While the Calvert Woodley's plain yellow brick 1940s facade isn't all that exciting, entering the building's new foyer is a bit like stepping into the pages of a Pottery Barn catalogue.
"Since I have been here it's been completely transformed," said Marilyn Kitzes, who moved to the Woodley Park building from New York a few months ago. "It was total grandma-ville before -- it's amazing."
The building's front entry was recently gutted as part of the finishing touches to several years of updating.
Kitzes said she actually almost purchased the same angular Crate & Barrel lamps that are in the foyer for her own apartment. The foyer now also houses comfy, stylish couches, modern art and an open business center that looks more like a home office.
"The decor is so nice, it's comfortable in this room," said Florence Moriceau, 26, a graduate student at Georgetown University who moved into the building with her fiance in September. "It's like being in your own home."
The business center's walls are lined with bookcases, with books available for loan to residents, while two computers offer free Internet access day or night. A printer and fax machine are also available.
During renovations, repairs also were made to the rooftop sundeck, which residents share with their neighbors, or sign out for their own parties or barbecues. The new white railing replaced rusty metal, and the building's owner, Charles E. Smith Residential Inc., added cement flooring and multiple chairs and tables.
Residents rave about the renovations, which extend to the efficiency, one- and two-bedroom apartments themselves, but many said the best feature of the building remains its convenient location.
"It's a two-minute walk from everything you need, and you get the benefit of having Adams Morgan, Dupont [Circle] and the Metro really close, without all of the noise," said Shirin Shams, 22, a property manager who used to work in the building and still lives there. "It's so convenient -- my friends are crashing here all the time."
The 130-unit building sits in a residential neighborhood one block from Connecticut Avenue, with restaurants, shops and the Woodley Park Metro station.
A number of residents use the many services the apartment building itself provides, including dry cleaning, laundry, a fitness center, an ATM, car service and free coffee every morning, which comes with pastries on alternating weekends.
Residents say easy access to Metro is key, making ownership of a car unnecessary. Management also provides Zipcar auto-sharing service. With Zipcar, residents can rent a car that is parked on the premises for a one-time fee of $20, plus an additional $8 per hour.
Parking is tight, residents said, but finding a space on a nearby street isn't that difficult.
"Parking is wait-list, which is annoying," Shams said. She said she waited about three months for a space to open up in one of the three parking areas, but decided to pass up the spot once she realized she was able to find street parking.
Spaces in the building's three parking areas, two of which are indoors, are available for an additional $175 a month, said Richard Pecantte, who manages the property on weekends. He added that a few spots are available now.
The building, which has easy access to Rock Creek Parkway -- and to bike and walking trails in the park -- also sits a few blocks from the National Zoo.
"You can hear the monkeys in the morning from our apartment, which is so cool," Kitzes said. "As a New Yorker, that's the funniest thing in the world."