There’s a quiet but steady transition happening behind the doors of homes in Northern Virginia. Breaking away from the modern trend of sleek neutrals, people are bringing bright colors back into their homes. And Boxwood, a home goods store in Old Town Alexandria, wants to lead the charge—with a shop stocked full of brightly colored furniture, home decor and hostess gifts.
“The counteraction in the neutrals trend has become color,” says co-owner Leah Donahue. “And we feel like color can bring so much life into people’s home and lives. Homes should be as vibrant and colorful as the people that live in them.”
Boxwood opened in mid-April, taking the place of Royal Street Barn, which was founded by Boxwood co-owner Joanna Szczerban. “Royal Street Barn had a really successful Christmas,” says Szczerban, “And then when January hit, I realized vintage farmhouse was not right for Old Town. For days, I was thinking of how to change it up and then in walks Leah.”
It was fate: Donahue was looking for a table for a client of hers for an interior decorating project and went to Royal Street Barn to find it. She and Szczerban starting talking: “I was telling her my concerns and how I needed to change it up, and that I needed a business partner,” says Szczerban. “She texted me that evening, ‘Can we meet for coffee?’”
You’d never guess the duo only met in February of this year. Their relationship is as warm as the colorful items in the store, a pillar in Boxwood’s personality. It all matches the clientele, too. The city itself is full of vibrancy, and Boxwood is something Alexandria residents want on the block: a store where guests are actually likely to run into neighbors while shopping. “I thought we were going to be getting a lot of tourists coming in and it’s locals,” says Szczerban. “A lot of locals.”
Boxwood’s items are local, too, selling artisanal goods from vendors around the region, as well as from international makers, including furniture and decor (many pillows are made by local Bonny McMahon), paintings (by local artist Judy Heiser), gifts, soaps, kitchen accessories and much more.
Candles, contained by glass cloches made for sniffing, are showstoppers. “People will come in just because they know our candles,” says Donahue. (Trust us, the scent Barn Door, $28, is a bestseller for good reason, and breathing in the store’s home fragrances is an experience in itself.)
Another don’t-miss item is the Annie Sloan chalk paint, a brand respected as one of the most versatile paints for repurposing furniture. Boxwood is the only store in Alexandria certified to sell Annie Sloan paint. “This is a huge component of our store, to be selling her product,” says Szczerban. “We’ll be doing workshops to teach people how to chalk paint their furniture.”
Shopping at Boxwood is like a box of crayons. No matter what color you choose, it’s guaranteed to make life brighter and a lot more joyful. // 128 S. Royal St., Alexandria
As the saying goes, never show up to a house empty-handed. These four hostess gifts are guaranteed to continue to be used well after the dinner party ends.
Wrap a bottle of wine with a towel that’s both durable and fun: Each has a quote about friendship and family printed on them. “There are a lot of Irish blessings, nautical ones,” says Szczerban.” They’re absorbent and they work; it’s not just a pretty towel.” // Sugarboo Quoted Napkins; $16
It’s not a cliché to gift a candle when it’s one from Boxwood. The scents are fresh, the wicks are long-lasting and the design will match any interior. // Park Hill Candles; $28
Wrap it Up
Created for indoor and outdoor use, these bright blankets are “made out of recycled water bottles and T-shirts,” Donahue says. Green and cute! // In2Green blankets; $165-$225
“These are made in Tukey, and they’re olive oil-based,” says Donahue of the handcrafted bars of soap that comes in scents like lavender and charcoal. “They were our first purchase for the shop,” adds Szczerban. // Artisan Soap Bars; $8.50