View Photo Gallery: The Washington Post’s picks of distinguished homes on the D.C. area market.

Although the basic purpose of a house is to provide shelter, many people also see it as much more than that. This week’s featured home in the Palisades neighborhood of Northwest Washington is designed not only as a showcase for sculpture and paintings but also as a piece of art itself.

The home was built in 1965 and completely renovated in 1993 by Bethesda architect Mark McInturff, who won awards for his contemporary design of the house, the floating staircase and the library.

“I’ve been selling real estate since 1988, and this house took my breath away,” said listing agent Zelda Heller, vice president of TTR Sotheby’s International Realty for Maryland. “It is as though you are walking into a piece of sculpture.”

The home has many unexpected delights, but the masterstroke is the oculus, or “eye of God.” Modeled after the Pantheon in Rome, the skylight floods the house with natural light from the roof through an opening in the second floor family room, past the eat-in kitchen and down to the basement.

That’s not the only instance that light is used in an unusual way. In the library, which was added in 2006, the bookcases are set away from the wall and light streams in from behind and up to a deck. Oak bookcases alternate with floor-to-ceiling glass walls that make it feel as if the gardens and trees are part of the library.

The main living area opens to a wall of windows that provide a panoramic view of the Georgetown Reservoir.

“When you look out of the living room, you’re looking out to water,” Heller said. “When you’re sitting on the deck, you’re looking onto water. It’s beautiful.”

Upstairs are two bedrooms, two bathrooms, an office with a built-in desk and cabinets, and a family room with built-in storage cabinets and space for displaying art. The lower level has a bedroom for guests and a fully equipped gym with a hot tub and sauna that opens onto the slate-tiled patio.

The 4,119-square-foot house is on the market for $1.95 million.

Listing: 4770 Reservoir Rd. NW

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