Room & Board

Newly renovated interior with hardwood floors throughout, charming antique fireplace mantles, open, airy space and a stunning roof deck addition. Marketing for a new condo? No; a description of the new Room and Board store coming to the 14th Street scene this June. Adding to the design/decor corridor along 14th Street, NW, the new DC flagship location for the Minneapolis-based home furniture retailer is nearing completion at 14th and T Street in the old Taylor Motor Building. Last June, the retailers purchased the vacant, four-story building at 1840 14th Street, with plans to transform it into a fully rehabbed showroom and sales location. The company retained DC architects Eric Colbert and Associates to design the extensive renovation and work as a local advocate to get approvals from Historic and Zoning.

Area residents have been eying the progress especially now that the scaffolding came down and a new sign was added last week to the 14th Street side, both portending the opening, scheduled for early to mid-June. The new store will offer 36,000 s.f. of open show room space on three floors and a roof top area. A roof deck with a wrap-around glass balcony offers fantastic views of the Logan and U Street area–the perfect place to contemplate life and design on a sunny day. If only they were putting in a coffee shop…

The retailers tasked Project Architect Eric Colbert with exposing much of the interior structures – like the original concrete beams. As you enter through the large glass doors from 14th street, the space opens before you, drawing your attention to the “grand staircase” and the streaming light flooding the store from the new windows that replicate the original single-pain industrial sash windows. Keeping with the retailer’s request, Colbert and McCullough Construction built 3/4 walls that act as partitions anchored to the ground, not reaching the full height of the ceilings, where the duct work and pipes are exposed “in a neat and orderly manner,” according to Colbert. The architect also attempted to recreate contemporary showroom windows, using steel details in canopies and bays to create something that looked like it may have been “added recently, but has the feeling and overall effect of the original concept.”

The addition of a rooftop area posed the challenge of integrating “aesthetics of an addition with the existing structure to make it harmonious” said Colbert. He added, “a sophisticated addition to an historic building does not try to mimic the historic building because then there is no immediate story on how it evolved over time.” On average the addition is set back 20 to 30 feet on all sides except that with the adjoining building. Colbert designed a wood deck with a tempered glass handrail set back an additional four feet from the edge to prevent visual obstructions of the historic area.

A construction manager from McCullough walked us through the project pointing out unique details for the store, like the slabs of wood for the floor that upon closer examination had a pattern of swirls and flourishes meant to look like an old mill room floor. Then there are the five fireplaces throughout the building, stone and iron frames will integrate antique mantles (salvaged from area homes) into the new space. On the interior walls that were covered in plaster and stucco during one of the space’s many incarnations, the builders are applying a thin brick facade, closer to what the interior looked like when first built.

The store will act as a showroom for furniture, where customers can try out a couch, pick out a fabric and then order their newest piece of furniture for delivery. By showing furniture on location, but not selling pieces then and there, the store will minimize the number of deliveries and traffic in the alley and neighboring street.

You can check it out yourself when it opens in June. Don’t forget, the rooftop is BYOL (bring your own latte).