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With a focus on outdoors, Georgetown House Tour returns for 88th year

The pièce de résistance inside one of Christian Zapatka’s recent home renovations isn’t a large-scale painting or an ornate lighting fixture. The highlight is a continual wall of floor-to-ceiling steel and glass windows that separate the indoor living space from the outdoor world.

“You don’t need art when you’re looking out at nature. I mean, it’s just an incredible view,” Zapatka said about the design that captures a perfectly landscaped backyard and floods the first floor with natural light.

The home, located on the quiet street of Dent Place in D.C.’s Georgetown neighborhood, has many modern qualities. Storage closets are hidden behind jib doors, the staircase sports stainless steel and polished nickel rails, and built-in alcoves serve as custom cases for the homeowners’ collection of art and artifacts.

But the home is also steeped in history. Half of it was built in the 1890s, and the other half was added on in the 1940s. Then in the ‘50s, the four-level abode, which sits behind a black wrought iron gate, had a famous neighbor: Jacqueline Kennedy.

“And there’s a very lovely photo of Mrs. Kennedy walking down this street with a big poodle — well dressed, of course — and you see to the left this unmistakable pair of gates,” said Zapatka, a well-known architect in the D.C. area.

On Saturday, April 27, the revamped Dent Place home, along with seven others in the neighborhood, will be featured in the annual Georgetown House Tour, which serves as a fundraiser for the nearby St. John’s Episcopal Church.

The theme of this year’s tour, now in its 88th year, is all about bringing the outdoors in.

“Outdoor spaces are just few and far between,” said house tour co-chair Hannah Isles.

Single-family homes are a scarce sight along Georgetown’s brick-lined sidewalks. Row houses account for a majority of the neighborhood’s real estate, and few come with large, lush lawns.

“I think everyone in Georgetown is always trying to figure out how to blend the peace of the outdoors and bring it in,” Isles said.

Other homes on the tour include a property that was once part of the former Evalyn Walsh McLean mansion (McLean was an heiress and the last private owner of the hope diamond), as well as two other residences renovated by Zapatka.

Tickets to the tour ($50) include entry into the eight featured homes, plus an afternoon tea and panel discussion with architects and designers at Saint John’s church.

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