For seven seasons on the ABC hit television show Scandal, actress Kerry Washington played the consummate D.C. insider.
But off camera she may be the quintessential New York success story. Bronx-born and -raised, Washington has been lighting up stage and screen for more than a decade, eventually settling in Los Angeles with her husband, NFL cornerback turned actor Nnamdi Asomugha, and their three children.
So when Broadway came calling with a lead role in Christopher Demos-Brown’s searing drama American Son, it wasn’t just a career opportunity, it was a homecoming. All she needed was an apartment.
“We spent a lot of time looking for a place that had enough space for our whole crew, our posse,” Washington reflects of the citywide search, which led her to a floor-through rental overlooking the Hudson River on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. “That view!” she exclaims. “We spend a lot of time outdoors in L.A., so it was important to me that my family could still feel that connection.”
Lease signed, she then turned to RH Interior Design, RH’s in-house studio, available at all the brand’s galleries. Within a matter of weeks, what were empty, even cold rooms had been transformed into a cozy family home, brimming with rich textures, upholstered seating, and rustic touches.
“It was fun to work with a team that pushes you past your comfort zone,” says Washington, citing the choice of charcoal, as opposed to her usual off-white, for many of the walls. “RH created something beautiful and elevated yet totally livable.”
Surrounded by slipcovered chairs, a dining table of reclaimed oak planks offered the perfect spot for meals with extended family and friends (though her kids were just as happy to perch on RH’s 1940s Vintage Toledo barstools for English- muffin pizzas).
Twin seating areas, meanwhile, broke up the vast great room, welcoming crowds come Thanksgiving and Christmas, when Washington hosted upwards of 30 people.
A spirit of creativity coursed through the apartment in the form of architectural photographs and 3-D-printed paintings from RH’s collaboration with General Public, the art-publishing company founded by Washington’s friend Portia de Rossi.
The apartment also provided a place to decompress after emotionally and physically exhausting days. In American Son, which closed at the end of January, Washington’s character experiences every mother’s worst nightmare: waiting in a police station to discover the fate of her missing child.
Six days a week, her powerful performance left her literally gasping for air. (She’ll repeat the role in the Netflix adaptation.) Add to that voice lessons, physical therapy, and family outings—trips to the zoo, the occasional musical—and Washington understandably needed a place to kick up her feet.
For Scandal fans, the sight of her sinking into a sofa—wrapped in cashmere, wineglass in hand—remains a treasured meme. They will be heartened to know that life does indeed imitate art.
“That Cloud couch is dangerous—I never wanted to get up,” Washington recalls of the family room’s sectional, with pillows piled upon pillows. It’s tempting to imagine her curled up, surveying her spectacular surroundings, uttering Olivia Pope’s signature line: “It’s handled!” Do the words ever cross her mind?
“You’re not the first person to ask,” she responds, politely refusing the bait. Nothing gets past a New Yorker.