Best of Arlington 2022: Home

Defalco Linen Lens Crop

A contemporary home by architect Tripp DeFalco. (Photo by Linen & Lens)

Reader Pick

DeFalco Home Design

Tripp DeFalco is a one-man show, and his clients like it that way. “The advantage,” he says, “is that I’m available to be hands-on. When [clients] tell me something, I take it from their mouth to the drawings and then to the field.” DeFalco is a registered architect, but the fact that he knows the construction side—he ran a design-build firm, Tradition Homes, with his brother Steve for 13 years—has made him a stronger architect since he’s seen the homebuilding process from start to finish. “I don’t design things that can’t be built,” he says. Listening, he adds, is another important skill in the toolbox. “I think a successful project is one that reflects the client, sometimes in ways they don’t realize. There’s no cookie-cutter solution. You have to figure out what the problem is before you can solve it.” –Rina Rapuano

Other top vote-getters:

Architectural Design Studio, AV Architects + Builders, Ballard + Mensua, Moser Architects, Renz Architecture, VanderPoel Architecture


Manoukianrugs Michaelventura Crop

Mikael Manoukian and his mom, Dona. (Photo by Michael Ventura)

Editor Pick
Rug Shop

Manoukian Brothers Oriental Rugs

When five brothers fled the Armenian genocide during World War I, landed in D.C. and opened a rug store in 1922, they likely didn’t envision that their shop would one day become a concert venue—during a pandemic, no less. But that’s what happened in 2020, when Mikael Manoukian, a great-nephew of one of the original owners, made room in the family’s 3,500-square-foot showroom on Columbia Pike to stage and livestream 20 “Rug Shop Concerts” featuring local musicians. “We were talking about…getting artists together who weren’t performing and reaching the community and using the store space in a way that was kind of novel,” Manoukian says. The shows imparted a unique sort of homeyness during Covid’s darkest days, but they are on hiatus now that business has picked up. The store, whose fine floorcoverings have graced landmarks no less than the U.S. Capitol and the Kennedy Center, has cleaned and sold thousands of hand knotted rugs this year. –Stephanie Kanowitz


Groff Georgebrown

A patio by Groff Landscape Design. (Photo by George E. Brown)

Reader Pick
Landscape Designer

Groff Landscape Design

If Rob Groff kept a kudos file, it would be stuffed with praise for his team’s exceptional communication, as well as the beauty and functionality of their landscape designs. Clients appreciate that his Clarendon-based firm is comprehensive, orchestrating everything from pavers and stonework to lighting, electrical and plumbing. But satisfied customers aren’t his sole focus. Groff says he’s well aware that his clients won’t be happy if his 20 employees aren’t. So he strives to be not just a great landscaper, but a great employer, making sure staff are prepared to walk all kinds of clients through all kinds of design projects. “Some people are very visual,” he explains, whereas others “don’t really know what they like until they’re in the space. Sometimes you really have to walk people through the process carefully to make them feel comfortable with their decisions. That’s a huge skill.” –Rina Rapuano

Other top vote-getters:

Andy’s Lawn & Landscape, Artscapes, Joseph Richardson Landscape Architecture, Land Art Design, Merrifield Garden Center, Wheat’s Landscape


Natalieroy Courtesyphoto

Realtor Natalie Roy. (Courtesy photo)

Reader Pick
Real Estate Agent

Natalie Roy

You can take Natalie Roy out of a 30-year career in environmentalism, but you can’t take environmentalism out of Natalie Roy. The founder of Bicycling Realty Group switched professions more than eight years ago, carrying her passion for eco-stewardship into the present by offering home buyers the option of neighborhood tours by bike or on foot, sometimes with an assist from Metro (or yes, by vehicle, if they prefer). The car-free approach has been well-received by house-hunters, she says, because bike- and pedestrian-friendly areas are in high demand. “It’s a really good way to see a [neighborhood]—walking or biking,” Roy says. “It’s not just buying a house; you’re buying into a community.” –Stephanie Kanowitz

Other top vote-getters:

Patty Couto, Coral Gundlach, Lauren Heisey, Keri O’Sullivan, Lauren Reardon, Michelle Sagatov, Katie Wethman, Dawn Wilson, Steve Wydler


Simplydownsized Stephaniebragg

Anna Novak of Simply Downsized takes client items to auction at Quinn’s Auction Galleries in Falls Church. (Photo by Stephanie Bragg)

Reader Pick
Downsizing Service

Simply Downsized

A small venture launched a year before the pandemic might seem doomed, but business is booming for Anna Novak. Her Falls Church-based firm creates customized plans for people who are looking to move out of one home and into a smaller one. That includes coordinating home repairs, packing and unpacking, and prepping new digs for occupancy. “Downsizing has become more in demand because a lot more people want to simplify their lives,” Novak says. The trickiest part is determining what to do with all the stuff—typically about 80%—that doesn’t make the move, including decisions about what to donate, sell, pass down or toss. “It becomes a logistical challenge,” she says. “So basically I do project management. I see them through, door to door.” –Stephanie Kanowitz

Other top vote-getters:

Cocozza Organizing & Design, Simplify You


Backdorr Michaelventura Crop

Joni Foerter at The Back Door. (Photo by Michael Ventura)

Editor Pick
Furniture Rehab

The Back Dorr

Joni Foerter’s family business is part antique store, part workshop. Instead of rehabbing a piece of furniture completely, they’ll leave it as close to the “as found” condition as possible, which keeps prices lower and leaves room for customization. “I have a bunch of brown wood furniture that you can choose from, and then you work with me to decide the vibe you want it to ultimately have,” says Foerter, a Falls Church resident of 42 years, whose store, formerly known as Front Porch Furniture Rescue, was located in The Little City until the spring of 2021, when it moved to Fairfax. (It was briefly located on Dorr Avenue before settling closer to Fairfax Circle.) The Back Dorr also offers DIY workshops and a robust furniture repair service manned by Foerter’s husband, Dave, a master carpenter, and son, James, who handles refinishing, painting and staining. Foerter says they fix a lot of broken chair legs, modify dressers into bathroom vanities and repair puppy damage. “We’ve gotten things in tote bags, like chairs or dressers that are just pieces, where we have to figure out how they went together,” she says. “Dave rebuilds it and repairs where it’s broken.” –Rina Rapuano


Kuhreakin Trivista 02126

A kitchen by TriVistaUSA. (Photo by Stacy Zarin Goldberg 2020)

Reader Pick

TriVistaUSA Design + Build

Other top vote-getters:

Alair Homes Arlington, BOWA, Bowers Design Build, Case Architects & Remodelers, C.E. Rivers Residential, CIMA Design & Build, Madison Creek Homes, Marks-Woods Construction Services, Merrill Contracting & Remodeling, Sagatov Design + Build


Arlington Home Interiors Photo By Robert Radifera Styling By Charlotte Safavi

A living room by Manlove and Co. Interiors. (Photo by Robert Radifera. Styling by Charlotte Safavi.)

Reader Pick
Interior Designer

Manlove and Co. Interiors

Other top vote-getters:

BraePark Design, Erica Peale Design, J&L Interiors, KPH Studio, Samara Interiors, Susan Sutter Interiors, Whittington Design Studio

Bowers Design Build

A master bath by Bowers Design Build. (Photo by JW Smith)

Reader Pick
Kitchen & Bath Designer

Bowers Design Build

Other top vote-getters:

Braemar Cabinetry, Cameo Kitchens, Case Architects & Remodelers, SKill Construction & Design, TriVistaUSA Design + Build


Treecare S Tsuchiya

(Photo by S. Tsuchiya)

Reader Pick
Tree Care

Bartlett Tree Experts

Other top vote-getters:

Arlington Tree Care, The Davey Tree Expert Co., Growing Earth Tree Care, JL Tree Service, SavATree


Hvac Dan Lefebvre

Photo by Dan Lefebvre.

Reader Pick
HVAC Service & Repair

Chandler’s Plumbing & Heating

Other top vote-getters:

Arlington Heating & Air Conditioning, Condon-Reed, CroppMetcalfe, John Nugent & Sons, Richards Heating & Air Conditioning