Chevy Chase couple rehab an historic cottage

by Chord Bezerra
Published on October 23, 2003, 12:00am | Comments

To the manor born - historic guest cottage in Chevy Chase now permanent 3 BR, 1 1/2 BA home for 2 GWM who happily brave fixer-upper challenges to enjoy glowing suburban sunsets.

Photos by Todd Franson

With high hopes, artist and window designer Roger Preston and retail manager Jeffrey Kengerski moved out of the District and into greener pastures, where outdated plumbing and leaky ceilings made for unexpected expenditures. Luckily, they're getting their money's worth.

Jeffery: There was a lot that needed to be done and hadn't been done in the house itself. The original house was built in 1911 as a guest cottage to a manor house that sits in the middle of the neighborhood. The manor house was dated around 1600, but it burned and was rebuilt in 1870. In 1940 a couple bought it and then renovated it, so it really hadn't been updated since the 40s. The husband died in the 1950s, so she was left here on her own. Her last car was a 68 Ford Galaxy 500 -- the neighbors remember her driving it even in the nineties. She would get that heavy garage door up on her own and back the car our. Very determined woman.

Roger: [In the foyer] This antler collection is a new addition. I collect all kinds of bizarre things; I just find them interesting. I think we wanted them after we saw them in English magazines where they had thousands of them all over these castles. I thought, "Those are pretty cool." Jeffrey's father lives in Montana, so when he visited there last time his father just happened to have a lot of antlers in his garage. I don't really believe in killing deer -- I'd hate to say that these were killed for the antlers. But they weren't naturally shed -- I can tell because some are still attached to the skull.

[In the dining room] We bought the dining table in a small town out in Virginia. It didn't even have a top on it when we got it. Now the surface is wallpaper that I just faux-finished. It's supposed to look like leather, but it doesn't wear that way. Even though I put tons of varnish on it I have to continuously go back and retouch it.

Jeffrey: We like to entertain with parties, and usually every year we throw a Halloween party. We try to do it yearly, although we missed last year because we went to Paris unexpectedly. It's pretty over the top. We're trying to scale it back this year so it's not so exhausting, but putting up all the decorations is fun.

Roger: It's the taking them down afterwards that's so exhausting.

[In the bedroom] This is a small room that has this L-shaped window in the corner. That made it awkward to place the bed. We solved that by coming up with this curtain and placing it behind the bed, making the room more balanced.

I made the wood panels for this screen. The wood was a prop when I was doing a table setting for a show house. I faux-finished it as a rare, art deco wood with silver leaf on top of it. And those are pictures of my grandparents. I don't know what year it was but they were at the beach. It's kind of campy.

This is our second home. We renovated our first one, but that was much easier. That was mostly cosmetic. This one was harder because it needed a lot more work than we anticipated. This one has real issues. [Laughs] Some of the things you don't see swallow up your money. We initially came in thinking, "We have all this money from selling the old house, we can do it all." All the sudden it disappears into the walls, like the plumbing or the electricity or fixing the roof leak.

Jeffrey: It's really beautiful when the sun is setting about six o'clock at night you get this beautiful orange glow shining in the house. And we have deer around here.

Roger: And they're eating the shrubs you just planted. That's when I could think about killing a deer.

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