ch01 exterior front night Palisades, DC   Custom Home


We first met this homeowner to inspect a degraded old group house in D.C.’s Palisades neighborhood. As a remodeling focused design/build firm, we don’t usually recommend tearing down a home, but dutifully wrote the proposal anyway with the bad news. Shortly after that, he bought the home and hired our firm to design a new home on the site.

Our customer had a pretty clear vision of what he wanted: a well designed, well constructed Bungalow to blend into the neighborhood. In addition to fidelity to the Craftsman spirit and ideals, our client required the integration of sustainable design principles, energy efficiency and quality throughout. He also wanted to recreate the dimension and feel of his living/dining room complex in his Mount Pleasant home.

The homeowner’s initial request of 2400 square feet did not accommodate the design program’s requirements. At the completion of design, the project had expanded to 4500 square ft. Care was taken during design of the home to ensure that the massing was both in keeping with the neighborhood and the Bungalow aesthetic. Instead of going up, the home extends inconspicuously toward the rear of the lot.  The home won the NARI CotY “Grand” Award Winner 2011.

ch01 3d model Palisades, DC   Custom Home ch01 elevation front Palisades, DC   Custom Home
Proposed 3D Model Actual Front View

Project Highlights

• We deconstructed the existing home on the site. All salvageable materials were recycled, donated, or reused (rather than thrown in the landfill).

• Securing the Raze permit was especially difficult as the process seemed to be endless and without a real road map. It involved submissions to, and in many cases inspections from a host of governmental organizations and utilities including: DC DOH, Verizon, Pepco, Washington Gas, DCRA – Construction Branch, DC Zoning, WASA, DDOT, DC Historic Preservation, DDOE –Asbestos, DDOE – Soil and Erosion, and Department of Housing and Community Development.

• The front porch creates an elegant and well proportioned transition from public to private space. Visually it balances the dormer and the rest of the front façade. It features brick columns with tapered pilasters, decorative brackets at the gable end, IPE decking, a custom built cedar handrail and steps with flagstone.

ch01 front porch Palisades, DC   Custom Home ch01 foyer Palisades, DC   Custom Home
Front Porch Foyer

• All of the primarily living space is situated on the first floor for elegant aging in place. First floor has entry foyer, living room, dining room, master suite, kitchen with breakfast area, powder room, laundry closet, and Den/TV Room/Study.

ch01 living room 1 Palisades, DC   Custom Home ch01 living room 2 Palisades, DC   Custom Home
Living Room

Custom cherry cabinetry, fireplace mantel surround, doors and window trims, base and crown moldings is designed and finished to bring in the Craftsman style of the exterior inside the living and dining rooms. Similarly, the TV room/study cabinetry is in this style but with a cream glazed finish and stained desk tops and flyover shelves.

ch01 dining room1 Palisades, DC   Custom Home ch01 dining room 2 Palisades, DC   Custom Home
Dining Room

• Excellent lighting throughout. Careful placement of general as well as ambient light complement the use of interior clerestory windows and frosted glass doors that bring in natural light to interior spaces.

• Pella aluminum clad wood windows and exterior doors with a striking Cranberry exterior. Site built living/dining room clearstory windows allow natural light to filter to the front hall.

ch01 study Palisades, DC   Custom Home ch01 kitchen Palisades, DC   Custom Home
Study Kitchen

• The basement is nicely finished as a spacious in-law suite with engineered hardwood floors, kitchenette, bathroom, family room, laundry, and storage room. Large window wells ensure plenty of natural light.

• The second floor is nicely finished with two bedrooms and a bathroom. The bathroom features honed marble tile, custom cabinetry and wood wainscoting.

• The master bathroom has the Craftsman style evoked as well with the use of stained cherry wood cabinetry and granite countertops and varying sizes of slate tiles.

ch01 bedroom Palisades, DC   Custom Home ch01 masterbath Palisades, DC   Custom Home
Master Bedroom Master Bathroom

• The exterior of the home is painstakingly detailed including James Hardi’s Artisan siding which provides a pronounced shadow line at the first level and Cedar siding at the second level, hand cut decorative rafter ends and brackets.

• A rain screen was constructed under the siding, a best practice which most builders rarely perform. This complicated the siding and trim installation even more.

• The siding is flared toward the bottom. This required additional framing and complicated the many mitered corners.

• For the frame of the home, we used 2×6 factory built wall panels and a trussed roof. This allowed the home to go up quickly, but required lots of planning and attention to detail before construction.

• The home has a multi zone super high efficiency HVAC system. With foam insulation (under slab, in walls and entire roof system), the home is incredibly tight, so the HVAC system has an Energy Recovery Ventillator to bring in fresh air.

• Long length Quarter sawn Oak floors throughout the first and second floors. The engineered floors in the rear portion of the first floor were fabricated by the same mill shop to match the T&G floors.

• We installed solid wood doors throughout, many of them stain grade.

• Radiant heat flooring at the rear portion of the first floor.

• Care was taken to preempt water infiltration. In addition to waterproofing, insulation and drain board on the exterior of the foundation walls, we installed a conventional sump pump along with a backup sump pump that runs with water pressure rather than electricity. The home incorporated rain barrels and a rain garden.

• We also designed and built a handsome matching garage for the homeowner’s car and yard tools.

Overall Results

This homeowner took great care to build a home which blends with the Palisades neighborhood. He and his new community love it. The home recalls an era of civility and elegance, of pride in craftsmanship. It will be a gem for its current owner and for many more to come.

ch01 elevation rear 2 Palisades, DC   Custom Home ch01 elevation rear 1 Palisades, DC   Custom Home
Rear View

 

ch01 plan basement Palisades, DC   Custom Home ch01 plan 1st Palisades, DC   Custom Home ch01 plan 2nd Palisades, DC   Custom Home
 Basement Plan  First Floor Plan  Second Floor Plan