Last weekend Wendy and I stumbled on a real treat. While walking with Lulu on Saturday morning, hitting up our usual stops (the pier and farmer's market), we saw a sign stuck into the ground on a corner.
Could it be? Yes! An estate sale! I'm sure you can probably guess (or have previously read) about how we feel about estate sales, and this one was a little better than most others. This estate sale was being held in a house on the corner of Prince and Pitt streets and is a home that Wendy and I have both admired from the outside for many, many years.
The home was built around 1820, and though the front of the house is somewhat grand and impressive, the real allure for us is the view from the sidewalk next to the home.
The second and third floor windows that look east toward the Potomac are the perfect combination of impressive, unique, and charming. We've long imagined what a view over Old Town from these windows might look like, and lucky for us, we were finally getting the chance to see it.
Though this was an estate sale and not a true open house, in true Old Town Home fashion, we were far more concerned with the house itself than the deals we might find. What we saw inside was nothing short of amazing (in a "look at the potential this place has" sort of way). There were also quite a few interesting items for sale. Some excellent bargains, and some...not so much.
Oh how I wish we had a place in our house for foo dogs like these guys.
Though the home appears quite large from the outside, the interior floor plan was actually a bit small. It was only two large rooms deep with a small galley kitchen, but boasts a very large and impressive entry hall.
That being said, the home had high ceilings, great original and intact architectural details, and is seriously in need for some TLC from a future owner. Just look at one of the interior room's corners.
It was a little difficult to see the home due to all of the estate sale items that had been haphazardly placed all over each room, but the potential is definitely there.
A first floor half bath has been installed in the pass through from the first floor to the basement, so you have to walk trough the bathroom on the way to the basement, which is very odd. Here'e a look at the bathroom as you walk up from the basement stairs.
The basement itself is an interesting and unfinished space. A little bit cool with lots of potential...
...and a little creepy and scary with lots of old wiring mixed with new.
I particularly enjoyed the fine collection of toilet seats being offered at this estate sale.
Honestly, who needs fine china and sterling silver serving bowls when you've got gems like these hidden in the basement?
As I mentioned, the galley kitchen is outdated and very, very tight, but it's honestly not the worst kitchen we've ever seen.
There were various dishes and old bottles of various alcohols in the cupboards. Many of the bottles of wine were 1980's bottles from Napa Valley. It was interesting to see labels that were 30 years old from some of the places we just seen in person a few weeks ago.
If I were renovating this house I'd actually take the kitchen out of the room it's currently in, split it in half and make half of it the first floor bathroom that you'd access from the hallway, and then the other half would be a nice sized pantry and china storage area. You could then move the kitchen into the much larger room next door and make an fairly open kitchen and living area without the need to tear down any walls to seriously reconfigure anything. At the same time, my plan has also solved the bathroom on the way to the basement issue.
I would be willing to sacrifice a formal living and dining area for the functionality of the first floor and it's wonderful access to the large side yard area. Here's a photo of the side yard from an upstairs window.
This isn't the only wonderful view from an upstairs window, I assure you.
The second floor was divided into two rooms and a hall that mimicked the layout of the first floor. Walking up the stairs I noticed some of the original and very intact details in the staircase. I love this sort of thing in old homes, it's just one of the many things that give an older home its soul.
There was a primary bedroom and then a second room that they sort of had a room arranged as a sitting/television area.
But the real star of this floor was the large and very cool double hung window that looked east onto the yard and street.
The little room where the window was found could be accessed from two rooms. It was a completely unexpected layout as far as we were concerned.
Just look at the floors in the rooms. So quirky and interesting.
As neat and cool as I thought the window and second floor was, it was nothing compared to the complete and total potential of the third floor. The third floor was always intended to be a third floor, not just an attic space. As such, there is a true and full stair leading to the hallway and several rooms off of this hallway.
The rooms were a good size given the rather steep pitch of the roof. There were actually two very separate and completely functional rooms on this floor as well.
How creepy is that photo? Those windows are the windows that look out of the front of the house. If you look up in that window form the street at night you can see that dress hanging there. Very spooky.
There were also bathrooms tucked in corners on each floor, and each had fairly outdated decor.
But the true piece de resistance of this third floor is what I'm now referring to as "my future home office."
Why am I calling this "my future home office" when it's so obviously far from usable? Just look at the wonderful views from this window!
This house isn't the most functional house, it's in pretty bad shape, there's evidence of leaks and unresolved damage, but it's just crying out for a little bit of help from the right owners!
In case you're wondering if we walked away empty handed, we did actually pick up something from the estate sale. For a mere $20, we picked up a set of blue Asian bowls. We've already used them to serve nuts at a small informal get together.
Unfortunately I wasn't able to bring home the thing I really wanted. $2,500 was a bit more than I usually have in my pocket for a Saturday morning walk with Lulu.
In all it was a great experience and we're quite glad we stumbled on the house and sale. Now I have a new house to covet and then curse when someone else buys it and starts working on it. Oh well, those are the breaks.
What do you think of the house? Great potential, or potential money pit that's not worth the effort? I know photos can only do so much, but what's your take?
And now for our game...
Would You Trade?
Alex: This is a really, really hard one for me. I love our house, and love how finished our house is, but I think I would actually trade our house for this house in its current state. Call me crazy, but this house has almost everything that I love in an Old Town house. Third floor, parking, age, quirky floorplan, tons of original detail (we didn't even talk about the original pocket doors), a great yard, and it's in need of a ton of work. I love it, I love what it could be, and I hope our current house has no hard feelings.
Wendy: Nope. As much as I've longingly admired this home from the street, the space and floor plan just didn't work for me (even with configuration). I love the cool old windows, the amazing side yard, the gorgeous curb appeal, the unbelievable Christmas staircase, and the desirable location. But all things considered, I like the flow of our home better, and the amount of work this house needs scares me. If the renovation of our measly 15' wide row house is stretching into its second decade, I don't want to even think about how long this one would take two part time DIYers like us.
Interested in reading about other interesting homes for sale? Want to offer your take on "would you trade"? Check out the Open Housing section of Old Town Home.