Environs


A leonine living room is just one feature of this 1 BR, 1 BA Dupont Circle apartment with a stunning view of Georgetown to inspire artistic sensibilities. Especially good find for those who equally love sunrises, sunsets.

David Bediz had a good feeling about the sixth-floor apartment he rented last year in Dupont Circle — an apartment he never saw until he signed the papers and got the key. The graphic designer’s gamble paid off with an amazing view and plenty of wall space for creative expression.

DAVID: I found this place in August of last year. I was looking for a place to buy, but was absolutely disgusted with the housing prices so I decided to find a place to rent. I was looking for a place with its own character — I didn’t want to feel like I was in a hotel-turned-into-a-condo. What really sold me on this place was the view. The windows in the bedroom are at a unique angle so I can see the sunset on one wall and the sunrise on the other. I can wake up with full sun on my face and see a beautiful sunset every night over Georgetown. It is definitely my favorite part of the place.


Then there are certain other selling points, like the characters who live here. I guess the best character of all is the building manager Ms. Thomas, who is really loud and boisterous. I’ll say it flat out: she can be a real pain in the ass sometimes, but she is kind of like the den mother. She’s yelled at me on a few occasions in a motherly way. She always refers me to her favorite toy, a bungee cord hidden behind her office door. [Laughs.] She threatens me with a bruising basically.


[In the foyer] My dad is a great fine artist. He did this self-portrait that greets me every time I come into the apartment. It’s totally goofy — he’s pointing his finger at you like he’s saying, “I know what you have been up to.” I put it near the door because it reminds me of my dad. He is a constant pain in my butt but whenever I think about how talented he is I realize how special he is. It helps me to appreciate him more.

[In the kitchen] I love having people over. I enjoy having people over at the spur of the moment to watch TV or have a dinner party. My friend Eddie is a super homemaker. He loves to cook for lots of people. He’ll use any excuse to have people over but since his place is about the size of a shoebox, my place is always the default and I’m happy with that. I used to do a lot more cooking but I’ve been so busy lately that I just end up surviving on a bowl of Cheerios at night. I’m not completely incompetent in the kitchen. But I have to admit that because Eddie loves to cook it’s often the case that I don’t need to.



[In the living room] The lion is definitely the most incredible art form in here. My boyfriend Chris and I painted it together just after I moved in. We both have birthdays in August so we went with a Leo theme. Literally, my boxes were still unpacked in a corner and we decided to get out the paints in the middle of a very, very hot summer night. It was supposed to be temporary but it happens to be painted in some of my favorite colors. Plus, it means a lot to me.

When I first found this building they only had efficiencies available. I looked at one and it was small but it was beautiful. I went to fill out the paperwork for it and they told me a one bedroom had opened up. They couldn’t tell me much about it and they couldn’t show me a plan. All they would say is that it was on the sixth floor. I had no idea what to expect. I had a good feeling about it, so I took it. When I finally signed the paperwork it was my birthday. I walked up here with keys in hand and having no idea what to expect. Who knew what was behind that door? I walked in and I nearly started crying because I was so happy. I felt at home immediately. This place was the best birthday present I ever received.

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Environs


CLASSIFIED: Look to the stars both inside and out in this 1 BR, 1 BA Arlington apartment with fabulous views, a plethora of tunes, and a single GWM more interested in memories than matching.

When it came time to set up his new home in Arlington’s Pentagon City area, federal contractor William Ford wanted it reflect his personality. So now he comes home to bright colors, thoughtful gifts, much music and many memories.

William: I moved out of the city in 2000. The rent prices were just getting too high. I was initially on the fourth floor of this building, and then I moved up here to the seventh. They were building new apartments that were blocking my view. Now I’m high enough that I still have my view of Pentagon City. It’s really beautiful, particularly at night when you get to see the airplanes coming into the airport.

