Metro Weekly


Tony and Dan turn 'god-awful' decorating into their colorful, new Prince George's home

You won’t have to wallpaper over any problems with this 5 BR, 3 1/2 BA single-family home in southern Prince George’s County. With color, color everywhere you’ll have some time to think, “What a fabulous place this is!”

Real estate’s like a box of chocolates — you never know when you’re going to get a garishly pink filling inside. But Tony Curtis and Dan Dycus bought their Prince George’s County home “as is” and turned it into “as it should be.”

Tony: This area is considered Southern Prince George County, very close to the Charles County line. It’s very residential.

Dan: We were really looking more in the Fort Washington area. But our real estate agent brought us here and we really liked the house. Then we realized just how far south we really were.

Tony: When we first looked at the house we had to look beyond the previous owner’s decorating [style] to envision what we could do with it.

Dan: The realtor told us, “If you can’t get past what they have in there, then there is no sense even walking in the house. Some people have walked in the foyer and just turned around and left.” We had no clue what we were up against.

Tony: They had spent a great deal of time and money on wallpaper in practically every room in this house. On the main floor the powder room, the family room, the living room, and the two story foyer all had wallpaper. And we had to remove it one room at a time. It was very costly and time consuming.

[In the foyer] As you can see, we are definitely into color. Hopefully we know when to not go too far. Even in our previous townhouse we had a lot of different colors, which we got a lot of positive feedback on — at least to our face. I think colors really set the tone for a room, sometimes more so than the furniture does.

Dan: If you go to someone’s house you don’t often remember the furniture that much. But we had a red kitchen in our old house and people always remembered the red kitchen. There is no room in this house that is the same color as another room. That makes you think about each room a little more.

Tony: [In the master bedroom] The previous owners really did a number on this room. You can see the chair rail — below that they had painted a Pepto-Bismol shade of pink. Then above the chair rail was yet another shade of pink that carried on to the ceiling.

Dan: That one was kind of a light Barbie color pink. When I walked into this room I was like, “Oh my god.” I couldn’t see past it. I mean, I could see that it was a large room, but I could not see past the god-awful burgundy carpet and god-awful pink walls.

Tony: When we first moved in we were living in one of the guest rooms, waiting until the bedroom furniture came. During that time Dan painted this room all by his lonesome.

Dan: I took two days off of work. I could not physically look at this room. The pink was a big issue with me. This room probably scared me the most.

Tony: [In the kitchen] We didn’t want to repeat the red from the last house. We thought about cobalt blue and we talked to a lot of people about it because we had always been told that a dark color makes a room look small. Most people thought the kitchen was large enough that it could stand a dark color. What sealed the deal was finding the light fixture that’s over the table. We loved the color of it. Another thing that was appealing about the kitchen was the center counter and having a lot more counter space.

Dan: We also liked the stainless appliances.

Tony: That was part of year-and-half-old upgrade that the previous owners did to the kitchen.

Dan: They seemed to have good taste with structural elements like the recessed lighting, stainless steel appliances, tile floors, and counter tops. But when they got to the walls they were clueless. So many things that they did were so well-chosen that it’s interesting how they screwed up every wall in the house.

Tony: We’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback since we’ve added the color in the kitchen.

Dan: A lot of our friends are like, “I can’t wait to come see what room you’ve done next.” They look forward to [seeing what we have done] because they know it’s going to be a change from some god-awful wallpaper to a new bold color.

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Don’t listen to what all the other people say! Stake out your claim to individuality, personal space with this 3 BR, 2 1/2 BA townhouse in Logan Circle. More storage than you can shake a stick at, and back yard that makes you say “Bingo!”

Love may be a battlefield, but it doesn’t have anything on the D.C. housing market. Ben Boyd fought and lost in three bidding wars before achieving victory and planting his flag in Logan Circle. Now this communications director for Americans for Health Care can savor his townhouse triumph in his backyard with Bingo. His dog Bingo, that is.

Ben: I bought this house on July 23, 2003. My former boyfriend and I lived in Kalorama Triangle. Our breakup was the reason for the move. It was kind of a wholesale change for me — the only homes I had owned had been with him. For the first time I was looking for a space that was all mine, which was both exciting and very nerve-wracking. There was nobody to point a finger at and say, “Why did you do that?” Very few of my friends saw the house before I finished renovations. I brought about three different groups through the house and told them what I was planning on doing and they were like, “Why are you going to do that?” I was having enough trouble with doing this on my own, so no one else got the tour.

