House Tour: Scott's Detailed Restoration at The Ontario

House Tour: Scott's Detailed Restoration at The Ontario

Rachael Grad
Jul 9, 2009

Name: Scott
Occupation: Magazine Art Director
Location: Lanier Heights, Washington DC
Building: The Ontario, built in 1905
Size: 975 square feet
Lived in: owned for 5 years


With persistence, patience, and hard work, Scott has restored his apartment back to its original elements. A radical renovation in the 1980's converted the space to a contemporary, completely white look and Scott has done much to change the unit back. He used pieces from the community salvage room in his building to install fixtures, wood stains, and elements like the servant's call box (which Scott constructed himself by looking at a neighbor's) and fireplace mantel. An avid Apartment Therapy reader, Scott pointed out to us that his home's color palette almost exactly matches the one described in "A Classic Modern Color Palette for Your Home" - a recent post from Chicago. A strange coincidence as Scott found this color combination room by room and over time, starting with the red living room paint from the previous owner.

Scott stripped layers of white paint from the doors and treated the wood. He found frosted glass to insert into the doors and transoms. Scott carefully picks pieces and only gets furniture and accessories that he really loves. It took Scott a year of online searching to find the right antique numbers for his exterior door, which he bought one by one. Scott added a mirror on the side of the kitchen window sill, so that the view outside is doubled when you are standing at the sink. Otherwise the view is blocked because of the angle, the deep recessed window, and 2-foot wide exterior walls. The European bathroom is notorious in the building, as most other units still have claw foot tubs.
You can see Scott's gorgeous photos of The Ontario at his flickr page.



My Style: industrial crossed with a wood, hunting lodge look

Inspiration: A detective's office from the 1930's or or 40's. When I'm out and about I look for things that are urban, weathered and have decay and rust.

Favorite Element: the genteel, old world details like the jewel safe and the servant's call button, even for a small one-bedroom like this.

Biggest Challenge: finding stuff I like, that works, and is also is in my price range.

Biggest Embarrassment: the front door/entry is awkward and I have no idea how to solve that problem. I want the front door to open up to a better space.

Proudest DIY: building a replica of an old servant call-box. I took photo of an original call-box in another apartment to design mine. Also refinishing and stripping the pocket door when I couldn't take it down. It took forever to take off the many layers of white paint. I wouldn't have done it had I known how much effort it took.

What Friends Say: Is it always this neat? Answer: Yes, but not behind "the-doors-that-may-not-be-opened." Chaos looms in the closets...

Biggest Indulgence: the new barrister bookcases from Levenger, a store for readers that has been manufacturing the bookcases from the same New York factory for 150 years. The bookcases are very versatile because the individual components can be rearranged. I bought them over 5 to 6 years, buying a piece at a time.

Best Advice: buy what you like, not what you're supposed to like. It'll all come together and be coherent if you trust your eye. Then you can mix any number of styles and not risk getting tired of one look.

Dream Source: the neon sign graveyard in Vegas. I love old, commercial signage.


Paint Colors: half is from the previous owner; the rest I picked. C2 Roasted Tomato in the living room; Guava in the bathroom; Ace's Sleepy Hollow in the dining room; Ace's Montery-White on the ceilings; Khaki Shorts in the hallway; Ace's Randolph Green-Gray in the pantry.

Furniture: outdoor furniture from Target.
Living room: old government sofa from the Salvation Army in Annandale, Virginia; Ikea lockers; metal cabinet and coffee table from Goodeye (since closed).
Library: matching club chair to the living room sofa from Miss Pixie's. Chair and lockers from Home Anthology outside of Baltimore, Maryland. Mission rocker from an antique store. Console from Goodeye. Antique school clock from Anthroplogie about 10 years ago. The metal bookcases are government surplus from eBay. I found the chair on the street.
Bedroom: vintage Heywood Wakefield dresser from Home Anthology. The new Heywood Wakefield bed matches the dresser and was bought online. Pottery Barn Teen locker.
Pantry: original built-ins
Bathroom: Ikea medical cabinet; Restoration Hardware cart

Appliances: Design Expo in the kitchen from the previous owner

Lighting: Hunter "Tribeca" style ceiling fan lights in the living room and library. Ceiling fan in the bedroom from Restoration Hardware. The wall lights in the living room are exterior porch lights from Rejuvenation. The mushroom lamps are from Millennium and the other lamps are from Ikea. The warehouse overhead light fixtures were bought on eBay from a Toronto, Ontario warehouse. The lighting under the kitchen cabinets and pantry is from Logan Hardware. One bedroom lamp is a souvenir from the New York World's Fair in 1936 - I fell in love with it after seeing it in "Bladerunner" and then found one online.

Accessories: The bathroom locker wire baskets are from Emporium Antiques in Frederick, Maryland. The vintage metal bathroom sign on the bathroom door came from a shop on Antique Row (W. Belmont Avenue) in Chicago. The "Wet Floor" sign in the bathroom came from Logan Hardware. The New Orleans water meter in the bathroom was bought through the factory that makes them. The old bath tub handles come from a tub in the building and were found in the Ontario basement.
The doorbell is from Rejuvenation. Plants from Johnson's on Wisconsin Avenue and planters from Garden District. Living room pillows from Ikea, Target, and CB2. The factory bin on top of the fridge is from Scout in Andersonville, Chicago. The "Wet Floor" sign in the bathroom is from Logan Hardware. The cedar box was my grandmother's. I collect vintage paperbacks, WPA state guides, and vinyl records.

Rugs: Ikea in the living room; the gray rug is from Restoration Hardware; oriental rugs: one came from Trocadero in Old Town Alexandria (since closed) and the other from the building's trash room. I've scavenged plenty from the trash room over the years!

Doors: The replacement privacy/fire glass for the front door and transom came from the basement house-parts room. The matching glass that I put in the bedroom and bathroom doors came from Del Ray Glass in Alexandria, Virginia.

Fixtures: I completely rebuilt the fireplace. The replacement stone for my fireplace surround comes from my hometown Elberton, Georgia, "The Granite Capital of the World." The new gas-log set and the fireplace screen, which match the original fire box perfectly, came from Bromwell's in Falls Church, Virginia. The vintage mantel came from the Ontario basement architectural salvage room.

Art: box art in living by Rion Hoffman and bought at an Artomatic many years ago. The map is from the back pocket of a WPA guide. The old DC bus scroll was bought on eBay. The pottery on the fireplace is from a student sale at the University of Georgia. The etching of bumble bees was the Christmas card of Ellen Winkler. The old photograph is of my father. The other photographs are from Eastern Market. The kitchen photos are mine and I rotate them out as I take new ones. The greyhound sign came from Dada (since closed). The Waffle House "S" was bought on eBay and I wired it with a string of Christmas lights. Old move poster in the pantry from eBay. The photo in the hallway of the Washington monument in scaffolding was bought at the Delray art Fair. The great wave Hokusai print in the bedroom was bought at the Smithsonian. I made the wire sculpture in the living room.


Thanks, Scott!

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