“The Colonnade was built in the 1960s and has Old World construction, including solid plaster walls, wood floors and nine-foot-high ceilings,” says Molinaroli, a designer and museum exhibition consultant. “We wanted to play off the traditional classical elements of the apartment with a contemporary kitchen and modern bathrooms. Plus, as a museum designer, I’m interested in setting up spaces to display art and using lighting to direct people’s attention to different features.”
Molinaroli started the design process with two oak columns with their original finish that he has owned since 1978 when they were salvaged from a building in downtown D.C.
“The columns have been with me in every home, so here we used them to frame the living and dining area, which has a nice flow,” he says.
The renovation included replastering the walls to make them level, adding new wide-plank French oak floors, new custom moldings to complement the columns and new windows with electronic shades. A museum-quality lighting system was installed in the ceiling to showcase the couple’s art collection and the grand piano Carabetta, music director of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Georgetown, has recently used to record videos for virtual church services.
The terrace was repaved with bluestone, the kitchen includes European high-glass cabinets and upgraded appliances, and the bathrooms have been renovated with Porcelanosa tile and high-end fixtures such as a soaking tub by Waterworks.
The Colonnade condominium has been famous since it opened in 1966 as home to high-profile Washingtonians, including journalists Rita Braver and Diane Rehm, as well as the late senator Harry F. Byrd Jr. (D-Va.) and descendants of former presidents Roosevelt and Eisenhower.
“Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor lived above us when we first moved into our condo in 2015,” says Carabetta. “The daughter of the former owner of our condo told us that her parents purchased it from senator Edmund Muskie’s daughter.”
While the interesting neighbors add to the charm of living in the Colonnade, the couple were mostly drawn to the building’s setting on the edge of Glover-Archbold Park and the building amenities.
“We loved our house and especially our garden, so our priority was to find a place with a gardenlike view and a terrace,” says Carabetta. “Now we live at tree level with the birds and every view is of a garden or park. The Colonnade has four major gardens that are well cared for, plus a heated swimming pool and terraces where you can grill and eat outside.”
This two-bedroom, three-bathroom condo has 1,600 square feet and is listed at $1.19 million. The monthly condo fee of $2,060 per month covers all utilities including gas, water, electricity, Internet access and cable TV.
2801 NEW MEXICO AVE. NW #408, WASHINGTON, D.C.
Features: Erected in the 1960s, the condo has solid plaster walls, wood floors and nine-foot-high ceilings. The living and dining area are framed by two oak columns that came from a downtown building. The renovation included replastering the walls to make them level and adding new wide-plank French oak floors, new custom moldings to complement the columns, new windows with electronic shades and a museum-quality lighting system. The condo has two bedrooms, two full bathrooms, one powder room, an open living and dining area, contemporary kitchen and bathrooms, private terrace and in-unit washer and dryer.
Approximate square footage: 1,600
Listing agent: Robert Spicer, Spicer Real Estate
For more photos of this house and other houses for sale in the area, go to washingtonpost.com/realestate.