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HomeHomes & GardensFrom Termites to Tremendous

From Termites to Tremendous

For years, people wondered whether the old clapboard building at 232 9th Street, SE, was haunted. The 118-year-old house had certainly seen better days. But Tim Temple, who owned the house next door, had bigger dreams for the termite-ridden structure. He was ready for a new renovation challenge and set out to make this place his home.

Tim really needs no introduction, since he has been a colorful figure on Capitol Hill for many years. His car wash, Splash, has been operating in the Navy Yard for 22 years. Tim says that this latest renovation project is his eighth project and he has definitely learned a lot of tricks along the way. “ I would say I really enjoy living in my own designed house,” he says, “which makes the process worth the effort.”

No Bones to the House
Often you read about the “good bones” of a house, meaning since the structure is sound, it is worth the effort to revive the rest of the building. In the case of 923 9th Street, there really were no bones to the house, as termites had eaten through the sidewalls. There are a few eyebrow windows and carpentry left at the top of the facade, but other than that, everything is new.

The project took about two years to complete. A lot of time was spent getting permits and permission with the Historic Preservation Office to go forward. The project was being financed through a construction loan from the National Capitol Bank. “I really appreciate the support they give to residents and businesses in our neighborhood. Without them, this project wouldn’t have happened,” Tim said.

One of the advantages of starting from scratch is being able to incorporate energy efficient technologies. Tim has always been on the cutting edge of home design, so he was excited to add the 30 solar panels on the roof. He estimates that “75 to 90% of the house’s energy will be generated from these panels.” Walking by the house, you would never know they are there.

The exposed beams in the dining room are original wood from the house.

The inside job
From the outside, Tim’s house looks like a 1900 farmhouse. But, once inside, it is all Tim Temple, incorporating his love of art and his travels to Chile. He has created his own special haven using the walls of the farmhouse as his borders.

As you walk through the door, there is a feeling of being transported to a different place. First, the nine and half feet tall ceilings give the rooms a feeling of spaciousness. The tall ceilings also allowed for a very roomy bathroom under the stairway. Walls throughout the house have been hand painted white using a method used in Chile. A broom is fitted to a paint card and raked across the plaster to create irregular, but texturally interesting strokes. The fireplace is a Chilean version of a southwestern kiva. Tim has fitted the fireplace itself with a special ventilation system that will make the fires roar this winter.

The exposed beams in the dining room are original wood from the house and make the dining room a little cozier. Tim excels at interweaving old and new, local and global. A huge colorful abstract by Capitol Hill’s own Tati Kaupp fills the room with energy, while the ornate gold framed mirror, another Capitol Hill find, reflects the table and wood sculpture on the dining room table.

Renovating the kitchen was a high priority for Tim, a self-professed foodie and cook. The room that walks out to the still-in-progress backyard space is filled with light. Tim selected the top of the line, professional gas stove from Wolf as his kitchen essential. He said he visited a lot of top end home showrooms, but his trusted construction partner, Frank Saunders, steered him to Home Depot, where he was pleasantly surprised to find the perfectly distressed maple cabinets he was looking for at astonishing prices.

Tim and Irish Setter, Ronan, enjoy their new renovated home, with a special nook for a favorite statue.

The upstairs of the home is light and airy with nicely sized bedrooms and baths. The laundry room is located on the upper level as well. Each room has its own ceiling fan, a must in Tim’s book for circulating the air.

Tim may be still settling in, but his home already is making a splash. He plans to enter the renovation project in the area’s historic preservation contests, as well he should. This 9th Street home is a project that scores on all levels.


Rindy O’Brien is a long time resident on Capitol Hill. She can be reached at rindyobrien@gmail.com

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