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Real Estate Spotlight

How We Live Now: The Demise of the Florida Room

Washington, D.C., has gone through a gigantic sea change over the past several years, from a city of modest middle-class incomes and homes to a metropolitan area having many huge homes with elaborate interiors, reflecting the opulent lifestyles of the people within. One way to see how our concept of informal living has changed is to trace the evolution of a Washington favorite, the so-called Florida room. Back in the 1950s and ’60s, the first Florida rooms were considered a big improvement over the open side porches on the small redbrick colonials that dominated Northwest Washington and the suburbs of Silver Spring and Chevy Chase. Instead of sitting outside on your open side porch swatting mosquitoes, you could fill the open spaces between the porch columns with jalousie windows and screens, creating a seasonal addition to your house. These jalousie windows, made up of frames holding rectangular pieces of glass, had hand cranks to open and close the glass window slats, letting the air in through the screens but keeping the bugs out. When it got cooler in September, you could crank these louvered windows shut and still have the illusion of being outside. This was the spot where mom could bring dad his martini or scotch and they could talk over dad’s workday and enjoy the feeling of being, well, almost on vacation. Meanwhile, the kids could play in the semi-finished downstairs area called the rumpus room. We can guess where the term “rumpus room” came from, but where exactly “Florida room” came from is unclear. The name probably added to mom and dad’s feeling of being able to unwind in the balmy atmosphere of a summer’s evening. These Florida rooms were usually small, typically 150 to 300 square feet, and they were attached to two-story colonials that were also small, a total of 2,200 to 3,500 square feet. There was a living room, a dining room, a small kitchen and a porch or Florida room on the first floor, and three bedrooms and one or two bathrooms on the second. Of course, there were also much bigger homes in D.C. and its suburban neighborhoods, but colonials of this size and shape far outnumbered the larger homes. Now, let’s fast-forward to 2015, and take a look at the typical new home being built today in Washington’s close-in neighborhoods. Builders are continually looking for a home on a lot large enough to carve off another lot, or to tear down an existing house, to build the type of big, new home that is in demand. This new house will be 5,000 to 8,000 square feet, with a living room, a dining room, an expansive family kitchen with islands and table space, an adjoining family room and a den. The second floor will have a multi-room master suite — sometimes bigger than the entire square footage of the colonials described above — plus several bedrooms and bathrooms. The lower-level areas include such amenities as climate-controlled wine cellars, exercise rooms and home movie theaters. The humble Florida room has been replaced with scads of informal space, but this time it’s where the whole family congregates. Since both mom and dad work now, at the end of the day they want to share time and space with the kids. The kitchen is still “the heart of the home,” but it is open and spacious. With gourmet accoutrements, it adjoins a richly equipped family room with a large flat-screen television, a fireplace and a wall of glass windows and doors, opening to porches, decks and usually a small, but well-landscaped backyard. Currently, backyards are not used that much, since the children are pretty well booked after school with lessons of various kinds and the parents and kids go to interesting places on weekends. Granted, this is not everybody’s lifestyle, but it generally accounts for a growing number of people who are buying new luxury homes. This is a far cry from the lifestyle reflected in the 2,500-square-foot colonials. So, bid adieu, with an accompanying wave of nostalgia, to the Florida room. It served its purpose at a much different time in our cultural history. Come to think of it, couldn’t everyone use a climate-controlled wine cellar?

Elevated Living In Glover Park

D.C. real estate investment and management company Bernstein Management Corporation’s opened its latest residential venture, 2255 Wisconsin, in June — a luxury apartment building in the heart of Glover Park. One and two bedroom floor plans are available, ranging from roughly 460 to 900 square feet. Select apartments have patios and balcony views of Observatory Circle and the city beyond. The 81 units are equipped with stainless steel appliances, granite countertops, oversized windows, and a full-size washer and dryer in every unit. A linear fireplace, modern art and comfortable furnishings surround, all of which give the space an air of sleek sophistication and warmth. A central community courtyard and resident lounge are equipped with a bar, TV, and WiFi. The location is within walking distance of many D.C. hotspots, including Sweetgreen, Town Hall, Whole Foods, Breadsoda, and Washington Sports Club, with on site parking available to tenants as well. BMC, founded in 1953, owns and manages 90 different properties in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia, including the Lex and the Leo at Waterfront Station, two towering sister residences on the Southwest Waterfront, both of which are for lease.

