Meet “Queen Gracie”

Design Team Lisa & Leroy Bring Fresh Look to Historic Home

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Walk into the house at 9 Seventh St. SE and you’ll be struck by the mood inside. The house retains many of its historic elements—the original fireplace, delicate paster moldings and original pine floors. But that’s not what you notice first. It’s a feeling of calm cast by the blues and grays in the living room, punctuated with warm colors in the seating; the pendant light evoking the sun suspended above an Asian-influenced dining room covered in grass cloth wallpaper.

Classic With A Twist

It’s a work of art, and it perfectly captures the style of Lisa and Leroy, the design team that put it together. Head of the firm Lisa Shaffer named the company after herself and her puppy, Leroy. She has carried the tradition forward by naming design projects for client pets. On Seventh Street, that’s their little dog, Gracie; thus, the project name “Queen Gracie.”

Shaffer works with clients to achieve their style goals, but she is probably known best for mixing the old and the new, a style she calls “classic with a twist.” She incorporates the original or historic aspects of the home while modernizing the overall look.

Gracie sits on a wingback armchair in the living room, with pops of apricot in the art behind her. Courtesy: Lisa & Leroy

It’s design, but not over design, Shaffer said, and it is the look many clients are often after when they call. “They really enjoy the historical elements of their home, and they want to modernize it—but not make it a completely different house. They want to walk in and say, ‘Yes, I still recognize this as a Capitol Hill row home.’”

Design First

Lisa & Leroy is a full-service design studio with the ability to perform both design and construction projects from sketch, design and purchasing to renovation and installation—and everything in between.  

Shaffer came to the design business by accident. Six years ago, she took a break from her high-pressure job in corporate retail, stepping away from a position where she managed over a billion-dollar budget and thousands of employees. Finding herself bored during her year-long leave of absence, Shaffer decided to start a company.

She was already a licensed general contractor who had purchased her first Hill home at the age of 23, completely redoing the home herself from roof to windows to floors. “Anything we do in a client’s home, I’ve done myself,” she said. She thought that she might try it out for a year, then return to the corporate life. “But then, I fell in love with it,” Shaffer said.

The client fell in love with a sample of this grass cloth walipaper, so the Lisa & Leroy team designed the living room around it. … Shaffer found the dining room chairs at an antique auction and had them refinished to fit the room. Courtesy: Lisa & Leroy

Now, Shaffer has built a design-first team that includes an in-house construction team and more than 25 employees.

Her aesthetic sense is critical, but her business background still plays an important role. Shaffer says Lisa & Leroy delivers a great client experience because there are processes in place, and because she has learned how to hire as well as how to run a project and a business. “It helps to grow when you have the foundation and knowledge of how to do it,” Shaffer reflected.

Queen Gracie

The home, a 2,500 square-foot, 4-bedroom, 2.5 bath, was purchased right at the start of the pandemic. The clients lived elsewhere on the Hill, but wanted to be near the hustle and bustle of the Eastern Market area. As the pandemic wound down and guests became a larger consideration, they were ready to rethink the look of their home. They called Lisa and Leroy to help reimagine the main floor.

“It already had a beautiful fireplace and facade, some gorgeous plaster moldings to highlight,” Shaffer said. “It also had the original hard pine floors—those are all things we wanted to keep and highlight, rather than mask and cover up.” The team took the historic elements of the home, layering in some antiques and whimsical traits.

In the living room, that led to the juxtaposition of a sofa that has more modern, clean lines with a traditional wingback chair in the corner that Shaffer said pays homage to the house and its history.

The client fell in love with samples of the grasscloth wallpaper, Shaffer said, so it was the focus of the design for the dining room. The chairs were found at an antique auction and refinished and reupholstered, paired with a brand new, almost sculptural white table. “The tension in that room I thought was so important,” Shaffer explained. “Because there’s not a lot of other things in it—so items that you put in need to really make a statement, and those chairs certainly do.”

The home is unified by color, in some places just a nod. The dining room has a golden apricot ceiling, featured in two swivel chairs in the living room and small nods with accessories in the common spaces, even as light a touch as a splash of color in artwork. 

Now, Lisa and Leroy are back in the house to design the rest of the home. Most of their business is repeat clients or referrals, Shaffer said.

You can reach out to Lisa and Leroy to talk about your project. Visit www.lisaandleroy.com or call 202-758-0028.