H Street Corridor 1910-era Townhouse

Whole House Remodel | Washington, DC

This 2,500 square foot, four-story home in the H Street Corridor neighborhood of Washington, DC was built in 1910, and when the clients purchased the property in 2018, it was severely neglected and uninhabitable. The plaster ceilings and walls were crumbling, and the floors and sub-floors were severely damaged. Water had infiltrated through the roof and broken windows, and through poor ground-level drainage. The clients knew they needed to gut and renovate the entire home.

The clients expressed to Finesse Design Remodeling that they wanted to make the home habitable, improve the curb appeal, create three levels of living space with an open concept design, design a private primary suite, incorporate a home office and wine storage, and construct a basement apartment as a rental for additional income.


  • Three levels of living space with 4 bedrooms, laundry room and rooftop deck
  • Open-concept kitchen and wet bar
  • Powder room
  • Home office with smart home technology
  • Private primary suite
  • Wine storage
  • Dog den
  • Improved curb appeal
  • Basement rental apartment

Our Solution

Finesse Design Remodeling had to gut the entire interior. We removed all plumbing and fixtures, electrical system elements, heating system, internal walls and ceilings, flooring and sub-flooring, and removed and replaced floor joists where they were damaged and as required for new stair positioning. All windows and exterior trim were replaced, consistent with historic requirements, and a new HVAC system was incorporated with minimal need for bulkheads.

Main Level


On the first floor, we designed a functional open floor plan by removing and relocating stairs to run along a wall, and arranged space for a living room, dining room, a sunny powder room, kitchen, wine cellar and dog den. We restored the wall adjacent to the new stairs to expose the underlying original brick and create an industrial feel. Removing the plaster from the fireplace façade also allowed exposed brick.


Designing an open and spacious kitchen within a small space was a challenge, so we used the creative technique of an asymmetrical balance, with visually-heavy obstacles on one side and visually-light object on the other. We integrated a peninsula with seating to serve as a roomy breakfast bar, lots of functional custom storage, a full-sized pantry and small appliance housing. The Art Deco-inspired mosaic backsplash gives a nod to the history of the home. French doors to the backyard and a large picture window flood the room with natural light.


A wine cellar, completed with a refrigerator, prep counter and wine storage rack was created beneath the stairs to be convenient to both the kitchen and dining room. It creates an attractive focal point by including exposed brick and a full frameless door with a triangular glass transom. Also under the stairs, we tucked in an out-of-the-way dog den.


Because the existing rear patio slab and grade was sloped toward the house, it caused water ponding and leakage. We had to remove the patio and slab drain, repair the brick foundation and add rework the slab drain elevation and drainage piping to the main sewer for positive drainage away from the foundation.

In the basement, we demolished the slab to install plumbing ground-work and discovered the slab was simply ¾” of troweled mortar over the bare ground. We removed the slab entirely and poured a new 4” slab with a gravel base, vapor barrier and reinforcing mesh. We also needed to maintain a 7’ head clearance to comply with building codes, so we had to be creative on how to dispose of the excavated dirt in order to reduce labor costs. We created a retaining wall in the back quarter of the basement and filled it with the extra dirt.

The Result

Every detail of the clients’ aesthetic and long-term use was kept in mind, and careful consideration of the floor plans and infrastructure allow the family to grow within the home. The beautiful new basement apartment will generate additional income, enabling the homeowners to more easily afford their new investment and live comfortably. The clients are extremely pleased with their home’s transformation.


Finesse Design Remodeling