[In the dining room] This is the fourth house I bid on. I lost three houses prior to this in the insane bidding wars of D.C. real estate. It just proves that some things happen for a reason — this is by far the best house of the four.

I wanted a soul and a personality in a place. I’m not a new-construction kind of person. I like to take a place that has a soul and then pour myself into it. That was what I found here. A great couple lived here before, and they had taken such good care of the house. It was a great start to find a house from people that so loved it. It had all the right elements in place and wasn’t too far from where I wanted to take it.

 My style is about warmth and creating a comfortable atmosphere. I love to have friends over and entertain. It’s not about any one furniture style as much as it’s about [different] pieces that I pull together myself, which I like for a host of reasons: They resonate, they fit together, or they have a special meaning.

 [In the basement] This is where a lot of the major renovations were done. When I bought the place it was just a storage basement. This floor is original concrete from 1904. I just power-washed it and put on three coats of polyurethane. I think the room has a great feel. Like I said, [my friends] were like, “Oh, you’ve got to put tile down here,” or “You have to paint that brick.” And I was like, “No, I don’t.” I just wanted a warm, cozy family room. I have to say that I had a vision for this space but it turned out a lot better than my vision. The big point of contention was the closet. It wasn’t here originally, but I felt the space was so overwhelming and the closet helped to break that space up. One of my big things is storage — I don’t think a house can have too much storage. Where else are you going to put your feather boa? Everybody has to have a place for that.

[In the backyard] My favorite room in the house is the patio, without question. I spend at least one night a week out here with friends. It wouldn’t be a home if I weren’t entertaining and laughing and having a good time.

When I got the house there was just slate set on sand back here. The first thing I did was lift up all the slate and then right the grade of the whole backyard so it actually drained away from the house. We took the old slate and laid it in this quilt pattern in the center of the yard. I liked that I was able to take the slate forward and incorporate it into the new design. Then I raised these plant beds to give some definition to the space and because of my dog Bingo. It keeps him out and lets him know he’s not supposed to go in there. I’ve had Bingo since 1999. My former boyfriend and I had two dogs. When we separated they separated. It has been just the two of us for about two years. It was the hardest work I have ever done personally, but I have no regrets. I am in the best space and the best place I have ever been in my life.

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Leave behind the confines of condos for this electrically eclectic 4 BR, 3BA Virginia stunner in West Alexandria. Plenty of room for myriad parties, all under the watchful eye of Lucy.

After deciding that condo life was not for them, Zade Ramsey, who works in the visual department at Hecht’s, and Ali Sayer, a vice-president for a consulting firm, started searching for a place with a little more autonomy. They found a home in West Alexandria with a big yard, beautiful sunroom and enough space for a party or two.

Ali: We moved in here five years ago. We rented a condo together for about a year and half before that. It was a real nice condo and Zade wanted to buy there but I said, “No. I want a house.”

Zade: He’s into gardening, which I didn’t care anything for. I was not very enthusiastic about it and if I had my druthers, I guess we would have been in a condo. Now that I have been in the house I have found it much more rewarding. I feel a lot of autonomy now. Living in an apartment you are constantly running into people on the elevator.

Ali: There is no privacy living in a condo. [In the sunroom] This room sold the house for us.

Zade: It’s not part of the original house. The previous owners added it on.

Ali: Our style is one size doesn’t fit all. Here you see everything from modern to classic. Would you call it eclectic?

Zade: I would definitely call it that.

Ali: Each room has a personality.

Zade: A lot of the art in the house was done either by Ali or myself. We have [an art] studio downstairs. This Lucy painting was done in 1988. I was a huge fan of Lucy — as you might imagine from the painting — and I painted it right after she had died. The day she had died, I got this bird and named it Lucy, which is why there is bird in the painting. Basically I wanted it to look like a 1960s billboard.

Ali: It was in a show and someone made an offer to buy it.

Zade: I wouldn’t sell it. I’m just so attached to it and I don’t think I could ever do it again.

Ali: [In the back yard] The back yard is not really that big. It is only about one quarter of an acre. I used to have one acre. When I moved here there had been no landscaping. So, I started little by little and I did everything myself. Then three years ago I injured myself working in the garden and I ended up in the emergency room. Since then every May for the past three years something has happened with my back so all my plans to finish landscaping have been postponed. The yard is getting there but it is not what I want. What’s the rush? That’s our motto.

Zade: We work a lot so we don’t always have the energy.

Ali: We work a lot and we party a lot.

