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Gallery walls on fleek. By Michelle Thomas
The lounge room in Framebridge's Georgetown office. All photos by Lauren Joseph.

Sometimes it seems like the word “custom” is secret code for “super expensive.” Not so for Framebridge: Send in or upload your oddly-sized art—and your Instagrams, too—and the web-based company will custom-frame your piece with an eye toward affordability and style. It’s a genius idea. And though the startup's been getting lots of national buzz—just last week, it just secured $7.7 million in funding, and counts Steve Case and LivingSocial co-founder Timothy O’Shaughnessy among its backers—it’s based right here in Washington, with production in Lanham and marketing and design in Georgetown.

Since Framebridge's focus is making it easier to beautify your home, it probably comes as no big surprise that their second-story O Street office is enviably stylish. The space is rumored to have been Francis Scott Key’s onetime home—their awesome front lounge room is supposedly his former bedroom—so it’s loaded with charming original details, and the company’s small team has designed the office to spotlight a breezy-modern sensibility. Framebridge founder Susan Tynan wanted their offices to feel inspirational and fun—and a little bit like their customer's homes. "We love that our office is in a historic residence, as it allows us to surround ourselves with our product in a natural way," she says. Of course, Framebridge’s gallery wall game is strong. And the best part? Almost all of the office's furniture and art is sourced from affordable stores like CB2, West Elm, and Etsy.

We stopped by the offices recently to get a look at the space. Prepare for some serious office envy.

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Posted at 09:32 AM/ET, 06/23/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Kube Architecture transforms a dank rowhouse basement into an urban loft-style apartment. By Michelle Thomas
Photos courtesy of Kube Architecture.

When it comes to makeovers, this one offers a pretty dramatic reveal: Once an unfinished lower level of a family-owned rowhouse saddled with little light, low ceilings, and plenty of detritus, DC-based Kube Architecure transformed the space into a loft-inspired bachelor pad for the family’s son. The resulting one-bedroom apartment is barely recognizable as its former basement self.

Kube's team dug out the space to create more spacious nine-foot ceilings and added windows, then created a modern layout that spotlights a large, sleek kitchen—a top priority for the resident, an avid cook who often hosts dinner parties—and split the apartment longwise into an open, lounge-style living space and defined entry, dining, and den areas that are partioned by storage cubes. A primarily black-and-white palette with accents of green and red combine with LED lighting strips, exposed brick and steel, and heated concrete floors to lend an urban vibe.

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Posted at 11:45 AM/ET, 06/11/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Architect Carmel Greer built her dream home on what was once an empty, unwanted lot. By Marisa M. Kashino
Greer spent dozens of hours finding lighting that wasn’t “the price of a car” but that still added style. This chandelier is from Fig House Vintage. Exposing the ceiling required a plan for rerouting ductwork before construction began. Photograph by John Cole.

Buying places no one else wants has proven a successful strategy for architect Carmel Greer.

That’s how she landed the U Street corridor headquarters of her five-year-old firm, District Design. “It was supposed to be a grocery store, but it wasn’t the right size or layout,” she says. The owner couldn’t lease it, so he sold it to Greer, who took down walls and traded its yellow/orange/red color scheme for bright white and gray.

It’s also how she became owner of the 5,500-square-foot modern home at the end of Hawthorne Place in Northwest DC’s Palisades. Until Greer stumbled upon the empty land 2½ years ago, nobody would touch it—in fact, it was nearly impossible to because the lot was separated from the road by a steep ravine.

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Posted at 08:00 AM/ET, 06/05/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
This Charles Goodman-designed house was recently renovated by contemporary architect Mark McInturff. By Michelle Thomas

Built in 1970 by Charles Goodman—he’s the local architect responsible for the homes in Hollin Hills, as well as other regional midcentury neighborhoods—this four-bedroom, five-bath McLean house was renovated in 2012 by contemporary architect Mark McInturff and Added Dimensions. It fuses several Goodman signatures, such as expanses of windows and seemless integration with its wooded outdoors, with updated details such as polished concrete floors, built-in shelving, and a sleek kitchen that includes stainless steel counters, appliances, and glass-front storage with pale mint cabinets. The result: A home that picks up the cool vintage vibe of midcentury modern—without feeling outdated.

