Interior Designer Mary Washer Creates A Beautiful Location For District Table And Bar's New Location
According to the ancient poet and scholar Rumi, life is a balance of holding on and letting go. The wisdom of this message has not been lost on Mary Washer, one of the area’s most in-demand interior designers. If you’ve had a chance to enjoy a meal at District Table and Bar’s new location on SE Dixie Highway, you’ll have no trouble understanding how beautiful and harmonious balance can be. Jason and Mirka Stocks, owners and proprietors of the restaurant who are dedicated to providing a delicious balance of farm-to-table foods, knew exactly who to call to create the perfect atmosphere for their new digs.
The design includes the melding of two separate buildings—one a bank and the other a barbershop—into one harmonious and welcoming space. Working with the building owner, the business owners and the contractors, Washer was able to create a design that embraces the characteristics of the space and make them key elements of the new District Table and Bar. Washer even found a way to turn the 10-by-30-foot vault that was part of the building’s previous tenant into a wildly welcoming private dining space. And while she admits the design was a challenge, Washer is almost as elated with the end results as the owners and diners at District Table and Bar.
“We decided to blow a hole into the back of the vault to get some light in it,” Washer says. “The inspiration was The Wynwood Yard in Miami, which has herbs everywhere. It was neat to be given the opportunity to take such a creative idea and just run with it,” she says. “Jennifer Lewis, a wonderful artist, did some gorgeous art with market lights, and the atmosphere really called for French doors with herbs growing, a painted fence, and an industrial, modern feel that you simply won’t find anywhere else.”
Washer, a central Florida native, found her way into interior design by taking an art class as an “easy elective” in college. After that first art class, she transferred schools and switched her major from psychology to art. “Because of my art background,” she says, “I’m good at visualizing what I want in a design or renovation job, so I’m delighted, but not surprised, when it comes out exactly as I envisioned it in my mind.”
Washer did some intern work in Charlotte, North Carolina, and after several years working in the mountains for another well-known designer, Dianne Davant, Washer relocated to the Palm City area, eventually opening her own design studio.
“I love to work in styles you might consider coastal, modern or Asian, but no matter what my clients have in mind when they meet with me, I find their real goal is a feeling of comfort,” she says. “I pride myself in being able to achieve that through balance. Sometimes the balance comes from the amount of wood versus paint, sometimes it’s the amount and scale of the furnishings, but really style is more of a feeling than a look.”
Washer says that of all the skills she learned in art school and during her years as a designer, the most important skill she has picked up and practiced is the ability to listen. “I think I do more listening than anything else,” she says. “Through listening, I’m able to get a sense of how clients live their lives and how I can make a design fit them. Whether it’s an office renovation, a restaurant like District Table and Bar, a year-round residence or seasonal home, it’s all about feeling cozy, even in the large-scale spaces that sometimes feel so challenging.”
But Washer doesn’t fear a challenge. From gut jobs like the one needed at the District, to renovations at private homes, she says every project comes with a level of fulfillment. “When you are done and you can see the happiness on the face of your client, you know you have done a good job,” she says.