new life for a midcentury city row house

Bill Luza, founder of Objet Design, stumbled across an unusual row of modernist houses one summer afternoon on a walk, and by chance met up with the owner of one of the homes. Run down and set rather invisibly in the middle of the row, the home had just been sold for the first time since 1972. The new owner, an architectural photographer, was seeking an architect to guide him through the renovation.

Mark and Bill drew up a design with the owner that brought the c.1939 house up to modern standards, both in terms of systems and flow. The houses were quite progressive when they were built, with a large ground-floor family room; a formal living room, galley kitchen, dining room, and sun porch on the second floor; and three bedrooms and two baths, including a small bathroom in the master bedroom - a very new concept in pre-war Washington - on the top floor.

Fast forward to the early 21st century. The designers re-configured much of the space without changing the footprint of the home, to adapt it to the lifestyle of a single person or a couple: The ground floor remained an open family/TV room with a home office. The dining room was converted to a large, open kitchen and the old galley kitchen was converted to a pantry and half-bath. The front and middle bedrooms were combined into one large master bedroom, with the two small, outmoded bathrooms combined into an open master bath highlighted by millwork that matches the kitchen and pantry, a double floating vanity sink, and a 5x5 glass shower. The rear bedroom, the smallest one in the original design, was converted to a walk-in closet with full-size washer and dryer.

Mark was responsible for much of the detailing on the tile, stone and millwork throughout the house, and worked with the owner to specify designs and materials that were modern but timeless, and in keeping with the simple, linear, and unadorned style of the original Internationalist design of the home.

Design: Objet Design
Responsibilities: Mark co-designed this whole-house renovation with Bill Luza while working at Objet Design. Mark and Bill also did construction administration from start to finish.

                                My home. Built 1941, purchased 2004, renovation completed 2006. Architects: Bill Luza (objet design) and Mark Freeman (aggregate LLC). Photograph: September 2009.                                My home. Built 1941, purchased 2004, renovation completed 2006. Architects: Bill Luza (objet design) and Mark Freeman (aggregate LLC). Photograph: September 2009.Kitchen, before (former dining room).Master bedroom, before.