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TAKE ON THE ‘BURBS with this stunning two-level, 3BR, 2BA condo nestled in a quiet corner of Falls Church. A soaring living room ceiling will expand your horizon, while the sleekly modern bathrooms will indulge your urge relax in style.
When Bill Hillegeist found his condo in Falls Church, he was embarking on a new journey in his life following his divorce. He’s created a comfortable and versatile space where his flair for decorating makes every room both useful and distinctive.
BILL: This is a new life kind of place. This is my gay phase. When I came out, I just went on with life. I’ve always liked to decorate and I did a fair share of it in [my former] home in Bethesda. We had a pretty home but I got to start over on my own here. Everything here is what I bought, or a few pieces from my mother’s estate.
There is no gay life in Falls Church [laughs]. Actually, I’ve made wonderful friends here over the years. I love to entertain. I don’t go into the city too much except for art and theater and museums and things like that. Somehow, I find life here just great.
[In the living room] I think this space is interesting because when you walk in the front door you don’t expect to find a living room that is about 24-feet high with a peak and a great skylight. On a sunny day the sun just pours into this place. It’s wonderful with winter moons. It’s not a big space but I’ve had about 65 here for a party once. What I’ve tried to create is a space that’s comfortable for me. I put my feet up on the coffee table, I read the Sunday paper and just enjoy it. I’ve tried to create something that’s nice but comfortable and livable.
[On the deck] I love my deck. This is where I spend any summer morning when the weather is nice. I sit out here and have breakfast and it’s great for entertaining. The neighborhood is very quiet. I hear the distant hum of Route 7, but especially back here in the trees it’s very quiet. I never hear traffic noise in my bedroom.
[In the dining room] This is my little red dining room. I decided to paint it dark. I love it. It just makes it more independent. The chest is Dutch Colonial. I found that in a dear friend’s store in San Diego. He sells Asian furniture and that was actually made in Indonesia for the Dutch colonists, so it has a Dutch look. I had it shipped from his store. He’s coming to visit me in June and he’ll see these pieces for the first time in my home.
[In the kitchen] I remodeled the kitchen and put down new flooring. This kitchen was done about seven years ago but it’s worn pretty well. I picked the tile myself but I had a contractor install it. The only thing I really changed in the kitchen was to move the refrigerator over here so I could run the cabinets to the ceiling. I had those cabinets mounted, which are great for parties. The bartender can stand here [counter opening into the living room] and work. It’s turned out to be a very efficient kitchen.
[In the guest bath] The counter is actually an Indonesian dining room buffet I found at Muleh on 14th Street. I had the contractor modify it. I wanted a little bit of an Asian flavor. It kind of started with the bowl [that’s used for the sink] and went from there. I discovered the way to find good mirrors for your space is to go to a picture framing shop and get one exactly to the dimensions you want. I’ve kept my bathroom contractor pretty busy.
[In the master suite] This is my second floor sanctuary. I have a really nice deck out here as well. It’s great in the summer. This is where I retreat so I wanted to keep the colors and design sort of neutral and restful. This is where I hide out.
I wanted to remodel my bathroom and I discovered that there was space in the attic that was not used [so I was able to] create this wonderful walk-in shower. I think it’s about 25 feet square. I cut out those windows that look out over the living room so I have natural light in my shower, and I can look out into the skylights and the ferns. It’s fun. I put in body sprays and a few shower heads. It’s good for about 20 minutes of lots of good hot water. After that I’m sort of tapped out, but it really is a fun place for me to shower.
Does your house, condo or apartment have a story to tell? Let Environs know about it. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. To see more photographs from this week’s featured space, visit us online at www.metroweekly.com/home.
A LOT OF ROOM, with a view! If you can tear yourself away from gazing at the expansive skyline from atop this Adams Morgan 2 BR, 2 BA condo, you’ll find plenty of room to hang with friends. No matter how formal it looks, you can always stay relaxed!
When real estate agent Thomas Drury left Dupont for Adams Morgan a few years back, the neighborhood was still on the verge of the real estate boom. But even as the boom keeps booming, his high-flying condo is still an oasis for himself and his friends.
THOMAS: [On the roof deck] I bought this house eight years ago — Adams Morgan was still transitioning then. My friends were all like, “Oh my God, you’re leaving Dupont.” And it was like a heartache just moving six blocks up. But this view — that’s what made me really want to come to Adams Morgan. You’ve got the Capitol, RFK Stadium — you can actually see all the way out to Fed Ex Field. It’s pretty cool when you can see the [helicopters] when the president gets dropped off at the White House. And obviously there are the fireworks [on July Fourth]. There’s always a good breeze up here. I entertain a lot and I do a lot of client stuff here. As soon as it gets warm enough, there is where I am. This is my favorite part of the house.
[In the media room] This is the other place I hang out. To get the ceilings this high — I think these are 14 or 15 feet — we took the existing attic out. It makes a huge difference. My neighbors [with the same house plan] all have the ceiling in and it’s quite different. This was one house originally and it was broken into three condos
The shelves and cabinets are all custom. It’s nice because when I want to put work away, it’s gone. It’s easy to just change this over to a social space. Every once in a while for fun I’ll hang with friends in the living room [downstairs], but it’s just kind of cool to hang up here.
You know what’s so great about this house? Being on the upper part of this block, unless you walk down to 18th Street you have no idea that that’s going on down there, with the exception of the cars up and down the street. It’s very quiet.
[In the living room] What I like about this place is that it’s separate enough with the guest suite and the upstairs entertaining, but if I want to keep things on the first floor it breaks out really nice for that as well. I do a lot of my client parties here. I found the top part of the fireplace mantle in the attic when we were clearing it out. That’s the original mirror, too. I was really surprised that that was there. It’s in pretty good shape for sitting up in the attic for however long.
I never need to use coasters when I’m in here because I don’t like that formality. It looks formal but I’m not one of those people who run behind you with a coaster because I hate that. This is like more of a hang room, where you can put your drinks down, kick back. The furniture is arranged to do that.