April and Shannon Alford-Barclays’ soulful space invites people of all ages to nestle in for game night, which might include UNO, backgammon or Lyrically Correct, a music trivia game. And the couple’s dining room table is just the ticket for some playful competition.
Likewise, the Crate & Barrel table the couple scouted for online delivers an elegantly easy spot for holiday gatherings — such as a Christmas brunch.
“We would say that the ambience we aim to create is cozy and moody,” said Shannon. “We love for anyone who walks into our home to feel welcomed and calm. Our design style is Afro-modern; and because of that, you will see touches of Black art, African masks and an overall moody/cozy vibe. "
Additionally, the women, who are foster parents to two young boys, wanted to create a space that is kid-friendly but does not compromise on style.
When friends and family come into the home, they say their style represents “who we are as people, and that is the biggest compliment to us,” said Shannon. “When choosing décor, our biggest goal is to create a space that is authentically us,” she added.
“We purchased our home in the housing madness of 2021. We had been searching for months and were continuously being outbid,” Shannon explained.
The couple wanted to stay close to downtown, but there was little inventory on the market at that time. Shannon discovered the house, located in the Wright-Dunbar Historic Village, while April was on a cross-country trip.
Shannon went with a friend to view the house; and instantly, she fell in love with the potential for the three-bedroom, 2½-bath residence. “We closed in September 2021,” she added. “Location was a major factor in our decision. Another draw to the home was the space. We loved the layout and knew that we could make this home work for our family.”
The 1,552-square-foot (not including the finished basement) home was built in 2004. The Wright-Dunbar Village neighborhood consists of a mixture of period homes and newer builds that replicate the historic vibe of the neighborhood, according to the women. Their Colonial-style residence, which has “good bones” architecturally speaking, seamlessly blends in.
Shortly after the couple purchased the property, they started a complete remodel of the home. “We worked with a contractor and redid the kitchen, all bathrooms, added a room in our basement, painted the interior and added laminate flooring throughout the home to create a cohesive look,” Shannon said.
The contractor completed all the labor-intensive work; and Shannon and April came in at the end and completed all the design work. “We have some very basic construction skills but leave the heavy lifting to the professionals,” added Shannon.
“We just finished up turning our sliding closet doors into French doors by repurposing the doors,” said Shannon. “We are also in the process of planning our outdoor space and exterior changes to the home. Also, April plans to give her bathroom a refresh in September.”
(Yes, the women say — with a laugh — having separate bathrooms is the key to a successful marriage.)
April, 50, is chief administrator for the Montgomery County Board of Elections; and Shannon, 34, is a job and family services specialist for the Montgomery County Department of Job and Family Services.
Shannon works remotely, and her downstairs office space also doubles as a library and music center. Just around the corner is the family room with a large saffron sofa and plenty of space for watching movies.
Throughout the home, book vignettes thoughtfully add height, texture and color. Stacks of well-loved books create pedestals, too, for art and allow guests to learn more about the family. In the 6-year-old’s bedrooms, for instance, “Spider Man” books are clearly his favorite subject.
“Our interior-design inspiration come from several places,” Shannon said. “We follow several designers on Instagram and YouTube who have similar design styles. We subscribe to several design magazines; and we love Pinterest because there are so many ideas on the site. We are also huge fans of HGTV.”
Shannon typically does not create a mood board. Her ideas live in her head, she said, so she is more “inwardly organized.” As such, Shannon will jump headfirst into a project and work out the details as she goes along. On the other hand, April is more “outwardly organized” with her planning process. Therefore, she creates lists and mood boards on Milanote, a nifty online whiteboard for creatives, and Notion, a productivity and note-taking web application.
Despite their different design approaches, the couple share a similar aesthetic that flows quite naturally through their urban haven.
SHOP YOUR HOME
April and Shannon said much of the artwork in the home has been purchased while traveling, while other pieces have been inherited from family members. They also shop online, visiting such sites as Etsy and Article Modern Furniture.
The women add the little touches can offer remarkably big changes.
Adding a fresh coat of paint after almost two years, for instance, made a world of difference, according to the women. “The other thing is, although the first thought when refreshing our home was to buy new items, we were very surprised at how well items looked when moved into different spaces,” Shannon added.
In the future, before buying new pieces, the couple said they will “shop our home” and see how things look in different rooms.
JUST GO FOR IT
What tips do the women offer to others ready to jump into a remodeling project? “Just go for it! Many people are hesitant to take chances with their space. Take the chance and create a space that is authentically you. Do not live in a space that does not reflect who you are. Plan well and do it!”