This renovated master bath is part of a major transformation to an elegant Flemish Revival townhouse on Massachusetts Avenue's historic Embassy Row. The townhouse, once the former Libyan Embassy, was closed and uninhabited for 25 years. The neglect suffered by the house was dramatic; the rear half of the house was structurally unstable due to protracted roof leaks. The finishes and layout had suffered from this neglect and unfortunate earlier remodeling.
The challenge to return the house to its original use as a single family residence, and restore the historic fabric and finishes that remained inside and out and emulate them elsewhere as appropriate, was a daunting undertaking. Compounding this was the project’s location within a number of Historic Districts. The restoration was done under the scrutiny of these Historic review Boards and also required a DC Zoning Special Exception for a minor rear addition. It was successfully completed under the Historic Preservation Certificate Application program.
The house was entirely restored, bracing and reframing the worst-damaged rear of the house's structure, where the new master suite is located. A small rear addition, terrace and garden were also added. Years of paint on the facade were removed and the brick and limestone facade restored. The Flemish gabled dormers were removed and rebuilt and slate roof replaced. Existing windows, doors, moldings and light fixtures were restored. The plumbing and electrical systems were completely replaced. Despite the addition of foam roof insulation, the restoration and reuse of the windows and older finishes on the uninsulated walls meant the house would remain energy inefficient. A geothermal system was used as the heating and cooling source with its low energy use to address the issue.
A new master suite layout locates the master bath at the rear of the building, occupying the full width of the townhouse. The processional to the master bath includes a mirrored gallery with his and hers closets on either side, culminating with an arched pocketed door. The view to the master bath from the gallery includes a large window providing unobstructed gazes to the rear yard and terrace, with the grand, freestanding oval cast iron bathtub centered below.
Intricate tile patterns in neutral tones respond to the existing Flemish façade while adding a modern feel to the historic home. His and hers vanities provide ample space, while painted wood trim and mirrored walls mimic those found in the gallery and visually expand the space.
The new space provides a luxurious retreat for the homeowners; a place to depart from busy city life. The new second floor layout of the master suite, with its modern amenities that sit within a fabric of historic detailing is an integral part of the townhouse’s revival to a single family residence that once again stands proudly equal to its fine neighbors in Embassy Row.