The listing for this Hillyer Place gem describes it as “well-maintained, but could be spectacular with updates,” which is exactly how I like to think my exes think of me when we run into each other on the street. The house has four levels of spectacular original details, including antique woodwork and seven fireplaces, which sounds impressive when you work it into conversation but, let’s be honest, is six fireplaces too many, and I’m only keeping the one in case the IRS auditor shows up at your door and you need to dispose of some bank statements and stock certificates in a jiffy.
You enter into a long foyer, which leads to the bright living room, where the first of seven fireplaces is bookended by beautiful built-ins. There’s also a huge bay window and a wonderful windowseat, which would be perfect for a nap or a cup of tea or just to sit and write down in a little notebook the names and times of every passing neighbor who doesn’t clean up after their dog. (A lady on my block does this. I don’t think she leaves the window except to sleep.) Through a set of antique pocket doors is the sitting room, which features yet another fireplace. (Get ready to read the words “another fireplace” several more times in the next few paragraphs.)
The original master suite has been converted to a sort of standalone apartment, with the master bath turned into a kitchen, and a large sitting room overlooking the street. It could easily be converted back to a proper master suite, but also consider that there’s nothing more masterful than living privately in an independent master bedroom-apartment nestled into the heart of the family home, and only interacting with the other family members when you awkwardly run into them on the sidewalk out front. (Oh, and there’s another fireplace in here too.)
The bathroom is decorated in allover red tiling, so it looks sort of like an Eighties “Twin Peaks” video game. Needless to say, if you change a single thing about this bathroom, you should go straight to prison. If you decide to keep the master suite as a separate unit, there’s a huge third-floor bedroom that would make a perfect master bedroom, complete with built-ins and, yes, another you-know-what. There’s a bathroom up there with twin side-by-side basins, too, and a shower without a glass wall around it. You know you go to too many high-end open houses when the sight of a shower curtain puzzles you and then immediately makes you intensely nostalgic. I genuinely like the now-ubiquitous Vegas-meets-Caligula-meets-Google Glass glass-walled shower, but on some level I’m also certain that one day I’m going to be using one of those showers, slip on some shampoo, plunge headfirst through the glass, and then they’re going to have to do a closed-casket funeral. I really don’t mind a shower curtain. Oh, and did I mention there’s a fireplace right in the shower? (Just kidding, but for a second you thought it was possible, didn’t you?)
Further up is the roof, which unlike many of the fine houses in the area, has not yet been converted to a full-on roof deck. It’s literally just a roof, with random ventilation ducts around. I kind of like it like this; it reminded me of when you go to a dive bar and remember that the point of a bar is just to be a room where you go and drink, and that all the fancy trappings just get in the way. In the same sense, a roof is for getting some fresh air and escaping the noise of the city below, not necessarily to recline on a Restoration Hardware fainting couch while Brad makes you another margarita at the wet bar. And finally, out behind the house is a flagstone patio shaded by a mature tree, and surrounded by a high privacy wall. There’s also an awesome old ornamental pool, which definitely isn’t large or deep enough to swim in, unless you’ve had more than four beers.
2014 Hillyer Place NW
5 Bedrooms, 3.5 Baths
All photos courtesy MRIS; listing courtesy of McEnearney Associates, 202-903-2200