Wendy and I do a lot of Open Housing that focuses on a particular "quadrant" of Old Town, but this week we ventured outside of our usual Sunday stomping grounds. For those not familiar, Old Town is divided on the intersection of King and Washington Street into four quadrants. Though not officially recognized on street names like they are in DC, the names for the quadrants are the same -- Southeast, Northeast, Southwest, and Northwest.

We tend to focus our Open Houses on the Southeast and Northeast quadrants since these areas tend to have the oldest homes, but there are quite a few great places that can be found in the western quadrants (like this Victorian on a picturesque street and the grand home complete with a home theater we previously wrote about).

Last weekend Wendy and I saw a listing for a cool little Victorian just off of King Street and only about five blocks from the metro. We had never been in the homes in this block, but it looked to be a great place so we decided to drop by. Boy are we glad we did.

The home is a wood frame, three bedroom, two and a half bath house built in 1880. The exterior has been treated wonderfully and original Victorian architectural details have been retained throughout. Everything from the spindles on the balcony and corbels under the eaves, to the three color paint scheme and intricate window pediments are indicitative of current and previous owners who have cared for this home's details.

The front door is set back slightly under the small balcony overhang, and the depth and unexpected lines of the home add a significant amount of curb appeal and visual interest. The door itself is crowned with a beautiful stained glass transom window, and beautiful wood surround. I really wish our house had some interesting elements like these, rather than just a flat front box.

When you enter the home you are greeted by a fairly wide hallway with a beautiful staircase with original newel posts, railing, and spindles, perfect for holiday decorating as Wendy would point out. Even on very narrow homes I much prefer this configuration to the prospect of walking directly into the home's living room.

To the left of the entry hall, as is very typical with this age of home, there is a front parlor...

...and a secondary rear parlor. This home has the front configured as a living room with the second playing the role of a dining room. (In fact, from these angles, the double parlor/hallway configuration looks nearly identical to our home.)

Beyond the dining room is a nicely appointed and modern kitchen with a utility room and washer & dryer conveniently located in a room off to the side.

The kitchen, with its large island and plenty of doors and windows, felt open and bright, even though it wasn't a particularly large space.

One thing we noticed repeatedly in this house is that efficient use of space and storage is the name of the game. Since the home doesn't have a basement or area to easily stash any and all extras, the person who renovated the house (and it was done recently) truly maximized the space available.

The upstairs hallway was as beautiful as the staircase itself, and featured substantial baseboard molding and antique heart pine floors. 

The second floor was well appointed with three true bedrooms and two full baths. The front bedroom is being used by the current owners as a family room. 

Wendy's favorite feature of this room? The cute little second story balcony off the front of the house. Sure it may just be decorative, and you might need to crawl through the window to access it, but it's cool nonetheless. Here's a look at the balcony from the outside. 

My favorite feature of this room? It has nothing to do with the house in this case. Although we tend not to comment on personal belongings, this is so unusual it deserves a mention. Check out the cat "pod" for this home's feline family member. I bet Mel would think he died and went to heaven if Santa delivered one of these bad boys come Christmas. I wonder if it conveys?

Back to the home itself, the middle bedroom although lacking any significant architectural interest, was spacious enough to house a double bed as well as a small working desk.

One thing that I noticed that seemed a little bit odd was the substantial baseboard molding throughout the house, but the very small and minimal crown details. They were all nice, and nicely done, but it seemed just a little bit out of balance, but that's just my opinion.

The master bedroom had many of the same original details and was also relatively spacious...

...and featured two closets and an updated en suite bathroom with a steam shower and rain shower head. I can tell the people who renovated the bathroom put a lot of money into the project. Beyond the shower the floors are heated and it has built-in audio in the ceiling. Those are the sorts of details I notice.

One unexpected element was the second story deck and stairway access to the back yard. I'm not sure I'd leave the stairs down to the yard there, but being able to walk out of the master bedroom to a small deck on the side of the house is very appealing.

Moving outside to the ground level, there's a charming patio/outdoor entertaining space. Man, I wish our brick was this level! Another bonus for city living is that behind the gate is reserved parking for the home, which (in our book anyway) makes up a bit for the lackluster view of the rear of the firehouse and the commercial building beyond.

I would be remiss if I didn't touch on one of my favorite things to check out in homes all around Old Town, the view from the second story windows looking across the street. In my book a house is only as good as it's view of other homes, and this house doesn't disappoint. Ok, maybe that's a little bit of an exaggeration, but I think you get the idea.

