Capitol Hill Restoration Society

Virtual Tour #4: 137 D Street, SE

Posted on August 30th, 2020

Home Owners: Betsy & Mike Rutkowski




Tour Highlights:

137 D St SE

★ Marble fireplace mantle imported from France and the Mulberry transferware collection in the living room
★ Antique armoire in second floor hall
Hidden laundry room

Fun to Find:
★ Rabbits on a pillow
★ Four portraits of Queen Elizabeth II
★ Star hanging from the ceiling
★ A tiger in the dining room

House Description:

The 100 block of D Street SE, close by the U.S. Capitol, for many years has been a favorite place to call home for lobbyists, senators, and representatives. Until late 2006, that is, when Al Kamen declared in his Washington Post article, “Democrats, Beware the Curse of D Street”, noting that six elected officials had all moved out in short order, including Representative Mark Foley of Florida, then owner of the house.

The two-story home, built 15 years after the Civil War, welcomes you with a high-sheen berry-colored door using the specialty paint from Fine Paints of Europe. The home was refreshed in 2017-2018 with new flooring throughout and an entire renovation of the main level where European antiques now provide special interest.

French Carved Marble Mantle

An antique figural clock by Ansonia sits on a painted antique French chest in the entry. The heart of the living room is the fireplace with a carved marble mantle from France. It is flanked by built-in bookshelves. In the shelves you will find the homeowners’ collection of 19th- century Mulberry transferware china. Additionally, the painted hutch in the dining room displays a selection of the owners’ English ironstone china collection. The dining room also features a series of vintage botanicals over a Swedish sideboard. French antique dining chairs surround a reproduction Gustavian table and a chandelier by the local Maryland firm, Niermann Weeks, shines above.

Built-Ins Hold Transferware Collection

Built-Ins Hold Transferware Collection

Underneath the staircase there is a secret place surrounded by custom-made doors mimicking paneling. Inside the paneling, there is a laundry area, which was moved from the back of the house to better use the formerly wasted closet space.

The kitchen was transformed from dark and dated into a fresh light, and bright space. New cabinetry, lighting, commercial-grade appliances, and an island were added. On the island sits Mike’s beloved late pharmacist father’s mortar and pestle. Over the sink a pair of old leaded glass windows provide a bit of privacy from the neighboring house. On the wall, ceramic sconces found at London’s flea market, Camden Passage, highlight an antique French shelf from Marston Luce of Georgetown.

Before the renovation, a large powder room and unheated utility room were behind the kitchen. Now there is a right-sized half bathroom and a den, which sometimes functions as a spare guest room using the pull-out sofa. Note the hallway’s oversized vintage French poster by Cassandre advertising the Normandie transatlantic service. A space-saving tankless water heater also functions as the home’s boiler for heating.

137 D St SE Patio

137 D Patio Nook

Outside, the back of the home features a cheery and private brick courtyard with access to the garage. The patio furniture is vintage Woodard, along with French café chairs.

Upstairs in the family room you will see a rough exposed brick wall, which reminds us what really lies behind the drywall throughout the home. This room is filled with several of Betsy’s favorite paintings and prints, including a still life by her mother.

The owners’ suite includes a bathroom with travertine tile and an antique Venetian mirror flanked by Art Deco-era sconces. The bedroom has a fireplace with a stately French pier mirror above. Encrusted urns on the pair of dressers offer unique spots to store odds and ends. A series of old etchings are displayed vertically along the narrow wall.

The guest suite includes a bathroom with bold navy stripes and a series of Andy Warhol’s Queen Elizabeth II prints, providing the owners with fond memories of their time living in London. There is a series of botanical drawings above the four-poster bed.

In the upper hall, an antique armoire from Belgium holds the household linens and supplies. A sunny yellow vintage metal cabinet also provides much needed storage.