Get Open House delivered to your inbox every Tuesday Morning.

Another one of the city’s libraries undergoes a stunning renovation. By Benjamin Freed
The Northeast Neighborhood Library, at 403 Seventh Street, Northwest. Photograph courtesy DC Public Library.

Even though Ginnie Cooper retired a few months ago as DC’s chief librarian, her work in renovating practically every branch in the DC Public Library system is still going. Mayor Vince Gray and library officials yesterday cut the ceremonial ribbon on the Northeast Neighborhood Library after a $10 million renovation that preserves much of the building’s pre-war look but with infrastructure upgrades to accommodate modern library users.

The library, which closed for repairs in fall 2012, is the first DC government building to undergo an overhaul while maintaining its historic interior. New reader tables, equipped with enough ports and plugs to accommodate any device, are replicas of the original furniture the library featured when it opened in 1932.

Because the remodeling of the 17,000-square-foot building at 403 Seventh Street, Northwest, had to be approved by the city’s Historic Preservation Review Board, DC Public Library couldn’t simply gut the place. Openings were made in some walls to increase the amount of communal and meeting space while preserving wood moldings and archways. Many of the original walnut shelves that line the walls in the reading rooms are still intact, too.

The most significant architectual change is the removal of the staircase from the front of the building to a glass-enclosed addition that also includes a handicap-accessible entrance. The basement is also completely redone with offices and a 100-seat meeting room. Previously, says interim chief librarian Joi Mecks, the basement had become so dingy, library staffers went to great lengths to avoid working down there.

The Northeast Neighborhood Library is the fourth-oldest building in the city’s library system, and the 15th branch to be built or renovated since 2007.

New tables are replicas of the 1932 originals, but with plugs and ports to accommodate digital devices. Photograph courtesy DC Public Library.
The circulation desk was moved to the main foyer, while a glass-enclosed extension houses a new staircase. Photograph courtesy DC Public Library.
Instead of dungeon-like offices, the basement now features a 100-seat public meeting room. Photograph courtesy DC Public Library.

Posted at 10:48 AM/ET, 02/04/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library is in desperate need of an overhaul. DC is looking for architects who are up to the task. By Benjamin Freed
Photograph by Flickr user Kate Mereand-Sinha.

Defenders of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe will often point to DC's Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library as a classic example of the German-born architect's International Style. But the four-story building, which opened in 1972, is badly out of date, and sticks out as a decrepit behemoth at a time when the DC Public Library system has been honored for its otherwise forward-thinking design sensibilities.

But it's finally time for an upgrade at the main branch. Library officials today launched their search for architects who might be able to modernize the building and transform it into a mixed-use development. Most of the building at 901 G St., NW would remain the library, but city officials eye turning it into a public-private partnership, with new structural additions for retail, office, or residential space.

There are, however, several catches. The library received local and national historic landmark statuses in 2007, meaning that any architect hoping to craft a winning bid will need to satisfy stakeholders besides DC and whatever private developer latches onto the project.

Read More

Posted at 02:20 PM/ET, 08/21/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
Celebrity designer Alison Victoria, host of “Kitchen Crashers,” planned the new facility. By Natalie Grasso
Alison Victoria takes a sledgehammer to the old countertop as employees from SCK Contractors look on. Photograph by Paul Kim.

Last week, N Street Village directors, board members, and friends gathered to unveil an inspired collaboration with the DIY Network: a brand new kitchen to serve their residents. Construction wrapped up last Friday.

According to N Street’s executive director, Schroeder Stribling, the kitchen hadn’t been updated since the 1970s. The renovation, funded by DIY Network’s parent company, Scripps Networks Interactive, includes new appliances, storage areas, and a more efficient layout.

Alison Victoria, host of DIY’s Kitchen Crashers, attended the unveiling.

“This meant more to me than just a ‘crash,’” says Victoria, who has renovated dozens of kitchens for DIY and HGTV. “These women don’t have a home. I wanted this space to give them a hug when they come in.”

Locally based SCK Contractors handled the construction, which was completed in less than a week. Victoria praised them for, among other things, replacing the old floor in under three hours. Following the unveiling, Victoria conducted a workshop for the women of N Street Village called Creating an Empowering Space. She shared ways they could enhance their productivity, perspective, and overall quality of life by making small changes and improvements in their living spaces.

“Having a new kitchen that’s a little more like home is going to give them greater peace and greater comfort,” says Stribling. “We’re so grateful to be the beneficiaries of a ‘kitchen crashing.’”

To learn about volunteer opportunities at the shelter, visit the N Street Village website

Posted at 02:55 PM/ET, 02/08/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
Local designer Anne Hardock shares what it takes to whip an almost-hopeless room into show-worthy shape. By Michele Ginnerty
Photograph by Michele Ginnerty.

