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For under $800,000, you get a party-perfect back patio and a walk-in closet to die for. By Caroline Cunningham

Local designer Tracy Morrisʼs handiwork can be seen all over this two-bedroom, one-and-a-half-bath condo on the north side of Georgetown. High-end accents, such as Nina Campbell wallpaper, Ralph Lauren light fixtures, and Calacatta marble countertops are peppered throughout the 1,000-square-foot residence. A fireplace flanked by built-in shelving lends a cozy vibe to the living room, but our favorite space in the condo isnʼt a room at all—itʼs a custom-built walk-in closet with shelves for shoes, a wall of mirrored wardrobes, and a vanity for all your cosmetics. If you're still not sold, the property also comes with a private terrace perfect for warm-weather entertaining and a location directly across the street from Montrose Park.

3012 R St., NW, #1/2 is listed at $799,900. Take a peek inside below, then head over to Coldwell Banker for the complete listing.

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Posted at 02:46 PM/ET, 01/26/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
From being used in an attack ad to property tax evasion, this home had a lot of baggage. By Marisa M. Kashino
When Daschle was nominated to become Secretary of Health and Human Services, a property tax issue resurfaced. Image by Flickr user Obama-Biden Transition Project.

Tom Daschle's home on Foxhall Road in DC's Wesley Heights has caused some drama over the years for the former senator from South Dakota. Daschle and wife Linda bought the residence in 2003 for $1.9 million, and it was promptly used the same year as attack ad material. The commercial, aired by the Club for Growth, used the high-end house as evidence that the then-Democratic minority leader was out of touch with his constituents.

The mansion was again fodder for the right during Daschle's 2004 reelection campaign, when some reporters noted he was receiving DC's homestead deduction on his property taxes, though he was a resident of South Dakota. Fast-forward to 2009 when President Barack Obama tapped Daschle to become Secretary of Health and Human Services, and a different set of tax problems derailed the nomination, giving commentators an opportunity to revisit the old (and since resolved) issue of the property taxes.

So, yes, a bit of heartburn came with those seven bedrooms, but in the end, it seems the house was worth the trouble. Property records show that trustees of a Thomas A. Daschle and Linda Hall-Daschle sold the Foxhall Road house for a cool $3.25 million late last year—a profit of $1.35 mil.

The new owners' identities are concealed behind a trust—and yes, they are receiving the homestead deduction.

Posted at 01:25 PM/ET, 01/23/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
A 16-pound bichon frisé is the therapist of choice for some kids in Washington. By John Scarpinato
Psychologist Darlene Atkins says her dog, Murphy, connects with kids who feel alone. Photograph by Andrew Propp.

It’s been more than a year since Zac had to visit Children’s National eating-disorder clinic in DC’s Spring Valley. But psychologist Darlene Atkins is certain that her bichon frisé, Murphy, will remember the former patient.

A knock on the office door rouses the therapy dog from his favorite napping spot under Atkins’s desk. His fluffy body breaks into a wiggle when Zac walks in. At first, the teenager doesn’t show much interest in talking to the humans in the room, but he begins to laugh and warm up as he scratches behind Murphy’s ears.

Zac, now 16, was diagnosed with anorexia when he was 11. He says the physical remedies—trips to the hospital to stabilize vital signs and get rehydrated—were easy compared with the work it took to diminish the disease’s psychological hold on him. “A lot of times, therapy sucks and I would dread going,” he says. “When you have an eating disorder like I did, there’s the physical side and then there’s the emotional side, and the emotional side is 10 billion times worse.”

When Zac cried in a session, Murphy climbed into his lap: “It was cool that he could sense that and comfort me.” When Zac’s younger sisters complained about having to tag along—adding to the list of things he felt bad about—Murphy became the solution. “My sisters loved him. They always wanted to come in and say hi.”

