REAL ESTATE- ON THE BLOCK- <span class="s1">Double delight: A retro-hip Janus house</span>
ADDRESS: 1708 Jefferson Park Ave.
CITY ASSESSMENT: $524,100
YEAR BUILT: 1915
SIZE: Main house, 2,106 fin. sq. ft., 525 unfin.; bungalow 1,017 fin.
LAND: 0.28 acres
CURB APPEAL: 8.5 out of 10
LISTED BY: Dennis Woodriff of McLean Faulconer Realtors, 295-1131
This house, like the Roman god Janus, has two identities– the exterior looking to the past, the interior facing the future. Restored in the Tudor Revival style, it features decorative brown half-timbering on the second story to mimic medieval framing used in England during the late 16th and early 17th centuries. The style also features banks of tall, narrow windows– a mixture of casement and double-hung, wooden and metal– all with multipane glazing and brown trim– and steeply pitched rooflines with intersecting gables and flared eaves.
While the exterior design harks back 400 years, the original interior was au courant in 1915, and feels even more modern now thanks to the meticulously thorough renovation.
Not only does the house have two personas, but the property includes two houses: like the big house, a smaller one-and-a-half story bungalow was also completely rebuilt with a modern interior.
The front door of the main house opens onto a central hallway with lighted doors at both ends brightening the central staircase. To the left, a dining room adjoins the kitchen. To the right, a long great room is subtly divided into three sections by two aligned archways. All of the house to the right is raised about three feet (on both floors), creating a couple of neat architectural details and adding an asymmetry to the exterior that complements the intersecting gables.
One of those neat byproducts is a set of three steps up to the great room that encircle the doorway in a graceful curve. In the middle of one of the long walls of the great room, built-in half-height bookcases flank the fireplace. A rounded "conservatory" makes up the far end of the room, with walls of casement windows and a stone floor. Though it faces south, the sunlight is pleasantly subdued by a thick grove of mature bamboo that also provides a wall of privacy from a neighboring small apartment complex.
A short segment of stairs leading to the master suite positioned perpendicularly above the main stairs creates a dynamic feeling of suspension thanks to the arched underside visible from below. The master bedroom features two gabled walls, a bank of windows, a fireplace, and beautiful built-in cabinets. The master bath mirrors the "conservatory" beneath it, with rounded window-filled walls and a new stone tile floor. An old claw-foot tub with a modern shower conversion kit and a late-Victorian oak vanity mirror with matching cabinet complete the hip old-meets-new feeling.
Although the house was built in the 1910's, an era when talented artisans created decorative carving and other wood detailing, here there is only spare, unadorned interior trim. Even the fireplace mantles, the fireboxes, and the stair railing and balusters feature flat planes with few baubles.
The meticulous renovation– including repainting inside and out– makes everything seem new, as do the trendy interior shades of lavender, cream, and pale green. The new kitchen has plenty of modern amenities, including stainless steel appliances and granite countertops. White-painted maple cabinets sport a clean frame-and-panel design, many of them without any pulls, and one section has glass fronts, all genuflections to modernism.
The completely new upstairs bath also has a clean modern yet retro design, with a white tile shower, pedestal sink, and a floor of tiny hexagonal black and white tiles. The never-out-of-style combination of black and white is also carried through to the inspired makeover of the wood floors. In the kitchen and central hallway, refinished original wood was stained and covered with polyurethane, creating a glossy surface painted with large white squares/diamonds. The effect recalls the middle of the last century and is in vogue again today.
Situated behind the main house, the bungalow benefits from a similarly successful modernizing. According to the owner, the place was gutted to the studs and with the help of an architect, recreated with a hipped roof, hipped dormers, and projecting eaves. Nearly everything is new including plumbing, electrical, copper roof, and HVAC– even an off-white stucco exterior to match the main house. Like its big brother, the cottage features modern interior colors: light blue, light green, medium gray, and deep red.
The only jarring note is the new flooring on the first floor. There's wide variety in the grain, and although similarly stained, it looks nothing like the original pine it's attempting to match.
The exceptionally large lot is less than a block from the University. Even though it's on the busy thoroughfare of JPA, it's unusually private and quiet because it sits above road with a screen of trees and bushes insulating it from traffic.
The owner who put so much into renovating the property recognized that the outstanding lot and location would justify his investment. The combination of main house and bungalow offers countless possibilities, and neighbors include upscale houses on Valley and Oakhurst Circle, not Wahoo party animals.
PHOTOS BY BREVY CANNON