[In the dining room] When I come home I really want my place to reflect me. I think I am a pretty low-key guy with a good sense of humor and my own sense of style — I want my place to reflect that. I like bold bright colors. I also like Chinese calligraphy. Some people just know how to give gifts — these hand-painted plates with calligraphy are from my daughter. They look great in here. The symbols stand for things like happiness and prosperity. These symbols over here on this wall stand for double happiness, as well as song and music. Since I like music a lot I think it is appropriate to have it in this room.



 

I got this painting when I lived in Norfolk, Nebraska. I was doing my internship and the person I was renting from was a painter. She wanted this oak table I had and I wanted the painting. It was fair trade but I think I won because the painting is wonderful. Not only are the colors great but the more you look at it the more you see, which I think is fascinating.

[In the living room] I like all kinds of music with the exception of country — I like pretty much everything else. I have my computer hooked to my stereo so I can get streaming audio. You can get very unusual music from the Internet and it sounds near CD quality. I pretty much stopped buying CDs. I also have digital cable music service, so I have plenty of music to choose from.

My sound system and my TV occupy a lot of the space so it was important that I incorporate them into the room. I made the television more interesting by putting nice things around it — that piece above it is a plaster cast of a capital from a column in an old building in Nashville. It is a surprising piece above a pretty mundane-looking television.


[In the bedroom] The bedroom carries on the same themes as the rest of the apartment. This bed is the kind of thing you get anywhere. It’s obviously not expensive, but what I have tried to do is symbolically make it an Earth bed by painting different parts different colors. There’s the morning sun with the yellow up by the head, the evening sun with the red at the foot, the grass with the green at the bottom, the blue at the top is the sky, and the finials are stars. And the colors work well with the Romero Britto print that is on the wall.

These two pieces over here are handmade papers from China that I bought out in San Francisco. They were pretty cheap and all I did was add these dowels and now they make nice wall hangings. They also complement the colors of the room and continue the theme of the calligraphy. I think you are supposed to wrap gifts with them but I’d rather wrap the wall with them.



The rocking chair has been in the family since my daughter was born. It doesn’t exactly go with everything else but then again everything shouldn’t have to match. I like to live around things that have some meaning to me. If those things work together with everything else that is even better. I think it all works together in here. That’s why I could never have a decorator come in — the memories themselves are very important.

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Duane and Pete are do-it-yourselfers in their Kensington, MD home


Double your pleasure in Kensington, Md., with this 2 BR, 2 BA house that’s now twice as big as it’s original size. Occupies by a GWM duo armed with a DIY attitude and a shared sense of humor.

Armed with a library of how-to books, teacher Duane Rollins and dog-walking business owner Pete Fosselman set out to turn shabby into chic. After two years of refining, refurbishing and expanding they can finally say it’s done. Now if they could just do something about the cooking.

Duane: It’s kind of funny. We were living in a condo about two miles from here. I was out running one day and saw this house had a “For Sale” sign. It was basically a white and black house and only about 850 square feet. There was just something about the house that shouted out to me. We originally bought it as an investment and didn’t really plan to live in it. But the more we started to expand — we doubled the size of the house — the more we liked it, so we eventually decided to move in.


One of the biggest problems with the expansion was that neither of us had done it before. I had helped my father build a house but that was really about it. Some nights I would come into the house, whip out my two or three do-it-yourself books and study up so I could work the next day. Other than that, it was a blast. It was an awesome experience — a great learning experience, especially for me.

It was amazing when we dropped the ceiling out of the front room. It literally came crashing down on me. I don’t think Pete was here. I started to take it down in sections and it started creaking and I could tell it was coming down. I jumped off the ladder and all of the sudden it just let loose and fell on the floor. It was like this big thundercloud.


[In the master bedroom] We met through friends about ten years ago. We didn’t start dating right away — I guess about seven years ago…

Pete: …he came to his senses.

Duane: I was really drunk one night and said I’d go out with him if he quit stalking me.

Pete: We started living together a year after we started going out. We lived in the condo and then moved in here about three and half years ago.

Duane: [Laughs.] Don’t print that, you’ll ruin my dating possibilities.


[In the hallway] I bought these embossed tin panels from a fellow at Eastern Market. I forget why I bought them…

Pete: You gave them to me as a gift.