Developer Pulling Out of M Street ‘Micro-Unit’ Project

Local developer SB-Urban has dropped its plan to convert the Latham Hotel at 3000 M St. NW in to a "micro-unit" apartment complex, according to the Current Newspapers. The Latham Hotel micro-unit project was one of three that SB-Urban is developing in Northwest Washington targeting affluent young people with small but well-furnished apartments located in desirable neighborhoods. The company's two other developments, slated for Blagden Alley in Shaw and at 15 Dupont Circle in the historic Patterson Mansion, are still a-go, with plans to begin construction on both this year. SB-Urban bought the Latham Hotel building in November 2013 for $45.4 million. After the purchase, the company went through a number of hoops, gaining the approval of the Old Georgetown Board and the Board of Zoning Adjustment to renovate the space into a development consisting of 140 units with 330 square-foot floor plans. SB-Urban's Mike Balaban told the Current, "At the time we acquired the site, the hospitality market in D.C. was quite depressed, and that has now long since changed," adding, "It's now a very strong market that's very actively being sought by investors and operators from literally all over the world." On the building's future, Balaban said, "We think it's a great site and something great will come of it."

Le Décor: Cool Off with Cool Blue Tones

As the dog days of summer reach their peak, stay cool with furniture and décor rooted in cool blue tones. Enjoy end-of-summer barbecues with coastal-inspired outdoor furniture. Or add a pop of color to plain walls with blue decorative touches. Not just for summer, these home furnishings will create a cool ambiance all year round. [gallery ids="102274,128205,128229,128224,128193,128219,128213,128235,128185,128199" nav="thumbs"]

Featured Property: 4675 Kenmore Drive NW

4675 Kenmore Drive NW Fabulous new price! Sought after Kenmore Drive offers views high over the treetops in a private, elegant contemporary setting. The masterful design of this captivating home is immediately apparent upon entry. Highlights include a master-suite with sitting area, his/her closets & baths. Exciting interior design: 4 additional BR, 3.5 BA, his/her offices, sauna, swimming pool amid lush landscape. Offered at $2,400,000 Long and Foster Real Estate Nancy Itteilag 202-905-7762 itteilag@gmail.com

Woven Coverlets: The Perfect Sleeper

Sleeping was a textile-heavy experience in the 1800s. Textiles were a primary component of being able to sleep in a comfortable and warm environment. Beds were designed as fully draped enclosures, with curtains, valances and a coverlet. The coverlet was the topmost covering on the bed. Until the 1820s, most coverlets were hand-loomed at home. Professionally woven coverlets gained popularity between 1820 and the Civil War — the majority were made between 1800 and the 1880s. Woven mostly by men, who trained as carpet weavers in England and Germany, then set up shops along the East Coast, these coverlets were affordable enough for rural and middle-class Americans. Imported indigo and madder dyes, and other natural plant dyes, provided the pigment for most 19th-century coverlets. Bloodroot and dogwood produced red, bittersweet yielded orange and butternut bark produced brown. They were often made of a combination of wool and linen called linsey-woolsey — an important fabric in Colonial America due to the relative scarcity of wool. But some were made of bleached cotton. The earliest coverlets were woven on a rather primitive “four harness” loom, which limited the weaver’s ability to produce complex patterns. The float work or overshot coverlet was woven in one long narrow piece, then cut width-wise and sewn together to make a textile wide enough for a bed. In the early 1800s, the newly invented Jacquard loom made its way from France. The modernized technology — actually a loom attachment — allowed elaborate, complex patterns and images to be incorporated into coverlets. The coverlet progressed from a purely functional item, used primarily to provide privacy and warmth in early American homes, to one of aesthetic beauty. These colorful coverlets displayed elaborate patterns, with images of birds and plants, and often the name of the owner and the weaver. Characteristic of many early woven coverlets were their interesting and informative inscriptions, which varied in placement, content and complexity. They could denote the weaver’s name, the location of the loom, the date, a bible verse or political slogan, a commemoration and sometimes the owner’s name. Usually the inscription was woven in backwards and forwards, allowing it to be read from either side of the coverlet. Both men and women ordered and purchased coverlets. Since comparatively few weavers were women, when a woman’s name is inscribed into a coverlet, it is generally thought to be the owner’s name, not the weaver’s. But if a man’s name appears on a coverlet it could be the name of the owner or the weaver. The prices of antique coverlets can span from a couple of hundred dollars to several thousand, depending on the design, condition and provenance. Antique coverlets were treasured by families through many generations, and were frequently mentioned in wills and stored for future descendants in dower chests. They are true American heirlooms. Michelle Galler has been an antiques dealer and a consultant for more than 25 years. Her business is based in Rare Finds in Washington, Virginia. If you have questions or finds, email her at antiques.and.whimsies@gmail.com [gallery ids="102127,133737,133731,133740,133735" nav="thumbs"]

