EDWARD Fleischman was home innocently wall-papering his Glover Park house when his wife came bursting in the front door and shouted, "Stop!"
"I had just come from seeing what I thought was a really ugly house on a cul-de-sac in Cleveland Park," said Virginia Fleischman. "But I could see it could be turned into just what we wanted.
She had to look hard. None of the lights worked, she said. "There was dreadful linoleum on the dining room floor. And not a single kitchen cabinet matched.
That was five years ago, and the Fleischmans are getting closer to the "just what they wanted" every day. Their newest project has been to open the house to the morning sun. Their remodeling is remarkable because it may be the only one I can tell you about where someone spent $33,000 remodeling a house and got a lower monthly payment.
"We had a 9 1/2 [percent] mortgage on 20 years when we moved in," said Virginia Fleischman, serving up a ratatouille the other day to a starved photographer and reporter. "But when we started remodeling, in 1978, the bank had a loan sale, and we refinanced the whole thing at 9 percent and 30 years." After that, rates really went up.
Originally the house was a twin of the house Paul A.London and Paula Stern live in, across the way (see Form above). But that was back in the '20s when bungalows were new and trendy, their big front porches helping to make up for lots of other things. Somewhere along the line, the wall had gone between the front hall and the living room, and the useful pocket doors into the dining room and been boxed in.
The fleischmans started by having the kitchen gutted and buying all new cabinets.Then about in July 1978, they hired architect Bob Schwartz to really brighten up the corners where they are. The work was finished by Christmas of that year.
The dining room acquired three great arched transoms with standard height French doors below. With an oriental rug on the pine floor and grass paper covering the cracks in the wall, this room is bright and elegant.
But the biggest project is the family room, just off the kitchen. It's planned as a room where people hold themselves available to help with supper, while Virginia Fleischman actually does the work.
"I was tired of dashing home from work and having the children and my husband way off in the den, while I had to cook supper," she said. Fleischman, a historian, works on catalogues with E. James White firm in Alexandria. Her husband is a planner with the Department of Transportation.
Daughter Emily is 5; son Matthew, 3.
The emphasis in the room, a great open 250-square-foot space, is on light. The roof at one end angles down to make a glass, greenhouse roof. Plants grow cheerfully below it. Casement windows are set above a cabinet to hold toys or magazines, over the baseboard heating. A Jotul stove on a circular hearth can be fired up for more warmth. For wood, they use an oak tree that was lost when the new gas line was put in.
A full glass door with a circular transom matching the dining room leads onto a curving deck and a slate terrace.
They kept all the old kitchen cabinets, but extended the kitchen counter into the new room. A pot hanger above the counter echoes its shape and was a great find. A skylight where the new room meets the kitchen, helps keep the old room bright.
Best of all, the ceiling of the new room and one wall of the kitchen is covered with wood flooring, to make a no-maintenance surface.
Fleischman has furnished the room with an oriental carpet and a pleasant drop leaf table with a country-style rush chairs. A corner cupboard holds the dishes and modern paintings brighten the room.
Upstairs, the Fleischmans added a master bath to their pleasant room.
The whole house seems to borrow sunlight from the new addition. And then Virginia Fleischman has this plan about the front porch and a new entry-way. One of these days, she's likely to come running into the house and say, "Stop . . ."