Photography by Todd Franson
Finally, an Iowa you actually would want to live in. A 3 BR, 2 1/2 BA condo with a professional kitchen rounds out the illustrious Iowa building in Logan Circle. Includes more rope lighting than you can shake a stick at and a stove to die for.
After twelve months of renovations, the addition of a dream kitchen, and a could-be-infamous smoking purse Paul Brazitis, a systems analyst, and his partner David Kerstetter thought they had exorcized all their creative spirits. But a mist of red paint got in the way.
Paul: The Iowa Tower Building was built by Thomas Snyder, who designed the Smithsonian Castle. This area was burned during the riots after Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. The condos are twenty-five years old. Instead of putting another high-rise in, the neighborhood forced [the Iowa developers] to do something [more like town homes, in a semi circle in back of the main Iowa Tower], and that’s how we got the courtyard. It was our little compound during the dangerous days, when we had drug dealers and prostitutes out front, but all that is gone.
David: [In the living room] The wall was done using a technique I used on a job about four or five years ago. It’s three different colors using glazing techniques and ragging. Basically what you do is go down with the first coat, which is the lightest, and build on top of it. It creates almost like a watermarked affect. Then I made a hand stencil for the Greek key, which was only three repetitions at a time so I had to take it and go around with the stencil each time. That was all done by hand. It took about what five days.
Paul: We have a smoking purse [hanging in the corner] from a priest friend of ours. We believe the priest that did the real exorcism out in Maryland could have used it. Our priest friend was at this church after the exorcism and the purse was just lying around the basement, so we ended up with it.
[In the hallway] David ran into a guy who was going to just toss [this cabinet] out. So David took it, took the back off, added glass for the back and glass shelves and put lights on the bottom. He’s very much into rope lights.
[In the master bedroom] We decided we could afford to go ahead and do crown molding. Of course David can’t just do crown molding. He had to do a crackle [finish] and drop it down so he could have rope lighting, on a dimmer, going all the way around.
David: [In the dining room] My great-great-grandmother from Austria brought this china set over from Vienna. It’s actually pre-turn-of-the-century. It’s probably 1880s, 1890s, somewhere around there. We are lucky enough to still have place settings. We entertain with it.
Paul: [Laughs] He won’t let me put it in the dishwasher though.
[In the kitchen] This is a refrigerator from hell. As it turns out my contractor had to take the door, the frame, and the trim above it off to finally get the refrigerator in. In the process they smashed the top, which I had to replace, and smashed the side panel, which I had to replace.
David: Tell them about good things, not bad things.
Paul: I’m getting to them. Of course, there’s the fifteen thousand dollar Viking stove. I’ve got a degree in hotel restaurant management. It’s always been my dream to have my own restaurant, so until I can I’m settling for this. We choose metallic tile [on the wall] because we wanted something different. I always wanted to put a tin ceiling up, so I just added that in later to match the tiling. David is experimenting with blues [on the wall]. I don’t know how he mixed it up or what’s in there. I try to keep [David] from going too crazy.
We didn’t consider having the inside of this [cabinet] stained — it was this ugly blonde wood inside. One day, I was in the other room painting and all the sudden there was this red mist through the entire house. David was [staining] this cabinet. All the new hardwood floors had red on them, the animals had red on them, we had red on us. That was one thing I should have put my foot down and said, “No!”