Le Décor: Red, White, and BBQ

What better place than the nation’s capital to host a patriotic picnic — or a red-white-and-booze-filled holiday feast — on the 4th of July? From table settings to outdoor décor, these summer-inspired products will delight your guests this celebratory weekend and on every outdoor occasion, right into fall. 1. You put mint in your cocktail — why not in your candle? This soy wax Mint Produce Candle makes an aromatic addition to any patio picnic table this summer. $24.95, [Paper Source](http://www.papersource.com/item/Mint-Produce-Candle/521307.html) 2. An icy pitcher of lemonade — or, if you prefer, Pimm’s — is all the more delectable in this opalescent glass Miruna Pitcher. $36, [Anthropologie](http://www.anthropologie.com/anthro/product/home-tabletop-dinnerware/C34643262.jsp#/) 3. With plenty of farmer’s markets to choose from in the D.C. area, this adorable ceramic Farmer’s Market Basket lets you serve the fruits of your — or someone’s — labor in a most original way. $20 (large basket),0[ Anthropologie](http://www.anthropologie.com/anthro/product/home-kitchen/20744306.jsp#/) 4. Fresh-squeezed juice and homemade sweet tea taste better when sipped from a Mason jar. These red Jam Jar Juice Glasses will have you coming back for seconds. $19.95 (set of four), [Paper Source](http://www.papersource.com/item/Jam-Jar-Juice-Glasses/520903.html) 5. Keep your drinks and food chilled in style with the wood-coated Castine Cooler. $449, [Ballard Designs](http://www.ballarddesigns.com/castine-cooler/342203?redirect=y) 6. Whether it’s hot dogs and hamburgers or haute-cuisine hors d’oeuvres, this beautifully crafted Resin Tray with leather handles is perfect for all your hosting needs. $325, [Calypso St. Barth](http://www.calypsostbarth.com/resin-tray-with-leather-handles) 7. Without tunes you don’t have a party. This Turquoise Beach Radio, an AM/FM smartphone speaker, lets you play DJ no matter where the party takes you. $49.95, [Paper Source](http://www.papersource.com/item/Turquoise-Beach-Radio/501320.html) 8. With these nostalgic Hot Dog Trays, you’ll think you’re standing in line for the rollercoaster at the county fair. $5.95 (set of 8), [Paper Source](http://www.papersource.com/item/Hot-Dog-Trays/520886.html) 9. Replace your worn-out picnic-table cover with Gingham Plates. Serve your guests on these outdoor-friendly plates, made of sturdy melamine. $26.95 (set of 4), [Paper Source](http://www.papersource.com/item/Gingham-Plates/520881.html) 10. Adding to the light of the evening fireflies, the glow cast by this beautiful trio of Mineral Tealight Holders will inspire your guests to enjoy their sparkle all summer night long. $50, [Calypso St. Barth](http://www.calypsostbarth.com/home/table-top/mineral-tealight-holder-set) [gallery ids="117525,117492,117519,117499,117505,117529,117512,117534,117538" nav="thumbs"]

