FROM THE outside, the house looks like any other early 1900s clapboard house; the columns set on rusticated stone, the cornice perched precariously atop the columns, the wide front porch with bay windows protruding into it, the dormer windows on the third story.
Inside, it's a different matter. Dickson Carroll, architect and sculptor, has carved out the interior into one large entertaining area, just right for lawyers Whitney Adams and David Copus who own the house. The house will be on the Cleveland Park House tour April 26.(See Tour story above.)
The other afternoon, Adams, just back from court, gave the grand tour of the house. She is an assistant U.S. attorney with the Justice Department. Copus is a lawyer with a firm specializing in labor law.
"When we bought the house," Adams said, "the first floor was divided into four dark little rooms with a center hall. The staircase, was walled in.
"So we tore out the walls dividing the dining room and the hall and the front and back porches and the hall, making an L-shaped open space."
Now as you come into the house, the first thing you see are four strange pillars, or rather suggestions of pillars. They don't do anything, they just are. The pillars look more like Carroll's sculpture than his architecture. Now they are painted an off white, but Adams is thinking about painting them in the primary colors Carroll uses on his sculpture.
Such colors suit the house's furnishings.
"In 1977, we went to Algeria and Morrocco on a vacation. The two countries were at war," said Adams, "but we had no trouble. Most of the rugs and textiles come from there and from India and North Africa. You should have seen us on the airplane with all this stuff packed into an enormous Indian bister [bag]."
The dining room has a glass table to show off one of the handsome rugs. There are no curtains on the windows to darken the room.
The staircase and a cube holding the coat closet, the powder room, and behind them, the pantry, separates the front rooms from the kitchen.
The parlors are not separated only by the corner fireplaces. French doors lead out onto the deck.
The kitchen is completely new. "When we moved in, there were five doors, a set of back steps, only one drawer and a sink that hung on the wall," Adams said. Most of the cabinets have solid doors, but one has glass to show off the colorful plastic tableware. A wide window above the cabinet brings in light from what is normally a wasted bit of space.
The best spot is the new greenhouse breakfast room, behind the kitchen. Two skylites are set into the sloping roof over a counter. Wide windows and a French door offer views of the garden now busily sprouting vegetables and spring flowers, and their huge black Newfoundland dog which looks like the nursedog in Peter Pan. A fireplace aids to the warmth. And a ceiling fan cools it all down. Adams' potted plants, including the tropic bougainvilla, are everywhere.
So much east light comes in, one of the rugs and a picture have faded badly, a problem that people in search of light, never stop to think about. Upstairs, a new window here and there have added for symmetry. But the new bathrooms are the important remodeling. One bath is all tile with a floor drain so it doesn't need a curtain.
Two smaller rooms were thrown together to make the large master bedroom. It has its own fireplace with a mantle from a Don't Tear It Down architectural artifacts auction. A great display of Indian Rajastan mirror cloths hang over the bed.
Corpus, who came in about that stage of our tour, said he figured the remodeling cost at least $85,000. "We did it in two stages. First was the main floor, the central air conditioning, and the conversion from radiators to baseboards, though we have some to go on that." Adams interupted to say, "We called that stage Beirut." The upstairs work was the second phase.
Art Freeman, the contractor, was a great comfort to Copus and Adams, through the whole project and after. "We had some minor problems, such as a ceiling crack from settling, and he came right back to fix it," said Adams.
Along with the usual unexpected problems came one unexpected pleasure. When all the gunk was sanded off the floors, they turned out to be not only parquet, but with an inset border of lighter wood.
Adams has more grandoise plans for the house. "Now that third floor would make a terrific greenhouse. . . "