Sure, a can of paint or dramatic wallpaper can certainly transform a space--but some rooms, like Anne Hardock's powder room, need more intensive surgery. We chatted with the designer on what it took to get the room in show-worthy shape.

Read More

Posted at 03:15 PM/ET, 04/19/2012 | Permalink | Comments ()
Designer Anne Hardock takes her kitchen from dated ’90s to classic elegance. By Michele Ginnerty

Photographs courtesy of Michele Ginnerty.

The dated finishes, strong contrasting colors, and an awkwardly shaped multilevel island presented a challenge when designer Anne Hardock of Dwellings by Design set out to transform her mid-'90s builder kitchen into a serene and functional space. Hardock always felt the existing cherry cabinets were a diamond in the rough and knew if they were paired with the right surroundings, they would sing.

Read More

Posted at 01:41 PM/ET, 03/14/2012 | Permalink | Comments ()
Marble floors, a streamlined color palette, and thoughtful furnishings take this DC home to a new level. By Michele Ginnerty

Designer and homeowner Lori Rossiter knew this Georgetown rowhouse had great bones and that a previous renovation would serve as the perfect jumping-off point for taking the house up another notch. She turned to McLean-based Intellectual Homes for a renovation that opened living spaces and melded modern features with classic Georgetown elegance.

Architectural Changes

Photographs by Yerko Pallominy.

The previous owner had designed a small bump-out with skylights off the back of the house. But the space was awkwardly narrow and blocked the views out to the garden—one of the coveted features of a rowhouse. A steel beam was added, and the wall separating the bump-out was removed, seamlessly integrating the two rooms into one larger, dramatic living space with skylights. This rear renovation also included plumbing and electrical for future plans for a first-floor kitchenette to supplement the main kitchen on the basement level. Two French doors replaced the sliding door, adding charm, and the shorter windows flanking the French doors were positioned to allow for a counter to fit perfectly below the sill.

Read More

Posted at 03:21 PM/ET, 03/02/2012 | Permalink | Comments ()
Take a sneak peek at the space he’s revamping in the Spring Valley colonial. By Michele Ginnerty

Photograph courtesy of John Matthew Moore.

With the 2012 DC Design House’s Bare Bones Tour this weekend and the big reveal only six weeks away, we’re excited to bring you a sneak peak of one designer’s plans for the space. Well-known artist John Matthew Moore will be overhauling the stately home’s foyer, reception hall, and sweeping staircase with two upper landings. Moore is one of 23 designers who will transform this home at 4951 Rockwood Parkway, Northwest, to benefit the Children’s National Medical Center.

Read More

Posted at 02:26 PM/ET, 02/23/2012 | Permalink | Comments ()
We chatted with the local designer about how she combines multiple styles to reflect each client’s individual tastes. By Kathleen Bridges

Photographs by Erik Johnson.

A Moroccan rug lies beneath a pair of goat-hair stools. A lacquered vintage console is crowned by a pair of eye-popping prints from a contemporary photographer. A Victorian-era fireplace is flanked by Asian antiques: an ebony-glazed armoire, an 18th-century bowl spilling vintage textiles. In the corner, a book of Helmut Newton photography rests on a Philippe Starck–designed metal stand.

When you walk into a Lori Graham–designed room—like the one pictured above—it’s clear the DC-based designer isn’t afraid to mix things up.

Read More

Posted at 04:01 PM/ET, 02/21/2012 | Permalink | Comments ()
My Notting Hil blogger Michele Ginnerty gets the skinny on how to pick the perfect shade. By Michele Ginnerty

Have you ever found yourself paralyzed in front of a section of white paint chips trying to find the “right” one? You may know you want a soft, creamy white or a shade that’s fresh and crisp, but how do you pick out the perfect hue among all those choices?

To help with this dilemma, we asked for guidance from two color experts: Annie Elliott, a DC-based interior designer and author of the Bossy Color Blog, and Maria Killam, Colour Me Happy blogger and author of the new e-book How to Choose Paint Colour: It’s all in the Undertones.

Read More

Posted at 05:01 PM/ET, 02/15/2012 | Permalink | Comments ()
Interior designer Kelley Proxmire shares her advice for turning “yours” and “mine” into “ours.” By Laura Wainman

Photographs by Geoffrey Hodgdon.

The wedding was perfect. The honeymoon was bliss. And now you’ve got another exciting project to plan: decorating your home.

For many newlyweds, outfitting a home together is the first time they’ve had to merge styles, and it can be a tricky task figuring out how to turn “yours” and “mine” into “ours.” But Kelley Proxmire of Kelley Interior Design says the scenario can be simplified with a little old-fashioned dialogue.

“Communication is necessary in all aspects of marriage, even interior design,” she says. “Discuss your ideas and visions and make sure you are on the same page as far as design.”

Read More

Posted at 03:47 PM/ET, 02/15/2012 | Permalink | Comments ()