The Genius of Place

When architect Robert Bell announced that he was purchasing the old Georgetown Theater property last October, one got the sense that the man and the place were made for this moment. Bell, who has worked on projects from Georgetown to Turkey, has his office at 3218 O St., NW, close to the former theater at 1351 Wisconsin Ave., NW, at the intersection of O and Wisconsin. He has already redeveloped and owns buildings next to his office property. Before the theater property redevelopment is completed, Bell wants to relight its iconic neon “Georgetown” sign by July 4, pending approvals.“I never thought I would see this day come,” Bell told the Georgetowner in October. “It’s a miracle.” He worked with the previous owner, the Heon family, which bought the theater in 1949 and put it up for sale in 2010 for about $4.5 million. Angie Heon Nys said of Bell: “I had seen the other projects he had done on O Street and was very impressed with his vision and talent. Since I have known him, he has taken a special interest in our property and has put quite a lot of time and energy into his plans. I think the direction he is going in will bring new-found life to that part of Wisconsin Avenue and when he is finished Georgetown will be proud to have it as its landmark.” Of Nys, Bell replied: “Without her, the deal would not have happened. ” Bell has said the rejuvenated property will include retail and office space and residences. With the ability to enhance or add windows, the space can have lots of light. The architect also said the property will have much more usable space and will use only one-third of the energy previously used. That’s for a lot described as “6,569 square feet with parking and a carriage house in the rear.” He also envisions a wider sidewalk for that block. “The basic commitment is contextual architecture wherever I practice it, whether it is in Turkey or Georgetown,” said Bell, who has had to redesign the back of the property after the Old Georgetown Board review called for less space for an intended residence. Some neighbors on Dumbarton Street and O Street were upset about a planned back addition and the height of an outside wall. At a November advisory neighborhood commission meeting, one neighbor said Bell was lying about the wall’s height. Christian Mulder, who lives adjacent to the property on Dumbarton Street, said of the latest design changes: “We are happy that the carriage house will be restored, but we are unhappy that an illegal garage that has been a hazard for years is going to be built up two stories and an inner courtyard turned into some half housing project with a loggia. If Bell can build like this, all of Georgetown should be able to build like this. But that would be at the detriment of all of us residents, as the neighborhood would lose character and livability. “In essence,” Mulder continued, “the project remains one of commercial sprawl – no major reductions in the proposal of the main building have been made. The theater building will be massively built up into a four-story colossus. It will have apartments overlooking over people’s gardens. It has a roof and side that is not at all in line with adjacent buildings.” Bell will face new comments on his redesigns at the Feb. 3 ANC meeting and the Feb. 6 OGB meeting. He seems unfazed, moving on after each design tweak – indeed, his passion for the project and his art is infectious. After all, his firm’s motto is from a quote by the poet Alexander Pope: “Consult the genius of place.” Explained Bell: “I don’t need to do architecture for a living. I am only doing projects which are interesting because they address the biggest issues of today and which is to make a sustainable environment, while preserving and enriching the uniqueness of each place in the world. That uniqueness is both the particular place and its history.” “That is why the two projects which I am presently pursuing are passive house designs where I am pushing the envelope of technology to consuming zero energy; or community scale projects, such as transforming streets and alleys to the vision of a densification which is just another part of the same principle of making the planet sustainable by stopping urban sprawl to preserve nature and farms,” he said. As far as his latest project goes, Bell said: “The Georgetown Theater [property] embodies all of these aspects of design – saving the historic and unique character of Georgetown, designing it with passive house characteristics to minimize energy consumption as a model of what can be done in a historic district, densifying the multi-use quality of the building by substantially increasing the use of the existing building, the commitment to making alleys, gardens and people spaces, as in Europe, and finally transforming the sidewalk into a place which is not dominated by automobiles but a commitment to a place which works for people and shopping.” It is a unique project for the 72-year-old Bell who grew up in suburban Denver, Colo., and studied architecture at Yale University. He admires the architect Robert Venturi who pushed back at the tenets of modern architecture. To architect Mies van der Rohe’s dictum, “Less is more,” Venturi responded: “Less is a bore.” “When I want to architecture school all there was modern architecture,” Bell said. “Venturi freed students to see traditional architecture just as interesting as modern architecture. I love good architecture. The problem with international architecture is that it is all homogenized. An Apple store looks the same everywhere.” Bell came to the Washington area to teach architecture at the University of Maryland, applied his craft on Capitol Hill -- where he developed condos from an old Peoples Drug building at Lincoln Park -- and then moved his business to Georgetown. He and his wife Ann Emmet Bell, who live in Wesley Heights, have five children – Alexa, Rebecca, Bettina, Emmet and Adam -- who are older now and have left the nest. One project the whole family enjoyed was the Solarz house in Kalkan, Turkey. They all got to go with dad. On the Aegean Sea, due east of Rhodes, Greece, the white, sun-drenched “house on the hill” is a far cry from the McLean home, where Bell, years ago, designed a library for the late Rep. Stephen Solarz. On Volta Place, Bell redesigned the old Georgetown Police Station. It was nice to have Janet Auchincloss, the half-sister of Jaqueline Kennedy, as a buyer, he said. His client -- and his children – delighted in the elevator in the middle of a kitchen, which comes out of the ceiling in one of the houses. At Glover Archbold Park and Hillandale, Bell designed the Palmer residence, next to D.C.’s oldest log cabin. “It looked like something out of Tuscany with donkeys up on the hill,” Bell said of the site that can be seen from Reservoir Road. Bell and fellow architect Dale Overmyer designed the Johns house on 29th Street. Deb Johns – who said resident concerns about this latest project will be worked out -- called Bell “a visionary.” Other projects include a waterfront house in Sherwood Forest near Annapolis and Stonewall Farm. Nowadays, during an architectural review, Bell finds that “people who were my students are now my judges.” He is complimentary of the OGB, saying it has “great architects.” A design concept Bell learned at Yale has served him well these days: there is order with some resistance -- “something caused a pearl, created by a problem.” That’s what is meant by “genius of the place.” That’s how Bell sees some of those who objected to his original designs for the old theater building. He called his neighbors his “zen masters.” When asked about other local architects, Bell said he was not necessarily a big fan of architects Hugh Jacobsen and Arthur Cotton Moore. And he did not like Frank Gehry’s Eisenhower memorial or the architecture of the former Shops at Georgetown Park. “There is a balancing act between all of history or just valuable history,” Bell said. “It is a struggle over what is appropriate to keep – like taking off the theater’s fake stone.” “We want to preserve the historical quality,” he said. “It’s making the fabric richer and denser – and the more people the better. Georgetown should be as dense as possible. It’s good for the environment.” “All this said, the only way I personally can accomplish these goals is to make the Georgetown Theater profitable as a development,” Bell said. “A profitable endeavor not only makes it possible for me to do it as an individual, it can be a model for other ventures to preserve and revitalize cities.” “I believe cities should always focus on enriching the pedestrian quality – a place where it is a joy to stroll. That is what I want for Wisconsin Avenue and Georgetown.” [gallery ids="101605,147094,147091" nav="thumbs"]

