House of the Week | Palisades Colonial for $1.795 million

September 6, 2013

From the outside, this 1963 Colonial in the Palisades neighborhood looks like a larger version of a traditional D.C. home. Everything about it – the brick exterior, the slate roof, the dormers, the shutters on the windows – is typical of homes found in this area.

Even when you walk in the door, nothing seems unusual. The intricate crown molding and ornate ceiling medallion can be found in many Washington homes.

It isn’t until you reach the top level that you realize why this home is like no other. The entire third floor is a recreation room/gymnasium.

“The gym on the top floor is odd,” owner Grady Means said. “A lot of people put their rec rooms on the ground floor, the basement. But it turns out that the top floor was actually a pretty good idea. . . . Having it on the top floor makes it massively more usable than having it in the basement.”

Means said the original owner was a widower who wanted a home that would be fun for his four boys. He designed the top floor as their playroom, putting shutters on the inside of the windows to prevent broken glass and installing thick beams between the floors to keep noise from permeating throughout the house.

Means recalled that when his family first moved into the home, he and his wife slept in after a late night of unpacking. His son, however, was up early, making friends with the neighbors.

“There were probably 20 kids running up and down the stairs, playing basketball right above our heads and we never heard them,” he said.

Over the years, Means, his wife and their two children found an amazing number of uses for the space. It was perfect for Super Bowl parties. Guests could watch TV at one end, play pool in the middle and shoot hoops at the other end while enjoying refreshments from the wet bar.

At Christmas, the adults stayed downstairs enjoying their cocktails and quiet conversations, while the kids partied to a DJ or rock band on the top floor.

The family held all sorts of gatherings in the gym, from college events to poetry readings to fundraisers. They once set up 10 large circular tables for a dinner for 100 people.

When their daughter was younger, she often had friends over for massive slumber parties. Her elementary school basketball team used it for practice when the students couldn’t find a gym.

It got the most use as the family exercise room. Besides a treadmill, rowing machine and exercise bike, there is a punching bag and enough room for Means to work on his golf swing. The kids played roller hockey up there, as well. Twelve storage closets provide plenty of space for all their sports equipment.

It isn’t just the upstairs gymnasium, however, that makes this home the most popular in the neighborhood. A heated in-ground pool and hot tub in the back yard are ideal for relaxing and entertaining. The fully furnished lower level has a sauna and a wine room.

“It’s just a fun house,” Means said. “We just hope somebody gets it who really will enjoy it and love it.”

The four-bedroom, five-bathroom house is listed at $1.795 million. An open house is scheduled for Sunday from 2 to 4 p.m.

Listing: 2000 48th St. NW

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@KathyOrtonWP, @postrealestate

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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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