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So fancy that the powder room involves hand-pressed gold leaf on the walls. By Michelle Thomas

Ranking as the most expensive condo currently available in Washington, this penthouse at the Residences at Ritz-Carlton in Georgetown is predictably loaded with luxury. Custom-designed by architect Stephen Muse and interior designer Marcie Royle of Stuhlberg Interiors, this 4,300-square-foot apartment spotlights a laundry list of high-end finishes: marble and black-walnut flooring, sycamore kitchen cabinets, top-of-the-line appliances (including an integrated Miele espresso maker), heated floors and spa-style amenities in the master bath, a double-sided fireplace, and a powder room outfitted with hand-pressed gold leaf walls and a glass vessel pedestal sink. There are four bedrooms, four bathrooms, dual walk-in closets, a climate-controlled wine room with space for more than 400 bottles, formal and informal dining areas, and two valet parking spaces. The property is listed at $7.995 million. Keep reading for a quick look, then head to TTR Sotheby’s for the full tour.

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Posted at 02:59 PM/ET, 04/03/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Neither Muriel Bowser or David Catania are the biggest fans of the DC government's deal with the soccer club. By Benjamin Freed
Rendering by Populous via DC United.

Professional sports teams don’t usually comment on elections, but in the case of DC United, the District’s mayoral election carries very big implications on its plans to open a new stadium by the 2017 season. And with Mayor Vince Gray leaving office, the soccer club is losing its biggest ally in city government.

“DC United congratluates Council woman Muriel Bowser on [Tuesday’s] primary victory,” DC United said in a written statement Wednesday to MLSSoccer.com. “We wish her and Council member David Catania the best in the coming election.”

But either way the general election goes could crimp the the deal the team made with the District last year under which the city spends up to $150 million to acquire and prepare the land on which a club-financed stadium would be constructed. Bowser, now the Democratic nominee for mayor and likely winner in November, has been a stadium skeptic, especially about the step in which DC gets two acres of stadium-eyed land on Southwest’s Buzzard Point from the development firm Akridge in exchange for the Frank D. Reeves Municipal Center at 14th and U streets, NW, one of the most valuable intersections in the entire city.

“I get concerned about the land swap idea, especially for the Reeves Center with the numbers that I have heard being bounced around about what people think it’s worth,” Bowser said at a candidates’ forum in February. The two acres Akridge owns at Buzzard point are worth $8 million; the Reeves Center—home to city agencies that would be moved to a new facility in Southeast—is assessed at nearly $129 million, according to DC real estate records.

The Gray administration is behind schedule in hammering out deals for the full nine acres where it wants to put a soccer stadium. Under the term sheet the mayor signed with DC United last year, the plot was supposed to be assembled by January 1. So far, the city has only had conversations about land swaps with Akridge and Pepco, and has not made any public headway on the other parcels, owned by the investor Mark Ein and Super Salvage, an industrial scrap yard. Bowser, who chairs the DC Council’s economic development committee, said at a press conference yesterday she and her colleagues have not received anything related to the stadium yet.

While Bowser has been wary of the stadium process, Catania, whose independent candidacy could give DC its first real general-election contest for mayor, has been flatly opposed from the start.

“I’ve been to this rodeo before,” Catania said at a Council hearing last September, referring to the city-financed construction of Nationals Park, which wound up costing taxpayers more than $700 million by the time it opened in 2008.

“We are looking forward to working with them, Mayor Gray, the rest of the DC Council, and all involved stakeholders to finalize a new stadium and the associated citywide economic development that it will bring,” DC United’s statement continued.

Gray’s proposed budget for the 2015 fiscal year, released today, does not contain funding for any stadium-planning expenses, although the terms of the stadium deal state that any infrastructural costs should be covered by profits from the various land swaps.

Posted at 01:45 PM/ET, 04/03/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
The retailer’s roving team of design experts is heading to our area in June to redo one selected home. By Michelle Thomas
A still from one of the Ikea Home Tour Squad episodes. Elizabeth Spencer, left, a visual merchandiser at the Woodbridge store, is one of the five touring design experts. Photograph courtesy of Ikea.

If you’re the type who could spend hours mining an Ikea showroom for design inspiration, take note: The Swedish retailer has launched a traveling home-makeover program—and it’s headed our way. 

