Metro Weekly


Low clutter, lots of style in Mahshie and Faubion's Crestwood home

3 BR, 3 1/2 BA, Historic Spanish Colonial Revival Style House with swimming pool, extensive collection of Roy McMakin designed furniture.

After seven years of living in Logan Circle, real estate agent John Mahshie and his partner Michael Faubion, a director with the National Endowment for the Arts, found a deal they couldn’t refuse. To make their new Crestwood house a home, they went with a less is more philosophy. Meaning less clutter and more Roy McMakin.

JOHN: This neighborhood was built mostly in the ’30s by one developer. The houses were developed as private estates because they were away from downtown and most of them are on big parcels of land. This house in particular was designed by John Earley, who also did the Church of the Sacred Heart on 16th Street. It is built like a Roman Villa using terra cotta blocks just like they used in antiquity. Before this we lived in Logan Circle in a beautiful condo, which we loved very much. I would say it was hard to leave, but it wasn’t once we found this house. We knew this was right for us.

[In the kitchen] When we renovated the kitchen we didn’t want it to be showy or overachieving. That’s why we went with this very modest look, probably like the time when the house was originally built. We took all the upper cabinets out and put tile up. I always tell people when they are renovating a house to pull the cabinets out — the more cabinets you have, the more junk you’re going to put in them. We don’t need tons of stuff. We’re very lucky that Michael and I have very similar tastes. There are very few things — at least from a design perspective — which we disagree on. We don’t like fussy, we don’t like too much pattern, we like it calm — we have the same sensibility about these things.

[In the master bathroom] This was another big project. A previous owner had put glass block in two of the windows. It was hard to find someone who could get us windows of the exact same profile to replace the glass block. The firm that did the restoration on Falling Water, the Frank Lloyd Wright house in Pennsylvania, did these windows for us. When you are doing something like this you have to be prepared to take your time and to have your heart broken. With old things you can’t always get it exactly right and it doesn’t always come out the way you hope. But this did.

I love these medicine cabinets — they are from Urban Archeology in New York and [whispers] they were a fortune, let me tell you. I think they are extraordinary. They are big and they fit in the wall and they hold everything. They are perfectly designed. The cabinets were one of the few pieces that Michael and I had a difference of taste. He wanted his cabinet with honed marble and I wanted mine with polished. The difference in our tastes is very small.

[In the master bedroom] Roy McMakin designed these chairs and ottoman. I designed the bed and nightstands and had them custom built to emulate his work. The bed has drawers underneath for clothes and things so we don’t have to have a lot of cabinets and dressers. The one remaining thing to come is a tea table from the same firm who did the other bedroom furniture — then we will have everything we need for the room. I am extremely happy with how it turned out. The firm did such a beautiful job. The details are breathtaking.

[In the dining room] Roy McMakin also designed these vases. They were done by a pottery outside of San Francisco called Heath, which is the longest-running American pottery still in business. The owner, Edith Heath, is still alive — she’s in her nineties. McMakin designed these and Heath manufactured them. We also have china from Heath. You see, we are trying to think of the house as one whole composition, not just a warehouse for things. When we buy something we try to think about how it fits in the entire scheme. It’s like a beautiful painting — it’s beautiful because the composition is appealing.

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Enter the world of reclamation and spur-of-the-moment painting and remodeling in this 3BR, 2BA townhouse on Capitol Hill where great views, easy walking and a wonderful sense of home abound

After 21 years in the D.C. area, human resources specialist Mark Grace decided it was time to leave Arlington behind for D.C.’s east side, the historic Capitol Hill. Now every morning is a welcome sight — and an opportunity to paint.

MARK: In all my years here I had never lived on the Hill, then a good friend said to think about the Hill, so I did. And it’s great — it just has a really nice feeling to it. Lincoln Park is phenomenal and I can walk to Eastern Market. You think it is another world from D.C. — which can be good and bad — but you really feel comfortable here. Where else can you walk out the front door and see the Capitol? If you stand at the top of Lincoln Park you get this great vista of East Capitol Street and the Capitol Dome.