400 Chain Bridge Rd. is listed at $2.95 million. Look inside below, then go to Washington Fine Properties for the complete tour and details.

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Posted at 12:22 PM/ET, 05/18/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Inside one of the biggest, and the tiniest, homes in Washington. By Michael Gaynor, Emma Foehringer Merchant

Throughout Washington’s bedroom communities, bigger footprints that come with more green space will continue to appeal, while inside the District, the march to maximize density by minimizing living quarters is already on.

McMansion Residents

Kim (38, health coach), Sean (48, consultant), Katelyn, and Michael McColl

Photograph by Dan Chung.

The McColls lived in Arlington for years before deciding last fall that it had become too dense. “The straw that broke the camel’s back,” Kim says, “was when I saw my kids playing in the back yard and I had to shush them because it was too loud for the neighbors.” Their five-bedroom in Loudoun County’s Willowsford development has two offices—key because they often work from home—and abundant entertaining space. Also: More than 20 miles of nearby trails means the kids have room to shriek all they want.

4,000 acres: Size of Willowsford, a development about ten miles from Dulles Airport (half the land is preserved as green space)

2,100: Number of single-family detached homes expected when Willowsford is complete in seven to ten years

7,500 square-foot McMansion.

Micro-Unit Resident

Julie Selita Williams (37, Program specialist at the National Institutes of Health)

Williams in her 14th Street micro-unit. Photograph by Dan Chung.

Williams sold most of her furniture and sacrificed proximity to family when she left her 1,100-square-foot condo in Olney for a micro-unit in a building on DC’s 14th Street, Northwest. And she has no regrets. Because she isn’t much of a cook, the sliver of a kitchen is no big deal, and she didn’t have to give up her one must-have, a bathtub. (It’s off the hallway.) Before, her closer-in friends didn’t like driving out to Olney; now she can socialize without leaving her floor. “When Scandal comes on, the neighbors down the hall cook and have people over. They have a junior one-bedroom—they have room for a couch.”

240: Estimated number of micro-units in DC

450: Estimated number under construction in DC

600: Additional micro-units proposed for the District and Crystal City over the next several years

344 square-foot micro-unit.

Data from real-estate research firm CoStar.
This article appears in our April 2015 issue of Washingtonian.

Posted at 09:00 AM/ET, 04/09/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
This luxury DC building will make you feel better about your rent—but probably a lot worse about your decor. By Marisa M. Kashino
All photos by Sam Kittner.

Think your rent is high? Apartments at The Woodley, managed by the Bozzuto Group, go for up to $12,000 a month—a figure that raised some eyebrows last summer when the super luxe 212-unit building opened to residents, becoming one of the most expensive apartment complexes in Washington. Eight months later, only about 30 percent of the building at 2700 Woodley Road in—you guessed it—Woodley Park is leased. According to its website, Bozzuto is offering a month of free rent to new residents, or to pay for moving costs. Management says many of the current residents are international. And apparently some are just international travelers—on the afternoon we visited, a reception was under way in the lobby for a US ambassador who lives in one of the penthouses.

Not every unit goes for five figures. Studios start at $2,700 a month, and living in the building comes with plenty of perks. There’s an infinity pool, an expansive roof deck, and a concierge at your beck and call 24 hours a day. Here’s a look inside the two-bedroom, two-bathroom model unit, decorated by Hartman Design Group.

Posted at 02:54 PM/ET, 04/07/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Take a sneak peek inside the still under-construction property. By Marisa M. Kashino

The DC Design House—an annual tradition that benefits Children's National Health System—doesn't open until spring, but we got an early look inside the under-construction custom home where this year's event will be held. This is the first time in the fundraiser's eight-year history that the Design House is located in Virginia, and only the second time that it's been in brand new construction.

The home is part of Mackall Farms, a 12-property development in McLean from Artisan Builders. True to the community's name, the house incorporates rustic, farmhouse-style features that Artisan principal Stephen Yeonas says are meant to make it look "like it's been there a while, like it didn't just pop up as a McMansion in the middle of nowhere."

The Design House has five bedrooms, five full bathrooms, and three half baths, spread over 9,000 square feet. Its various spaces, including hallways and foyers, will be divided among more than 20 interior designers to decorate. The public can tour the results from April 11 to May 10. After that, the home will hit the market for $4.5 million.