Duane: Oh yeah, they were a gift. I bought them from a guy at Eastern Market. He is from Baltimore and he tells me they’re from a building in Baltimore. He didn’t mention it was a religious building but the panels certainly have a lot of religious symbols.


[In the kitchen] This whole front room is new.

Pete: This space where the kitchen and living are now used to be three separate rooms.

Duane: When we did the renovations we took down all the walls and opened up this space so the kitchen and living room would be one big space. Putting the kitchen together was a nightmare. It took us eleven deliveries to get all the cabinets because they kept coming shattered or the wrong size.

Pete: Or the wrong color.

Duane: It was a mess. We laid it out and designed the kitchen ourselves. We like to have a lot of parties so we wanted this room to be really open so we could have friends over and talk to them while we were cooking. We’re not big cooks, though. I came from a family where if my mother couldn’t fry it we didn’t eat.

Pete: I came from a family where my mother didn’t cook.

Duane: Pete has become a pretty decent cook.


Pete: He’s better than I am. I’m learning more. My mom sent me this cookbook for idiots so I’ve been reading it and learning.

Duane: I’ve been hospitalized twice from his cooking so…

Pete: No, you haven’t.

Duane: I don’t want to speak for Pete, but the house was ugly as sin before we bought it. Once we started to really renovate it and get an idea of where we were headed, that’s when we really started to appreciate the house more.

Pete: It took me a little while to get acclimated to the house but I love it now. If we ever have to move I’d rather pick the house up and move it with us.

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Gay couple lives with antiques and friendly Potomac, MD neighbors


It’s tick-tock time in the Fox Hill North neighborhood of North Potomac, Md., where this 4 BR, 2 1/2 BA house plays home to an antiquing collecting GM couple with a passion for neighborly living and timepieces from the past.

It wasn’t long after Michael Schilling and Tim Schaefer fell in love with each other that they fell in love with their future home, where they found friendly neighbors, plenty of space for antiques, and colors that already matched their furniture. Eight years later, the home — and its ever-growing collection of clocks and antiques — is still a dream for them.

Michael: This area was pretty much all farmland fifteen to twenty years ago. Tim actually used to ride horses very near here. These houses went up in the mid 1980s and they sold like hotcakes. We were familiar with the neighborhood because we were living in a townhouse not far from here. We looked at several houses in the neighborhood and what really attracted us to this one were the colors — the house coordinated well with the stuff that we already had. We haven’t had to change a lot.


[In the kitchen] We are avid auction attendees and we love antiques. This clock we got at an auction in Rockville, Maryland. I went there and the clock was hanging on a wall and I was like, “Oh, my god!” I got it for a steal. You’ll see clocks throughout the house — I love clocks. I don’t know what it is, but I’m a clock freak.


[In the guest bedroom] I ran across these old stock certificates in an antique store and I thought they were really neat. They’re really just little pieces of art. I thought they would look cool hanging on the wall. I like the colors and the whole design of them is really great.

[In the hallway] These are antique photographs of kids that we found over the years. They are just so sweet. Some of them have inscriptions on the back. This one says, “A Valentine from Sunny.” This one is a little girl named Mary Pierce and it says something about a coat that her father saw in Paris and had made for her.


[In the family room] I love this Victrola. It was totally stripped and I refinished it. It was someone else’s project that was never finished — the owner of the store [where I found it] wasn’t even sure if it worked so he gave me a great deal on it. It works beautifully. I have all kinds of records for it. You can find them cheap at flea markets and stuff.

This cabinet was in the front lobby of the condo building where Tim and I used to live in D.C. The guy who rehabbed the lobby pulled it down into the garage. He had pulled the drawers out, ripped the desk off, and punched these panels out — they were going to hull it away to the trash. I asked him for it and he said sure. So I took it and found all the pieces he had removed in a big trash dumpster. All the hardware is original. It’s a great piece.


