If there's one thing the artist and designer Josh Yöung has mastered, it's the mix of old and new. From his classical portraits slashed with strokes of paint to his signature all-white interiors, everything Yöung designs feels both fresh and timeless. From the moment I stumbled upon his whimsical works of art and impeccably curated Chicago apartment on Instagram, I was head over heels. So it was thrilling to get a first look of his new home in Washington, D.C.—and, of course, he wasted no time at all in decking the halls for Christmas. “With its traditional, original vestibule, parlor floor, and grand staircase, it was love at first sight,” Yöung says of his new residence.
The COVID-19 pandemic crystalized Yöung’s hankering to come back East to be near family. He and his husband, Ignacio Martinez, decided to purchase a historic townhouse on Capitol Hill, in the heart of D.C. “I loved how the living room flowed right into the formal dining room, along with the 12-foot ceilings and twin fireplaces,” he says. “It feels classical but still open and airy—a complete contrast to our previous prewar apartment in downtown Chicago.”
The couple is planning a more extensive renovation. But since they were moving in right before the holidays, they couldn’t resist adding some Christmas decor. Yöung took a “less is more” approach to trimmings this year, to keep from feeling overwhelmed post-move. “I decided to use primarily fresh greenery and allow our Christmas tree to be the main showcase,” says Yöung, who sourced much of his holiday decor from Williams Sonoma.
The grand tree, which sits in a window-lined alcove behind a fluffy white sofa, commands the living room—and draws attention from street level, too. Yöung frequently shares Instagram posts from passersby who can’t resist taking pictures of the outside of his red-brick home, where the tree is visible through the window; the banisters have been trimmed with Fraser fir garlands, the front doors hung with red-ribboned wreaths.
Another highlight is the ornament collection he inherited from his grandmother, with some pieces dating back to the 1920s. And he’s constantly adding to it to keep the tradition going. “Whenever my husband and I go on road trips or travel, we visit thrift stores and antiques markets, collecting more and more throughout the year,” he says. “I’ve accumulated a collection of more than a thousand and love filling our entire tree with them.”
Given his love for holiday decorating, Yöung usually opts for faux when it comes to the tree itself. “I always find myself decorating early, in mid-November,” he says. “I later add real garland and wreaths throughout the home to help balance it out. A couple of years ago we hosted a large holiday party, and none of the guests realized the tree was faux because of all the real greenery surrounding it. It’s all about the mix and whatever works for you!”
Although this year’s holidays will be different for most of us, Yöung still makes a compelling case for going all-in at home. “I think, given the grave circumstances, it’s even more important to fill your home with a little sliver of cheer,” he says. “It instantly lifts your spirits and makes for a much-welcomed escape.”
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