Designer and artist Mick Mier's converted Ledroit Park warehouse

By Chord Bezerra
Photography by Todd Franson
Published on June 3, 2004, 12:00am | Comments

This sizable 2 BR, 1 BA apartment in Ledroit Park is the perfect abode for your inner-artist. Lavishly decorated with architectural antiques and quite a few paintings meant to raise eyebrows and provoke a gasp. Includes a walk-in vault perfect for practicing your mantra.

Between furniture design, painting and interior decorating artist Mick Mier knew a conventional apartment would never be able to accommodate his creative ambition. He instead found his oasis in an old drugstore warehouse in Ledroit Park with plenty of space, plenty of history and plenty of ways for him to add his own touch.

Mick: I was living in California before I came to Washington. I ended up here accidentally because I was doing a music project and came to do a recording. I stayed here and hung out and liked it. I wanted to live on the east coast for a while because the west coast was a little too relaxed. I thought it would be more energetic out here.

I did music for a while and was dabbling in interior design. I started dumpster diving and fixing furniture and then I went to a trade school in Texas for a year because I wanted to learn how to do it properly. I did that, came back and started the upholstery business, Top Collective. All the while I was sort of nurturing my interest in interior design. Now I sort of have a balance between all of my art forms.

This space is 4,000 square feet. I have my upholstery shop in the back. I have a garage, a loading dock and a freight elevator that comes right into the shop. I'm a magnet for things and furniture and I can't live a regular life and do what I do. I can't live in an apartment or even a house. This space is perfect for me.

[In the bedroom] These are all architectural antiques that I pick up here and there. I do assemblages with them, like this mirror I built completely out of antiques. I've done all this since I moved in last October. It comes together as you're doing it. That is a piece of antique paneling [above my bed]. I love that sort of stuff. I love age and function and history. I can buy something that someone else has used over and over again and then change it into what I like by restoring it, by stripping it down, by painting it, or by adding it to something else. I don't just buy it, I buy it and have to tweak it a little bit to my liking.

[In the living room] That painting is by Steve Lewis, who also did the woodcut in my bedroom. It's called "Crucifixion of the Hound Dog." A lot of people think it is blasphemous but it is really not. He did this series of paintings of dogs for this client and he was so tired of painting dogs, when he was done with the project he decided he was going to crucify the last one. So he did this whole elaborate painting. A lot of people are offended by it but I think it's hilarious.

[In the rec room] This is the screening room. I did the painted finish on that coffee table. This couple had an estate sale and Bill Troy from Ruff and Ready called me and said, "We just bought out this whole house and there is one thing left that we can't fit in the truck. If you go grab it, it's yours." He said it was a coffee table the size of a full size mattress. I said, "I'll take it." The couple was so happy to get rid of it because it's so huge. It was perfect for a warehouse.

[In the vault] This is a walk-in vault that I converted into a yoga room. I got into yoga a couple years ago because I threw out my back. I used to work out at the gym and I was a big swimmer. Then I hurt my back lifting furniture a couple years ago and my chiropractor said I should start doing yoga. I was like, "Oh, god." Then I started doing it -- I love it. I don't even go to the gym anymore. Five days a week, yoga is my work out. It is everything -- it is spiritual, it is relaxing. I can think about all the things I need to do -- it's my private time.

The neighborhood is getting better and better. This building used to be the only one on the street that had a different demographic than the rest of the neighborhood. Artists have been working here since the '70s. This is kind of an oasis. When you go out and see the people hanging out and being all sketchy it bothers you but then you get inside -- you've got your own little world. Once I'm in here I forget about it. No one seems to bother the building at all. They at least respect that work is going on here. I think they might be scared of artists.

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