DC lobbyist brings Chilean touches to his Kalorama condo

By Chord Bezerra
Photographed by Todd Franson
Published on June 17, 2004, 12:00am | Comments

The past makes the present perfect in this 1 BR, 1 BA condo in the historic Wyoming apartment building that looks over the city from atop Kalorama Triangle. Plenty of room for familial fixer-uppers.

Mario Correa wanted a home with character and history. So when the D.C.-based lobbyist found a condo in Kalorama Triangle's elegant Wyoming, he knew he'd found the perfect place for his family tree to spread some roots.

Mario: I moved here in 2001. I had just come back from living in the United Kingdom for a couple years. I began looking for a place to buy and looked at about 45 apartments. I had been to the Wyoming years before at a party and I just loved the building. It's a turn-of-the-century building. There is a lot of history here, like the fact that the Eisenhowers once lived here. When my real estate agent told me there was a place open here we came and saw it and that was it -- I put a bid on it. There were seven of us bidding. It was one of these typical D.C. real estate nightmares, but I won the bidding war [laughs].

I knew I wanted my own place because I hadn't owned before. I underestimated the degree to which buying my own place gave me a sense of roots in D.C. Even though this is where I was raised I always thought I would move to another city. Getting a place changed that and made me feel rooted here.

[In the living room] I love that this room is one big, uninterrupted space. Everything you see here is pretty much stuff I have acquired over the last couple years, mostly from local antique stores or thrift shops. I grew up in a family where my folks collected lots of antiques. My family is from Chile and I grew up there until I was seven. My parents used to go to antique stores on the weekend and I hated every minute of it. But through some sort of osmosis I picked up some appreciation for it [laughs]. One of the things I tried to do in this apartment is include parts of Chile and some things about my family history. A number of the paintings up on the wall are actually by contemporary Chilean painters.

[In the den] This is a faux marble table top -- it's actually wood and it cost me like ten bucks. In London I lived in a fully-furnished apartment that was decorated all in wicker. There were wicker seats, a wicker sofa and a wicker table. In addition to not being very useful it was very prickly -- you sit down and you would be in pain. I had to draw the line somewhere, so when I saw this at a going-out-of-business sale I bought it and put it on top of my table. Even though it is not the loveliest thing in the world I grew attached to it because it reminds me of my time in London.

[In the dining room] This is a cowhide rug, which is also very Chilean. In Chile we have a lot of cattle and when I was down there recently for my brother's wedding, I saw one of these and thought that it would maybe work with my dining room set. My folks have played a huge part in this apartment. When I first moved here I had nothing. My parents came to visit, thinking they were going to have a relaxing Christmas Holiday. Instead I put them to work. My poor mother sewed curtains, pillows and slipcovers -- she was basically in a Kathy Lee Gifford-style sweat shop for two weeks. My dad was great as well and helped on a bunch of things. He took all the paint off of these old brass door handles that had been painted over. As my brother, who was also there, said at the time, "This is the worst family vacation I have ever gone on."

I really began to feel like it was my place was when my family became a part of it. They are very important to me and when they took pride in things -- whether it was the furniture that they were slip covering or the door handle that my dad was cleaning -- that was what made me feel at home. Seeing them feel comfortable where I live was great for me because they lived so far away. Parents are always concerned about you when you are not living with them. When they got here and said, "This is good place. He'll be safe and happy here," that really made a difference.

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