Ceramic designers and couple James Klein and Davin Reid of KleinReid will visit Room & Board (1840 14th St., N.W.) today (Friday, Sept. 29) from 5-7 p.m. for a “meet-the-artists” event. They’re known for their elaborate vases and pottery that are created with a 28-step process. Details at roomandboard.com.
The Rhode Island Avenue 2017 Fall Fest is Saturday, Sept. 30 from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on Rhode Island between 20-24th streets, N.E. The event showcases “one of the hottest real estate markets in D.C.” for a full day of “shopping, food and entertainment for the whole family.” Details at riamainstreet.org.
Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens (4155 Linnean Ave., N.W.) has garden tours on various dates through Sunday, Nov. 12 at 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Tour guides lead visitors through the grounds and share facts about the estate’s design, history, plans and flowers in 13 acres of formal gardens. Details at hillwoodmuseum.org.
The Bloomingdale Civic Association will host its “Historic Bloomingdale: Victorian Secrets & Modern Truths House Tour and Reception” on Saturday, Oct. 28 from 10:30 a.m.-7 p.m. (rain date is Sunday, Oct. 29). Six houses will be on the self-guided tour. Tour registration will take place at Tyber Creek Wine Bar & Kitchen (First and Rhode Island Ave., N.W.) starting at 10:30 a.m. A reception will be held from 4-7 p.m. at Old Engine 12 restaurant (1626 N. Capitol St., N.W.). Tickets are $30 in advance and $35 day of. Details at bloomingdalecivicassociation.o
The Washington chapter of Ikebana International (ikebana is the art of Japanese flower arranging) is celebrating its 60th anniversary with a grand exhibition Oct. 6-9 at the U.S. National Arboretum (3501 New York Ave., N.E.) with about 80 ikebana arrangements on display. Demonstrations from master teachers will also be held on Oct. 8-9 at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. each day. Both are free and open to the public. Details at bonsai-nbf.org.
Big Gay Flea: a Queer Market will be held Sunday, Oct. 1 at Town (2009 8th St., N.W.) from noon-5 p.m. with 30 indoor vendor spaces available. Exhibitors will be local gay businesses and artisans, drag queens selling wares and collectors. Vendors will be outside; indoor area will have games, bar service, drag performances, DJs and more. Outdoor market is all ages and free. Indoor is 21-and-up with ID. Details at towndc.com or search for the event on Facebook.
The 10th annual D.C. Design House (9004 Congressional Court, Potomac, Md.) will be held from Sept. 30-Oct. 29 with 23 designed spaces, four boutiques, a celebration event on Sept. 28 and events throughout the month in the home’s ballroom. On Thursday, Oct. 5 at 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., former chief White House florist Laura Dowling will present her book “A White House Christmas.” She’ll sign copies; admission tickets to this event include a guided tour of the Design House. Look for the event on eventbrite.com for details.
The National Cathedral (3101 Wisconsin Ave., N.W.) has its fall festival on Saturday, Oct. 7 from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Details at cathedral.org.
Live music takes over Adams Morgan on Saturday, Oct. 7 for the Adams Morgan PorchFest from 2-6 p.m. on various porches, patios and stoops in the neighborhood featuring 30 bands. Maps available at the event at the corner of 18th and Columbia Rd., N.W. Search for the event on Facebook for details.
The 10th annual Oktoberfest is Oct. 19-22 at the Doener Bistro (202 Harrison St., S.E.) in Leesburg, Va., and offers “merrymaking at its best” with “boot drinking, chicken dancing and Lederhosen-wearing, like-minded friends” celebrating Bavarian style. Another will be held in Frederick, Md., Oct. 6-8. Full details at doener-usa.com.
Merrifield Garden Center, with locations in Merrifield, Fairfax and Gainesville (all Virginia) has gardening seminars scheduled throughout fall, a Halloween scavenger hunt and doggie Halloween costume contest on Oct. 28 (Gainesville location), ladies’ night out on Nov. 16, holiday workshops for Thanksgiving and Christmas and more. Full details and locations at merrifieldgardencenter.com.
