Fire at Timothy Paul: Down, but Not Out

There was lots going on along 14th Street Thursday night — I started off at a gathering sponsored by DC magazine at Vastu, then walked down the street to a design industry event hosted by Home & Design at Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams. Everyone was there — designers, photographers, builders, architects — and everyone was commenting about all the flashing lights and sirens outside.

“There’s a fire somewhere,” everyone kept saying. Indeed, police and firefighters had closed the block out front to traffic. No one seemed much concerned, or even curious as to where the blaze was taking place. Not even a staff member from Timothy Paul Carpets + Textiles who was there.

We would all find out soon enough, however, that a fire ripped through the second floor of the building Timothy Paul has occupied for 11 years, placing proprietors Tim and Mia Worrell among the pioneers of the now-flourishing 14th Street design district.

The interior at Timothy Paul Carpets + Textiles.

The interior at Timothy Paul Carpets + Textiles.

I spoke to Tim yesterday, right after he took his son to his soccer game—in an attempt to reinsure the boy that life is still normal. But downtown, it’s anything but.

The fire, he said, originated in the refrigerator of the office upstairs, which belongs to his landlord, developer Jim Abdo. There was no fire on the ground floor or basement, which the store occupies, but it suffered heavy damage from water and smoke. “A lot of the inventory will be OK, but it’s compromised,” Tim said. “The term ‘fire sale’ is there for a reason, and that’s probably what’ll happen.”

Ironically, he added, he has just had a meeting with Abdo the day before the fire, announcing his intentions to move out of the space to an expanded space across the street at his other store, Timothy Paul Bedding + Home. He was to be in this original location only two more months.

“Eleven years, and to have it end like that,” he said. I could almost hear him shaking his head over the phone. He and Mia were planning to host a huge farewell party in the store before moving. Now, it will have to be a huge Hello party in the newly combined bedding and carpet store—a lot sooner than they had planned.

Tim Worrell posed for a profile on the store in the Borderstan blog, as Timothy Paul celebrated its ninth anniversary. (Photo from Borderstan:

Tim Worrell posed for a profile on the store in the Borderstan blog, when Timothy Paul celebrated its ninth anniversary. (Photo from Borderstan:

Talk to any designer around town, and most of them have used Timothy Paul. Barry Dixon‘s own collection of rugs through Megerian was sold in DC exclusively through the store:

Photo by Gordon Beall

Photo by Gordon Beall

Photos by Gordon Beall

Photos by Gordon Beall

I recently interviewed designer Lori Graham for a story coming out in the next issue of Home & Design, and every rug in her clients’ home was sourced through Timothy Paul. Earlier this year, we were all wowed by an overdyed green rug that designer Regan Billingsley used in her teenage boy’s bedroom for the DC Design House:


And just look at some of the scrumptious other offerings to be had there:

More overdyed rugs...

More overdyed rugs…


Recycled silk Indian saris

Recycled silk Indian saris


And stacks of more goodies.

And stacks of more goodies.

Starting this week, Tim and Mia, along with store manager Jeremiah Stapleton, will be moving all the rugs out to their warehouse in Merriefield, VA — across the road from their new home store in the Mosaic shopping district. They’ll begin the long, slow process of determining which rugs are a total loss, which can be rehabilitated, and which are fine, save for some vacuuming and airing out.

Luckily, after Jeremiah called Tim out at the Mosaic store on Thursday, Tim was able to rush downtown and help him get all the computers out “just in the nick of time,” preserving all their sales, client and inventory records, along with the point of sale system.

Tragically, though, the basement workroom—where all the custom bedding was fabricated—was heavily damaged. New orders bagged and ready to be delivered to clients were destroyed by water and smoke. They’ll now have to go about setting up a new workroom, reordering fabrics, remaking duvets and other bedding.

But it will happen, Tim said, and the business will remain open through the other two stores. Most of the rug business had been done by phone anyway, with designers requesting samples and patterns and Tim driving rugs to a client’s house, so the showroom wasn’t totally crucial to the work at hand.


But re-ordering handmade rugs from Turkey, Morocco, India, Afghanistan and the like will take time. It’s not like calling the manufacturer and ordering a new lamp from the factory.

It seems as if his supporters more than understand. “The outpouring has been great,” Tim said, with people stopping by, sending emails, and calling nonstop to offer their support.

For now, they ask anyone who’s shopping for rugs to stop in at the Mosaic store in Virginia, where they will be taken over to the warehouse. Soon enough, Tim said, the rugs will be back in the new expanded store on 14th Street.

“There’ll probably be some great deals” in the coming weeks, Tim said. The most important thing, though, is that “we’re still there. We’re still in business.”

Here’s the info:

  • Monday – Thursday: 11 – 7
  • Friday – Saturday: 11 – 8
  • Sunday: 12 – 5
  • 703.992.9494