Toward the end of his life, architect and product designer Michael Graves turned his attention to accessibility. Partially paralyzed as a result of Guillain-Barré syndrome, he brought his personal experience and considerable aesthetic to reimagining hospitals, schools, residential communities and medical devices. Expanding on the theme of “form follows function,” he believed that good design was critical to supporting recovery and healing.
While not specifically inspired by Graves, the crisp black and white brick colonial at 3540 Van Ness St. NW has clearly taken his lessons to heart. Every room is wheelchair-accessible; grab bars are stylishly integrated; and hallways and entrances are open, wide and inviting. It is a house that works not in spite of its accessibility elements — but because of them.
Originally built in 1932, the home was expanded in 1999. It now offers 6,860 square feet of thoughtfully designed living space on four levels and includes six bedrooms, six-and-a-half baths, a sauna, two balconies, three laundry rooms and a wood-paneled elevator that serves all the levels. There is also a lovely back patio with a fountain and koi pond as well as a two-car detached garage. It is on the market for $2,070,000.
A gently curving and smooth flagstone path leads to a covered porch with columns. Inside, a gallery-like foyer goes straight back to the family room with a view of the rear garden. Easy-to-navigate oak flooring runs throughout, and broad Tudor archways grace many of the rooms.
To the right of the entry is the living room, which features a wood-burning fireplace with a classic white wood mantel, black brick surround and marble hearth. To the left of the entry is an open, airy dining room that leads to the butler’s pantry and kitchen, both of which have light wood cabinets and Corian counters. Pantry appliances include a stainless KitchenAid dishwasher, compactor and a cream wall oven.
In the updated eat-in kitchen, there is a wall of windows fronted by display shelves and cabinets. It is also furnished with a KitchenAid white wall oven, stainless dishwasher and French door refrigerator/freezer and a white GE microwave. A lower-than-usual stainless six-burner gas range with a stainless counter and backsplash allows easy wheelchair access.
The kitchen opens into the family room, which is anchored by a wall of exposed brick panels and oversized windows that overlook the garden, lushly planted with black-eyed Susans, ornamental grasses, a Japanese maple, a 300-year-old American Basswood and water lilies.
Off the family room is a half-bath with a tile floor and wide entry.
Up on the second level, there are four bedrooms, each with its own bath (one jack-and-jill, another with a wheelchair-accessible sink and roll-in shower) and deep closets. There is a screened porch or lanai off the landing, which also opens via sliding doors into the owner’s suite. The master bedroom also has its own private balcony, a large bathroom with stand-alone clawfoot tub and a large walk-in closet with custom dark wood cabinetry. Also on this floor is a wall of built-in floor-to-ceiling closets and a laundry room with an Electrolux washer and dryer.
The third level offers another master bedroom with vaulted ceiling and balcony; large en-suite bathroom with soaking tub, skylight and large walk-in closet/dressing room; an office and sitting area; and a sauna.
The lowest level of the home provides walk-out access to the rear garden through the rec room, and also includes an in-law or au pair suite (bedroom, living room, kitchen and full bath); another large laundry room with Whirlpool Duet washer and dryer; and a walk-in closet.
Located on a quiet stretch of Van Ness Street NW in North Cleveland Park, the house is equally close to the shops, restaurants and transportation options of Connecticut and Wisconsin avenues and has a walkability score of 74.
The colonial at 3540 Van Ness St. NW with six bedrooms, six-and-a-half baths and a host of accessible features is listed for $2,070,000 with TTR Sotheby’s International Realty. For more information, contact Anne-Marie Finnell at 202-329-7117 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For a video tour, visit bit.ly/2eOqLFH.