Over the winter we tend to go through a bit of withdrawal when it comes to our Open Housing addiction. During the colder months the market tends to soften some and far fewer homes show up on the weekly open house listings. However, when spring arrives, so too do the homes for sale in Old Town.

As has been the annual pattern, while the weather has warmed and cherry blossoms are blooming, the housing market in Old Town has really started popping again, and a few gems have been showing up on the list in recent weeks.

We recently toured a great house that Wendy and I have walked past time and again, but have never seen inside. Today, we're excited to share it with you, and of course play the "would you trade?" game.

Located along Lee Street just a few blocks from the Potomac River, this adorable wood frame clapboard sided house was built at the turn of the 18th to 19th century.

From the exterior this home is somewhat unassuming. I think it's because the paint color on the flat (and largely original) siding blends with the shutters, but when we stop to look at the home and imagine a few paint changes, we imagine how this very historic home could take on a whole new life with our chosen color palette.

When you enter this three bedroom, two and a half bath and roughly 1,750 square foot home, you are welcomed by a very nice hallway with the home's original newel post and stairs.

This home was built as a simple home, probably for a sailor or captain who worked on the Potomac, so the newel post is simple and understated, not nearly the type of newel post that would have ended up in the home had it been built 50 years later.

The wide hall also shows off beautiful oak flooring that, though not original to the house, still retains a good amount of character. The hall also offers a great view towards the back of the house.

The front living room of the home just to the left of the stairway is a simple, well designed room room with a modest mantel and understated moldings. I believe the mantle of the fireplace is original, and multiple builtins on either side of the chimney add a fair amount of storage to the room.

There also several windows around the room that allow plenty of the light and surely provide a nice cross breeze during the spring.

The layout of this home is actually very typical of an early 19th century home consisting of an entry hall and stairs, front living room, and a second room with a fireplace toward the back. The current owners are using this back room as a dining room, which is very common in these layouts.

The dining room leads to an addition, likely added in several phases over the years, which houses the newly remodeled kitchen...

...and cozy family room.

The kitchen has a layout conducive to entertaining. Given the age of the home, the kitchen leans a bit to the modern side of the design spectrum, and the swirled and colorful granite counters showcase a very uncommon choice we've not seen elsewhere in Old Town.

The small family room with fireplace leads to a beautiful back patio area. I can easily envision many nights spent relaxing with a glad of wine and small fire.

The second floor has the turn in the landing at the top of the stairs that I absolutely love in homes of this age, and the front bedroom is a very nice size and has a fireplace much like the front room on the first floor.

The room also has a small bathroom just off the room that is situated behind the window above the front door. It's by no means a large bath, but makes good use of the space.

One of the things I love about this front bedroom is the view of the street. This home is in one of the most picturesque and historic blocks of Old Town and looks out on some of our favorite homes in town.

The homes across the street range from mid to late 18th century, all the way to late 19th century Victorians. This is easily one of the best features of this home.

Towards the back of the second floor, the uncharacteristically long hallway provides evidence that the rear rooms were added over time. In person, you can see roughly where each addition starts and stops based on the undulations in the hallway floor and baseboards.

Off of the hallway sits the bright and cozy second bedroom...

...as well as a recently renovated and nicely appointed bathroom.

There's also a third bedroom at the rear of the home, currently configured as a charming children's bedroom.

Though the house does have a partial basement with room for storage, it would make a tight workshop area, and it probably isn't really feasible to finish the space without significant work due to the low ceilings, mechanicals, and various obstructions.

There is one hidden space near the front of the basement that had both Wendy and me saying "Ooh, ooh, ooh, look!" A much needed wine cellar.

Overall, this home is an excellent example of an 1800's house that has been nicely maintained and updated. Though some of the changes are not period accurate, most are well done and make for a very comfortable home. And we'd be leaving out a significant detail if we didn't mention the true allure of this home -- the fact it's located in prime Lee Street Halloween celebrating area. Living on Lee Street during Halloween is a true dream of Wendy's, that's for sure.

And now for our game...

Would You Trade?