Here's a sneak peek inside.

A view of the foyer from the dining room.
The family room. Stone and other materials from a historic house that was torn down were incorporated into this home.
This living room mantel was salvaged from the historic house.
The master bath.
A back hallway on the first floor.
Master bedroom.
A rendering of the finished house.

Posted at 10:02 AM/ET, 12/04/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Peek inside the under-construction condo project off U Street. By Marisa M. Kashino
The Atlantic Plumbing condo building, still under construction. Photographs by Marisa M. Kashino.

Developer JBG Cos. recently announced prices for its Atlantic Plumbing condos at Eighth and V streets, Northwest, with junior one-bedrooms starting in the high $300,000s to penthouses for $1.9 million. Though the 62-unit project won't be done until March 2015, Matt Blocher, JBG's senior VP of marketing and communications, says a third of the condos have already sold.

Named for the Atlantic Plumbing building that used to occupy the site just off U Street near the 9:30 Club, the JBG project consists of both the condos and a larger, 310-unit apartment building across the street, scheduled for completion toward the end of 2015. Look a block southward down Eighth, and you'll spot two other under-construction JBG buildings: the Hatton (condos) and the Shay (apartments), which should deliver in late spring.

For now, here's a sneak peek at the progress being made at the Atlantic Plumbing condos.

The lobby, with elevators etched to resemble the cage doors found in historic buildings.
What will become one of two restaurants on the building's ground floor. JBG says it will announce the names of the restaurants soon.
Cabinets on the even-numbered floors of the six-level building will feature this light tone, while those on odd-numbered floors will be darker.
Living rooms, like the one above, all have floor-to-ceiling windows.
All units have either one or two bedrooms. Here's one of them in progress.
A rendering of what a finished kitchen/living space will look like. Renderings courtesy of JBG.
A rendering of the completed exterior.

Posted at 01:00 PM/ET, 10/30/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
It's safe to say no one will forget which house is yours. By Michelle Thomas

Passerby have long slowed to gawk at this amorphous Bethesda home off Western Avenue—which locals have dubbed the "mushroom house," the "blob house," and the "hobbit house," among other inventive nicknames. The 1923 cave-like abode, a late-1960s renovation by futuristic architect Roy Mason, was even spotlighted in Matt Lake's 2006 book Weird Maryland. Now, owners Edward and Frances Garfinkle have put the polyurethane foam creation on the market. In addition to the four bedrooms and 3,700 square feet of quirk, the place also offers up a legal one-bedroom rental. Just $1.2 million to make this baby yours, folks.

Take a look inside—full details at Long & Foster.

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Posted at 12:43 PM/ET, 10/28/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Its seller worked with the Wolf of Wall Street and advised pro sports players—then got caught up in Ponzi scheme allegations. By Marisa M. Kashino

By most measures, Washington is a great place to be a seller—the real-estate market is booming, and bidding wars are the norm. But there are some exceptions, like the recent sale of a seven-bedroom, seven-and-a-half-bath Colonial on Marwood Hill Drive in Potomac, which was listed as a potential short sale. Its former owner, Jinesh "Hodge" Brahmbhatt, sold the home for $1.9 million, according to Maryland property records; he bought it in 2006 for $2.6 million.

You might've read about the former financial adviser last year when he was under investigation for steering his athlete clients, including former Washington running back Clinton Portis, Detroit Pistons guard Brandon Knight, and 49ers tight end Vernon Davis, to invest in an alleged $18 million Ponzi scheme. Brahmbhatt's lawyer, Alan Futerfas, says his client didn't know the investments were fraudulent and was deceived by the scheme's operator.

Nonetheless, Brahmbhatt, who in the 90s worked at Stratton Oakmont—the brokerage house made famous by Leonardo DiCaprio in the The Wolf of Wall Street—lost his firm, Jade Wealth Management. And the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority barred him from the securities industry for failing to appear at a disciplinary hearing related to the alleged fraud. Futerfas says Brahmbhatt had to sell the Potomac house as a result.

Among the home's features: a grand two-story foyer, a home theater, a massive master closet, and two kitchens.

Find Marisa M. Kashino on Twitter at @marisakashino.

Posted at 01:08 PM/ET, 10/02/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()