Le Décor: Cool Off with Cool Blue Tones

August 17, 2015

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

July 22, 2015

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

Woven Coverlets: The Perfect Sleeper

July 16, 2015

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

July 13, 2015

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

July 9, 2015

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

July 6, 2015

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.

Who Lives Here: Nora and Allison

June 22, 2015

Restaurant Nora has long been a staple of the D.C. food scene, visited by a number of presidents and dignitaries — the Obamas dined there for Michelle’s birthday in 2010 — not to mention foodies. Vienna-born Nora Pouillon is the chef behind the restaurant, and a Georgetown resident to boot. She led the organic food movement by opening the first certified-organic restaurant in the country, where she has hosted numerous national movers and shakers not far from Dupont Circle. Now Pouillon has released a book, “My Organic Life,” a memoir with the subtitle: “How a Pioneering Chef Helped Shape the Way We Eat Today.”

Pouillon lives in a unique pink, modern house on Reservoir Road between 32nd Street and Wisconsin Avenue, though she says the architect was forbidden from building in Georgetown again after unveiling the place, which she describes as in the style “Old Miami.” She moved to Georgetown 19 years ago from Adams Morgan, and despite being apprehensive prior to the move, admits that she now loves the neighborhood, saying its strongest attribute is its “mix of commercial and residential.”

Georgetowners can catch her out walking through Dumbarton Oaks or along the canal, window-shopping on Wisconsin Avenue and M Street — her favorite stores are Hu’s and Hu’s Shoes — exercising at the Four Seasons, or during cooler months, ice skating along the riverfront. She’s also been known to patronize Malmaison, which she calls underrated; Chez Billy Sud; the Grill Room at Capella; and when her namesake restaurant is out of a necessary ingredient, the farmers’ market across from Safeway. She professes love for nearly all things Georgetown. However she is not “a cupcake person,” preferring “salty and spicy” tastes to sugary.

Allison Silberberg doesn’t live here, residing instead in the Parkfairfax neighborhood of Alexandria, but she is a longtime Georgetown Senior Center supporter and served as president of the board from 2010 to 2012. On June 8, Silberberg won the Democratic primary for mayor of Alexandria. Currently vice mayor of Alexandria, she defeated sitting mayor Bill Euille, who has held the position since 2003. She also beat former mayor Kerry Donley, whose campaign called for aggressive development throughout the city.

Many observers expected Euille to easily fend off his challengers, but he and Silberberg were neck and neck as precincts reported in. Far outspent, Silberberg nonetheless ended up winning by 321 votes. The Washington Post attributed her win to her “warm and personable” nature and opposition to development in Old Town and elsewhere.

Some of Euille’s supporters are calling on him to campaign as a write-in candidate during the general election, but the party has warned against the move, saying they will put their full weight behind primary voters’ chosen ticket. [gallery ids="102107,133845" nav="thumbs"]

Featured Property

June 18, 2015

1611 31st Street NW

Located near Tudor Place, this stunning residence in a coveted historic block has four bedrooms, five and a half baths and three fireplaces. On the entry level are an office with built-in bookshelves, a bedroom with an en-suite bath and a spacious family room. The generous main floor includes a renovated kitchen and a dining room/living room leading to a large patio. The stunning master suite is on the upper level. Outside, there is an enchanting garden perfect for elegant entertaining or escape.

Offered at $4,550,000
Washington Fine Properties
Nancy Taylor Bubes

Secor Group: On the Move at 125 years

May 22, 2015

Throughout its 125 years, the Secor Group, formerly known as Security Storage Company of Washington, has been led by just six individuals. Chuck Lawrence, who has been with the company for 26 years, is its current leader.

“We’ve reinvented it, while maintaining its history,” Lawrence said.

Secor Group recently revamped its logo and marketing campaigns to mark the milestone. But there will be no celebrations until the fall.

“This is our peak season,” Lawrence said of the summer. “We won’t have an anniversary party until September.”

A global force, the company operates in New Delhi, Belgium, 14 African nations and many other places around the world. About 40 percent of Secor Group’s business comes from D.C., Maryland, Virginia and Connecticut.

With its corporate headquarters on Florida Avenue, adjacent to Adams Morgan, Secor Group has large storage facilities at Dulles Airport and throughout the District, as well as 100,000 square feet of storage in Connecticut.

The company moved our most recent presidents into the White House. Its massive logistical operations support not only the movement of possessions, but also complete relocation services, including finding new housing at the destination, helping to close on the current property, locating schools and activities for children and setting up utilities for new homes.

The company motto has evolved along with its services: from “Keeping in safe custody” in its Security Storage Company of Washington days to “Assurance delivered” under the Secor Group umbrella.

According to Lawrence, it is the technology at the center of these operations that holds the company together. Secor Group is responsible for RedSky, the only software that creates a global database to track all elements of moving and relocation services.

This technology proved to be particularly important during the company’s involvement with shipping resources to West African countries on behalf of the U.S. government during the Ebola crisis.

The software allows clients, such as Anheuser Busch and the Department of State, to monitor the movement of their products and belongings, as well as to stay in constant contact with Secor Group staff.

Lawrence sees opportunities for growth through the acquisition of other companies. Secor recently purchased MilitaryOneClick, a website that receives two million hits a month and aims to provide military families with news and job listings. The company has also started working with Hiring Our Heroes to place veterans in positions throughout its transportation and relocation departments.

“We look to become more actively involved with the military,” Lawrence said.

Locally based and internationally minded, Secor Group appears to have hit on the perfect formula for continued success. All partnerships are highly integrated.

“It’s become like a family for a lot of us,” Lawrence said.