by Chord Bezerra
Published on January 8, 2004, 12:00am | Comments

Photography by Todd Franson

Ride the development wave along U Street, with this modern 3BR, 2BA townhouse, where wonderful walk-in closets, a watchful gnome, and do-it-yourself creativity combine style with comfort.

After a year in Manhattan, Mike Watson was more than ready to move into a bigger space. The small business owner soon found his way back to D.C. and a picture perfect house with room to spare for shoes.

Mike: I lived in D.C. after graduating from college and loved it, but I also wanted the experience of living in New York. So I had the opportunity, and lived in Manhattan for a year. I just didn't like living there. It's a great place to play and party, but as far as living there it's intense. The cost of living is extremely different, although D.C. is catching up very quickly. Essentially, I was living in an apartment the size of this bedroom and it was $1,800 a month. It was crazy.

It just happened that I was looking online for a place in D.C. saw a picture advertising this particular project. Having combed the market at that point I thought why not. This area at that point and time, which was three years ago, was completely different. It was a little bit on the shady side. I decided to take a chance on it so I meet with the architect. He's a great guy and we have actually become friends. The house was exactly what I would have picked out if I had gone through the steps of doing it myself. We have similar taste, which is very modern, clean, and simple.

[In the walk-in closet] This is what every closet in America should look like. This is about the size of my first apartment in Manhattan. I have a little thing with shoes. I've never counted how many pairs I have but I have a lot. My favorite is the old school Adidas. It goes well with my lifestyle. I don't dress up because of the line of work that I'm in -- I own the TCBY on P Street. I did the dress up thing right after college and now my life has changed a lot. But even though the Adidas are my favorite I still like to rotate what shoes I wear. You never want to wear one shoe too much.

[In the living room] I actually painted this painting. You watch Trading Spaces and they seem to make everything look so easy so I figured why not? A lot of people don't believe I actually did it. It's one of a few I have done now. Maybe I am not the most creative person but I take a lot inspiration from things that I see. If I see something that I like I will interpret it or recreate it for myself.

This set up is all new. When I moved in it was very different -- I picked out furniture that looked good but wasn't necessarily comfortable. As you live in a space, you start to realize more and more what you are going to use it for. After a year I took everything out and redid it. That included taking out the couch and putting in the sectional sofa, which is perfect for watching movies on the plasma screen.

[In the dining room] These chairs were actually in the junkyard. There were about thirty of them that were in the D.C. dump. A friend of mine salvaged them. What's funny is Pottery Barn sells them for about $350 a piece. The biggest thing for me is the aesthetic of it -- how is it going to look with everything else? You don't have to go all out and have everything high end. That piece over there is Ikea but when you mix it well with everything else you don't necessarily realize where it is from.

[In the backyard] Originally it was all grass back here, which looked nice but the reality is you have to cut it. So I replaced it with a rock garden instead. I put in the hot tub and combined that with the deck. The gnome is just a buddy of mine that hangs out in the backyard and watches over everything and makes sure everybody is playing fair. He's just good fun.

To see more photographs from this week's home, visit Environs at www.metroweekly.com. If you have a home or apartment that you'd like us to consider featuring in Environs, please email us at home@metroweekly.com.

Call 202-638-6830 to advertise here in Marketplace