A 16-foot addition accommodates a modern kitchen and seating area in the renovated home.
The new living room opens out to the kitchen beyond.
The second-floor library showcases books and pottery.
From the back of the house, the two-story rear addition and the new third floor are visible.
The third floor houses a comfortable haven for watching TV.
The renovation included a sleek new master bath.
The cramped kitchen, prior to the renovation.
The existing master bath.
The dining area, beyond which the kitchen and sitting area lie.

Capitol Gains

A row house trades drab interiors for a spacious, updated layout

MARCH/APRIL 2012

When David Hollander bought his Capitol Hill townhouse in early 2003, it was outdated and had an inconvenient floor plan. For Hollander, who was single at the time, it served its bachelor-pad purpose. It wasn’t until he met and married Maya Ajmera some years later that, after sharing the space for a while, he agreed with her verdict: It was time for an overhaul. 

The couple—Hollander is a partner in a law firm and Ajmera is the founder of the Global Fund for Children—hired Landis Construction for the job. The project, which ultimately entailed a two-story addition off the back and the construction of an entire third floor, established an open floor plan and a sleek, modern look. “We really touched every room in the house,” says Landis design manager Greg Gardner. “That’s how we were able to get a consistent look throughout.” The result, which Ajmera says “feels like a whole new house,” won NARI’s Merit Award for Entire House $500,000 to $1 Million.

Before the rebuild, Ajmera was bothered by the fact that walking through the front door of the house brought visitors immediately into the kitchen, beyond which a dark family room opened out a step lower than the rest of the space. “We leveled the floor and pushed 16 feet back to create the two-story addition,” says Gardner. This space now houses a clean-lined, modern kitchen/family room area with expansive sliding glass doors out to the patio and grassy yard. Where the kitchen and family room used to be, an open-plan living room/dining room now welcomes guests, who walk in via a short hallway leading from the front door. Porcelain-tile flooring delineates the hall (from which laundry and powder rooms are accessible) but the rest of the ground floor is covered in bleached wide maple planks that unify and brighten the space.

Landis updated the stairwell, extending it another flight to the new third floor. It was a challenge, says Gardner, because the owners envisioned both staircases as open and contemporary in style and seamlessly connected. They custom-designed steel and glass handrails with wood caps throughout to convey the look the couple was after. 

Upstairs, the former master bedroom has been converted into a library to house the couple’s books and Ajmera’s pottery collection. Because of the sculpturally curved stairwell, “the cherry bookshelves had to be brought in in pieces and built in place,” Gardner recalls. The library opens into the master suite, which encompasses a large walk-in closet and a roomy master bath, and also opens into two other bedrooms.

The third floor houses two extra bedrooms plus what Ajmera refers to as Hollander’s “man cave,” complete with a built-in desk at one end and an entertainment center at the other; a wet bar with a refrigerator renders traveling two flights down for a beer unnecessary. Mechanized shades cover the windows throughout the house and a Lutron system controls the home’s technology. 

Hollander and Ajmera, who love to entertain, couldn’t be happier with their updated, modern home, which now flows beautifully inside and out. They are carefully choosing dynamic artwork for the walls—and enjoying the process.

Photographer Greg Hadley is based in Fairfax, Virginia. 

RENOVATION DESIGN & CONSTRUCTION: ETHAN LANDIS, principal; GREG GARDNER, design manager, Landis Construction, Washington, DC. LANDSCAPE DESIGN: Joan M. Janssen, Cityscapes Landscaping, Inc., Silver Spring, Maryland.


**Out of the array of interior design magazines, Home and Design magazine stands out as a primary idea source for luxury home design and building/remodeling features.  Wonderful visuals of custom homes and ecofriendly resources are combined with expert advice to provide a fundamental reference point for bringing amazing home interior design and remodeling projects to life.