Alex: This is really hard, but I'm going to go with "Yes." The home is the absolute ideal age of a home I really want to live in, and while the home is "done," there is still a lot of room for projects to bring the home in line with our personal taste and style. I would love to spend time to bring the home into much more of a period appropriate style in the way of moldings, hardware, and fixtures. However, the back yard is smaller than ours, and there's no parking, both negatives in my "will you trade?" book. The other issue is the lack of a good basement work area, perhaps we'd need to dig it down a few feet so I could work somewhat comfortably. So if you're selling this house and you'd like to trade for our house, give us a call and we'll see what we can work out. 

Wendy: This is a tough call for me too, and I'm totally on the fence. I absolutely love our street and our neighbors, but as Alex pointed out, this home is located in a more desirable location, especially come Halloween. I think the home has great curb appeal, a charming outdoor space, and I love the openness between the kitchen and family rooms. I also love that there are three true bedrooms (unlike our two bedrooms and an office configurations), and the fact that this home has a first floor powder room is a true plus. I'd also be remiss of course if I didn't mention the Christmas staircase.

The biggest drawback for me is the home's lack of parking, and due to the age of the home, the ceilings are much lower than those in our home. The master bathroom is also roughly 1/3 the size ours will be when complete. I'm waffling here, but after careful consideration and a couple nights to sleep on it, yes, I think I would trade.

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: McEnearney Associates Inc., Realtors and listing agent, Carol Cleary, where MRIS is noted in watermark.

Comments 10


Lindsey Williams Butler
4/29/2013 at 10:55 AM
ugh. you made me want it.
4/29/2013 at 1:51 PM
Sold! So cute. I would buy it in a heartbeat if I could!
Kelly C.
4/29/2013 at 2:40 PM
I love that dining room table. The kitchen is kind of jarring (at least in pictures). I wasn't expecting it to look like that.
4/29/2013 at 3:14 PM
First, I hope you know that each time I see a hallway like this one, I mentally shout: "Wendy's Christmas Staircase!" Lol.

This is quite a nice home, and the layout seems nice. My main issue is that atrocious kitchen. I will never understand why people want this kind of kitchen. It looks like it belongs in a completely different house. It doesn't match anything else at all in the house. The sad part is that so much money went into it that it seems like a shame to tear it out and start over, since the materials used are good quality.

I couldn't live with it as-is. At the very least, the mosaic tile and the hood fan would have to go.

But the house has a lot of potential.
Kristin Saveland Buchanan
4/29/2013 at 3:25 PM
I LOVE everything about this house... beautiful!!!!
4/29/2013 at 4:20 PM
I think this is the first time I've seen you guys say "yes"! That's probably not true, but I feel like it's maybe been awhile?

My favourite room might be the cozy family room. The kitchen is definitely too modern for my tastes....but at least it looks like it's high quality?
4/30/2013 at 6:03 AM
I really dislike that kitchen, which doesn't go at all with the rest of the house and, IMO, will look very dated in five or ten years. It's overdone, it's downright shiny (and not in the good, "Firefly" way) and it really looks like a lot of money was wasted on making that room look completely out of place. I dislike the second floor bathroom for the same reason. Can't a bathroom be re-done and not look two centuries out of date for the rest of the home?
4/30/2013 at 11:15 PM
I agree with others' comments about some of the remodeling choices made. Random pattern mosaic tile in kitchens and baths has never looked like anything other than a passing fancy to me -- not a once or future classic. The first room you showed, the living room, was mostly quite nice but as the tour continued more and more "decorate for salability/flip" kept creeping in (e.g. preponderance of gray-painted walls; oh-so-2013).

One of the nice things about having an old house -- whether to live in or to fix up and sell -- is being able to use some period color. The built-ins in many of the rooms of this house are beautiful but other features of the house come across as kind of sterile to me. And I'm experiencing sticker shock from a $1.2M price tag for less than 1800 sq. ft.

Oh well, we'll have to agree to disagree on this one. It's a definite pass for me. Sorry to be a sourpuss; your open house features are usually so fascinating and I hope you keep them coming as open house season heats up!
7/19/2013 at 2:49 PM
I agree with the comments, the kitchen is a fit in this house. I love the family room and the children's room is pretty adorable. I am not sure if I would trade...that extra bedroom AND basement storage is tempting. Living in Tobacco Quay, our two bedroom townhouses don't have a basement and storage is tricky. But I not sure I would want to give up our parking space which is a luxury after living in D.C.! Fun feature! :)
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