Sometimes an address is more than just an address. Case in point: a two-bedroom condo at 3303 Water Street, a luxury residential building sandwiched between the Potomac River and the C&O Canal in the heart of Georgetown. For bi-coastal homeowners Karin and Scott Wheeler, their eastern zip code is all about embracing a new lifestyle.
“We love it here,” says Karin Wheeler. “You could be here for years and not have seen it all—and once you think you have, it changes up again.”
The Wheelers, who are empty nesters, came to DC in 2016 for Scott’s new job as CFO of the CoStar Group. Karin, who volunteers at non-profit organizations including the American World Adoption Agency, was up for the adventure. While shopping real estate, the couple quickly honed in on Georgetown.
“We chose it because of its rich history and urban lifestyle,” says Karin Wheeler, adding, “It has that nice balance of city living and natural beauty.”
They bought the 1,950-square-foot condo and turned to designer Kirsten Kaplan to help furnish it in a modern style, a contrast to their traditional, suburban Orange County house.
“They wanted a vibrant, urban pied-à-terre,” says Kaplan. “The building has an industrial architecture with grid windows and exposed support columns. My aim was to respect and enhance that vibe.”
Though the floor plan was mostly open, the Wheelers wanted to remove a wall separating the kitchen and living room, replacing it with a peninsula. Adrian Andreassi of Case Design/Remodeling reconfigured the kitchen, creating a completely open living area.
“I wanted to reflect the spirit of living in the city.” —Kirsten Kaplan
The openness meant that the home’s flow had to be carefully considered. “I wanted to reflect the spirit of being in a city,” says Kaplan, who developed “a high-contrast look with a mostly neutral cream background and color cues taken from the red-brick and slate-gray tones outside.”
Reds pop in cut-velvet sofa pillows and leather dining chairs. The bed boasts a slate-gray tufted headboard—the same hue as the matte finish on the structural column that anchors the living area.
“Furnishings were inspired by the lines of the windows—the exposed metal-frame armchairs, for example,” notes Kaplan. “We went with low-profile pieces so as not to block any views.”
Because the rectilinear grid windows dominate the space visually, Kaplan kept patterns to a minimum, with armchairs in a small-scale geometric chenille weave. The architecture-inspired materials including glass-and-iron coffee and dining tables and a concrete-and-wood side table. Silhouettes are clean and tailored. Fabrics are durable and practical.
The lighting conveys an industrial edge, with cylindrical triple-smoked-glass pendants over the island. An iron-and-glass chandelier defines the dining area, and an overhead fixture in the living area ties the spaces together while keeping views clear throughout.
The owners are enjoying Georgetown, which lies at their feet even as they work in their shared office. “We’re having fun,” Karin says of their new East Coast life. “And did I say I love this condo? It’s like living in our own boutique hotel.” v