Home & Design

Simple cabinetry and quartz countertops create clean lines in the kitchen.


Seen from the back, the remodeled home is a far cry from its previous iteration.

A glass connector houses the front entry and staircase, with the garage on the right.

The custom mahogany front door opens into a slate-floored foyer.

The open-plan main level centers on a custom stair of steel and white oak, illuminated by a skylight and clerestory windows.

The stair connects the home’s three levels.

From the top level, double doors lead out to a deck located above the kitchen addition.

Eric Goetz © Djenno Bacvic

The enlarged kitchen, housed in the cumaru wood-clad addition, spills out via accordion doors onto a slate patio.

Modern Chic

A design team transforms a dated split-level into a light-filled, minimalist abode in the Palisades

When design-build company Blue Star bought a neglected 1960s split-level in DC’s Palisades neighborhood to overhaul for resale, principal Eric Goetz envisioned a plan that would complement the area’s diverse architecture. “Our vision was a modern home that could accommodate open living for maximum entertaining opportunities as well as privacy and space for multiple family members,” he says.

Blue Star turned to Teass/Warren Architects to mastermind a gut renovation that expanded the home’s footprint and built up three stories on the narrow lot. “We all worked closely to create a welcoming space with great special moments, but also broad appeal,” recounts Charles Warren, who conceived two gabled volumes—one containing an open-plan kitchen, living and dining rooms and the other housing the bedrooms—connected by a three-story central glass tower topped with skylights; it contains an airy steel-and-white-oak staircase bathed in light.

Built into the slope of the property, the home’s main entrance is on the lower level of the tower, delineated by a black-slate floor in a herringbone pattern and flanked by an in-law suite and the garage. The first level features public rooms on one side and bedrooms on the other while the top floor holds a spacious owners’ suite, family room and home office. The original cramped kitchen was relocated and expanded via a rear addition that spills out onto a flagstone patio through nine-foot-wide accordion doors. A deck above the addition is accessible from the upper floor.

The home’s exterior is clad in durable white metal siding, Hardie panels and cumaru wood, with black-painted window frames adding a stylish, modern-farmhouse vibe.

Renovation Architecture: Charles Warren, AIA, LEED AP, Teass/Warren Architects, Washington, DC. Renovation Contracting & Development: Eric Goetz, Blue Star, Washington, DC.

Ask Eric

Why remodel this house in modern style? 
My design preference leans heavily towards modern, light-filled, open and flexible spaces. We were also looking for livability at various stages of life. This neighborhood has a solid mix of styles, so a modern residence brought a great balance.

What ingredients ensure a successful project? 
Asking the right questions and truly listening is the first step. From there, it’s thoughtful design, attention to detail and quality craftsmanship. The initial steps of understanding your program are critical.

List some exterior materials you favor. 
Beginning early in the design phase, we emphasize sustainable, long-lasting materials. Wood siding like responsibly sourced cumaru is an example of that.

What building trends have you spotted lately?
Though traditional architecture is still prevalent, we’re seeing a rise in modern or modern-leaning single-family residences in DC. The modern condo market that dominated about 20 years ago has influenced buyers transitioning to larger homes.

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