In all this is a very nice house that is quite spacious for it's 1,700 square feet. The original details are wonderful, but there's still plenty of room for small improvements to make this little home a true gem. Not surprisingly, between our visit last Sunday and today's post, just a short five days later, the home is already under contract. I guess it seemed like a pretty good house to more than just us.

And now for our game...

Would You Trade?

Alex: I like the house a lot, but it's missing several key features to garner a trade. First, there's no basement or area where I could easily setup a wood shop. This significantly limits my ability to work on the house or have a good home for all of my tools. Second, I just feel like it is a little too done and that anything I'd be taking out to change someone else had already paid good money to put in. So my answer on a trade is a "no." That being said, this is definitely a house we would consider if we were shopping for our first home again and trying to move into Old Town. The place has so many great details, and it is very functional from a flow and floor plan perspective that I could see living there. Perhaps a basement could be dug out for wood shop purposes? 

Wendy: Although I wouldn't trade our home for this one largely due to its smaller size and lack of basement and first floor family room, if we were to rewind time to the point in our lives that we were searching for our first home, then yes, I would definitely purchase it. At this point we've invested too much blood, sweat and tears in our current house to trade for something that isn't in a better location or substantially larger than what we currently have. But that being said, this home has a lot going for it. I really like this property's first floor laundry room, the amazing curb appeal, three nice size bedrooms, and of course the "Christmas staircase." 

For those of you who are newer readers, our game of "Would You Trade?" is based on the ridiculous notion that we would have the opportunity to trade our house for the Open Housing house straight up, where price is not an issue. Sometimes the result is obvious, sometimes not so obvious, but usually it is based almost entirely in the ridiculous. I hope you enjoy.

If you'd like to see additional details, they are available on the home's official listing page.

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.

Photo Credits: Prudential PenFed Realty Realtors and listing agent, Dolly Riegert, where MRIS is noted.

Comments 21


5/25/2012 at 10:38 AM
This is a very cute home, but I don't think I'd trade. It's nice, and looks like the renovation was well done, but to me the interior is really lacking in old house charm. The exterior is lovely, though!
I'd say that's a fair assessment (and I'd agree, I wouldn't trade your house for this one either). If I were living in this house I'd surely be spending a lot of time getting appropriate hardware and other items to bring that charm back. It's hard to see from the photos, but it's there for the most part, it's just a little bit hidden by the home's decor.

Also, I think the exterior is great, but if they put one more darker color in the paint scheme and painted some of the tiny details elements of the house that color it would really pop. I'm thinking the corbel details, parts of spindles and posts, and the raised detail above the windows. It's amazing what one additional color might do for a true Victorian.
5/25/2012 at 12:31 PM
This house is adorable! While I agree about your points in the Trade Game, I saw fewer downsides to the home since I don't require a basement. It would make a GREAT first home and the bones of the house are spectacular.
You should buy it! ;-)
5/25/2012 at 3:54 PM
I can see that the owners put a lot of dough in both the kitchen and bathroom but I honestly don't like either. The kitchen isn't really that bad, and I could certainly live with it, but it's much too modern and "catalogue like" for me. The bathroom, however, is just awful. Too much marble tile all over the place, and I'm not at all a fan of that kind of shower enclosure with more tiles all over the place. I guess it wouldn't be as bad if all the tiles weren't all matching everywhere, but just no. That full length wall mirror is also something I can't stand, and what sucks is that it's a high quality ($$$$) beveled glass mirror. The rest of the house seems rather decent, but I would have expected fireplaces, no?
I guess the beauty of it is that with your mad skillz JC, you could rip it all out and make it exactly what you want it to be. I'd love to see what you'd do with the kitchen! In our imaginary world, we had some changes to the kitchen and bathroom already planned out too. :-)

There is actually a fireplace in the front living room. You can barely see it peeking out on the righthand side of the photo.
5/25/2012 at 6:50 PM
It has some attractive features but no way should you consider a trade (if your game were real)! I think your house has a lot more charm.

What I like: built-in bookcases and kitchen counter/backsplash (it looks like terrazo or something that mimics it, but can't tell for sure from the pictures). Also the shower is nice, but am wondering if there's a tub elsewhere? (I ask because we're considering replacing our tub with a shower which would leave us with two showers and no tub, but wondering how much of a resale-killer that is nowadays?)

