House of the Week | David Jameson modern home in Bethesda for $1.795M

August 16, 2013

Before she hired D.C. architect David Jameson, the owner had intended to only renovate the kitchen and update the bathrooms in her 1969 rambler in Bethesda’s Glen Echo Heights neighborhood.

But after mentioning her plans to longtime Washington art dealer George Hemphill, he put her in touch with Jameson who had designed Hemphill’s gallery on 14th Street NW. The two hit it off — she had commissioned art from Jameson’s friends — and Jameson designed a modern home for her that not only showcased the artwork she collects but also existed as a work of art itself.

Using the footprint of the original home, Jameson produced a 3,505-square-foot dwelling that connects with its surroundings.

“I believe architecture is a unique situational aesthetic that’s formed by all the various pressures that come to bear on a project,” Jameson said. “The found condition of the existing rambler had a front yard but no rear yard. It struck me that a way to approach this particular project was to create this bracket or conceptual wicket, if you will, of weathering steel. The house allows itself to become articulated as a portal to the landscape, so when you look at it from the front it literally becomes a frame or portal to the site.”

Jameson envisions the house as a living organism, evolving and maturing over the years. He specifically selected materials, such as weathering steel, that will ripen to a rich patina so that in time the home’s exterior will meld with its natural environment.

One of the home’s more unusual features is the siding on the second-story outdoor space. Jameson chose hemlock from a Mennonite mill in Clear Spring, Md., and then employed an ancient Japanese practice for treating wood called shou-sugi-ban. He charred the wood to create a rich, dark hue and bring out its natural texture. The result is a dramatic wall that draws the eye.

Jameson incorporated scorched wood elsewhere in the house. The kitchen cabinetry is made from fumed larch. Instead of staining the pale Scandinavian wood, it is smoked to evoke a bronze finish that darkens with age.

Walls of glass paint the living area with natural light throughout the day. The 16-foot ceilings impart openness. A hand-forged staircase with floating stairs lends sculptural detail. Every element in the house achieves its goal of marrying the exterior with the interior.

The three-bedroom, four-bath home, which has views of the Potomac River, won the 2013 Northern Virginia Chapter AIA Award of Excellence and the 2013 Washington DC AIA/Washingtonian Residential Design Award. It is listed at $1.795 million.

Listing: 6415 Dahlonega Rd., Bethesda

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Do you have a home that deserves to be the House of the Week? Contact Kathy Orton at kathy.orton@washpost.com or 202-334-9876.

Kathy Orton is a reporter and Web editor for the Real Estate section. She covers the Washington metropolitan area housing market.
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Kathy Orton · August 15, 2013