JD Callander Reveals Contemporary Home Hidden Away in McLean

In a zip code filled with beautiful homes, truly unique properties are few and far between. Contemporary homes appear to be a minority in the Northern Virginia area. JD Callander, a nationally ranked realtor based in McLean, has listed an architectural gem unlike anything else the neighborhood has to offer. At the end of a cul-de-sac, nestled in the woods, lies 1700 James Payne Circle. Upon entrance to the home, you are greeted by a great room boasting an entire face of floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking a lush woodland landscape. An air of serenity seems to float through the entire home along with the natural light. Aesthetic aside, the spacious, flowing floor plan of the property proves its distinctive nature. The first floor of the home sits lofted above the lower level; all coming together in the great room. The gourmet kitchen rests above the recessed family room; ideal for entertaining. JD Callander describes the home as “a true oasis hidden in the middle of a busy metropolitan area.” Nestled on nearly an acre of land, the expansive rear deck is perfect for enjoying the trees and the gentle sounds of the creek. This property has four bedrooms and three beautifully updated baths, GE monogram stainless steel appliances, skylights, plantation shutters and many other custom features. For more information, please contact JD Callander at 703-606-7901, or go to her website at www.newNOVAhome.com" (Sponsored Content) [gallery ids="102121,133788,133763,133767,133771,133775,133785,133779,133782" nav="thumbs"]

No Slowing Down for Zippy Shell

Zippy Shell Incorporated is in for its biggest move yet. Calling itself the fastest growing moving-and-storage company in the nation, the Washington Harbour-based business has partnered with Virgo Investment Group to accelerate its already flourishing business with a $25-million investment plan. The capital infusion comes not only at the start of summer, peak moving season, but at a critical time for Zippy Shell, which launched in 2010. Zippy Shell CEO Rick Del Sontro is enthusiastic about the partnership. “The Virgo team has been great to work with and has already provided significant strategic relationships to move our brand, and business, to the next level,” he said. “The idea behind the investment is to accelerate growth.” Del Sontro expects this growth to stem from the company’s service concept. Zippy Shell offers a system in which storage containers are delivered directly to the customer’s home, with pick-up arranged by a simple phone call. “Zippy Shell bridges the gap of convenience and price,” Del Sontro said. While building Zippy Shell into a national brand never seemed out of the question to Del Sontro, he acknowledges that the effort was quite costly, and difficult to achieve in the enterprise’s first few years. But now, anything is possible. Following the announcement of their partnership with Virgo, Zippy Shell appointed James S. Simpson to the company’s board of directors. Simpson served under former President George W. Bush as administrator of the Federal Transit Administration. Simpson, who also served as commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Transportation, and was a commissioner of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in New York, appears to be the perfect fit for the position. “James has been around the industry for quite a long time. He obviously knows the transportation industry well,” said Del Sontro. He added that Simpson is “a practical businessman.” Simpson is equally excited about the venture. “Zippy Shell’s business model is a game-changer, and will certainly disrupt the storage and moving industry for the better. Zippy Shell is the definition of storage-and-moving 2.0,” he said in a statement. Having been ranked in Entrepreneur magazine’s Franchise 500 for two consecutive years, Zippy Shell is a force to be reckoned with. The company’s first priority, according to Del Sontro, is a tremendous U.S. expansion over the next three to five years. The next step? Transforming Zippy Shell into an international business, which, Del Sontro claimed, is “logical and likely to happen.” Yet no matter how far the Zippy Shell franchise goes, it will always be rooted in Georgetown. Zippy Shell caters its business model to the fast-paced lives of the residents of its headquarters city. With permits allowing their trailers to be parked anywhere in the District, Zippy Shell is redefining what it means to live in a mobile world.