This online interior design community offers hands-on advice


A photo of House of Washington, House Friends co-founder Linny Giffin. Photo by Mariah Jones.

It’s a common pickle for anyone building a home: you need help choosing a new sofa or picking out this or that rug, but you don’t necessarily want to hire an interior designer. Maybe you don’t want to spend the money, or maybe you just don’t want to hand over the reins to someone else. But you could still use some advice.

It’s there that Friends of the house The subscription-based online community provides a space for design enthusiasts to gather opinions and interior design recommendations from other members, as well as access to interior design workshops. DC artist and designer Linny Giffin (who also co-founded former DC makers space The Lemon Collective) and Charlotte, North Carolina designer Claire Keane launched the platform in June.

The duo met at the Lemon Collective – Keane previously lived in DC and was a member – and bonded over their love of interior design. They started offering word-of-mouth design consultations, where they would go to a client’s home and provide advice on decorating puzzles or how best to use a space — plus a design coach than an interior designer. They realized that a lot of people wanted to find that happy medium between going solo and hiring a full-time designer. So they launched the House Friends virtual platform, making it easy for anyone to access this kind of advice, regardless of location.

In terms of interior design, I really feel like there’s a void,” says Giffin. “Everything you could want to know is available on the internet; you can find all the information you need. There are tons and tons of free resources. And then there are obviously the design offices, which are at the other extreme [getting] someone to do it for you. And I think there’s a need in the middle.

Keane’s kitchen. Image courtesy of House Friends.
Keane in his living room. Image courtesy of House Friends.

It’s $50 a year to become a member, which gives you access to the House Friends Slack group, where members meet to discuss design advice, help someone tackle a project in their home, or drop links to great furniture for sale. Additionally, Giffin and Keane host monthly workshops on topics like browsing the Facebook Marketplace or creating a home design mood board, and members have access to a private Pinterest page and mood board. Excel spreadsheet filled with design resources and lists of suppliers of vintage furniture and items nationwide. The duo also offers one-hour virtual consultations, in-home consultations in DC and Charlotte, and product sourcing for specific projects for an additional fee.

The group holds workshops on topics such as creating mood boards for design inspiration. Image courtesy of House Friends.

House Friends also encourages sustainability with a focus on used and vintage furniture and household items. Both Giffin and Keane are big vintage fans. Not only is it more environmentally friendly to buy a used piece rather than new, vintage pieces tend to be higher quality and more durable than big box options, Giffin says.

That’s not to say they’re advocating 100% vintage sourcing: the duo encourage a mixed-media approach similar to how they style their own homes — some Facebook Marketplace and vintage finds mixed in with some budget IKEA choices and some big, thrifty ones. – up-for-it purchases you’ll have forever. “The main goal is to be more informed and thoughtful buyers who really try to focus on our personal tastes and honor them in the things we buy,” says Giffin. “[We want to] take our time and let the rooms in our home tell stories about who we are.

Right now, the two are focused on growing their community, but hope to one day offer subgroups tailored to specific regions and maybe even sell products directly. The goal is to continue to make design accessible through a platform where people feel empowered to create a home they love on their own schedule and on their own terms. “WWe really want to create a space where these small accomplishments can be celebrated,” says Keane. “Not everything is going to be in quotes, ‘Instagram worthy.’ But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth celebrating with your creator community.

Mimi Montgomery Washingtonian

Home and Features Editor

Mimi Montgomery joins Washingtonian in 2018. She has written for The Washington Post, Garden & Gun, Outside Magazine, Washington City Paper, DCist and PoPVille. Originally from North Carolina, she now lives in Del Ray.


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