[In the hallway] I have no qualms about getting up first thing in the morning and deciding I want to paint a room. I once painted a house in two days. I just scrambled out there and attacked it. So if a room doesn’t work out I’ll change it. It’s easy to do and it’s kind of fun. I really like painting. Actually, I’m about to change this hallway again.

[In the living room] I get all my stuff second hand or from people who can’t use it anymore. We’ll call it “reclamation.” If people don’t want something I’ll be more than willing to take it. I have a big family, too, so all my brothers and sisters are like that. We are constantly moving stuff up and down the east coast. I had this [hall stand] in another house, then my sister had it for a few years, and then I brought it back.


[In the master bedroom] This is a great sized room. It overlooks a small park, which is really pretty in the springtime. My friend, who is a set designer, [recommended] this pale avocado color. I wanted something kind of different. I had to redo the floors in here. The floors were pretty bad so I just decided to carpet it — plus it is nice to have carpeting in the bedroom. These [horse] lamps are from Roy Rogers and Dale Evans’s rec room — I got them at a junk store. I guess I shouldn’t call it junk — it’s reclamation. I got this rosary in Argentina. I was in Argentina just a year ago — I turned 40 in Argentina. I made it a point to be out of the country for that event.

[In the kitchen] I gutted the kitchen. It was nice, but I had an idea of how I wanted to reconfigure it. I literally took out the whole back of the house and extended the kitchen and the bedroom upstairs. I was on the fast track for renovations when I moved in, and I went full steam ahead. I just did it. The great thing about row houses is that you really can save a lot of money on heating because there is residual heat from either side of the house. I can also get warm air flowing through the house with these ceiling fans in each room and that gas fireplace. A lot of what I did was to make this place as efficient as possible and not go overboard on stuff I don’t need.

One of the things I like to pride myself on is pure practicality. That’s why I like the kitchen. It’s the room I put the most thought into. I put the fireplace in here so people could come and sit down and talk. I also wanted to respect what the house is — I don’t want to recreate the past but I want to pay a little bit of a nod to it. I guess if I had to say something my style would be nice and practical — very practical. Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without it.

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Every picture tells a story — and every houseguest tells a story about the picture — in this 2 BR, 2 1/2 BA Logan Circle town house that turns a pied-a-terre into a home sweet home.

After a year of living in D.C., Brian Glade still wasn’t ready to leave his New York state of mind. All that changed when he found a historic Logan Circle townhouse, where the warm floors and open space are home to many stories — including the Contessa.

Brian: I moved here from New York City in 1997 and rented a basement apartment over on Corcoran Street. After two years I realized I wanted to make a commitment to the city and I started looking around to buy. I couldn’t find anything in Dupont. Someone told me about Logan Circle — that it was turning around and he had this house in mind for me. When I first looked at the house it was totally empty and all the walls were the same color — butter white. All I noticed were the floors. The wood was so rich and warm — they’re original heart-pine floors. I looked down and saw the sun shinning on the entranceway and it just felt like home. That was all I needed.

[In the living room] My style is very collected. A lot of the stuff is used. The sofa is one of the few things that is new in the house. I love foraging for stuff. A lot of things in here have a story, which I like. A house should have stories. A lot of these things reflect on me because I have collected them over the years. I started collecting these etchings years ago. I would pick up an etching of every city I traveled to. It’s a stupid thing to start collecting — once you start, though, you can’t stop.


[In the dining room]I don’t know the real story behind the lady in the painting. I call her the Contessa. I found her in a consignment shop buried under thirty frames. She just jumped out at me. When I have people over for dinner I like to ask them what they think her story is: Who is she? Where did she come from? Everyone says she’s Spanish aristocracy. I think she looks like she came on hard times. She has a melancholic look, like she just started to lose her money or her land. The consignment shop had no idea. They said, “It’s just a painting. Do you want it or not?”


