Taka and Jeremy's 100-year-old house on Capitol Hill

by Todd Franson
Published on November 10, 2005, 12:00am | Comments

Taka Ariga and Jeremy Ames decided to take the homeowner plunge after dating for about a year. They quickly found the perfect spot on the outer limits of Capitol Hill, where their blend of styles and colors create a space that's perfect for both entertaining friends or a quiet evening together.

TAKA: We bought in this neighborhood because we saw a lot of houses for sale, a lot of houses being renovated, a lot of urban renewal -- we decided it would be a good area to buy. It's still a transitional neighborhood, it's coming around.

JEREMY: It's the very fringe of Capitol Hill. In fact, probably after you cross Florida Avenue you can no longer call it Capitol Hill.

TAKA: We bought this in the middle of June. We'd only been dating for about a year at that time. I really wanted to move to D.C., but I had a couple of criteria. I play piano, I'm a musician, so I had to have a house. The first time we stepped into this house we fell in love with it. The house was pretty much already renovated, but the whole house was beige. Beige everywhere. All we pretty much had to do was just paint the colors.

JEREMY: [In the living/dining/music room] The downstairs is more fiery colors, yellow and orange -- upstairs you'll see more of the cooler tones, blues and purples. I have a kind of traditional vision but I found out as we went along that we could go a little bright, a little different with the colors and still fit into the aesthetic of the house.

TAKA: We consciously didn't want to make this house into a model home that you would see in a magazine. We're living here and we want it to be our taste, our décor and what each of us bring to this house. We didn't buy the house and then go out and buy a whole set of furniture. We tried to make it work with what each of us brought. It's not quite perfect but it works for us and we're comfortable with it.

JEREMY: It is a 100-year-old house. [While house hunting] we saw row houses where they tried to update them and put down carpet to make it look like a modern suburban house.

TAKA: One thing we agreed on was that we didn't like that.

JEREMY: We liked the hokey feeling, not being afraid to touch things -- like when we visit our friend's homes who are architects and designers and they say, ''Don't touch that, don't touch that…don't touch that either.''

The only thing downstairs that is a little cramped is the fact that the piano is here so the dining room had to be against the wall. But it works. We've had people here for dinner before and this configuration sort of works out.

TAKA: (In the kitchen) The first thing that actually caught my attention was the kitchen because I love to cook. The first owner renovated the kitchen before he sold the house to the second owner, who finished the rest of the renovations. They used very good appliances, mostly industrial grade, so when I first walked in here it wasn't your typical just-for-show stainless steel. They were actually practical.

JEREMY: The thing about buying a house that's been renovated is that there are things that are made to show, that look really good when you go through but aren't necessarily made for livability. You could tell that the owner designed the kitchen because he wanted to cook in it.

TAKA: Our first impression of the house lasted about 10 minutes because the owner was ready to lock it up. We had 10 minutes to decide whether we were going to put down a bid or not. I spent eight minutes in the kitchen playing around.

[In the den/home office] This is our den/study/office kind of space. Jeremy has a lot of African art that he kept throughout the years. We decided to do something green and safari-like, and put up a lot of his artwork. My tennis trophy shelf -- a little bare at the moment, but as we go along I hope to fill it.

JEREMY: This is an example of a room where he has his stuff and I have my stuff. We didn't know if it would work. His desk is smaller and mine is bigger, so it worked out.

TAKA: [In the master bedroom] This is actually the pride of our effort. We love the high ceiling. We wanted to do something special because, aside from the kitchen and dining room, this is the room we would spend the most time in. So we decided to do something dramatic.

JEREMY: We also wanted to use some interesting colors because you have a lot of light in this room.

TAKA: The basic idea was something blue. One thing led to another and it became the light blue, the dark blue, the cascade blue, and the full finish silver. It wasn't exactly what I had in mind, but it turned out better than I expected.

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