Daniel and Michael's multi-era townhome in DC's Dupont Circle

By Sean Bugg
Photography by Todd Franson
Published on October 28, 2004, 12:00am | Comments

Take a tour of the American Century in this 2 BR, 1 3/4 Dupont/Adams Morgan townhouse. From the New York World's Fair to Fifties mod to Frank Lloyd Wright, this home has it covered with both style and comfort.

When Daniel Emberley bought a townhouse on the outskirts of Dupont Circle ten years ago, he and his partner Michael Seto were just starting to date. "I thought it was a horrible, dilapidated house that he paid way too much for," Michael says, laughing that if they'd been together longer, "I would have vetoed the purchase." Lucky for them that didn't happen, because now the house is a stunning showcase where every room reflects a different era, as well as the their own personalities.

DANIEL: [In the front foyer] This was originally a five bedroom, one-and-a-half bath house -- we've been ripping down walls all over the place. It was bad. The floors were dilapidated and sagging, the plumbing had to be replaced. For a couple of years we had a hole in the bathroom where the toilet from above leaked into the toilet below. We've spent the last 10 years gutting a quarter of the house at a time and then putting it back. The idea has been to take each room and make it a theme. So we're in the 1930's here -- the idea being that the furniture is uncomfortable enough that nobody will want to be here too long [Laughs.]

[In the dining room] We were looking to copy the 1950's and 1960's. A lot of the dishes are my parents' from the 50's -- the red ones are Michael's. His mom bought three sets of dishes, one for each of her sons when they got married. We knew that mom figured out that we were married when she told Michael, "Come down here and get your dishes!" This shelf is all glass that Michael and I made. We made a set of 8 dishes to go with the room. There's a studio up in Silver Spring that we use -- you'll see glass that we've done all over the house.

[In the living room] This room is supposed to be Frank Lloyd Wright. That's what we were looking for -- we've done a 30's thing, a 60's thing and then this is our turn-of-the-century Frank Lloyd Wright room.

MICHAEL: We're not going to squeeze a Frank Lloyd Wright exterior out of a D.C. row house, but we can get an interior in. Of course, Frank Lloyd Wright would hate this because it's totally inappropriate for where he was going, but it's a really comfortable room. We dropped the ceiling here because one of the big Wright things is having different ceiling heights. So you have this central high procession way and then you have this lower-ceiling sitting area.

DANIEL: This is the Monopoly game collection. I have more Monopoly games than any human being should have. If nothing else, this is a shot of an anal compulsive, crazy Dupont gay guy. In the 1930's they were selling the Monopoly franchise to different game companies around the world so if you go to France you get a Paris version, in England you get the London version, in Israel and get the Tel Aviv version. I was a geography major in college and I started collecting to see how many I could find. So these cabinets were a matter of how to keep the collection and not have it overwhelm the house.

[In the bedroom] The whole bed is our Italian souvenir. We did a trip to Italy several years ago. We realized that fabric there was incredibly cheap and so we ended up buying bedding this part is Rome, the canopy is Florence, the trims are Venice. The silk paintings on the wall are from Michael's mom -- it was another wedding gift.

There is nothing in the house that was here when I came in, except for a little closet under the stairs that hasn't moved. That's it. Everything was gutted. The day that I had the roof replaced I had also taken down the ceiling in the bedroom. We slept under the stars that night. It was just bizarre.

Does your house, condo or apartment have a story to tell? Let Environs know about it. E-mail environs@metroweekly.com. To see more photos from this week's home visit www.metroweekly.com.

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