Low clutter, lots of style in Mahshie and Faubion's Crestwood home

by Chord Bezerra
Photography by Todd Franson
Published on February 26, 2004, 12:00am | Comments

3 BR, 3 1/2 BA, Historic Spanish Colonial Revival Style House with swimming pool, extensive collection of Roy McMakin designed furniture.

After seven years of living in Logan Circle, real estate agent John Mahshie and his partner Michael Faubion, a director with the National Endowment for the Arts, found a deal they couldn't refuse. To make their new Crestwood house a home, they went with a less is more philosophy. Meaning less clutter and more Roy McMakin.

JOHN: This neighborhood was built mostly in the 30s by one developer. The houses were developed as private estates because they were away from downtown and most of them are on big parcels of land. This house in particular was designed by John Earley, who also did the Church of the Sacred Heart on 16th Street. It is built like a Roman Villa using terra cotta blocks just like they used in antiquity. Before this we lived in Logan Circle in a beautiful condo, which we loved very much. I would say it was hard to leave, but it wasn't once we found this house. We knew this was right for us.

[In the kitchen] When we renovated the kitchen we didn't want it to be showy or overachieving. That's why we went with this very modest look, probably like the time when the house was originally built. We took all the upper cabinets out and put tile up. I always tell people when they are renovating a house to pull the cabinets out -- the more cabinets you have, the more junk you're going to put in them. We don't need tons of stuff. We're very lucky that Michael and I have very similar tastes. There are very few things -- at least from a design perspective -- which we disagree on. We don't like fussy, we don't like too much pattern, we like it calm -- we have the same sensibility about these things.

[In the master bathroom] This was another big project. A previous owner had put glass block in two of the windows. It was hard to find someone who could get us windows of the exact same profile to replace the glass block. The firm that did the restoration on Falling Water, the Frank Lloyd Wright house in Pennsylvania, did these windows for us. When you are doing something like this you have to be prepared to take your time and to have your heart broken. With old things you can't always get it exactly right and it doesn't always come out the way you hope. But this did.

I love these medicine cabinets -- they are from Urban Archeology in New York and [whispers] they were a fortune, let me tell you. I think they are extraordinary. They are big and they fit in the wall and they hold everything. They are perfectly designed. The cabinets were one of the few pieces that Michael and I had a difference of taste. He wanted his cabinet with honed marble and I wanted mine with polished. The difference in our tastes is very small.

[In the master bedroom] Roy McMakin designed these chairs and ottoman. I designed the bed and nightstands and had them custom built to emulate his work. The bed has drawers underneath for clothes and things so we don't have to have a lot of cabinets and dressers. The one remaining thing to come is a tea table from the same firm who did the other bedroom furniture -- then we will have everything we need for the room. I am extremely happy with how it turned out. The firm did such a beautiful job. The details are breathtaking.

[In the dining room] Roy McMakin also designed these vases. They were done by a pottery outside of San Francisco called Heath, which is the longest-running American pottery still in business. The owner, Edith Heath, is still alive -- she's in her nineties. McMakin designed these and Heath manufactured them. We also have china from Heath. You see, we are trying to think of the house as one whole composition, not just a warehouse for things. When we buy something we try to think about how it fits in the entire scheme. It's like a beautiful painting -- it's beautiful because the composition is appealing.

Does your house, condo or apartment have a story to tell? Let Environs know about it. E-mail environs@metroweekly.com.

Call 202-638-6830 to advertise here in Marketplace