[In the kitchen] This island is from the late 1800s. I think it is Scandinavian. Unfortunately, it didn’t fit through any door in the house so I had to take the top off to get it in. Then the nails popped out, and I had these chunks of wood that came out [and left holes]. I saved each little piece and had them sitting over here on the ledge. Anna, who cleans my house, thought they were junk and threw them away. Now I have to find a way to repair these holes, but people say they just add to the distressed look.

[In the master bedroom] I have to say living in D.C. was tough in the beginning. I lived my whole life in New York. When I moved here for my job I didn’t know anyone. The first year I was either traveling for work or going back to New York. I woke up one morning thinking, “Why am I here in Washington except for my job?” That’s when I said I was going to buy a house and really dedicate some time to the city. I think moving into this house made a big difference. I have more pride of ownership, more interest in the neighborhood. One by one you meet people and people introduce you to other people and you build up a community.

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One-hundred years of fortitude made this 3 BR, 1 1/2 BA townhouse in Logan Circle survive multiple owners and renovations. Currently home to GWM couple into spaces conducive to clean lines, conversation and comfort.

When Jason Claire bought a one-hundred-year-old house with his partner Mark, he knew that fixing up the place wouldn’t be easy. After three long years of renovations, the house may be ninety percent done, but the two of them are one hundred percent happy.

Jason: Before meeting Mark I had been applying to business schools to get my M.B.A. and I was going to go to either Georgetown or New York University. Then I met him — it was really clear D.C. is where I wanted to be. So we made the big step of not only moving in together but buying a house together. Logan Circle seemed to be a real up-and-coming area and we got a good deal on the house. It needed a lot of work — the house is about 100 years old. Originally there was a separate entry vestibule, separate living room and separate dining room. A couple of owners ago, they took down all the interior walls and put up a beam in the ceiling to support the house. That opened up the downstairs and we liked that a lot.

[In the living room] Mark and I have similar styles of decorating. When we first started renovating we would wander around stores and jot down what we liked. In one store in particular we came back to each other and we both had picked out the exact same materials. He actually pushed through a couple design elements that I wasn’t so into originally and they were very, very successful — I really like them now. He gives me a hard time about it.

The house is modern and clean-lined but comfortable. We weren’t after such a stark modern look that we wouldn’t feel comfortable entertaining or sitting on our own furniture. We like natural materials so there is a lot of stone, glass, slate and wood.


[In the kitchen] This is actually a Brazilian granite counter. We collect a lot of art and sculpture from our various travels and we thought that the counters had a rustic element to tie in with all the artwork. These dishes were shipped back from Durban, South Africa. We bought a setting for four and we liked it so much that we sent back digital photos of them and they were able to remember the pattern and made four more place settings. We travel a lot: Africa, South America, Galapagos Islands, Brazil and all over Europe. It has certainly influenced both of us. Italy is our favorite place to go. We just love the culture. It’s based around community, food and relaxation. They figured out this balance between lifestyle and work.

[In the dining room] This table was a gift from my parents when I moved in. It was important to us to have a round table because we like to have small diner parties. If I couldn’t put a round table in the house — I think that would have been a reason not to buy it, actually. It’s just much more conducive to talking with people and seeing everybody at once.

 [In the bathroom] This was the first renovation project. The open shower was Mark’s idea. I was much more practical-minded and thought the water was going to get all over the place, but it doesn’t. We used limestone and glass tile made from recycled glass. It gets a little iridescent when you have light on it.

[In the master bedroom] We made this room our master bedroom instead of the largest room in the front of the house. We made the larger room into our study. We wanted something warm and cozy with dark woods for the bedroom. We wanted it to feel a little warmer that the rest of the rooms in the house. These fourteen images I put up above the bed in the last couple of months. They’re pictures I’ve taken from various trips. We had the nightstands made for us out of extra glass tile from the bathroom. We like the idea of keeping the materials and the color palette in the whole house similar. It really opens it up and makes it feel larger.

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