Atkins, director of the clinic, got Murphy four years ago after hearing from a colleague about the benefits of using dogs to get through to kids in distress. For eating-disorder patients, who often feel isolated and misunderstood, Atkins says, “Murphy serves as a way to engage and connect.”

When she told the Richmond breeder she wanted a dog that could work with adolescents, the woman pointed to Murphy, who she said seemed to comfort his siblings when they were upset. Atkins won a grant that helped launch the pet-therapy program, and Murphy underwent training to become a certified therapy dog.

Murphy’s diplomas hang on the office wall. He calmly greets patients when they arrive for appointments. If they show interest, he takes his place on the chair beside them. If not, he curls up under the desk. “There was one patient who told me they were able to trust me more simply by watching the way I interacted with Murphy,” says Atkins. Another one’s parents warned that their daughter was so deeply opposed to counseling that her first session would almost certainly be her last. After an hour with Murphy, the girl wasn’t sure she could wait a full week to see the dog again.

Such experiences aren’t unique to Atkins’s office. Studies show that incorporating dogs into therapy lowers blood pressure, reduces anxiety, and contributes to patients’ social development. More surprising is the effect Murphy has had on office culture. Lisa Ezidinma, a medical technician, had an extreme fear of dogs since getting chased by one as a child. But Murphy’s friendly personality won her over to the point that she decided to get a dog of her own. “My friends can’t believe it,” she says.

And Murphy is no longer the only four-legged staffer at the outpatient center. Down the hall, another dog makes his rounds in the diabetes department. Inspired by Atkins and Murphy, Dr. Fran Cogen got her own bichon frisé, Knickers, from the same Richmond breeder to help soothe her patients.

Before he says goodbye to Murphy, Zac takes a minute to consider the significance of his visit. Today he’s a healthy high-school student, active in soccer and theater. That he’s back at the clinic not because of a relapse but to see Murphy and share how the dog has helped him is something of a personal victory. “It’s a happy ending,” he says.

This article appears in the January 2015 issue of Washingtonian.

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Posted at 01:15 PM/ET, 01/23/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Looking for a furry friend? One of these cuties—all available at Washington-area rescues—might be your match.

Gracie (above) is a Chihuahua who's about eight years old. Her owner loved her very much, but unfortunately passed away, and no one in the family was able to take care of her. Gracie is scared and not sure what to make of the shelter environment. She would really like to find a new family to love. You can meet her at the Animal Welfare League of Arlington.

Pollyanna is a five-year-old boxer/hound-mix. Her adoption fee has been generously sponsored, so all she needs now is a loving home. Polly is an easygoing dog that will fit right in to her new home. She's a marathon girl, but not the running kind; we're talking Law and Order on the couch. She would be a great choice for a family looking to have just one pet to love. You can meet her at the Animal Welfare League of Arlington.

Olive is an adorable five-month-old puppy that resembles a mountain cur mix. Olive was rescued with her two siblings who have both found homes, but Olive knows her perfect family is still out there. Even though she was the smallest of the puppies, she is the leader of the pack. To find out more about adopting Olive, please visit the Rural Dog Rescue website.

Charlie Brown is a gorgeous plott hound who appears to be around two years old. He loves cuddling up and laying his head on your lap for pets. True to plott hound form, he can be a bit vocal when he gets excited, so would probably do better in a house rather than an apartment. He gets along well with other dogs and is a goofy, lovable guy. To find out more about adopting Charlie Brown, please visit the Rural Dog Rescue website.

Adler is a lab/boxer mix who is about two years old and weighs 55 pounds. He is an easygoing dog with medium energy and is very gentle. He loves kids and other dogs. He is very smart and is a quick learner—he already knows sit and stay. He is not a jumper, but is a happy and excited boy. He doesn't engage much with people he doesn't know well, but once he knows you're a friend, he's a big ham. You can meet him through K-9 Lifesavers.

