Inside Homes: A Sense of Discovery

by Catherine Trifiletti

A traditional Georgetown East Village Property gets a contemporary facelift by Ezra and Jessica Glass.

Ezra and Jessica Glass with their dogs Hudson and Cheddar.

An upstairs hallway is punctuated by a Joe Andoe horse painting.

Landscape designer Marion Oxford Dearth worked on the courtyard. The redesign of the main house’s rear exterior mirrors the modern satellite structure – synchronicity that helped push it through Georgetown’s strict historic board.

Massive in-wall speakers flank the floor-to-ceiling windows in the couple’s bedroom and blackout shades serve dual purpose as a television projector screen. Art is by Los Angeles-based Elwood T. Risk. Glass pendant lights by Celestial Pebble. The couple drew inspiration for the full wall headboard design element from Ian Schrager’s Public Hotel in Manhattan. The wooden diamonds create a three dimensional atmosphere and add warmth to the room.

The staircase was designed by sculptor Howard Connelly. Steel railings are wrapped in leather. Walls are Venetian plaster by artisan Chris Burke aka Mr. Faux

The building located at the back end of the courtyard was original to the property. The Glasses now call it their technology-free inspiration space. Upstairs is a bedroom for Jessica’s eldest son.

Ezra’s childhood friend from Potomac, Md., Eric Chang, of Hellman- Chang furniture makers, built a custom sectional for the living room and consulted on other interior accents. Lighting by Christopher Boots.

Ezra and Jessica Glass don’t want their newly renovated Georgetown residence to just look good, they want it to feel
good. The experience begins once you remove your shoes at the front door and have your bare feet welcomed by rare kiln-treated, Denmark-imported Douglas Fir floors underlaid with warm board heated to a precise temperature. “You’re not seeing it, you’re just feeling it,” Jessica says of the challenging design at play.

A more than meets the eye ethos is what drives the real estate development arm of the Glasses’ business, Thyme Holdings, where they transform standard parcels of property into dynamic commercial concepts. The six buildings they own and operate in Georgetown include intimate cafe and event venue 2622 and the Grace Street Collective, which houses community staples South Block, Reverie and their most-cherished friends at Ultra Violet Flowers. (When a new lease threatened the floral company’s ability to remain in town, the Glasses purchased the property to keep them around). In the long term, the duo represents the new wave, utopian vision of Georgetown and in the short term, a dose of cool that the area desperately needs. With a growing investment portfolio in the neighborhood, it was only natural that they establish more permanent roots, Ezra explains. In 2017, once Jessica’s three children from a previous marriage reached driving age, the family pounced on the East Village standalone Colonial once inhabited by Vice President Henry Wallace. The couple was drawn to the bones of the main house, and even more so the satellite structure built by distinguished architect Hugh Newell Jacobsen, finding his ability to incorporate avant garde into the traditional architectural vernacular well suited to their vision of creating something exciting and unexpected. No stone went unturned during the two-year renovation, which included digging out space under the house to gain extra square footage and installing 19 beams to support an open concept that ensured continuity from the front windows to nine-foot glass doors flush with the backyard.

As opposed to work-related projects, the process of overhauling their own living space forced the Glasses to rewire their savvy approach to construction and ultimately slow down. “We made changes that were not good business decisions, but decided we were going to do [them] because they are the right thing,” Jessica says, speaking specifically about the arduous installation of an artistic floating staircase that they had commissioned by sculptor Howard Connelly. Several architects, designers and tastemakers from their robust Rolodex served as resources throughout the ambitious project.

Further evidence of the couple’s meticulous efforts are locked away in every corner. “We spent an inordinate amount of time working on the systems beneath the walls,” Jessica explains, referring to Meljac switches—simple panels dictating room temperature, lighting and sound—in every room. Ezra, being technologically adept, took on the burden of programming the buttons, resulting in a smart house without the visual disruption from dozens of screens.

Having left a significantly larger property in McLean, Va., the Glasses’ goal was to achieve functionality and efficiency without compromising the feeling of a warm gathering place. When it came to interiors, the two were careful to curb their modern design inclinations to avoid cold and sterile rooms. For that reason, they opted for neutral-toned matte Venetian plaster walls for texture. “I like things to be organic, anything that makes the house feel a little bit connected to the earth,” Jessica says, hearkening back to her childhood adobe house in the mountains of New Mexico. (Fun fact: her family, helmed by professional artist parents, were neighbors of preeminent American modernist painter Georgia O’Keeffe.)

The most exciting discovery on property is the two- story offshoot in the back of the house, separated by a zen-like courtyard (formerly an outdoor pool). Inside the extension is what the Glasses call their “inspiration room” an analog space where they can spark creativity and ideate while reading books, listening to records and pondering by a fire. A wall of towering wood panels disguises storage cabinets and a door leading to an upstairs bedroom. Six months after moving in to the renovated house, the family is enjoying Georgetown’s walkability and for Jessica and Ezra, an easy commute to their commercial properties. As official members of the community, they look forward to continuing their efforts to unlock the neighborhood’s full potential. Jessica says: “Now that we’re living here, we’re even more motivated and invested.”

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