The northwest corner of Edgewater is basically cottage and bungalow country, but in recent years there have been a few changes in the market as the area becomes a bit trendier. Small frame houses aren’t starters anymore, not at $600,000, and like in many desirable areas, two-flats are being de-converted into single-family houses. On the street level, whole renovations occasionally join the wave of house upgrades. One hit the market in July on Highland Avenue. Disguised by vintage façade, you’d never know how modern it is inside.
“We liked the idea of solid brick, and in Edgewater that usually means a two-flat,” says owner Julie Flohr, phoning from France. “It was important that no one had tampered with it.” When Flohr and husband Jason Sachs, both architects and educators, bought the 1896 structure in 2005, it still had remnants of gaslight technology and had not received the slightest renovation since the 1940s. They quickly drew up a plan for a fluid modern build-out and spent the next four or five years executing the dream.
Cash flow brought things to a crawl. It takes a lot of capital to shift the load bearing system as you undo room structure, and material reuse was a big mandate for the home’s reconstructed finishes. “As architects it was somewhat painful having to live in the in-between,” says Flohr.
The four-bedroom house now has a mix of old and new flooring, mainly oak and red fir; there are new transom windows and light wells throughout, exploiting the 10-foot ceiling height; a second-floor master suite was created and given a balcony; energy-efficient kitchen appliances shrank the home’s carbon footprint; and the back porch and balcony were built with Ipe decking and a custom steel railing. A container garden was intensively farmed before the sellers moved to France two years ago, and it now sports native grasses.
One of the more curious spaces is the second bedroom. Splayed out across the width of the home, it is part hexagonal and part square. The wall it shares with the third bedroom is permeated by tall windows and a door. The windows have shutters on hinges for privacy, but they make the room a bit more versatile—it can easily serve as a bedroom/office combo, a large studio, or a playroom.
The couple has rented out the house for two years, but now that they’re committing to France it’s time to get serious about selling.
Price Points: The house brings roughly 2,400 square feet of living space plus another 600 square feet of unfinished basement. “If the basement was finished I’d have the property sold,” says @properties listing agent John Wyman. “Buyers sometimes fixate on what isn’t done." This is the second sales attempt after a stint in 2009.
Wyman has lived his whole life in Edgewater and knows its single-family housing offers little aesthetic range. There isn’t much new home construction, and gut-rehabs tend toward traditional. An on the market example exists one block east on Highland Avenue, another gut-renovated two-flat with an extra 1,500 square feet of finished living space asking $899,000. “A four-bed with a proper master suite for $625,000 generally means you’re on Ashland,” he adds.