The D.C. Big Flea Market will be held Nov. 4-5 at the Dulles Expo Center (4320 Chantilly Shopping Center, Chantilly, Va.) in the South Hall. Period and country furniture and collectibles of all eras including glassware, jewelry, silver, porcelain and more. Admission is $10. Details at thebigfleamarket.com or dullesexpo.com.
The Germantown Family Fall Festival will be held on Saturday, Nov. 4 from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. near Safeway (19718 Germantown Rd.). The shops at Town Center will host their fourth annual event with face painting, snacks, a football-watching party and more. It’s free. The event has a Facebook page for details.
My Best Of’s in D.C. real estate
Favorites in buyer programs, paint colors, and more
As I congratulate my colleagues and friends who have received the coveted Best of Gay DC awards, I thought it appropriate to share with you my own, subjective “Best of” list.
Best Housing to Buy. With 233 of them on the market in D.C., the one-bedroom, one-bath condominium under $400,000 may be the best option for a personal residence or investment. Given a median price of $320,000 and 49 days on the market, there are deals to be made. You have your choice of areas around the city and of buildings large and small.
Best First-time Buyer Program. D.C.’s Housing Purchase Assistance Program (HPAP) is by far the best option to use if you are eligible. This program is based on household income and size and can provide up to $84,000 toward the purchase of a D.C. personal residence. For example, to receive the full amount, the income of a party of two is limited to a total of $51,600, 50% of the median family income for D.C. Other requirements may apply.
Best Tax Reduction Program. If you qualify, you may be able to take advantage of the DC Tax Abatement Program. Using the example of our party of two working adults buying a personal residence for less than $516,800, the income limit is $79,020 or $113,500 in designated Economic Development Zones.
Approval for the program exempts buyers from paying property taxes for up to five years and reduces the closing costs for the purchase by eliminating the buyer-paid recordation taxes and distributing the seller-paid transfer taxes to the buyer instead of to the DC tax office. For the buyer of that $516,800 personal residence, that can mean a savings of nearly $15,000 in closing costs.
Best Neutral Paint Color. First it was Builder Beige, then Gray was OK, then they blended into Good Grief Greige. While neutrals can be bland and boring, these days, expect to see a variety of off-whites gracing the walls of homes for sale. Sherman Williams 7008, Alabaster, did the trick for my most recent sellers.
Best Wall Décor. Sponge paint and other effects are long gone. Forget shiplap unless you live in a house at the beach or on an actual ship. Distressed wood may still be suitable for a cabin in the woods, but in a modern, urban setting, wallpaper is back, baby!
This is not your grandmother’s wallpaper. No chickens, tiny prints, borders, or faux grass cloth are in sight. Today’s wallpapers are bold, geometric, or a throwback to mid-century modern and are primarily used on an accent wall so they’re not overwhelming. Love vs. Design (lovevsdesign.com) can create custom wallpaper to match your color scheme in a peel and stick application that eschews the mess of wallpaper paste.
Best Indoor Plant. For us plant growing novices, the award goes to The Easy Care Bundle at The Sill (thesill.com). For only $45, you get two potted succulents that are very hard to kill, a Snake Plant and a ZZ Plant.
You can also set yourself up on a subscription. $60 plus a $10 shipping charge buys a medium sized plant-of-the-month with a black or cream-colored planter. Choose classic plants or select pet-friendly, non-toxic plants for only $5 more with a 3-month minimum subscription. You can even purchase these as gifts.
Best Balcony Plant. For homes with a balcony or a deck, the winner is a potted Winter Gem Boxwood. It’s an evergreen that will turn a golden shade in the winter then green again in the spring. It also grows in both full and partial shade – almost a set it and forget it type of shrub – needing water only once a week or twice in hotter climates. Cut it as a topiary à la Edward Scissorhands for a little architectural interest.
Best Freestanding Refrigerator. I would be remiss if I didn’t include a best appliance category.An upscale fridge with see-through doors and built-in versions of computers, televisions and smart home elements holds a certain appeal until one of the glitzy attractions breaks and you spend as much for a new motherboard as you would for a whole new refrigerator.
