Location: Logan Circle.
Vibe: Tuscan retreat.
Design challenge: Had to double as parking.
Stephen and Jennifer Giordano, both lawyers, love vacationing in Italy. The couple are of Italian heritage, so it was only natural that they look across the Atlantic for outdoor inspiration.
But the rear of their Logan Circle rowhouse required creative thinking from J. Mark White, owner of the landscape-design firm GardenWise. “It was more a driveway than a yard, and there was no privacy or gate,” he says. Plus, parking is tough to come by on the Giordanos’ one-way block off 14th Street, so the couple didn’t want to sacrifice their off-street spot.
There’s no rule that limits you to only flimsy paper plates and plastic cutlery for outdoor dining. If you’re throwing a backyard get-together, why not bring your party style up to par by swapping the boring basics for interesting melamine plates and graphic paper napkins, then finishing things off with unexpectedly chic little extras like luxe linen throws or a modern-minimalist beverage dispenser? Here are ten sophisticated finds that'll upgrade your al fresco entertaining.
Kaufmann Mercantile linen picnic blanket, $179; Skeem Citronella Blossom Candle, $34; Jayson Home Rope Handle party tub, $85; CB2 glass beverage dispenser, $49.95; H&M paper napkins, $2.95 for pack of 20; West Elm faux bois Naturalist melamine charger, $24.99; Wood bluetooth speaker, $39.99; Twig picnic salad servers, $14; H&M dark gray plastic pitcher, $9.95; Starburst teak tray, starting at $295.
If you’re a local, you know Washington’s season of delightful spring weather to be excruciatingly short—which means when it’s pleasant outside, smart ones head straight for the patios. In preparation for these upcoming outdoor gatherings, we asked hostess extraordinaire Amanda McClements of Salt & Sundry to share her secrets for making a backyard shindig shine. Her five best tips for flawless outdoor entertaining:
Bring the inside out: Use your favorite pillows, throws and lamps from indoors to dress up your outdoor space for the evening. Lamps make a huge impact on ambiance.
Lay a foundation: Place an outdoor rug under the table or on the lawn to define the space and add color.
Create a serve-yourself bar: Set up a simple bar with pitchers of a pre-batched cocktail, wine and beer on ice so there's no running inside to the fridge.
Stay hydrated: On hot summer days and nights, be sure to have plenty of ice water on hand so guests can help themselves. Hinge-top glass bottles make pretty containers.
Keep it green: Use lightweight reusable plates and glasses instead of disposables to cut down on waste and elevate the look of your party.
This McLean mansion comes with an intriguing backstory: In 2012, after being listed for $12.5 million, the home was relisted with a discounted price of $8.99 million and a curious catch—the buyer would have to agree to let the seller, bariatric surgeon Dr. Hazem Elariny, live there for three years post-settlement. Apparently there were no takers. Now the home is back on the market—but no weird contingencies this time.
Dubbed the “Castle on the River,” the 16,000-square-foot estate features a Potomac waterfront setting, a castle-stone exterior and—of course—a turret, plus a bevy of majorly opulent details. A 14-foot carved mahogany double door opens to the entry hall, outfitted with a six-foot crystal chandelier, a floating maple staircase, and heated imported Italian Calcutta gold marble floors; elsewhere, there’s a formal dining room with mahogany woodwork, a master suite that includes a full-wall marble fireplace, a domed ceiling, octagon inlaid Brazilian cherry hardwood floors, and a marble bathroom with a huge jacuzzi tub; there’s a ballroom, seven bedrooms, nine baths, two media rooms, and a mosaic-tiled 1,000-square-foot indoor pool with a cedar hardwood ceiling and sauna. A river-front glass elevator spans the home’s four levels. And that’s all on more than an acre of wooded land—including 85 feet of shoreline.
612 Rivercrest Rd. is listed for $13.5 million. Then on June 23, the home hits the auction block, with no minimum bid. Take a look inside below, then go to Concierge Auctions for more details.
Wondering how much it would cost to overhaul your outdated home? Here's your answer: According to data culled from HomeAdvisor.com's 2015 True Cost Guide Report—which compiles its information from member-submitted cost reporting—on average, remodeling a kitchen in the DC area will cost you $20,000. Most of the 236 homeowners surveyed spent between $11,000 and $30,000, with the most expensive renovation ringing in at $45,510. A bathroom? That'll cost around $9,000, based on the average from 632 surveys. Or if you want to build an addition, plan to put in around $70,000.
For once, these costs aren't sky-high over average prices in the rest of the country. In fact, Washington's remodeling rates fall right in line with national averages. Go to HomeAdvisor's 2015 report for more details on repair, installation, and remodeling costs on all variety of projects—and to see data from other cities, too.
Vibe: Grand but inviting.
Unexpected element: Homegrown corn and blueberries.
City dwellers love to hang out on their porches, but the concept often gets lost in the suburbs. Not at this Bethesda home, where much of the outdoor design is focused frontward. Landscape architect Paul H. Davis installed a wooden archway and living area—complete with seating and a fire pit—just off the driveway. The result: an unexpected green zone that greets family and friends.
On May 27, join Washingtonian and the Bozzuto Group for the grand opening of Cathedral Commons, located in Cathedral Heights. The building has rooftop terraces, a 24/7 concierge, a fitness center, and other amenities. During the celebration guests can explore the new space and partake in light appetizers and drinks.