An aspect of the renovation I don't like is the excessive use of soffits and plain built-out window surrounds which doesn't exactly scream "Victorian" to me. It was probably done to accommodate modern ductwork and get rid of radiators. I believe that retrofitting can be done more creatively and invisibly; it just requires more work (and maybe expense).

The cat orb is cool. A small dog like Ollie (RIP) would probably dig it too.
All excellent points! The second full bath (that we didn't include a photo of) had a shower/tub combo.

And you're totally spot on about Ollie. He loved to burrow under the blankets in his crate and create a little den for himself. He would have gone crazy for the cat pot.
5/25/2012 at 11:00 PM
I'd trade just for the pet pod!!! LOL
It's a great house and much more polsihed and cleaner than my house... something to strive for. (I tire of old plaster dust in my corn flakes!)
Isn't plaster dust in your corn flakes just the DIYer's version of high fiber cereal? ;-)
Karin K
5/26/2012 at 8:23 AM
A little unrelated to start, but I just saw your segment on "I want that!"!!! I'm such a dork....I was flopped out in bed (it is just after 8am on a Saturday) with one eyball on the TV and the other on my son, who was promoting the production of some waffles, when they shifted from some solar powered spotlight garden rocks to you two walking Lulu...I sat up and said, "Oh look! There's Wendy and Alex!" And my son was completely bewildered... "We know them? Who are they?" Hahaha - It was better on the TV screen than youtube! As for this house tour - I totally agree on the off-balanced crown vs. base. It bothered me in every picture. Love the kitchen.
Oh goodness (*blush*). I still cringe every time I see the episode...except for Lulu's A-list cameo of course. :-)

That's so cute about your son. So, did he get his waffles that morning?
Bill O
5/29/2012 at 9:43 AM
Some may use NW/NE/SW/SE in Old Town. However, there are a growing number of cool kids using the following terms:

NoKiWeWa (No Ke Wee Wah) (North of King, West of Washington)
NoKiEaWa (No Ke Ee Wah) (North of King, East of Washington
SoKiWeWa (Soh Ke Wee Wah) (South of King, West of Washington)
SoKiEaWa (Soh Ke Ee Wah) (South of King, East of Washington

Obviously, it's a ridiculously awesome rip off of places like SoHo, etc, in NYC. As a proud member of NoKiWeWa, I use it all the time :)

Frankly, WeWa is rising!
Clearly we're not considered "cool kids" because this is the first time I've heard it. :-)

It reminds me of the How I Met Your Mother episode when Marshall and Lily buy a new place in "Dowisetrepla" -- short for "Downwind of the sewage treatment plant."
Bill O
5/29/2012 at 2:23 PM
I suppose that technically, there are like 6 of us that use the term.

But seriously, it's going to be a thing. You just watch!

-Bill from NoKiWeWa
Threadbndr (Karla)
5/29/2012 at 12:30 PM
I'd take this one! Despite the master bath that totally doesn't fit the house (sob).

What's with the no basement, though? Where'd the Victorians put the boiler??? (Assuming steam heat at some point in the house's past.)
Not sure on the lack of basement. This one was built only five or so years before ours, and we're lucky enough to have one. And now that we've grown accustomed to having one, I don't think we could give it up. (Where would Alex put all his crap...I mean valued treasures??) ;-)
5/29/2012 at 1:44 PM
Awww, I love this house, and was not surprised when it went under contract in approximately 2 days. Reminds me of this little victorian dollhouse that my mom made for me when I was little! And, you have to love all the architectural details on the facade - so cute! If only my house had that (or, more appropriately, the BAR would allow me to add that to my house). I would definitely trade, though that's probably because I'd be coming from a smaller 2 bedroom house without a basement already. I wouldn't trade if I were you though.

And BTW, Wendy - you totally called the $1.6 million price tag on that house on Prince Street. It went up for sale today!
Hrm... $1.6 million you say? I wonder if there's a fixed horse race somewhere we can use to gather up the funds?

Honestly, Wendy has this uncanny ability to come up with listing prices of houses in Old Town. Sure, it makes us think every house in Cleveland is the best bargain in the world (since we're used to crazy DC prices), but it's fun to have Wendy guess and nail it almost every time.
Suh-weet!!! (I'm doing the "I told you so" dance right now.) And to think the estate sale people scoffed at me. Humph!
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