The winner of this category, therefore, is Samsung’s model RF28R7351SR. This bad boy is available in both standard and counter depth and features a French door top with external water and ice, a pull-out freezer with dual baskets, and a middle drawer that can be set to one of four temperatures to accommodate food or wine.
There you have it. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to judge the Best of Blake Miniature Schnauzers category. I’m thinking a 4-way tie is in order.
Valerie M. Blake is a licensed Associate Broker in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia with RLAH Real Estate. Call or text her at 202-246-8602, email her via DCHomeQuest.com, or follow her on Facebook at TheRealst8ofAffairs.
Helpful tips for homebuyers in seller’s market
2021 has been a great year for home sales
Without question, 2021 was a great year for home sales. Sellers across the country, in many cases, found themselves listing their homes and quickly having not just one, but multiple offers, many of which were at asking price or above. With limited inventory and high demand, it has been an ideal year to sell—and conversely, often a difficult year to buy. Buyers who are interested in a particular home, or even in a specific neighborhood, often find themselves facing stiff competition to have offers accepted.
Fortunately, this doesn’t mean that many buyers haven’t had successful and rewarding home buying experiences—just that doing so often means making an extra effort and taking helpful steps to make an offer the most competitive that it can be. With that in mind, let’s take a look at a few helpful tips for buyers in a seller’s market:
- Plan ahead with mortgage pre-approval: While there are certainly a wide variety of strategies that real estate agents and financial advisors may recommend, and while those strategies might vary depending upon the buyer and the circumstances of a particular market, one thing almost all experts agree on is that obtaining a mortgage preapproval is a smart decision. A mortgage preapproval is an ideal way to reassure sellers that a reputable lender has verified your credit and approved your buying power up to a certain limit. If you’re caught in a bidding war with another potential buyer, having preapproval establishing that you are ready, willing, and able to buy just might give you the advantage you need in a competitive market.
- Be willing to look under budget so you can bid higher: In this highly competitive market, many home buyers find themselves in a situation where they are in a bidding war with another—or even several other—buyers. In that situation, you may find yourself having to make an offer at, or even in many cases, above, the asking price. This means that you may want to adjust your budget—and bidding—accordingly. Choosing to make an offer on a home that has an asking price that is already at the top of your budget may mean that you simply don’t have much wiggle room when it comes to making an offer over that price. Choosing a home slightly under the top of your budget means you’ll have more flexibility to make a bid that is more competitive and likely to be accepted.
- Consider offering non-price-oriented incentives: Without question, making a highly competitive offer is going to be the key to increasing your chances of having that offer accepted. It’s important to remember that there is more to an offer than just price, however. Buyers may want to consider increasing the appeal of an offer by supplementing it with other incentives beyond just the dollar amount itself. Examples of such incentives might include things like foregoing the seller-paid home warranty that is often offered as part of the process, offering a shorter closing period, not making the purchase contingent upon the sale of a currently-owned home, or other such incentives. Doing so may give you the edge you need to have your offer selected over other competitive bids.
- Retain the right real estate agent: Often, for LGBTQ buyers, especially in a competitive market, this piece of the puzzle is particularly important. In many, although certainly not all, cases LGBTQ buyers are drawn to specific areas of a city or community where other LGBTQ individuals live. That means that in a market where inventory is already limited and going quickly, there can be even fewer homes available upon which to bid. When that is the case, you will need a real estate agent who knows the community that you’re interested in, and who can quickly help you identify and take action toward making offers on homes that fit your needs. Having the right agent can make all the difference between a smooth and successful home-buying experience, and a stressful one
Jane Jane brings throwback joy to busy 14th Street
Cocktail bar characterized by warm Southern hospitality
There is no standing at Jane Jane, the new classic cocktail bar in the heart of 14th Street. Its 850 square feet is for sitting and savoring, drinking in the relaxed retro vibe and the thoughtful craft cocktails.
At the foot of the mixed-use Liz development where Whitman-Walker is the major tenant, Jane Jane’s creative use of a shoebox-sized space brings throwback joy to a busy thoroughfare.