Cathedral Commons, 3401 Idaho Ave., NW; 877-289-5833.
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.
Where: 121 15th St. NE
How much: $1.199 million
When: Saturday and Sunday, 1 to 3 PM
Why: This 1900 rowhouse—in a coveted location two blocks from Lincoln Park—was renovated to a modern, minimalist aesthetic with a sleek, all-white kitchen, floating black steel and wood staircase, and rear glass wall that leads to a manicured backyard. There’s a cedar roof deck, too.
Where: 2853 Ontario Rd NW #302
How much: $885,000
When: Saturday and Sunday, 2 to 4 PM
Why: This two-bedroom corner condo offers plenty of historic 1905 charm—including a fireplace, wood-framed windows, arched doorways, and pocket doors—along with thoughtfully done updates. Some of the best features: More than 1,600 square feet of space, a pretty balcony, built-in display cabinetry, two stylish baths, a butler’s pantry, and a vintage-modern kitchen that features butcher-block counters, white cabinets, subway tiling, and a double-farmhouse sink.
Where: 3609 R St. NW
How much: $2.5 million
When: Sunday, 1 to 3 PM
Why: Though this townhouse sits squarely on the spendy side, the 3,600-square foot home stuns with a dramatic, light-filled modern design and landscaped backyard. Walls of windows join contemporary features such as a floating staircase, a slick master bath, and “state-of-the-art home automation.” The full-floor master suite has two balconies, and there’s a separate lower-level in-law suite.
Where: 1853 3rd St. NW
How much: $949,000
When: Sunday, 1 to 4 PM
Why: While this home’s eclectic decor won’t appeal to everyone, the four-bedroom 1914 rowhouse offers plenty of interesting details. Among them: Double-width doors, cool inset nooks, exposed brick, and a sleek contemporary kitchen with glossy white cabinetry, counters and appliances—and an unusual patchwork patterned wall. There’s also a separate in-law suite downstairs, and small deck, brick patio, and yard in the back.
Where: 440 12th St. NE #103
How much: $589,000
When: Sunday 1 to 4 PM
Why: Part of the schoolhouse-turned-condo development Lovejoy Lofts, this two-bedroom apartment’s standout feature is its original 14-foot ceilings and 15 windows—including a pretty arched version in one bedroom. Other highlights: The exposed and painted brick walls and concrete floors, and a plum location a few blocks from H Street hotspots.
On Wednesday night, I wandered down a dimly lighted alley in Georgetown past several unmarked doors before I was met by two large bouncers in all black. They checked my name and ushered me up a staircase to a room with wooden black floors and white exposed brick. To my right was a small, flute and accordian-led folk band playing lazy melodies for an audience of one, a woman scrolling through her iPhone. To my left was an open bar serving jalapeño-creme fraiche waffles and coffee-vodka cocktails to a few 20-somethings.
I was there to nap in public.
A startup called Casper was hosting its first “Snooze Bar,” an event to pitch its high-tech mattress. The 54-person company, which hopes to disrupt the existing model of purchasing sleep surfaces, operates two showrooms in New York and Los Angeles. Here at Cady’s Alley, Casper had set up two rustic-looking tents with beds inside, as well as mattress "couches" in a few spots. The company offers six sizes of the Casper, with the Queen going for $850 and a twin for $500. Each white-and-gray mattress comes in a modest-sized box that is delivered to your front door.
I was greeted by Casper’s director of experiential marketing, Monica Brouwer, who told me the company is “disrupting the industry as a whole by not only thinking about the mattress industry, but thinking about how folks sleep.”
What Casper offers is “about a lot more than a mattress,” said Jenna Klebanoff, the company’s director of retention marketing and another organizer of the event. “We’re looking to lead a sleep awareness movement.”
Sleep awareness can lead to awareness of other types of movement, Klebanoff said. “There are times when people will reach out to us and they will flat-out ask how the bed is for this or that.” Apparently the mattress’s latex layer gives it the right kind of bounce.
When I tried the mattress, I found it indeed luxurious: foamy, cushy, just the right amount of firmness and sink. But I felt weird hogging the whole tent in a sleep-themed party in the middle of Georgetown on a Wednesday night. I later tried to get in a restful position on the mattress couch near my tent, but the nearby vodka bar made it hard to nod off.
The party also provided guests with access to an artist who drew interpretations of dreams. Rose Jaffe (daughter of Washingtonian editor-at-large Harry Jaffe) drew and painted on Casper-themed napkins. When I told her about a hypothetical dream involving a unicorn version of Washingtonian editorial fellow Harrison Smith galloping around Washington, she gladly drew a caricatured rendering of my reverie.
Next to Jaffe was an elaborate device being used to make custom pillowcases for Snooze Bar attendees.
Casper also gave out “Shuteye Journals” that included haikus (“Never getting up: A possibility so real. But having to pee.”) and a long list of “boring things” that could help put one’s mind at rest (“Petroleum jelly, a majestic dam, insurance, introductory paragraphs, gravel, eating beans out of a can”).
As I left, a woman handed out Casper-branded slippers. I walked back down the alley holding my unicorn drawing and slippers, ready to go home and dream about majestic dams.