Skip and Travis have a good eye for furnishings

By Chord Bezerra
Photographed by Todd Franson
Published on April 29, 2004, 12:00am | Comments

Rob and Laura Petrie channel the Tiki nature of Gilligan's Island in this Van Ness 1 BR, 1 BA apartment with a view of the sky and treeline of Rock Creek Park, and plenty of room for two avid collectors to merge.

For small business owners Travis Smith and Skip Przywara nothing says home like a collaborative collection of culture kitsch. After years of perfecting their vintage Van Ness apartment the couple is ready to sit back and enjoy a Mai Tai.

Travis: We were living in a very alternative space before this. It was above what used to be a golf store on the same block as our store Good Eye. It was a pretty big space and it had a deck out back. We lived there for a few years and then the golf store went out of business, so we had to leave too. We were frantically looking for a place, and that's how we found this apartment. Although we'd put down a deposit on another apartment we still had an appointment to see this one. We thought we should come over here just as a courtesy, so we went. The apartment was empty and when we walked in the view outside the windows was all treetops and sky over Rock Creek Park. It looked like you were in West Virginia or something. I took one look at that view and I knew I wanted this apartment.

[In the living room] I think Skip and I both have the same taste in art. Most of the art in here is vintage. That piece is by the artist Shag in Los Angeles. This sculpture is my favorite object. I've had it for about maybe eight years. I bought it at the Georgetown Flea Market. I never get tired of it. I think it's really one of the coolest things I've seen and I've seen a lot of stuff. It's by an artist named Jar้ and he did metal sculptures of all kinds in the ‘60s and ‘70s. For a brief time I loaned it to the little bar Aroma in Cleveland Park because I designed the interior. That place got trashed really quickly and one day I walked in there and it was sitting on the floor leaning against the wall and I was like, "No -- this is going back home." That is when I decided I wasn't going to give it up again.

This is a leather shag carpet. You can still get them but they are really expensive. I got it at this weird funky antique store. I was there three times before I bought the damn thing. The first time I walked on it I didn't know what it was. I thought the shag looked like dead leaves or something. Then I went back and I thought, damn, that rug is still here -- and it is really, really cool.

[In the bedroom] Both Skip and I collect toys. He has all the robots and the Japanese stuff and I have the doll furniture. I have always really been into Barbie -- not so much the dolls but their stuff. A couple of years ago I got bit by the eBay bug and was just binging on Barbie furniture and accessories. Although I'm not into the dolls I do have a Ken and Allan doll -- I'm more into the subversive relationship between Ken and Allan.

This is Skip's storage. We don't know exactly what it used to be -- obviously it was some kind of office piece. It was originally government issued green but, of course, it had to color coordinate with our style so we took it to this company in Manassas called American Stripping where they sandblast off the original paint and the bake on a powder coat enamel finish -- like an automotive finish. Skip is really the collector in our household. For example, this drawer is where his collection of buttons is, this drawer has promotional post cards, this one has Mad Libs and this one has mini-books. He already had all this stuff so when we saw this piece at an antique store we knew it is perfect for him.

[In the dining room] Collectors are just born with a mentality -- you either are one or you are not. A lot of people would walk in here and go, "Huh?" Other people walk in and get it. Our style is Rob and Laura Petrie go to Gilligan's Island. I'm Rob and Laura, and Skip is Gilligan's Island. I've always had vintage modern interiors and I'm pretty much a late ‘50s early ‘60s type of guy. Skip was really one of the first Tiki aficionados I ever met. He really turned me on to that culture. I kind of knew it existed from reading about it in magazines but I didn't know that somebody could have that many Tiki mugs, or that that many mugs were actually created. This place is his love and his passion and his collection melding with my mine. It really is the perfect story of two different collectors who got together, became married, melded their collections together and created something that actually works.

Does your house, condo or apartment have a story to tell? Let Environs know about it. E-mail environs@metroweekly.com. To see more photographs from this week's featured space, visit us online at www.metroweekly.com/home.

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