Here’s the rundown: The brand has cherry-picked five experts from its 38 US stores—including Elizabeth Spencer, a graduate from Los Angeles’s Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, who hails from our very own Woodbridge store—to act as its team of design pros and go on tour for a year to meet with selected homeowners, scope out their design challenges, and install solutions in five homes along the East Coast. The resulting makeovers will be shared on Ikea’s YouTube portal and social media. Want in on the fun? Ikea started accepting applications for participation online today. To be considered, shoot a three-minute video showing your space and describing why you need the home makeover, then submit it through the store’s website. The deadline is May 2.

Posted at 02:53 PM/ET, 04/02/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
The Richmond-based blogging duo’s whimsical collection is now available at Target. By Michelle Thomas

If you’re into DIY renovation, you’re probably already a fan of the husband-and-wife bloggers of Young House Love. The Richmond-based couple have attracted a serious following since they started the blog in 2007—including 114,000 followers on their Facebook page, 28,000 followers on Twitter, and more than a million on Pinterest—and wrote a best-selling book that debuted in 2012. Next up: their own line of decorative hooks, a collaboration with Liberty Hardware that launched yesterday at Target stores nationwide. The line, which ranges in price from $2.99 to $14.99, includes cutesy pieces inspired by some of the couple’s favorite things—from bees (a motif they used on their 2007 wedding invitation) and chihuahuas (a nod to their dog, Burger) to skeleton-key shaped key rails and DIY-ready customizable hook rails. Check out a few pieces from the new collaboration above, then shop the full collection online or in stores at Target.

Posted at 01:20 PM/ET, 04/01/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
An animal behaviorist is concerned by a new DC apartment building's unique amenity. By Benjamin Freed
This place has everything: gym, rooftop pool, shared dog. No, it's not a "Stefon" sketch. Rendering courtesy W.C. Smith.

With so many new, high-end apartment buildings dotting Washington, prospective tenants have plenty of options to choose from. And building owners are responding by upping their amenities. Twenty-four-hour gyms, heated bike rooms, and rooftop pools are so standard that new developments need too get creative.

W.C. Smith’s 2M, a 314-unit building opening this summer in the NoMa neighborhood, features all that, and is possibly inventing a brand-new amenity in Emmy, a six-month-old English bulldog that will be shared by tenants. Yes, really. A communal dog for residents to borrow in chunks of time like a Zipcar.

“I was sitting at a cafe one day, and we saw a puppy come in and everyone just stopped in their tracks and came alive,” W.C. Smith vice president Holli Beckman tells the Washington Post. “And it just dawned on me that everyone loves doggies and babies, right?”

But as much as a cute, playful creature like Emmy—who has a dedicated Instagram account (obviously)—can melt hearts, experts on dog care are concerned for the pup.

“It’s a cute idea, but oh, no,” says Mary Huntsberry, an animal behavior specialist in Montgomery County. “Not a good idea at all.”

Huntsberry says that offering up a dog like a time-share could have severe effects on its mental and physical health as Emmy is moved from apartment to apartment and cared for by so many different people.

“Certain people think you need to be harsh, that’s not true with another person,” she says. “Dogs can be easily traumatized.”

W.C. Smith’s advertising for 2M says the building is pet-friendly for people who actually own their own dogs, but Huntsberry worries that Emmy is being dumped into a uncertain situation.

“They’re animals, they’re not purses you just lend out to people,” she says. “That’s just nutty.”

Editor’s Note (added 4/4/2014): In response to this article, Anne Marie Bairstow, vice president of marketing and communications at W.C. Smith, writes: “We appreciate Washingtonian’s interest in our 2M Street pet ambassador, Emmy. However, the story had several inaccuracies. The article says that Emmy will be rented out like ‘Zipcar for dogs or like a ‘purse,’ which is, of course, not the case. Emmy will live with the 2M property manager and come to work with him in the leasing office. Residents will be allowed to walk Emmy in the building’s private dog park, but all visits will be closely monitored." Washingtonian thanks WC Smith for this clarification.

