House of the Week | Massachusetts Heights Colonial for $1.795M

The owners of this 1927 brick center-hall Colonial in the Massachusetts Heights neighborhood of Northwest Washington were leaving the country and wanted to sell but the house needed work. Enter designer Lori Graham, who took staging it to another level.

Rather than flip it — buy the house, renovate it and sell it, going through two closings in the process — Graham partnered with the owners who allowed her to transform the house in hopes of getting the best price for it.

“It’s actually a novel way of approaching it,” Graham said. “I’ve already had a couple people ask me about doing it with their houses. . . . I might start doing more of it.”

The owners retain ownership but Graham was given free rein by them to design it the way she liked.


(Photo by HomeVisit) Living room

“At the end of the day, if it doesn’t sell, they’re guaranteed a minimum price and I have to sell it,” Graham said. “I can be the person to buy it from them at that price. I would do that before I took a loss.”

After gutting the house, putting new plumbing and electrical wiring in it, Graham updated the home in her style, marrying traditional with contemporary, classic with modern.

“It’s going to be somebody who likes my aesthetic,” she said. “I have to just assume there is going to be a buyer out there that likes it. I feel like I get a little bit of a premium if I find the buyer that likes my look. . . . My gamble is I’m going to find that buyer and I’m going to get that premium.”


(Photo by HomeVisit) Lori Graham used a Crestola marble for the kitchen island.

Because the decisions she made about the design were driven more by her own tastes than the clients’, Graham could take some chances. In the kitchen, she chose a Crestola marble for the center island.

“I wanted to have a really strong presence with that center island,” she said. “I wanted to find a really interesting new stone. I don’t know if a lot of my clients would have been on board with that. But everyone who’s walked in the house has loved it. That was something that I might not have been able to do with clients that I was able to do here.”

The five-bedroom, six-bathroom home is listed at $1.795 million.

Listing: 2812 34th St. NW

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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 · August 21, 2014