Morgan Greenhouse balked at the idea that she’s a role model. “Really?” she asked, after I dropped the word. “I’m flattered but…” But this wasn’t flattery. At just 26 years old, Greenhouse not only owns her own business, but that business happens to revolve directly around her passion. That’s something we should all aspire to do. So, what’s Greenhouse’s passion? Space (not the NASA variety, but the interior kind) and using it to its full potential. Greenhouse, a native of the DC area, owns VerdeHOUSE, a boutique consultancy that finds unused spaces (what they call “shells” in the business) and matches them with event planners. “Space is transformative and there’s something novel about taking an unoccupied, unnoticed space and turning it into an event venue," said Greenhouse. "The shock-value when someone truly transforms a space is really exciting.” So where did this whole idea come from? Let’s find out:
SCOUT: Yeah, so where did this whole idea come from?
MORGAN: I was in architecture before and left the firm I was at last summer in order to get a Masters in architecture. But then, during that summer right before I wanted to do this project. I asked a developer if I could use this retail shell off of U street, which I had seen and known about for years. I wanted to put some art in it for a short period for an exhibition and he thought it was a great idea. He said, ‘Knock yourself out,” so I got a couple artists and it ended up being outstanding. Then because of that, other organizations started calling me to see if they could use the space for their exhibits and I realized no one was doing this…
SCOUT: So it was kind of a happy accident, almost?
MORGAN: Almost, yeah. From that experience, I just developed the model and VerdeHOUSE was born. Grad school’s been put on hold.
SCOUT: Did you have a model to base it on or is this all your brainchild?
In Washington, DC, we’re the only ones who are doing this. In fact, we’re the only ones with this model that I know of. There are similar organizations and companies in other cities, but they’re solely arts oriented and we haven’t found anyone who does it just the way we do it.
SCOUT: What’s different in your model?
MORGAN: We have a wider focus. As far as who uses us, in DC there are endless possibilities. There’s really no one industry. We’ve worked with non-profits, obviously art exhibitions, we’ve done concerts, we’ve organized spaces for short-term retail… Recently we did a great formal dinner reception.
SCOUT: Out of those, which tend to be the most challenging in terms of finding a space and making a match with the event planner?
MORGAN: That formal dinner reception. It was for Georgetown University. With that one, they need a property that was big and not only vacant, but had a view of a certain construction site.
SCOUT: What’s been your favorite project so far?
MORGAN: It has to be that one. It was such a challenge because it was like nothing we’d ever done before. We didn’t have a space that size or in that location, but it ended up working out pretty seamlessly and it was a beautiful event. Every party involved was pleased.
SCOUT: Do you have a favorite event space in DC?
MORGAN: I love the space above the Starbucks in Dupont Circle. It sits right on the corner of 1503 Connecticut Avenue. It’s got so many windows and breathtaking views of the Circle. It’s just organic and clean and for any given event, we were able to transform it so vastly… Once we started using this space, we got so much demand for it. There’s also a warehouse in Georgetown that not many really know about. Although we haven’t done an event there yet, we have many things in the works and I’m very excited. It’s such a novel space, with exposed brick, artistic details…
SCOUT: Along the same lines, what is your favorite space in DC? What here inspires you?
MORGAN: There’s something about going down Pennsylvania Avenue, just past the [National] Archives. You get that real boulevard feel with all these neo-classical spaces. Whenever I’m there I experience these moments where I just think DC is special. Something about the architecture feels almost 19th-century Paris. It just envelops you. I love that.
SCOUT: It’s interesting to hear you talk about space and your passion for it. It’s like a writer sometimes can’t just read a book or magazine without analyzing the grammar or paragraph structure. When you walk into a room do you instantly gravitate to details most people might overlook?
MORGAN: Definitely. I’ve always been interested in the visual and visual environments, like art and architecture. I think I’m very sensitive to atmosphere and to how spaces feel, how it shapes movements and interactions between people. The big picture is very important to me, however, and after I’ve taken that in, I really start to notice the details. With architecture I can analyze it forever.
Which is probably one of the reasons VerdeHOUSE has experienced so much success in such a short amount of time. If you have a space or want to plan an event, she’s probably the right person to talk to. Check out more about what she’s doing at her company’s site, verdeHOUSE or follow her on Twitter or Facebook.