- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Artist Jean-Luc Vivier specializes in renovating homes, adding creative decorative touches along with dedicated craftsmanship. His previous projects have often involved restoring homes in keeping with their Colonial history. His latest — a Victorian treasure at 3023 Cambridge Place NW in Georgetown — restored the exterior to its 1895 splendor.

Inside is a breathtaking open contemporary home with warm colors, unusual materials and a clear design vision, which showcases natural materials in unusual ways.

Starting by gutting the interior of this home, Mr. Vivier spent two years replacing the wiring, plumbing, flooring, roof, appliances, faucets, shower heads, sinks and tubs. Viewing the home with an artist’s eye, Mr. Vivier chose unusual fixtures, installed teak flooring throughout the home and custom created all the doors.

Now on the market for $1.9 million, this Georgetown home offers a prime location on a quiet, tree-lined, one-way street in the East Village. A parking place was created behind the fenced rear yard, a peaceful garden with a trellis filled with grapevines and wisteria.

The yard includes Italian tile flooring, a fountain, a coral maple tree, raised garden beds of brick, stucco walls with built-in flowerpots and unique Moroccan lights. Oak trim pieces surround the exterior of the French doors and have been gas-torched to look antique.

Mr. Vivier travels the world, bringing home unusual items to inspire him and to add drama to his homes. On a recent trip to India, he purchased a hammered silver bowl, which will become a sink in a future home. Japanese paper screens and Indonesian antique screens have been reincarnated in this Georgetown home for some of the doors.

The main level of the home features an open floor plan with spaces defined by 700-pound oak beams. The walls have all been faux-painted, and the living room wall includes an exposed brick wall with fresco painting. A dramatic steel staircase rises along one wall to the upper levels, while a copper “waterfall” indoor fountain with lights and plants slides along all three stories of the staircase wall.

Mr. Vivier removed all moldings and trim, creating a sleek look to all the doors and windows in the home. The living room includes a box bay window overlooking the street, and a Sony home theater, which will convey to the new owners, has been designed into the living area. The former fireplace, outfitted to accommodate a gas fireplace, is hidden behind a wall and can be reinstated, if desired.

The entire home features wide-plank teak flooring and custom lighting, including recessed lighting and cable lighting. A comfortable dining area on the main level includes faux painting on the walls. The adjacent powder room features a Philippe Starck sink and faucet and a dramatic picture window filled with smashed tempered glass between glass panes.

The sleekly designed kitchen features completely custom-made cupboards of birch with copper doors, each of which has been hand-burned to create a unique texture and design.

The counters are topped with poured cement touched with copper and amber inlays and include a built-in sloping drain board and fruit bowl.

In one corner, an Indonesian screen has been transformed as the door to a pantry, which has curving marble shelves. Stainless-steel appliances blend with the birch and copper surfaces, and include double convection ovens, a refrigerator with a freezer on the bottom, a Miele grill and a five-burner gas stove. French doors with a transom window above lead to the romantic garden, and Mr. Vivier transformed the standard kitchen windows of the home to two large picture windows overlooking the side yard.

On the second level, a Japanese rice-paper door surrounded by wood leads into a bedroom with two skylights and a large custom closet with copper doors.

All the closets have been designed with inserts for greater efficiency. The dramatic bath for this room has teak flooring, a blue Italian glass tile shower with a rain-forest shower head, a blue Italian tile sink and shelf and a copper sink.

The center room on this level functions as a sitting room or home office, and has been wired for phone, computer and high-speed cable, and includes built-in bookcases.

Next to the home office is a laundry room, and even here, Mr. Vivier has added unusual beauty with a copper door. A slate floor complements the cabinets, which have unusual decorative knobs, and the tiled shelf, which add more storage. The shelf broadens as it goes deeper into the room, making it easier to enter and exit the room with a laundry basket.

The front bedroom on this level, a sunny, open room, has a box bay window plus a wall of closets with custom-designed copper doors. The bath for this room includes a copper sink and an Italian glass tile shower with a rain-forest shower head.

Mr. Vivier added a yellow Japanese rice-paper door to the rear bedroom, with a red Japanese rice-paper door to the front bedroom so they complement each other at either end of the hall.

Steel stairs rise from this level past a glass landing and the top of the copper waterfall to the third-level master suite, with its own entertainment system, exposed brick walls, beamed ceilings and skylights. This spectacular space includes a cathedral ceiling over the bay window at the front of the house and multiple closets, which include antique Japanese and Chinese screens for doors.

Wiring has been installed for a gas fireplace behind one wall for an easy future addition. The open bath has an exposed brick wall and French doors overlooking the rooftops, and, in the center of the room, a free-standing sleek white tub, which matches the two marble resin spoon-shaped sinks placed on top of an ebony vanity. The 10-foot shower of tumbled marble features two shower heads.

Throughout this home, Mr. Vivier has added details both for visual excitement and for practicality. Copper doors or copper details are found in every room, and the rooms at the back of the house with a northern exposure were opened with skylights and larger windows for maximum light.

Each level of the home has been wired separately for gas heat and air conditioning, and the entire home is protected with a security system.

While Georgetown may be best known for its traditional homes, there are a few surprises behind the Victorian and Federal facades that will tempt even the most sophisticated urbanite.

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