Zade: [In the living room] We looked for a house that would be conducive to having parties. This house was literally perfect for it. After 9/11, a good friend in New York he called us and said, “I know we are inviting ourselves — but do you think a couple of friends and I could come down and spend a weekend at your house.” It had been two weeks since 9/11 and they had all been very depressed and wanted to get out of town but didn’t really know where to go or what to do. He knows that we like company so we were like, “Sure.”

Ali: Nine of them came down.

Zade: So we had a morning party.

Ali: Probably a hundred people came. There was no problem with the neighbors.

Zade: No one has ever complained.

Ali: This isn’t a gay neighborhood but the neighbors are very friendly, in terms of gay-friendly. We used to have a Persian family live next door to us. They had a son and a daughter who where in their twenties. They moved out about two years ago. Well, we ran into the son — who was straight when he lived there — about six months agoÂ…

Zade: At Lizard Lounge.

Ali: He says, “You made my life easier when I came out to my parents. My parents loved you guys and when I came out they said, ‘Hey Zade and Ali were nice people.'”

Zade: They had never known any gay people before. It made me feel wonderful.

Ali: Of course we said, “We wish you were gay when you lived next door.”

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Antiques Roadshow appraiser brings renovations to crime-affected Shaw neighborhood

You’ll find an abundance of perfect spaces for all your antiques in this 4 BR, 2 BA Shaw townhouse. Newly renovated and overflowing with character and charm galore.

When antiques appraiser Reid Dunavant was followed by a man with a gun into his Shaw townhouse, he did what any man who had just spent four months on renovations would do. He came out swinging.

Reid: I bought this house in 1998. I’d been living in a house on Corcoran Street before that. I decided it was time to buy something because housing prices were going crazy. I spent some time looking around and couldn’t afford anything over by Corcoran Street. I stumbled on this street and liked the brick sidewalks, the nice little park and prices were still kind of affordable over here. I wanted an old house with a lot of the original character. Working in the business that I work in, I needed to have an environment that was appropriate for antiques.

At the time I moved here, crime was pretty much a problem because Ninth Street was a bad traffic avenue. Lots of drug dealers hung out on corners and, in fact, the week after I closed on the house there was a chalk outline on the sidewalk. I don’t think I have ever heard of a home getting broken into over here. It was mainly drug trafficking. Actually, when I first moved in I had somebody follow me in the house with a gun. I walked in and I got a look at him in the mirror before he could speak. He knew he wanted to rob me but he was too messed up [on drugs] to actually function. He was waving around and I had come from the grocery store and had grocery bags in my hands. So, with two or three big bags I just went up and hit him in the head and he ran out. It made me more mad than anything. I had just moved in here and had spent a fortune getting this place renovated the way I want it and somebody was trying to take advantage of me. Yeah, I was really mad.

[In the living room] Working as an appraiser at an auction house I have a very eclectic style. I like lots of different things like porcelain, paintings and glass. Most things that are here I’ve bought at auctions. This is a collection of Chinese export porcelain, which is very popular all over the world. It’s made in China but not to be sold in China. Then I have a collection of these fans that are hand-painted on ivory. These two armoires and this table are actually made of boulle, which is a combination of tortoise shell, ebony and gild bronze. The tortoise shell is the red part. Tortoise shell is actually more of an amber color but it is translucent so they put a red foil behind it to make it that color. It was a technique developed by a Frenchman in the mid-eighteenth century whose last name was Boulle. These are things that I like I buy. There is no rhyme or reason.

[In the home office] This is sort of my office. All my research books are in here — everything from silver marks to buttons. You’ll often see me sitting at the beach reading a book about antique clothing or duck decoys or something like that is not very interesting to most people.  Most antiques appraisers are specialist and focus on one thing like French impressionist paintings. I have always been very general in my interests, which has actually worked out great because there are very few people who do that. Besides the auction house, I also work on the Antiques Road Show, which is a great place to do research. What they show on television is a minutia of what we actually see. We will go in and see nearly seven thousand people between 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. — that’s a lot of people and they have a lot of stuff.

[In the dining room] I bought that dining room table from an estate in New Mexico but it is actually an English dining table, which dates back to about 1840. I liked it because it was very wide and it was the perfect size for this room. I don’t worry too much about things getting damaged. Things that people would use like the dining room chairs, the Persian rugs or the upholstered sofas — if they get broken they get broken. I don’t really worry about that. Accidents happen. I think if you are living with antiques you have to accept the fact that while they are perceived to be precious they really aren’t. Everything is replaceable.

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