It’s not often that a designer casually mentions on Facebook that he just helped a Realtor primp a $13.5 million home for sale. Well, Jason Hodges did just that last week. He didn’t mention that it was the modernist Rock Creek home of Black Entertainment Television CEO Debra Lee, but I instantly knew whose it was.
I was a temporary editor at DC Modern Luxury in 2012 when writer Jill Hudson Neal wrote a story about this house. Greg Powers’ photography for that piece included a chic portrait of Ms. Lee, resting by the fire in her living room:
Lee commented at the time on the “freeing” power of working with architect Michael Marshall to create a home that was exclusively for her:
‘It’s quite something to be able to plan and execute something as personal as your home, without having to take everyone’s opinion into account,’ Lee admits with a laugh. ‘I was intimately involved in the whole process from beginning to end, and it was designed for me. Not many people get the opportunity to choose exactly what they like and not have to ask for permission to do it.’
Realtor Marilyn Charity, who’s listing the Massachusetts Heights house for Washington Fine Properties, told me that Lee’s selling now that she works primarily out of New York and Los Angeles.
This is what the living room looks like in the current listing, thanks to Jason’s work, which incorporates Lee’s own art.
A year after that first story ran in DC Modern Luxury, I spotted the house again in Home & Design, which detailed how Deborah Kalkstein of Contemporaria “positioned Lee’s entire art collection during construction, so that niches and display space could be created as part of the process.”
Lee also told Home & Design writer Annie Groer that she fashioned her master bedroom as a treehouse retreat:
It is in her beloved master suite facing Rock Creek Park—which she calls her ‘tree house’—where the busy executive unwinds completely. Facing a wall of windows split by a stone-clad fireplace, her bed seems to float toward the center of the room. ‘It’s the only place it could go so that I could have closets to die for behind it,’ she says. The adjoining dressing room has a center island and three walls of Poliform closets for storing Lee’s shoes, purses, clothing and jewelry.
The ultimate luxury is a hairdresser’s sink and makeup station tucked into an alcove off the master bathroom. ‘In the old house, I did my makeup on the kitchen table.’ She pauses to survey her girly domain, then admits, ‘Sometimes I have to make myself leave the bedroom and enjoy the rest of the house.’
Because the house is so custom, it might take a special buyer to embrace it. The Washingtonian last week predicted that Ivanka Trump and husband Jared Kushner might be interested as they begin their DC house hunt:
If Ivanka stays in touch with Chelsea Clinton, she may soon be sending Arabella Rose to Sidwell Friends. This $13.5 million home near Rock Creek Park could do the trick.
The Marshall Moya-designed manse is more to Ivanka’s taste, and, unlike the colonial options, they’d be able to repurpose the modern furniture in their Park Avenue penthouse.
Of course, no cable executive’s house would be complete without a drop-dead movie theater:
The house backs up to Rock Creek Park, so the exterior is also stunning.
It will be interesting to see who purchases this house. But Marilyn was smart to bring in a real interior designer like Jason, along with artist Nia Stratos, to make it appeal to a modern-minded, design-savvy millionaire.