When Daniel Steinkoler, principal of Superior Home Services, purchased an 1886 Georgetown town house with the intention of renovating and selling it, he thought he’d struck treasure in more ways than one. The white brick home boasts an enclosed garden and an attached garage—rarities in the coveted neighborhood. And if that weren’t enough, his team unearthed vast quantities of a substance resembling gold while excavating the basement.
“The project manager called me down to the basement and shined his flashlight on a floor covered in what looked like gold dust,” Steinkoler recalls. “I thought we struck it rich.”
Though it turned out to be mica, the builder did luck out when his now-completed gem garnered a total of three 2012 Contractor of the Year awards from the local NARI chapter. The dramatic transformation totally gutted and reconfigured the worn, outdated structure into a custom home featuring high-caliber finishes and 21st-century amenities. Working with architect Natalie McCorkle, Steinkoler devised a floor plan that would improve traffic flow within the house, establish an open feel despite the home’s small footprint and excavate the barely functional basement (where the ceiling height averaged just over six feet) to provide for additional living space.
Today, the home encompasses three bedrooms and two full baths upstairs; a living/dining room, powder room and spacious kitchen on the ground level; and a full-height basement complete with an open area for entertaining, a study and a full bath. The renovation also included new electrical, plumbing, HVAC, lighting and home entertainment systems.
One of the greatest challenges centered on producing a functional layout on the ground level. The team decided to relocate the kitchen so that it could open to the side garden. Steinkoler hoped to create enough space for an island with countertop seating, but the room’s existing wood-burning fireplace, built into a supporting wall, posed a dilemma. According to code, the island seating would be too close to the fireplace. So Steinkoler came up with a solution that became one of the home’s most striking design elements: He converted the fireplace to gas, installed a floating Sparks linear fire element in the hearth and surrounded it with black Sriata tile. The sleek wall, now visible from the front entry, makes a strong focal point. “Any time you can see water or fire,” Steinkoler says, “you enhance the feel of a house.”
A dramatic upgrade from the tired original, the new kitchen boasts a six-burner Wolf stove, a Sub-Zero refrigerator, a microwave drawer and Calacatta Gold countertops and backsplash tile. French doors now bathe the space in natural light.
The same level of attention to detail and craftsmanship was devoted to the rest of the house. Custom-designed crown molding evokes the period of the home and provides a cohesive look throughout. Top-of-the-line granite and marble tile, European fixtures and radiant-heat floors outfit its master and lower-level baths in luxury. New white oak floors with an ebony stain replaced the deteriorating originals, which Steinkoler donated to a salvage yard.
The basement posed the greatest challenge during construction. When building crews began the excavation that would add two to three feet to the ceiling height in the new rooms, they immediately struck rock. “To get the basement in was tough,” Steinkoler recalls. “The original house was built on granite slabs. We basically had to dig through the rock by hand because we couldn’t get big equipment down there. If we could’ve used dynamite, it would have been lickety-split, but you’re not allowed to blast in Georgetown.”
The hard work paid off. In addition to its stable of prizes, this revived Georgetown property quickly sold to a Washington attorney enamored with its amenities and style. “In Georgetown,” marvels Steinkoler, “with parking, an outdoor living space and high-end finishes, you can’t go wrong.”
Photographer Marlon Crutchfield is based in Woodbridge, Virginia.
RENOVATION ARCHITECTURE: NATALIE McCORKLE, AIA, Washington, DC. RENOVATION CONSTRUCTION: DANIEL STEINKOLER, Superior Home Services, Inc., Washington, DC.