Honestly, we have the best neighbors. As a matter of fact, before we ever put a contract on the house we had fallen in love with it. While the house was for sale we would walk over here and sit on the deck and pretend the house was already ours. One night it was snowing out and we decided to walk over to the house. We ran into what turned out to be our very close neighbor right across the street. When she found out we were interested in the house she was so excited, so happy, so welcoming — that’s been the reaction we have gotten from everyone.

Tim and I are on the architectural change committee for our neighborhood. If someone wants to put up a fence they have to submit a change to the committee. One lady wanted to submit a request but she wanted it back very quickly because she was on a time constraint. She called us not knowing who we were and said she wanted to drop this request off. We were explaining where our house was and she asked, “How close are you to the two men?” I told her we are the two men and she said, “Oh, my god, I know exactly where you live.” Yes, we are the token gays in the neighborhood, but it isn’t a bad thing.


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Couple turns Northwest DC house into a home full of lush colors


Go with the flow in 16th Street Heights in this 3 BR, 1 BA townhouse with beautiful hardwood floors, a newly remodeled and expanded kitchen and a gay couple with a strong appreciation for hearth, home and family.

Some accidents are happy things, like how mortgage consultant Scott Davis and student Erik Fonseca stumbled across their Northwest home one day. Once ensconced, their goal was to add their own personal touch with a new kitchen, some complementary colors and a couple of nostalgic benches were all it took to make their house a great place to come home to.

SCOTT: We were living on Capitol Hill and we just wanted a bigger house. We were a little disappointed on what we were seeing on the hill and I remembered being up here once years ago and thinking, “That’s a nice neighborhood.”

ERIK: Finding this house was a pure accident. We were just looking at houses for the fun of it.


SCOTT: It was Sunday afternoon, what else were we going to do? I think this house was open until 4:30 p.m. and all the others were only open until 4 p.m., so we said, “We have one more we can squeeze in.” We drove up, we saw it and we liked it.

ERIK: What I liked most was the entrance and the hardwood floors. I immediately thought this house had a great flow to it.


SCOTT: [In the kitchen] The previous owners had redone the kitchen and it was decent. It was just very, very small. We thought it would be nice to enlarge it a little bit so we knocked out a wall. Then we had a contractor put in the cabinets and counter tops. It gave us a lot more room.

It’s funny, we are from very opposite backgrounds — I’m from New England and Erik is from Brazil — but we find ourselves at the same place in life. I don’t think we argue that much about taste.

ERIK: Actually I think we complement each other.



 

SCOTT: Some people like to change all the time and we are both very boring and stable people. We both like things that last.

[In the living room] A friend gave us a color palette book and most of the colors on the walls and the trim came out of that book. We sat down and looked through it and chose a selection of colors. Brazil is very lush and tropical and Vermont is very lush and wintry so we went with colors that are lush.


ERIK: [In the master bedroom] It is intentionally dark in this room. I like lighter colors for the bedroom but Scott wanted a dark color so that he felt cozy and he could sleep better.

SCOTT: I think bedrooms should be dark and warm and safe.


ERIK: This bench has to be restored. It has been in my family for several years. My father was a fine arts professor at a school in Brazil that the Portuguese Royal Family founded when they came to Brazil to flee Napoleon. This bench came with them and ended up in my family. It is made of Brazilian Rosewood. It has gone through one or two restorations and it needs another one. It is a beautiful piece.

SCOTT: [In the guest room] I bought this bench on eBay. My grandmother had several pieces of Hitchcock furniture, which is a furniture maker in New England. I saw this piece on eBay and knew I wanted it. I bought it and it came all boxed up. It looked smaller in the box than it actually was and I thought, “Damn it, I got screwed.” Then I took it out and it was exactly what I wanted. There’s another Hitchcock piece downstairs. They remind me very much of my childhood.

We are both very proud of our families. When Erik and I came to Washington we weren’t running from anything — we were coming to something. We are proud to be from where we were and we are also glad to be making something new.

ERIK: I have a philosophy that I think Scott shares with me — you should have everything in your house that you need in order to make you happy when you come home. Neither of our families lives in D.C., so we find this warmth in our own home.

SCOTT: Anyone can have a house but we want to have a home.

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