Haus Schwatz: Cati's DC Real Estate


To Car Or Not To Car

What’s the ultimate dwelling here, the true staple of real estate in Washington, DC? Yes, of course: the 3-bedroom brick or stone colonial. Sure, we have plenty of grander architecture as well. And yes, there are tons of 19th-century townhouses, some scattered farm houses and the split levels and ramblers of the mid-century sprawl development. But if there is anything that you’d call “typical” for this town and its close-in suburbs, it would be a smaller, solidly built 1930s or 1940s colonial.

By then, garages—probably a sign of post-depression prosperity--had become very common as well, many of them built into the first floor or basement of a house.

Be it because they don’t fit today’s cars too well, or because we have just become too lazy to park in there, or because most families tend to accumulate way more stuff than they might have 75 years ago, the truth is that almost nobody uses these garages as garages anymore. Instead, they have become storage rooms, home offices, guest bedrooms or family rooms. Especially in neighborhoods where street parking is easily available, space in the house itself often seems to be valued higher than space for a car. The old driveway has been obscured by plantings or leads to French doors or a separate entrance.

Often some parts of the newly finished space—the brick perhaps or the siding or the style of the windows--don’t quite match. But, well… they’re trying.

The case in the pictures here, on the other hand, taken of a house in Chevy Chase, shows a somewhat more curious example. Not a former garage has been disguised here, as one might assume at first glance, but rather the existence of a completely intact original garage. It’s almost as if this neighbor was afraid of being the odd-one-out on the block.

© 2012, Catarina Bannier


Comment balloon 3 commentsCatarina Bannier • February 14 2011 05:53PM


I just love the fake window.  I don't think that ever would have occurred to me, had I a garage to conceal.

Posted by Marcie Sandalow, Bethesda Chevy Chase DC real estate (Marcie Sandalow, Compass 301.758.4894 ) over 8 years ago

Hi Marcie!  I just didn't understand why they had to conceal it in the first place.  Now, no light comes in, and the garage door surely won't open, either...

Posted by Catarina Bannier, DC Real Estate The Smart And Fun Way (Compass) over 8 years ago

Cati, so true!  I have a two-car garage behind my house that is about to become a storage bin - and soon there will be three cars in my household parking on the street.  And something tells me that very soon this house will be renovated beyond recognition.  Wonder what they will do with the garage?

Posted by Patricia Kennedy, Home in the Capital (RLAH Real Estate) over 8 years ago