A man dropping by an open house at the newly built contemporary home in the Hawthorne neighborhood of Northwest Washington remarked, “All the houses in Zurich look like this.”
Developer and real estate agent Sheryl Barnes smiled. A European aesthetic was what she sought when she built this home.
“We set out to do something that would show D.C. that you can build a high-end, quality contemporary home,” Barnes said. “I built it with my European crowd in mind.”
It has taken more than two years for Barnes to bring the project to completion. Because the property is across Oregon Avenue from Rock Creek Park, the design by architect Charles Warren of Teass-Warren underwent rigorous scrutiny by the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts. (Federal law requires the CFA to review plans to build or alter homes that border public spaces.)
The CFA insisted Barnes incorporate the existing home, a 1941 rambler, into the new house. It also demanded changes to the original design including how many elements could be used and how many windows could be in the home. As a result, the house has a smaller roof deck, fewer windows and less patio space than Barnes wanted.
Even with the modifications, the house stands out among the ramblers and split-levels that dominate the neighborhood. Stacked white boxes covered in Nichiha siding flank an Ipe-covered midsection that retreats into the background. Sliding glass doors extend the living space onto a front and back patio. A bubbling water feature provides a soothing soundtrack at the entrance to the home. Rain chains are artistic as well as practical.
Heated travertine floors in the entryway give way to Canadian birch throughout the main level. Canadian birch also makes an appearance in the stairway banisters, adding warmth. The two-story masonry fireplace is wood burning but can easily be converted to gas. The floating travertine hearth is a nod to midcentury modern design.
“I love the way the light plays through the spaces we created,” Barnes said. “I like the way [the house] lives. It’s fun to entertain in.”
An office and guest bedroom bookend one side of the main level, and the kitchen and family room the other. The kitchen has Porcelanosa cabinetry and Caesarstone countertops.
On the second level, the master suite takes up the entire south wing. The three children’s bedrooms and a laundry room are in the north wing. A sitting area that overlooks the main living space separates the two. The master suite has a cozy balcony that overlooks the park.
The top level has a wet bar that leads to the roof deck. Behind the wet bar, a space with a reinforced floor could be turned into a home gym. A sixth bedroom or office is also on this floor.
The home has no basement. The two-car garage with a dog-washing station is the only part of the home that is below grade.
The six-bedroom, seven-bathroom, 6,500-square-foot house is listed at $3.3 million. The house will be part of Saturday’s Modern Architecture + Design Society Modern Home Tour.
Listing agent: Sheryl Barnes, TTR Sotheby’s International Realty
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