Zoey is a two-year-old, 29-pound beagle-mix. She is playful, agile, and affectionate, but she's a little shy and unsure. She would be happiest in the suburbs, as she does best in a quieter home. She is house- and crate-trained, and she walks very well on a leash. Zoey loves other dogs, is respectful of cats, and is afraid of her foster family's bird. She is not possessive of food, toys, or her crate and has never shown aggression. She is a bit shy and nervous though, so she would do best in a home with another dog. You can meet her through K-9 Lifesavers.

Seiko is a six-year-old, 13-pound, domestic shorthair cat. She was surrendered to the Washington Humane Society on January 3, 2015 after her owner had to move and could not take her along. Seiko is the friendliest cat, and has a way of making everyone feel special. Even if you have only left the room for a moment, she will come to cuddle you like she hasn’t seen you in years. You can meet her at the Washington Humane Society's New York Avenue shelter.

Rosie, a three-year-old husky mix, arrived at the Washington Animal Rescue League recently because her owner was moving to a place where pets aren’t allowed. Rosie is obviously confused about her current situation, but she's hopeful that someone will love her again. She's past the destructive puppy stage but still energetic and playful. She likes people and other dogs and would like nothing better than a home where someone will give her attention, affection, and exercise. You can meet her at the Washington Animal Rescue League.

Oberlin is a three-year-old gray tabby cat, and is as friendly as he is handsome. He’s social and affectionate with people and loves curling up in laps. He also likes other cats and would do well in a home with or without a feline friend. You can meet him at the Washington Animal Rescue League, where Oberlin and other shelter cats will be available for a special adoption fee of $14 during the annual Catapalooza celebration on Sunday, February 15.

Posted at 10:23 AM/ET, 01/23/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Head to one of the few Virginia wineries that allows dogs indoors. By Gwyn Donohue
Image via Shutterstock.

Cana Vineyards in Middleburg is one of the few Virginia wineries that welcomes dogs indoors as well as out, making it a great destination during the colder months. Situated on a picturesque 43-acre hillside overlooking the Bull Run Mountains between Aldie and Middleburg, the vineyard allows you to bring your leashed dog into the first-floor tasting room, onto the porch and patio, and throughout the grounds. The second-floor tasting area, deck, and gazebo are for adults only—no two- or four-legged children allowed.

My dogs particularly enjoyed lying flat out on the cool concrete porch floor while the humans bellied up to the tasting bar. And the staff just laughed when the pups put their front paws on the counter to see if any treats were being served along with the wine.

Another draw is that Cana features live music every weekend. You can be social in the tasting room, but then get some privacy at one of the many picnic tables spread around the grounds or on the wide porch that spans the entire front of the building—while listening to acoustic guitar music on Saturday and Sunday afternoon.

Cana is open Thursday through Monday, with a $10 tasting fee and plenty of free on-site parking.

Gwyn Donohue is the author of the blog Two Dog Tales. Head there to read about more events, activities, and news for Washington dog owners.

Posted at 09:12 AM/ET, 01/22/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
The interior decorator shares his top portfolio pick. By Michelle Thomas
Photograph courtesy of Paul Corrie.

Columbia Heights-based interior designer Paul Corrie tells us about his favorite room from his projects, an airy-meets-modern-classic living room.

"I love this room because the clean, white architectural canvas takes a backseat to the furniture," says Corrie. "The light and airy furnishings of delicate antiques mixed with modern functionality allow this room to remain durable and current, yet retain a certain level of period and Old World style. I paid careful attention to scale in the selection of pieces so that the room maintained a certain mobility and versatility no matter what the desired layout may be. Subtle touches of color, texture, pattern, and contrast add visual interest to the curious eye."

Posted at 12:20 PM/ET, 01/21/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
We let a standard poodle take us for a walk around the Lincoln Memorial. By Chris Campbell
Photographs by Oliver (with the help of Chris Campbell).

You know what you see when you walk your dog on the Mall—famous monuments, blue skies, a gorgeous expanse of city. But what does your companion see?

