House of the Week | Bethesda new home for $1.85 million

September 13, 2013

Carole Sherman of Bethesda Too brings an unusual perspective to home building. The Stanford-educated entrepreneur, who built this Bethesda home, is one of the few women in the United States in home construction. Only about 7 percent of the members of the National Association of Home Builders are women. A 2007 Census survey of business owners found that just 5 percent of home builders were women.

“People who buy my houses when they first meet me they say, ‘I thought a woman built this house,’ ” Sherman said.

Although there certainly are men who have a similar attention to detail, Sherman’s homes are known for a few traits that only a woman would probably think of. In this 7,320-square-foot house, some of the features she made sure to include were a wall for shoes and a three-way mirror in one of the master suite’s walk-in closets, a master bath with two toilet rooms, a playroom next to the children’s bedrooms, a laundry room on the same floor as the bedrooms and an ample-size prep sink in the kitchen island.

“I noticed that builders tend to put in dinky prep sinks,” she said. “You can’t even wash a head of lettuce in it.”

Sherman has won eight awards for excellence from the Montgomery County Builders Association; she also was the first woman to become president of the organization. For this home, she didn’t have a commission when she designed it. Instead, she relied on her own intuition.

“I designed it for every buyer I’ve ever had that’s commented and said, ‘Gee, I wish I had this, I wish I had that extra thing,’ ” she said. “You listen.”

For example, in addition to a bedroom and full bathroom on the lower level, she added an extra powder room.

“When I used to build [basements] without a powder room, then the guests to the media room or rec area have to use the full bathroom,” she said. “A nanny might live there, or an in-law might live there. A guest would see all their things in the bathroom. That’s terrible.”

Sherman works with architect Hendri Tirtanadi to design her homes. The pair has collaborated on nearly 20 homes in the 15 years she has been building houses in Bethesda.

Her favorite part of this home, besides having it sited on a large, flat corner lot, is the tile work in the bathrooms.

“I love the tile work,” she said. “I spent so much time finding different tiles. . . . Sometimes I go into these houses and every kid’s bathroom is beige. Keep it neutral because it’s a spec home. I don’t believe in that. I think the home should look like it’s been a custom home for someone. I want it to be unique. I want people to walk in and say, ‘Wow.’ ”

The six-bedroom, eight-bathroom home is listed at $1.85 million. An open house is scheduled for Sunday from 2 to 5 p.m.

Listing: 5501 Lincoln St., Bethesda

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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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Kathy Orton · September 12, 2013