One family’s effort to “smuggle a modern house into a historic district” in Washington, DC, results in a brightly transformed space made for family life.
Daniel Pink and his wife, Jessica Lerner, have lived in DC since the 1990s, when he was a speechwriter and she worked for the Justice Department. They’d lived happily in a tiny colonial until their needs changed—they both quit their jobs to work from home, and they had three kids. They wanted a modern configuration, but, as Daniel puts it, “Most houses here occupy the narrow aesthetic band between traditional and ugly/boring.”
They finally found a dilapidated foursquare and hired McInturff Architects to tackle the renovation. But since the house is in a historic district, everything they wished to try came under intense scrutiny. “We were permitted to do mostly what we wanted—provided nobody could see the changes from the street,” Daniel says. In 13-year-old Eliza’s room,
a built-in bed designed by the architects sports a Marimekko bedspread.
It took over a year for the project’s team, led by principal Mark McInturff, to meet with neighborhood commissions, historical societies, and preservation-review boards. “We lost several battles,” Daniel recalls. After receiving the go-ahead, Andrew Greene of Potomac Woodwork and Lofgren Construction also came aboard. In the living room, Jessica and Eliza chat on the Polder sofa by Hella Jongerius for Vitra.
Eliza takes in the view from her perch atop the house’s green roof, which Daniel believes to be the first of its kind in the neighborhood. The family received a subsidy administered by DC Greenworks and funded by the DC Department of the Environment.
The newly expanded kitchen/dining area opens to the deck via doors from Hope’s Windows. There a pair of Butterfly chairs from Circa50 joins water-resistant resin Daniel planters by Crescent Garden. “So now, after essentially scooping out the entire interior of the previous house, we’ve got a great place—and, by far, the best-looking backside (of a house) in northwest Washington, DC,” Daniel says.