News & Politics

Home Renovations: Safeway Modern

A young couple updates a gem that once shared a look with grocery-store designs from the 1950s.

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When a young couple—both lovers of Modernist architecture—learned that a quirky, curved-roof home in Northwest DC might be coming onto the market, they moved quickly to buy it. There are few Modernist homes in Washington, and the couple’s architect, Georgetown-based Travis Price, immediately recognized an icon in the rough.

Price and his clients dubbed the style of the house “early Safeway” for its resemblance to the supermarket chain’s designs from 50 years ago. Price saw his task as preserving and updating the work of the house’s architect, the late Thomas Wright, a local who designed private residences, embassies, and public buildings. “The curved ceiling was the one big ‘aha!’ moment of Wright’s original design,” says Price. “We decided to take it up a notch. When you start with a jewel, it’s really just a matter of polishing it.”

The new owners wanted more space without losing the backyard or the ample daylight. Price cut into the roof to add a second-floor reading room—a glass-cube counterpoint to the curved roof that Price likens to “a quiet spot amid the drama.”

Inside, Price designed a new kitchen and renovated the bedrooms and bathrooms. He removed panels beneath the curved roof to admit more light, and a glass roof now tops the front entry. A new playroom, media room, and private study on the lower level are almost completed.

“The house feels like a little bit of paradise,” one of the owners says. “There’s so much light and it is so open to the outside, yet it is very quiet and completely private.”