by Chord Bezerra
Photography by Todd Franson
Published on February 19, 2004, 12:00am | Comments

Enter the world of reclamation and spur-of-the-moment painting and remodeling in this 3BR, 2BA townhouse on Capitol Hill where great views, easy walking and a wonderful sense of home abound

After 21 years in the D.C. area, human resources specialist Mark Grace decided it was time to leave Arlington behind for D.C.'s east side, the historic Capitol Hill. Now every morning is a welcome sight -- and an opportunity to paint.

MARK: In all my years here I had never lived on the Hill, then a good friend said to think about the Hill, so I did. And it's great -- it just has a really nice feeling to it. Lincoln Park is phenomenal and I can walk to Eastern Market. You think it is another world from D.C. -- which can be good and bad -- but you really feel comfortable here. Where else can you walk out the front door and see the Capitol? If you stand at the top of Lincoln Park you get this great vista of East Capitol Street and the Capitol Dome.

[In the hallway] I have no qualms about getting up first thing in the morning and deciding I want to paint a room. I once painted a house in two days. I just scrambled out there and attacked it. So if a room doesn't work out I'll change it. It's easy to do and it's kind of fun. I really like painting. Actually, I'm about to change this hallway again.

[In the living room] I get all my stuff second hand or from people who can't use it anymore. We'll call it "reclamation." If people don't want something I'll be more than willing to take it. I have a big family, too, so all my brothers and sisters are like that. We are constantly moving stuff up and down the east coast. I had this [hall stand] in another house, then my sister had it for a few years, and then I brought it back.


[In the master bedroom] This is a great sized room. It overlooks a small park, which is really pretty in the springtime. My friend, who is a set designer, [recommended] this pale avocado color. I wanted something kind of different. I had to redo the floors in here. The floors were pretty bad so I just decided to carpet it -- plus it is nice to have carpeting in the bedroom. These [horse] lamps are from Roy Rogers and Dale Evans's rec room -- I got them at a junk store. I guess I shouldn't call it junk -- it's reclamation. I got this rosary in Argentina. I was in Argentina just a year ago -- I turned 40 in Argentina. I made it a point to be out of the country for that event.

[In the kitchen] I gutted the kitchen. It was nice, but I had an idea of how I wanted to reconfigure it. I literally took out the whole back of the house and extended the kitchen and the bedroom upstairs. I was on the fast track for renovations when I moved in, and I went full steam ahead. I just did it. The great thing about row houses is that you really can save a lot of money on heating because there is residual heat from either side of the house. I can also get warm air flowing through the house with these ceiling fans in each room and that gas fireplace. A lot of what I did was to make this place as efficient as possible and not go overboard on stuff I don't need.

One of the things I like to pride myself on is pure practicality. That's why I like the kitchen. It's the room I put the most thought into. I put the fireplace in here so people could come and sit down and talk. I also wanted to respect what the house is -- I don't want to recreate the past but I want to pay a little bit of a nod to it. I guess if I had to say something my style would be nice and practical -- very practical. Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without it.

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