When you go to open houses over a three-day holiday weekend, you generally see only the die-hards, the serious buyers; the tourists and the people who come for free wine are at the beach or watching football. Still, you’ll see some eccentrics; me, for example, or nosy neighbors who want to see how their house measures up, or people like my parents, who’ve literally been looking for their next house for a decade now. (My dad can find something wrong with any house; it’s like a superpower. A super-annoying superpower. If I was their agent, I would’ve blocked their number years ago.)
So I was pretty surprised to see so many people at this place over Labor Day weekend. At just under $2 million and with seven bedrooms, it’s not exactly a starter home, and yet, there were a surprising number of people there, which is another way of saying that I was surprised that so many people have way more money than me. This Observatory Circle gem sits atop sloping, manicured grounds, like a medieval fortress, but with DirectTV. You know a lawn is nice when they call it “grounds,” and this place is no exception, with encircling hedges so dense that you could do yard work in the nude if you wanted to, you pervert. It’s the kind of lawn – er, grounds – that are equally a source of pride and and anxiety, as keeping them in presentable condition requires either all your leisure time, or a steady flow of money that could reasonably support a family of four. If you go the professional route, I urge you to trim them into animal shapes so I can drive by your house late at night when I’m high.
Inside, the house is legitimately impressive. It was built in the Twenties, so everything about it is huge; back then, they couldn’t imagine a world of scarcity or economy. It was like the Eighties, plus “manifest destiny.” The house also has a ton of original details; the hardwood floors throughout have that incredible burnished sheen that can only come from decades of foot sweat, and everything from the arched french doors to the fireplaces to the antique moldings give it so much authenticity that it’s the house equivalent of a painter who lives in an unheated loft and rolls his own cigarettes. The living room is huge, with three sets of french doors facing onto the hedge-protected lawn, and there’s a beautiful sunroom (also with french doors) that’s perfect for taking a summer afternoon nap as the gentle sunrays prematurely age you into a thinner version of your mother. I guess the downside of the all this authenticity is that the kitchen and baths haven’t been updated in a while (the listing says the house is “ready for new kitchens and bath!”), but I don’t know if I would change a thing. I mean, what do you need, USB ports on your stove? This kitchen is not only perfectly adequate, I actually like the clean retro lines. Plus, let’s be honest, if you wait long enough, every design trend comes back in. (Though I fully admit that I have friends who apply that principle to clothes, and haven’t bought new jeans in like eight years, and they’re constantly being taken aside by concerned friends for a “serious talk.”)
Upstairs, the bedrooms are bright and sprawling – even the attic bedroom, which is equal measures pleasantly surprising and disappointing. (I have a soft spot for sloping, cramped attic bedrooms.) The master bedroom is big enough for a California King bed as well as a full living room set, and the master bath, much like the kitchen, is “old but gold,” as I always say before ruining a party with my nostalgia music from 1998. There’s a pedestal sink (when did massive unnecessary consoles for your basin become a good idea?) and a shower that’s probably more like the shower you grew up with than the Vegas-style glass cubes that people will no doubt be patronizingly chuckling at in like fifteen years. Elsewhere, there’s a massive garage with parking for three or four cars, more if you stack them vertically, and there’s no end of outdoor space. Every time you turn a corner outside, you come upon another flagstone patio or shaded sideyard; if you have kids, I guarantee you’ll end up saying the words “why are you playing Xbox in here instead of playing outside?” at least fifteen times a day.
3600 Massachusetts Avenue NW
7 Bedrooms, 4.5 Baths