We love seeing imagery in the #aCreativeDC feed of people's H O M E S , and when we peeked Sally Irmer's living room in square format we were essentially tripping over ourselves for an invitation. Associate creative director and general manager of (the very dreamy) D.C.-owned, home decor + goods-for-good-living shop Salt & Sundry, the Dupont apartment Sally shares with her boyfriend John is testament to her having found, creative career-wise, exactly what it is she's supposed to be doing. We're so glad to be able to share a look at her DIY + personality-filled home, and read on for decor tips, Sally's favorite local makers, and the creative D.C. she's witness to, working from both the Union Market (NE) and 14th & S St. (NW) locations of the shops.
I’ve been living in DC for three years. I’m the associate creative director and general manager of Salt & Sundry. I work closely with our incredibly talented shop owner and my good friend, Amanda McClements. I do a little bit of everything – from buying and styling merchandise, to staff training and event planning.
I discovered Salt & Sundry on Craigslist – yes, really! – when I applied on a whim to an ad that read "New Home Boutique Now Hiring!" I started working at the Union Market shop a few days before it opened, and three years later here I am! I never could've imagined how things would unfold, but I'm so grateful that they did.
Before working at Salt & Sundry I was teaching fifth grade in Baltimore City. I loved my students, but ultimately teaching wasn’t for me. It may not sound like the most logical progression, but teaching gave me so much creative and social know-how that I use every day at the shop.
I’d definitely call my love for décor and design hereditary. I’ve been antiquing with my mom and reading Better Homes & Gardens since elementary school. Although our styles are different, our love for creating warm, inviting spaces is very much the same.
I vividly remember designing my day-and-night themed bedroom in the fifth grade; featuring sunny yellow walls, a sky blue ceiling with sponge painted clouds, and a starry wallpaper border – which I hand cut using cloud-shaped scissors. I didn’t realize that my interest in design was unique at the time, but somewhere along the way I discovered that most ten-year-olds don’t wallpaper their bedrooms. A few years ago I decided to channel that passion into a profession.
I feel very lucky to work with extremely creative, warm and passionate people – who also happen to be some of my closest friends! We feed off of each other’s aesthetic obsessions, which constantly inspires design projects around the shop and beyond. I love that energy. Plus – it’s pretty great to be surrounded by beautiful things all day.
And when you're not at work - how do you spend your time? I have a serious itch to create and craft, which takes me on a lot of DIY adventures. My most recent project was an IKEA hack involving copper pipes. I’ve been brainstorming scent combinations for a candle collection, so that’s definitely on my to-make list! I’ve also become the go-to design consultant for my friends. I love mocking up mood boards for their homes to help them visualize their space in a new way.
Your boyfriend is super creative as well! John [Denapoli] is an incredible artist and designer. I’m blown away by his ability to put a pen to paper and communicate ideas through illustration. He works as an interior architect for Edit Lab at Streetsense, designing restaurants and bars around the city. We recently ate at the new DGS – his first completed project with Edit Lab. It was wonderful to see his work come to life in such a beautiful space. I’m a lucky girl!
You've got a unique viewpoint on so many aspects of creative D.C. – makers, producers, chefs – who do you love supporting? Who's doing work that you love? Working in Union Market has been a wonderful introduction to DC’s vibrant food community, and I love taking advantage! At work, I’m fueled by Peregrine coffee, Neopol’s avocado toast and snapper tartare from Rappahannock Oyster Bar. Outside the market, I could live off cacio e pepe from Red Hen, piña coladas from Doi Moi and roast chicken from Glen’s Garden Market. D.C. is a pretty delicious place.
When I’m not eating my way around town, I love supporting my favorite local makers. My good friend, Mallory Shelter, makes the most stunning jewelry that I’m lucky to wear every day. I’m also a huge fan of Matine leather goods, Printed Wild tea towels and DeNada cozy knit scarves. The D.C. accessory game is awesome!
We have to ask! What are your top three pieces of home decor advice?
1. Strike a balance. I’m drawn to bright colors and eclectic patterns, but I always aim to create harmony by pairing those pieces with neutral, solid accents. Similarly, I love to complement vintage pieces with modern ones.
2. Just add plants! Not only do they help you literally breathe easier, but greenery is the quickest (and cheapest) way to add beauty, color and earthiness to your space. If you have a brown thumb, stick to snake plants and succulents.
3. Keep it cozy. A beautiful home is useless if your friends don’t want to hang out there! My goal is always to create a space that is as comfortable as it is chic.
follow Sally on Instagram: @sjirmer