Charlie's Columbia Heights condo

by Todd Franson
Published on November 17, 2005, 12:00am | Comments

A TALL ORDER in Columbia Heights in this 2BR condo with a two-story living room and floor to ceiling windows that show off the cityscape. Perfect for entertaining, especially on the fabulous (and enormous!) terrace. This is one you don't want to miss!

When Charlie Jones left behind the corporate world three years ago, he wanted to exercise more creative pursuits. Now his paintings grace the walls of his unique Columbia Heights condo, where the sun (and moon) always shine in.

CHARLIE: (In the living room) As with all gay men, it's all about the lighting, so I wanted something with lots of windows. The floor-to-ceiling glass was very appealing to me. Sometimes in the summer it can be very hot in here, but I still like it. The place I lived in before didn't have any outdoor space -- this place has a lot of it, and that was very compelling for me.

I choose to keep my blinds up. I want color from the outside to come in and I want to be able to see the sky with so much glass. A lot of the neighbors for various reasons keep their blinds down and so I feel a little vulnerable at times, because people can see in. So I have to make sure I keep my pants on. [Laughs.]

There's a nice blend of contemporary modern with my traditional furnishings because I wasn't about to part with the Persian rugs or the collectibles, particularly those from the Far East. But I also liked it because it shows my art very well.

(With sculpture) This is Mulan from the Ming Dynasty -- Mulan suited up to fight in the Emperor's war for her father. This piece was done in the 15th century, so it's the most coveted of the Asian-Pacific pieces I have. That's why it has such a prominent place.

I have very eclectic taste so I wasn't trying to move in here and make it all about modern. I didn't want to go out and buy all new furniture. I parted with some pieces that didn't quite fit, but I think I struck a nice balance of color selection, as well as the size and shape of the furniture. As you walk into the apartment, the lines are sort of like I.M. Pei -- it keeps opening up as you go further back into the space.

(In the kitchen) I entertain a lot. I don't cook much but it is a nice space to entertain in because you can gather around this area. It's a good sized kitchen for a condo.

(Going up the stairs) It's a great place to display the art. That painting is 48-by-48, yet there's room on both sides to put more work and with the lighting, it really pops out. My work is abstract and mixed media on canvas. I'm trying to have a mix, mostly mine but it's nice to collect friends' art as well.

(On the landing) This is a great place to have coffee or breakfast. It's beautiful in the winter when the snow hits the terrace. I bought the chairs unfinished and painted and sanded them to make them look more distressed. The table came from a soda shop -- it's the right size and I like the light color top.

Half the time when I'm working with a painting I'll put it up on the wall or on an easel to get it out of the studio so I can see it a little differently, maybe different light or different perspective, so that's why I have that piece there on the easel.

(On the terrace) This is what really sold me on the place. I hadn't seen anything like it, and it's so rare that you get a two-bedroom condo with this much outdoor space. I think this is the best part of the condo for me. I can do a lot of entertaining up here, and there's always a nice view: the Capitol, downtown, and the Washington Monument. Looking to the northwest, it almost has a west London kind of feel to it with the church steeples. The sunsets are really beautiful, too. I chose a high cocktail size table so people can sit and look over the railing and not have their view obstructed.

[Moving from Woodley Park] was a transition for me. Woodley Park was a little too homogeneous. I didn't feel like I was in a diverse enough environment. It didn't feel right to me. I feel more comfortable in a culturally diverse environment, and it's great to be a part of Columbia Heights and all this renaissance.

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