This house! (He exclaimed in the middle of the open house as the agent wondered if he’d remembered to bring his pepper spray.) No, but seriously. This house. You know, most places you look at, you have to be prepared to make some sacrifices. The houses in, say, Palisades are really really nice, but then you’re living a twenty-five minute car ride from the nearest grocery store, not to mention the nearest place that’s open 24 hours and sells Jamaican beef patties. (I live in a hovel but I’m five minutes from 24-hour Jamaican beef patties.) On the other hand, if you live in a central location, you usually have to settle for the same crackerbox/traincar living space that everyone else lives in. Every time my mother visits my apartment, she horrifyingly asks if I can hear my neighbors go “number two,” and every time I laugh and say of course not, but then after she leaves and I’m all alone, I look in the mirror and admit to myself that yes, sometimes I can in fact hear my neighbors go “number two.” That’s apartment living for you.
This house, though, you get the best of both worlds – it’s central (Dupont), but is legitimately huge, with four high-ceilinged floors of space. It was formerly an art gallery, if that gives you an idea of the space’s character. No one’s paying a quarter-million dollars for a painting of a soup can in a place with eight foot ceilings and bad light, I think we can both agree on that. Outside, it has a unique stone facade that sets it apart from the usual brick rowhomes. It has a really nice-looking texture; if I was a bear, I’d want to back up against it to scratch my back. Inside, the house is predictably grand, for a former art gallery (oh, and it was a school before that) – a huge open staircase, and more antique fireplaces than the Vatican. (Disclaimer: I’ve never been to the Vatican and know nothing about it.) Seriously though, there’s a fireplace around every single corner of this house. When the builder constructed this house, he was very obviously having a “fireplace phase,” sort of like my recent “Worcestershire sauce phase” during which I put Worcestershire sauce on literally everything I ate, including oatmeal, macaroni and cheese, and on pizza. (I have no regrets except googling what’s actually in it.) This house is also on an alley, too, so you get so much more light than in a “landlocked” home. That sunlight from the side really makes a big difference – those middle rooms in a regular rowhouse, the ones that get a thin ray of sunlight for twenty minutes a day, can feel like prison cells sometimes.
Upstairs, there are several un-prison-cell-like large bedrooms, and there’s even a cozy wooden deck overlooking the neighborhood. The kitchen is long and very roomy; it features stainless steel appliances and an almost comically generous amount of counterspace. You could set up a regulation-size Slip-N-Slide on this counter, with room to spare. The previous owner went with a “wallpaper flowing into countertop contact paper” aesthetic, which is sort of the kitchen equivalent of when Regis made the matching shirt/tie look a thing. You’ll probably want to change it, along with a handful of other things about the house; owing to its previous life as a gallery, it has a bit of an unfinished vibe to it, though you could also construe it as “minimalistic.” Personally, I’d live in it as-is, but I also wear all black most days. Oh, and the unfinished vibe is more literal on the lower level, as it is literally unfinished – not quite dirt-floor-and-crumbling-walls unfinished, but just exposed-pipes-and-lineoleum-floors unfinished. (And yet it still has an antique fireplace.) You could renovate it into the ultimate man cave, or a palatial au pair suite, or you could keep it as-is for the ultimate in-law avoidance device. “Why don’t you wait to visit until next Christmas – by then we’ll have the in-law suite renovated for you!” Then throughout the year, casually mention stuff about “renovation permit delays” to set up yet another year of avoidance. If you can’t milk this for at least two or three years of mother-in-law-free holidays, you deserve everything you get.
2025 Hillyer Place NW
7 Bedrooms, 2.5 Baths