Good Deal or Not? “Early modernist townhouse by prominent DC architects Berla and Abel” edition (reader request)

DC8335695 - Exterior (Front)

This house is located at 4130 Arkansas Avenue, Northwest. The listing says:

“Early modernist townhouse by prominent DC architects Berla and Abel. Less than 1 mile to Metro. More than 2,100 sq. ft. over 3 levels with glassed-enclosed balcony. 2 bed/2 bath. Open office space can be turned back into 3rd br. Large open living-dining. Original architectural details. 2 brick and stone fireplaces . Zen backyard w/ carport. Custom insulated windows throughout.”

You can see more photos here.

This 2 bed/2 bath is going for $725,000.

20 Comment

  • Saw this on Redfin a few days ago. I love it! Price is spendy and unfortunately won’t convey with their cool furniture. You really need to love MCM to live in a place like this. Similarly, you’d need to have the furniture to match it. It would look weird if you brought all your French Countryside or American antique furnishings into this house.

    • I agree. To make that architecture work, you need to go full MCM. But can you imagine what it would cost to furnish that place from Modern Mobler??

      On another note, I wish there were more pictures of the kitchen. It looks promising from the one angle.

      • The one kitchen photo looked a little worrying to me, because it looks as though several (most?) of the cabinets have glass doors.
        My kitchen (which I will redo someday) is a disaster in several ways. One of them is that the few above-counter cabinets that exist all have translucent glass doors.
        Glass cabinet doors may look nice in photos of staged houses, and they could definitely work if there are cabinets with NON-glass doors. But having ONLY glass-doored cabinets (or too many of them in relation to opaque-doored cabinets) means that non-pretty items are visible just like the pretty ones are.

        • +1. We definitely thought about that when we redid our kitchen a while ago. We just don’t have nice enough dishes for all the doors to be glass. I also can’t live in a glass house. : )

          • Yeah. Even if your dishes are nice, glass doors aren’t so great for pantry-type items — boxes of cereal, canned goods, etc. just don’t look so great through glass doors.

  • I’ve always loved this block – really cool, unique houses architecturally. Nice to be right on Rock Creek too. Bonus in that it’s in-boundary for Powell and Deal.

  • but not a deal. 725 for only 2bed/2bath is not a deal.

  • This is so dated. feel trapped in time.

  • justinbc

    Well that style is going to put off a huge % of buyers from the start, so evaluating a deal is really only possible if it’s your preferred design aesthetic. For me there’s no way I would buy it, even if they tossed in an extra bedroom and another 1,000 sqft.

    • Just put in some crown molding, granite counters, and stainless appliances, and your huge % of buyers will love it. uhg.

      • justinbc

        I’m certainly not advocating they go that route, just saying it’s a lot harder to gauge whether it’s a “deal” unless this is your thing.

    • I disagree — the interior (not counting the furnishings) doesn’t seem anywhere near as specifically Midcentury Modern to me as the outside does. The fireplace, definitely, and maybe the step-down-into-the-living-room aspect, and the arch over one of the bathtubs… but other than that, I don’t see stylistic elements that would be “off-putting.”
      It’s true that it might be easier for potential buyers to “imagine themselves there” if the house were staged with generic furniture rather than what I assume is the sellers’ own MCM furniture. But even still, I don’t think the MCM look is quite so niche as to have much of a negative impact.

      • I agree. From the comments I was expecting some extreme architecture, but take out that furniture and they’re just super plain, even boring, rooms (with a funky mantle in the living room). You could have almost any kind of furniture in that house. Even the arch over the tub doesn’t really dictate the style, hang a calico shower curtain and the bathroom would look completely rustic.

  • The high price, coupled with the fact that it’s a very early example of a style that is under-appreciated in DC (everybody wants a “Wardman,” whatever the hell that is), means that it’ll probably sell for less than asking. I personally love it, and the location is really tough to beat. Being right on Piney Branch is great if you need to commute by car.

  • I love this house and others like it on this block, but that’s way too much money for this size and location. Sold for high 3’s or low 4’s a couple years ago.

    • The last house sold for $679,000, and nothing but wrecks have sold for the high 3’s or 4’s in the last 9 years.

      • Ok, not high 3’s, but several in the low- to mid- 4’s, and in all fairness they hadn’t been renovated, but the “wrecks” in question were probably $30K-$50K of work away from being as good as or better than this one. I almost bought one in 2011 that was in perfectly acceptable shape, by no means a wreck, and it ended up going for $464K.

      • Ah, interesting & maybe the reason for the price – where did you find this info? I had tried to track down previous sale information but couldn’t find it. I thought it seemed high for the size, but unlike others I was really taken with this house. It has been well-maintained and is very bright. Kitchen is tiny, but not impossible. Compact urban living and we have the furniture to go with it! If only it were $50k less.

  • Saw this place during the open house this past weekend. It looks a lot better in the pictures than it does in real life. The common areas are great but the bathrooms and second bedroom are way smaller than they look in the pictures. The kitchen needs pretty much a complete overhaul.

Comments are closed.