Houses showcased in shelter magazines often appear too perfect. You are afraid to touch anything, sit down anywhere or walk around with your shoes on for fear of tracking dirt on the pristine floors.
This week’s featured house, which made the cover of House Beautiful in 2011, isn’t like that. The 19th-century Victorian row house on Capitol Hill is as much a family home as it is a showpiece designed by one of Washington’s best-known decorators, Barry Dixon.
“It is designed to be beautiful and to be a work of art, yes, but also to be lived in,” said Richard Seaton of TTR Sotheby’s International Realty. He and Claudia Donovan are the co-listing agents on the property. “It is not a house to be afraid of. . . . I think it’s very, very hard to pull off in architecture and design something that is classically beautiful and wonderful and at the same time inviting to all kinds of people.”
The current owners have three boys, all younger than age 6.
“I think that’s my favorite thing about this house,” Seaton said. “It is grand, it is luxurious, it is spacious. Yet at the same time, it invites you to run around with your kids.”
The 4,685-square-foot house — built in 1885 by architect Leon E. Dessez, who also designed the official residence for the vice president at the Naval Observatory — was extensively renovated in 2009.
The main floor is a riot of color. The more formal living room is done in a “parfait of pinks,” as Dixon told House Beautiful, balanced with a somberness of browns, while the family room off the kitchen has bold splashes of oranges and tangerines.
The state-of-the-art kitchen, with its coffered ceiling, has cabinets custom-made in Germany and countertops of Italian granite. It also has a six-burner gas range, convection and warming ovens, espresso maker, wine cooler and walk-in pantry.
Downstairs, Dixon designed the unusual steel fireplace mantel. The lower level bar has a wine cooler, refrigerator, ice machine, dishwasher and beer tap.
The upstairs master suite is an oasis of calming neutrals. The master bath has a soaking tub, separate shower and double vanities.
Above the two-car garage is a carriage house with a bedroom and full bath, ideal for guests or live-in staff.
Within walking distance of the Capitol, the Metro and Eastern Market, the six-bedroom, 4 1 / 2-bath property is on the market for $3.3 million.
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