In the pre-COVID days of 2019, Whitman-Walker approached the Jane Jane owners, hospitality veterans Jean Paul (JP) Sabatier, Ralph Brabham and Drew Porterfield, all gay men, to make good use of the vacant parcel, and ensure it would be run by LGBTQ entrepreneurs. “It required some gymnastics because of the layout,” says Brabham, “but we came up with this cozy classic cocktail concept.”
The hangout spot is an effort by the trio to “celebrate hospitality. We want everyone who walks into the space to feel like friends of ours we are having over for drinks or a bite. Its a cocktail party in our home,” he says. They felt connected to the idea of a tiny bar—a space where they would want to have a drink.
Named for Brabham’s mother, Jane Jane is as alluring and lively as it is intimate, each detail in the experience characterized by warm Southern hospitality—right from the bowl of spiced nuts that swiftly appear at each table at the beginning of service.
Sabatier, who has held stints at D.C. institutions like Rappahannock Oyster Bar, Maydan, and Compass Rose, oversees the bar and cocktail program, organized by spirit. (For their part, Brabham and Porterfield, romantic partners, also act as co-owners of Beau Thai and BKK Cookshop; Porterfield is also the current Curator and Director of Long View Gallery in Shaw.)
Sabatier has presented classic cocktails with a few noteworthy nods to current zeitgeist, as imagined by his lengthy experience behind the bar. The booklet-like menu includes a broad selection of familiar favorites like a Negroni, Manhattan, martini, but also features Sabatier’s handpicked favorite classics like the Boulevardier (a whiskey Negroni), Last Word (gin married to herbaceous green chartreuse) and Air Mail (rum, honey and cava). Drinks fall in the $13-$16 range; a “Golden Hour” runs daily until 7 p.m. featuring beer and wine specials and a punch of the day.
Sabatier’s creative juices flow on the first page through cocktails like the vividly named Tears at an Orgy, with brandy, orange and maraschino, as well as the best-selling, highly Instagrammable Crop Top, a gin cocktail with a red-wine floater—and a name that matches the look of the bi-color drink. “It’s fun, delicious, and speaks to the space,” says Sabatier. He notes that their vodka of choice comes from Civic, a local, women- and LGBTQ-owned distillery.
Sabatier, a classically trained chef and Culinary Institute of America graduate, also oversees the small selection of bar bites (the space has no kitchen, part of the required “gymnastics” to make it functional.)
Beyond the complimentary vessel of rosemary-flecked mixed nuts, other bar snacks run from pickled vegetables to a Southern-style Pimento cheese dip and an onion dip creamy enough to make your grandmother blush. The “Jane’s Caviar” dish is a spread of trout roe and crème fraiche and comes with a towering mound of shatteringly crisp chips. A weekend brunch is in the works, which will serve goodies from local bakeries.
The retro-style interior recalls both California and the South, with only 32 seats inside and a 14-seat patio. Cozy booths done up in a hunter green as warm and inviting as a cool aunt are slung below walnut-wood walls and bar. Bright patterned tiles run the length of the floor; the back wall has playful cocktail wallpaper. A charming needlepoint by the restrooms kindly requests of guests, “please don’t do coke in the bathroom.”
The owners note that while Jane Jane is not explicitly a gay bar, its location in a traditionally gay-welcoming institution means that it has LGBTQ in its bones.
“Supporting LGBTQ people, businesses, and causes has been in Jane Jane’s ownership’s DNA at every establishment at which they have been involved,” they say, having supported local LGBTQ+ organizations like Casa Ruby, Victory Fund, SMYAL and the Human Rights Campaign, among others.
Porterfield says that they were surprised that, given the locale, people assumed Jane Jane was a gay bar. “It’s not a gay or straight bar, just a fantastic cocktail bar that welcomes anyone to hang out with us,” he says.
Nevertheless, the owners have taken into consideration the significance of being in the Liz development, as both gay men and as part of the hospitality industry. “It highlights the lack of representation as gay owners in this bar and restaurant world,” says Porterfield. They note the lack of women, LGBTQ and BIPOC representation.
“It’s very special to us that we opened in this space,” says Porterfield, “so we want to show that we have opened a place that is all about inclusivity.”
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