Sundays With Strangers

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This massive Columbia Heights two-unit is the perfect “live in one, rent out one” home, because, unusually, there are two equally luxurious units.  I’m never comfortable with the usual DC setup where the top of the house is a palatial multi-floor rowhome that’s being paid off by the squalid not-quite-legal converted-laundry-room basement unit with one four-inch slit window and which perpetually smells like mold and radon gas.  If I lived upstairs, I would constantly worry that the basement tenant was going to steal my girlfriend or slash my tires out of sheer resentment.  Of course, when you have a house like this, with two equally fine units, the hard part is deciding which to live in and which to rent out.  The upper one’s bigger and has a roof deck, but the bottom one’s got a yard and the accessibility of being on the ground floor.  If you’re a real moneybags, you could just take the whole place for yourself, both units.  I will say that if you’re a couple, living in the same house but in separate units is absolutely the ideal setup.  You’re close, but you also have boundaries.  I speak here from experience.  Knowing that you have the autonomy to pile damp laundry all over your bathroom, or fill your kitchen sink with dirty dishes and half-empty beer cans could definitely be the difference between a happy stress-free relationship and a tearful divorce precipitated by the question, “what’s this monthly charge on your credit card to some company called ‘Ashley Madison’?”

Inside, each unit (they have identical floor plans on the main level) is a long, open loft-like space that you could plausibly use to assemble a moderately-sized sailboat.  I would leave the space open, but you could easily partition off separate spaces with room dividers, bookshelves, or chicken wire and concrete blocks if you want to go for that “illegal immigrant rooming house” vibe.  The kitchen(s) feature stainless steel appliances, high-end cabinetry, and marble counters, which ensures that you’ll feel extremely guilty about never cooking.  The second level of each unit is where they differ slightly; the upper unit has a slightly larger master bedroom, with a lavish modular walk-in closet, and a master bath featuring a glass-walled shower with controls that looked only slightly less complicated than the space shuttle’s.  The lower unit’s master bedroom is slightly smaller, and has a non-walk-in closet (that’s nonetheless enviously huge) and a master bath featuring really cool throwback tile work that looks like it was salvaged from the public pool I used to stealthily urinate in when I was a child.

Up top, there’s a sprawling roof deck.  I’m not really a “roof deck guy” – roof decks are like the beach;  they sound good in theory, but after like five minutes you’re bored out of your mind – but this deck and its 360-degree views won me over.  Everyone has their price, I guess.  Each unit also has a deck – they’re connected by a spiral staircase – and out back is a flagstone patio, and a landscaped yard centered around a towering tree.  I don’t know why have a huge tree in your backyard is so pleasant, but it is.  I guess they manufacture oxygen or something?  Also in the backyard are two parking spaces, so you can call the aforementioned tree slowly with exhaust fumes.  Location-wise, this house couldn’t be better situated;  Columbia Heights is hands-down one of the easiest and most enjoyable neighborhood to live in right now for nightlife/restaurants/et cetera.  It’s not as hectic as, say, 14th Street, but it’s cooler (and cheaper) than, say, Shaw.  You’ll be living on Sherman, which, yes, can get somewhat busy, but look on the bright side – you’ll always get a cab when you need one.  Also, it’s better than living on 11th, which is where the bike lane is.  There’s nothing more irksome than stepping out onto your front steps and seeing a constant stream of bicyclists going past, each one leaving a wake of nearly visible eco-superiority.  It wouldn’t be a month before you were standing on your front porch screaming “don’t look at me like that, I recycle!” at them like an insane person.

3018 Sherman Avenue NW
5 Bedrooms, 6 Baths
$1,199,000

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