Photography by Todd Franson
This 3BR, 1BA bungalow is the perfect entry into the socially-conscious and good neighborly community of Takoma Park. A perfect fit for a lesbian couple looking to leave behind the politics of Virginia for a more progressive approach.
After months of searching, Amy Gotwals and Amy Wajda had almost given up on finding the perfect house. Only when they came across an imperfect bungalow in Takoma Park, Md. did they find everything they were looking for.
Amy G.: We moved here in May of 2000. We were Virginia residents and renters for years — we’re definitely Virginians, but we like the politics better over here. We felt lucky to get a bungalow here in Takoma Park. It was hard to actually find one because so many people want to live in this style of house or in this wonderful community. Takoma Park is such a small [area] — I think around 16,000 residents — not many houses come on the market, and there are a lot of buyers. This house is certainly not perfect, but we got the style of house that we wanted, a great street and wonderful neighbors.
[In the guest room] When my grandmother died my mother wouldn’t give me any of her furniture. I think it was my moving around from apartment to apartment and the wear and tear [it would cause]. As soon as she saw this house she said, “Oh my goodness, we have stuff for you.” We got a U-Haul and inherited a lot of my grandmother’s things. She lived in a 1920s house with a lot of dark wood trim and [her furniture] just fit in with this house. A large majority of our things are castoffs from other people — there are a lot of hand-me-downs in this house.
[In the bathroom] I was unemployed at this time last year, so in January I said to my dad, “Okay, you want to do the bathroom?” And he flew down. He’s very, very handy and maintains a lot of apartment buildings where he lives. So we replaced the sink and toilet, laid the tile floor, and painted it. It was father-daughter bonding time — we were bending pipe with a blowtorch at one point and I thought, “This is kind of cool.” The pipe didn’t fit the right way and [without my dad there] I would have just been stuck. Dad is the type of person who can think it through and say, “We’re going to bend the pipe.” We had this blowtorch, which of course he had on the airplane in his luggage. He had called ahead to the airport and asked, “Can I bring these tools?” And they said it was fine, as long as they were in the luggage. So the bathroom is special to us now because we did it ourselves.
Amy W.: [In the kitchen] I like to cook all kinds of things. We have tried to use a lot of organic ingredients, especially in the last year. It’s hard at first, because it is more expensive. But my parents are organic farmers — you really do learn why organic food costs more. There is a premium you have to pay for the cost of the farmers. The next step for us would be buying more local foods. If you buy organic apples from California it’s good in one regard, but on the other hand you pay a cost in shipping those apples from California to Washington, D.C. You know, fossil fuels and things like that. There is a lot to consider.
Amy G.: We try little things. I wasn’t thrilled by the concept of a compost pile when we first moved in and then Amy slowly sold me on it. She got this cute little tin from someplace like Crate and Barrel, and it sits on the porch so I don’t have to look at the whole compost thing. Takoma Park makes it easy to recycle. You can put anything out on the curb and they come get it. Every time we have a castoff, we put it out and within hours someone has snatched it up. So nothing I put out there ends up in a landfill. You know you are in good community when everyone is reusing and recycling.
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