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Secondhand News: Green Owl Design is changing the face of Hyattsville, one storefront at a time

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Posted on: November 18, 2014

If you enter Hyattsville on Route 1 from the South, you’d be crazy not to notice the magenta-striped “castle” that is Shortcake Bakery. Driving towards Hyattsville from the North, you can’t miss Riverdale Park’s new unisex salon, Ivy Lounge, with its naturalistic exterior and a massive vintage chandelier in the window. Did you know? Both of the striking facades (and their interiors) were masterminded by Hyattsville-based design studio and local retail space, Green Owl Design.

Designers Erica Riggio and Angela Justice, who have been working together for years through their respective design enterprises, Riggio Design and Space 26 Designs, recently merged to create Green Owl Design.

Photo courtesy Lauren Flynn Kelly.
Photo courtesy Lauren Flynn Kelly.

Located at 4327-C Gallatin Street, the boutique itself officially opened its doors in July, and features a beautiful display of vintage (mostly mid-century modern at the moment) furniture, housewares and clothing. In addition, Green Owl showcases top-notch local art, ranging from canvases and postcards to throw pillows and homemade candles.

The boutique’s furniture selection — did I mention it’s vintage? — is very fairly priced. For example, you can snag a mid-century modern bar cart for $220 and a pair of vintage acrylic tulip-based chairs for $400. A set of locally re-upholstered Drexel Heritage dining chairs are priced at $150 apiece, and would go for much, much more on popular secondhand sites like The selection also features a few custom pieces, like an ornate ’70s headboard painted a romantic dusty rose that sells for about $200. Original art prices, meanwhile, range from $10 for small limited edition postcard-size prints to upwards of $1,000.

“Our passion is design, but we like to refinish furniture and build things and find beauty in things that wind up discarded,” said Riggio. “We definitely believe in upcycling … It’s always going to be something you might not have seen and is sort of one of a kind. I think this area needs a retail shop like this.”

The store itself is open Tuesdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and the first Saturday of every month from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Visitors can also shop by appointment.

Green Owl also plans to hold exhibits every quarter as well as a holiday gift show with an opening reception, in order to showcase some of the smaller, lower priced items that can be purchased as gifts.

In addition to its retail offerings, the Gallatin Street space is a fully functional design studio, where clients can meet with Riggio and Justice to discuss their design services.  The two, who previously collaborated on local residential and commercial properties, offer services including concept development, space planning, color consulting and project management.

As partners, they’ve completed projects all over the Washington, D.C. area and on a wide range of budgets. Local residents may have visited a few, including the Society Restaurant & Lounge in Silver Spring and Bishop Boutique in Alexandria.

Riggio said she loves to dig in to local projects like Shortcake and Ivy and hopes to see more street-level development on Route 1. While Shortcake’s eye-popping exterior was modeled after the many European bakeries Riggio saw in her research, the interior features handmade touches such as tables made from doors purchased at Community Forklift and a repainted jumbo spider chandelier that gave owner and baker Cheryl Harrington the “rustic, Parisian concept” she’d envisioned for the inside.

Riggio, a Hyattsville resident and former D.C. bartender who earned her masters of fine arts in interior design from George Washington University, said she’s also color consulted a few of her neighbors’ exteriors and would love to get her hands on one of Hyattsville’s famed Victorian homes.

“For us, we do a little bit of everything. And it’s challenging. But I couldn’t really see it any other way. Otherwise, I’d get bored.”



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