Condo conversions are rampant in Washington. A strong demand for housing coupled with a lack of available land is pushing developers to create homes out of existing buildings. Once stately single-family dwellings are being carved up into multifamily housing.
As often happens in these transformations, the historic facade is preserved. But once inside, the interior looks like a hotel room — sterile, bland and devoid of charm.
Because District Quarters, the development team behind the conversion of 1848 Biltmore, wanted the inside to reflect the outside of the building, real estate agent Lindsay Reishman and builder Ben Dorrier teamed with interior designer Andrew Law to give these new homes in the Adams Morgan neighborhood of Northwest Washington a look worthy of their facade.
“They were taking such great measures to really preserve the exterior, some of which obviously was required by L’Enfant Trust, but they also had a real dedication to keeping this property appropriate to the neighborhood,” Law said. “The classical architecture was very appealing to us.”
This was a new venture for Law, whose work has been primarily on private residences.
“It was appealing because it really had all of the same aspects of our residential projects,” Law said.
The 1910 Colonial Revival house was designed by Arthur B. Heaton. Best known as the supervisory architect for the first 14 years of construction on Washington National Cathedral, Heaton designed many homes and buildings in Washington, several of which are on the National Register of Historic Places.
The exterior of the house has many flourishes — an elaborate portico with Corinthian columns and a denticulated cornice, Flemish bond brickwork and casement windows with transoms, cartouches and concrete window hoods. Law carried forward Heaton’s aesthetic into the interior. The condo units are stately, distinguished, substantial homes with a timeless design.
“You didn’t walk into old homes and find acres of drywall,” Law said. “A lot of the conversions that we see in Washington are that. It’s actually much easier to meet the standards you have to meet on the exterior and then go and create a very modern interior. Modern is easy and inexpensive. But this is more thoughtful approach of creating what would have been there.”
The entrance to the building is a nod to the home’s era. The house number is inlaid in a tile mosaic in the vestibule.
“That sort of mosaic work was very commonplace in these homes in that era of building,” Law said. “It’s often overlooked. Spending some time doing the research on what would have been appropriate, I think that’s one of the elements that was most enjoyable for us.”
Two of the units are on the lower level; the remaining three units each take up an entire floor. They range from a one-bedroom, one-bathroom, 733-square-foot apartment to a three-bedroom, four-bathroom, two-level, 1,802-square-foot penthouse.
Each home opens to a main living area with a kitchen. In the units on the top three floors, three bedrooms are tucked down the hallway. In the two-bedroom, lower level unit, the bedrooms are alongside the main living area. In the one-bedroom, lower level unit, the bedroom is behind the main living area.
The individual units are stylish yet comfortable. Finely crafted millwork adorns the walls inside the condos. The flooring is a mix of reclaimed heart pine and oak. The kitchens have Carrara tile backsplashes, bronze and antique brass pendant lighting, stainless steel appliances and honed black granite countertops. The bathrooms have Carrara marble counters and tile floors.
The project “reflects a lot of the residential work that we do, which is typically very classically based but has a very fresh, clean interior,” Law said.
Law staged the penthouse with a mix of pieces from his custom furnishing line, including the Byron nightstands, the Henry chair and sofa, the Law club chairs. He mixed in antiques, modern art and pieces from some of his favorite vendors such as Rose Tarlow, Demiurge and David Iatesta. Art was installed by the Capital Artist Collective.
“That was one of the things that we were very specific about from the beginning, that we really wanted to see it through and see it furnished with pieces that would be appropriate for such a detailed space,” Law said.
The building is near the heart of Adams Morgan with its bustling nightlife, restaurants, coffee shops and bars. It is within walking distance of the Woodley Park metro station and several bus lines. A parking space is included with the top three units. Two of the top three units have outdoor spaces. Condo fees range from $148 to $350 monthly.
There are five units ranging from $449,000 to $1,495,000. One is under contract.
Developer: District Quarters
Square footage: 733 to 1,802
Condo association fee: $148 to $350 monthly
Contact: Lindsay Reishman, Compass