Posted at 03:42 PM/ET, 03/31/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
This gorgeously renovated rowhouse features five bedrooms and a roof deck. By Michelle Thomas

A luxe restoration meets loads of space—we’re talking five bedrooms and nearly as many baths, spread over four levels and more than 3,400 square feet—in this LeDroit Park Victorian rowhouse. The loving overhaul means the place features tons of covetable interior features, including bamboo floors, exposed brick walls, nine-foot ceilings, a chef’s kitchen, a wine cellar, two fireplaces, a two-car covered garage, and both an elevated back deck off of the kitchen and a roof deck with all-around views. There’s a separate in-law suite at the garden level, too. The property is listed at $1.299 million. Scroll down for a quick look, then go to Coldwell Banker for more.

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Posted at 02:36 PM/ET, 03/31/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
The land was originally owned by George Washington. By Michelle Thomas

Built on property that was originally part of George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate, this 8,000-square-foot home features five bedrooms, eight bathrooms, and seven fireplaces, plus a giant chef’s kitchen, an elevator, a home gym, a club room, and a wood-paneled library. But the standout here is the property—sidled up to the Potomac river, this waterfront home also comes with a 60-foot private dock, a sundeck, and a backyard pool, plus walls of windows to take full advantage of that view. The home is listed at $4.25 million. Read on for a quick look, then go to Washington Fine Properties for a complete tour.

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Posted at 11:48 AM/ET, 03/27/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Five homes with basketball courts. By Michelle Thomas

Has March Madness got you thinking that you should be working more on your free throws? Here are five homes that are on the market now with either indoor or outdoor basketball courts. 

This Sykesville estate features a full indoor court and a designated “locker room.” 

1400 Underwood Rd., Sykesville, Maryland

Price: $3.999 million

This McLean mansion has a terraced backyard with a “sport court,” plus a putting green and pool. 

6035 Ramshorn Pl., McLean, Virginia

Price: $7.25 million

The owners of this ranch decked out their indoor ball court with wall murals meant to channel a cheering crowd. 

2086 Morgan Frederick Grade, Cross Junction, Virginia

Price: $499,000

This Winchester home offers up an outdoor half-court. 

816 Armistead St., Winchester, Virginia

Price: $695,000

Another “sport court” that works for either basketball or tennis. 

2411 Velvet Valley Way, Owings Mills, Maryland

Price: $719,000

Posted at 01:39 PM/ET, 03/26/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
A more directional take on geometric. By Michelle Thomas
Arrow decor as seen in the Navy Yard home of Room & Board head visual designer Angela Hays Belt. See more of Belt's home here. Photograph by Patrick Cline courtesy of Random House.

The geometric trend has been around for a while—but lately, the sharp shapes and crisp lines have been morphing into something a little more . . . pointed. Arrows are kind of like the little sister of the ubiquitous chevron pattern, and they seem to be popping up everywhere: printed on wallpaper. Sculpted into wall hangings. Bundles of the (almost) real thing, carefully painted and splayed in a vase. Whether you prefer your sharp shapes on a print or a pillow, we’ve tracked down seven great arrow-adorned decor items to work into your own home.

1) Holli Zollinger for Deny arrows box, $59 at Urban Outfitters; 2) Arrows print, $20 at Lulu & Georgia; 3) Little Woolf gold arrow-print pillow, $145 at Etsy; 4) Nate Berkus for Target arrowhead towels, $6-$16.14 at Target; 5) Arrow wall sculpture, $89 at Urban Outfitters; 6) Heritage wool scented sachets, $14 at Leif; 7) Fletcher and Fox tall metallic arrows with animal print and gold feathers, $78 for set of six at Etsy.

Posted at 02:42 PM/ET, 03/25/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
The neighborhood’s signature design features are in full effect with this “butterfly” home. By Michelle Thomas

Fan of Alexandria’s award-winning midcentury enclave Hollin Hills? This Charles Goodman-designed home hits all of the neighborhood’s classic details: light-pouring glass walls, modernist architecture, a compact yet open layout, and thoughtful positioning designed to showcase the natural landscape while retaining privacy. Beyond the signatures of the neighborhood, highlights of this particular home include a “butterfly” roof, an updated kitchen, and international influences such as the Japanese-style soaking tub and shoji screens. The property boasts a proud past, too—it’s been spotlighted on the neighborhood’s annual house tour twice, and was featured in the Washington Post. It’s listed at $819,900. Read on for a brief tour, then head to Long & Foster for the full scoop.

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Posted at 02:59 PM/ET, 03/24/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()