A D.C. Rowhouse Retains Its Lovely Original Charm Without Being Overly Modernized

Name: Madeline Weinfield and Michael Corcoran
Location: Capitol Hill — Washington, D.C.
Type of home: Rowhouse
Size: 1,200 square feet
Years lived in: 7 months, renting

Tell us a little (or a lot) about your home and the people who live there: We rent a 1900 rowhouse in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Washington, DC. Unlike many other rowhouses here, ours hasn’t been torn into open space and overly modernized. It has rickety original hardwood floors, very tall ceilings, many of the original light fixtures, a wood-burning fireplace, a sweeping staircase, transom windows, and a behemoth piece of furniture in the living room that we’re pretty sure has been here for 120 years. (We’re not sure how it ever got in, or how it will ever get out.)

Some people might not love its old-fashioned characteristics and questionable heating, but to us, it’s a dream, especially considering the tiny apartment we lived in before this. Its backyard looked long-abandoned when we moved in, and we’ve been slowly trying to bring it to life, uncovering a forgotten brick path and tending to plants that are popping up now that it’s spring. The tree we were thinking might be dead emerged into a bouquet of fragrant crabapple blossoms this April, cementing our feeling that to us, this is perfection.


Our kitchen/dinning room. The paintings on the left are by my mom. The large painting (center) we found on the platform of the W86th St. subway in NYC, years ago. We’ve since reframed it.


We love to travel and have been lucky enough to travel a lot for work and pleasure. We’ve collected pieces from our travels and other places we lived. Every piece in our house has a story: old black and white family photographs, paintings by my mom, masks from Michael’s time living in Burkina Faso. We have hand-me-down furniture from our parents (a 1930s Parisian couch and chair set purchased by Michael’s parents when they lived in Europe, and a marble-topped trunk from my parents) and some newer pieces, too. It’s an evolving collection.


Our bedroom. The rocking chair was purchased at a barn sale in the Catskills.


Describe your home’s style in 5 words or less: Eclectic, collected, worldly, traditionally-inspired.

What is your favorite room and why? Right now it’s our guest room/office. We painted it in a bright, sunny yellow in the depths of this year’s never-ending winter. Almost as soon as the pandemic hit, I started really appreciating color. I had mostly been attracted to blacks, whites, and grays when I lived in New York and was going into an office every day. This past year, it was as if I realized for the first time how beautiful colors are. I want to be surrounded by them. I love how joyful the yellow (Dayroom Yellow by Farrow & Ball) feels.


We found these prints in an antique store outside of Charlottesville, Virginia. The bed is from the 1930s or ’40s.


What’s the last thing you bought (or found!) for your home? The last thing I bought was a custom-cut piece of marble for an old trunk that was my mother’s from before she met my dad. I found the marble cutter through a wonderful store in Maryland called Community Forklift that salvages parts of old homes.


Our bedroom. The rug is from Morocco and the leather couch was Michael’s parents.


Any advice for creating a home you love? Collect as you go. If you find something you love, add it to your home. And don’t be afraid to buy bigger pieces while traveling. There are so many times I bought 10 small souvenir-type pieces while traveling when I should have just bought one thing I would have for the rest of my life.

This submission’s responses and photos were edited for length/size and clarity.