimed hardwood on stainless steel casters to create a rustic yet modern and industrial theme. This building was the first condo erected in downtown Clarendon (area of Arlington), so it became the blueprint for all other condos in the area.

What was the biggest issue the design addressed?

We wanted to bring in light and create more openness, making the rooms function as a large living space that was industrial, yet classy and full of chi.

Cool Condo Packed With Color

See All Photos

Transitional Design

In this cool transitional condo, designer Rachel James mixes rustic charm with contemporary furnishings for a fun collaboration of styles.

Office and Space

To keep the living space feeling more spacious and connected with the rest of the condo, the sliding barn door can be left open to expose a view of the stylish home office.

Table for Four

Just off the living room is a quaint dining area big enough for four. The bright orange chairs tie in perfectly with the vibrant hues used throughout the rest of the living area.

Touch of Glass

With so many colors and textures, it was important not to let the space become overwhelming, a task Rachel achieved by incorporating a simple glass coffee table as well as the glass dining table.

Rainbow of Colors

The colorful side table acts to bring in several colors that keep the room bright and cheery, complementing the orange throughout and introducing a larger variety of hues.

Beautiful Barn Door

The condo's new barn door looks beautiful and is a charming addition to the space, whether it's kept closed to keep the home office private or left open to expand the living space.

Smart Sliding Door

Since the client wanted to create a feeling of more space in the living area, a barn door which slides open and closed was the perfect way to connect the office and living room.

Rustic and Reclaimed

"We used reclaimed hardwood on stainless steel casters to create a rustic yet modern and industrial theme," says Rachel of the sliding barn door.

Office Hours

The peaceful home office offers a simple, clean space for work with a cool design that reflects the rest of the home. "The artwork in the office area was inspired by one of Stravinsky’s ballets," explains Rachel. "It looks to be a simple abstract, but it actually has great depth in meaning."

Homey Office

One wall of the home office utilizes the same bright orange as seen in the living room, but the sleek black sofa brings a more sophisticated touch to the space. A gorgeous cowhide rug ties the room together nicely and generates visual warmth throughout the room.

Easy Flow

A view of the living room from the home office shows just how seamlessly the two rooms connect, making the client's wish for one big living space a reality.

Describe an obstacle in the space.

There weren’t too many large obstacles, however working in a condo presents a certain set of challenges in terms of timing, parking and making sure all elements fit in the freight elevator. Demolition involved issues in making sure we didn’t affect duct work.

How did the end result match your original vision?

The original reclaimed wood for the door warped and had to be replaced. We painted the columns in a custom finish to replicate the concrete pillars on the wrap-around deck, however the general painter accidentally painted over the faux finish, so we had to redo it.

What lessons did you learn from this project?

Loved the way the rooms could absorb a bright color. Even though we used Racing Orange by Benjamin Moore on the walls, orange upholstery on the chairs, and orange pillows, the effect was at once energetic and soothing. This bright color is quite liveable.

What are the hidden gems that make a big difference?

The artwork in the office area was inspired by one of Stravinsky’s ballets. It looks to be a simple abstract, but it actually has great depth in meaning. The wrap-around deck truly functions as an extra room, and the client spends all the warm months living outside.

Next Up

Rustic, Contemporary Kitchen Remodel

Designer Lauren Bland takes a cluttered, beige disaster of a kitchen and turns it into a spacious, organized beauty, complete with unexpected features and stunning woodland views.

A Lived-In Living Room Update

Learn how designer Tony Stavish gave this Chicago living room a collected-over-time look, making it the perfect blend of old and new.

Historic Home With Modern Flair

Designer Andreas Charalambous gives this historic D.C. townhouse a modern makeover, while still preserving the home's rich character.

Inviting Living Room in Lake Tahoe Retreat

Designer Linda McCall creates a charming place for family and friends to gather in this couple's traditional Lake Tahoe getaway.

Living Room With a Modern Twist

Designer Gioi Tran transforms a formal living room into a modern and bold expression of the homeowner's style and personality.

Traditional Style Living Room With Modern Twist

A charming sitting room in the Baltimore Symphony Decorators' Show House is given a traditional style with modern twists of color from designer Liz Dickson.

Cool, Contemporary Bachelor Pad

Designer Hubert May pulls out all the stops to give his client the simple, clean bachelor pad he had hoped for.

A Designer's Home Gets a Contemporary Makeover

Designer Beth Davidson reworks her own living and dining rooms with a colorful, contemporary look, pops of red and original art.

Eclectic Comfort Inspires Living Room

Designer Julie Holloway shares how she creates a new floor plan, refreshes furnishings and adds colorful accents to revitalize a hard-working living space.

A Contemporary Kitchen With Asian Flair

A bright yellow kitchen with an awkward layout and challenging architectural design was begging for a makeover, and designer Lauren Bland found the perfect solutions.

Rachel James

Contact Me
Rachel James interiors 8300 Boone Blvd. Vienna, VA 22182 703-848-9255