To find out, we strapped a GoPro camera to Oliver, a curious standard poodle, and let him lead us on walks through the National Mall, and down Logan Circle's 14th Street, NW.

Posted at 11:13 AM/ET, 01/21/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
The kitchen designer shares how she pulled off one of her top projects. By Michelle Thomas
Nadia Subaran's pool kitchen in the 2011 Design House. Photograph by Lydia Cutter.

Kitchen designer Nadia Subaran counts this pool kitchen renovation—completed as part of the 2011 DC Design House, a 1925 Tudor in Forest Hills—among her top picks from her project portfolio. Says Subaran:

"In a time when bigger is perceived to be better, the pool kitchen stood out as a space of economy, autonomy and beauty. The scale of the room was cozy and intimate. Our design opened up the space visually by eliminating wall cabinets but banking valuable storage in a tall glass-front pantry and floating stainless steel shelves. This kitchen serviced the pool and was geared toward entertaining, but was also fully outfitted with a full-size refrigerator, an induction range, a farmhouse sink, a dishwasher, and an icemaker.

"The mix of finishes was warm and textural, while the design elements were streamlined and unfussy. They included flat-panel, rift-cut oak cabinets in a champagne finish, soapstone countertops, stainless appliances, painted brick, modern ceiling fans, and pendant lighting.

"Small touches, such as a high-gloss white pantry unit with a glass front and stained cherry interiors, a custom walnut table, and hydraulic stools from Janus et Cie, added some glamour to the space."

At top: The original pool kitchen, pre-renovation. At bottom: A finished shot, left, and designer Nadia Subaran. Room photograph by Lydia Cutter. Portrait by Robert Radifera.

Posted at 11:58 AM/ET, 01/20/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
It could be yours for $5.5 million. By Kay Wicker

Cue “O Fortuna,” because this mansion is epic. It’s three hours outside DC, but with nearly 30,000 square feet of living space, it could make a sweet weekend getaway for you and your two dozen closest friends. The main house—the one that looks like a Disney attraction—boasts 15,696 square feet and 11 bedrooms and bathrooms. Add in the four guest homes on the 273-acre property and you get a total of 25 bedrooms and 21 baths.

The estate dates back to 1848 and comes with lots of historic touches, including ornate crown molding, built-in bookcases, and nine fireplaces. You also get your own conference center with a “community kitchen,” an indoor racquetball court, a tennis court, and a swimming pool. The grounds are filled with manicured hedges, neoclassical-style sculptures, and stone pathways leading to the guest cottages.

The house is on the market for $5.49 million. Take a peek at the pictures below, then head to the Rob and Brent Group of TTR Sotheby International for complete details.

For more real-estate picks, follow Open House on Twitter at @openhouse.

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Posted at 03:58 PM/ET, 01/15/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
The Embassy of Finland isn't just energy-efficient—it's gorgeous. By Marisa M. Kashino
All photographs courtesy of the Embassy of Finland.

The Embassy of Finland, near the Naval Observatory on Massachusetts Avenue, Northwest, just became the first LEED Platinum-certified embassy in the US. It joins the United States' diplomatic mission in Helsinki as the only two LEED Platinum embassies worldwide.

The Finnish Embassy earned a LEED Gold certification in 2010 for its focus on sustainable, energy-efficient practices, including encouraging staff to walk, bike, or drive hybrid cars to work. When the time came to renew that certification, the embassy opted instead to strive for the highest level of environmental friendliness through a number of changes, such as banning plastic plates and utensils at receptions, composting yard debris, only purchasing new furniture that's biodegradable, and supplying bikes for employees to use instead of cabs during work hours.

We want to thank Finland for being such a considerate neighbor, and for giving us an excuse to ogle these photos of its embassy's gorgeous, super-modern interior.

Posted at 01:49 PM/ET, 01/14/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()