It’s a testament to how likable this house is that I went in thinking, “Two-point-five million for a place on 5th Street in Shaw? Give me a break,” and ten minutes into the open house I was feverishly racking my brain to figure out whose child I could kidnap for a $2.5 million ransom. It’s a massive castle-like Victorian that, for the price, comes with the vacant lot next door. That means you can a) sell the lot to developers for a jaw-dropping sum, b) expand your house into a sprawling mansion straight out of the Gilded Age, or c) plant some grass and use the lot for a loungin’ yard where you just lie on a blanket and read magazines all summer. Those first two options would provoke some grumbling from your neighbors, but the third option would drive them insane with jealousy. Using a lot that valuable as a sideyard would be a display of wealth equivalent to that NBA player who, when he couldn’t remember where he parked, would just buy another car. (True story.) Your neighbors would have Sunday afternoon meetings to discuss what crime they should frame you for. I think you should do it.
Inside, the house strikes a delicate balance between the modern and the quaint. Most houses you see are either hypercontemporary – that all-white, open style that can feel a little sterile – or so warm and homey that it feels like Angela Lansbury’s house in “Murder, She Wrote.” This place is modern but still warm; there’s a cozy bay window, an updated brick fireplace, and tons of original woodwork. The ground floor is open-ish, like how that guy in your office describes his marriage when he gets drunk at the Christmas party and his wife isn’t within earshot. Past the living room, and on the other side of a half-divider, there’s a very large dining room where your whole family can gather for dinner every night and utter monosyllabic non-answers to all your perfectly reasonable questions about their day. The kitchen is of a piece with the rest of the house; part contemporary (marble counters, stainless steel appliances) and part, ahem, “quaint” (brown wood cabinets). I would call these cabinets, well, brown. There’s something about brown kitchen cabinets that’s just inherently depressing, like postwar French novels, or high school reunions. Luckily, it’s a problem that’s easily solved.
Upstairs, there’s another family room that features a brick fireplace, and all the bedrooms; the master bedroom is all by itself on the very top level, and it’s got all you could possibly ask for from a master bedroom, with tons of light, another bay window, and a private outdoor deck. I’m honestly not sure what people do with these private top-floor decks, considering no one smokes anymore and it’s not really feasible to bring food or drinks up from the kitchen two floors below. If I lived here, I think I’d just toss my dirty socks out there. (But I’m a disgusting person.)
Way down below is the fenced-in backyard, which is beautifully landscaped and jungle-like, and has an ornamental stone pool that you can encourage neighborhood kids to throw coins into while they make a wish, and then after they leave, you can go inside and get some tongs from the kitchen, fetch out all the coins those stupid kids threw in, and use it to buy beer. And once again – this house comes with the adjacent lot! You know how people use a basement apartment to defray part of their mortgage? You play the market right, you could pay for the entire house with the lot. Just make sure you don’t hold out too long, and get hit by another crash, or you could lose both the house and the lot, not to mention your marriage, credit, and sense of self-worth. No pressure, though.
1114 5th Street NW
3 Bedrooms, 2.5 Baths
All photos courtesy MRIS; listing courtesy TTR Sotheby’s, 202-333-1212