SELLERS: George Stephanopoulos and Ali Wentworth
LOCATION: Washington, D.C.
SIZE: 5,652, 5 bedrooms, 6.5 bathrooms
YOUR MAMAS NOTES: In the wide world of television journalists, many of whom look like–no offense intended ladees–John McLaughlin and James Carville, lefty liberal George Stephanopoulos is like political commentator candy. Cute as a kitten and smart as the dickins, he’s a little bit of Greek catnip coming right through the boob-toob with those glittery chompers. Back in 2001, Mister Stephanopoulos married well-bred and even better educated actress/comedienne/writer Ali Wentworth (It’s Complicated, Head Case, In Living Color). They popped out a couple of shorties and all settled into a big house in Washington, D.C.’s Georgetown neighborhood where they lived in a 4 bedroom and 6 pooper row house on 28th Street NW. However, the insider-y couple sold that house in June of 2006 for $2,850,000.
Property records show that in the same month, Mister S. and Miz W. bought a bigger and better house a few blocks west paying $5,200,000 for a 4-story, all-brick Georgian Revival residence that was built in 1907, measures 5,652 square feet, and includes 5 bedrooms and 6.5 poopers. However, now that Mister Stephanopoulos is headed to Noo York City to fill the co-host seat vacated by Diane Sawyer on Good Morning America, he and the Missus have listed their D.C. digs with an asking price of $6,350,000.
Mister Stephanopoulos is a well-known commodity in Washington, D.C. having worked behind the political curtain for a few years and then busting on to the national scene as one of president Bill Clinton’s mouthpieces and word spinners. The stress of president Clinton’s pressure cooker of an administration caused poor Mister Stephanopoulos to repeatedly break out in hives so it’s no wonder that when he left the White House he turned to a less stressful–and far more lucrative–job as a political analyst for ABC. A few years of giving his lefty liberal opinion on the tee-vee led to a gig hosting the televised political round table This Week. As mentioned before, he’s now a talking head on morning television, a job that probably pays a bundle but, let’s be honest children, has a lot less gravitas attached to it. But then again, most “news” programs have done away with any kind of sobriety in exchange for pandering to all things sexy and salacious and a furious chase to the lowest common denominator in the public need–or lack thereof–for hard news. But that’s really another rant for another time and place, isn’t it?
Anyhoo, after closing on the their new townhouse, the couple set about doing up the day-core with the assistance of interior designer Elizabeth Martin. They opted for an unabashed and eclectic situation, a real Mister Toad’s Wild Ride where leopard spot curtains and cushions covered in ikat fabric co-exist in a taut and challenging yet surprisingly harmonious relationship with fuchsia colored poufs from Morocco, sofas covered in eggplant velvet, zebra skin rugs and more corals and sea shells than can be found on any sea shore.
The symmetrical, somewhat somber and perfectly poker-faced front facade gives nary a hint of the fanciful day-core that lies beyond the small anteroom with its classic black and white harlequin tile floor and the faboo front door painted with the most marvelous high-gloss black paint. Your Mama and the Dr. Cooter have a special affinity for glossy black doors, having painted the front door of our former shingled farmhouse on the East End of Long Island with an inky black, marine grade paint that created a chatoyant and almost mirror-like sheen that gave us goose pimples every time we touched its silky smoothness. But we digress yet again….
The front door of the Stephanopoulos/Wentworth home opens to a generous foyer where anyone with eyeballs can plainly see that a deeply considered but mischievous and animated if not particularly eccentric day-core has been aggressively married to the serious architecture of the house that includes intricate and even ornate entablatures, delicately scrolled iron balustrades and the original parquet and herringbone patterned hardwood floors. The center of the foyer is occupied by a round faux-python table on top of which are a couple of bell jars protecting a few of Miz Wentworth’s precious sea shells. Pair those delights with the Neoclassical settee swaddled in fuchsia silk, the enigmatically unflattering black and white Lucien Freud drawing of a nekkid woman, the big ol‘ bowl shaped crystal chandelier, and the adjacent powder pooper covered in a coral patterned wallpaper and BAM! you know this isn’t a Georgette Mosbacher or Sally Quinn kind of Washington, D.C., but another, less stodgy brand of new-fangled political power-glam.
Bold, vivid, almost pugnacious color has been used to great effect to pull the eye from one room to the next, drawing one ever deeper into the lair. The children will note how the vibrant, nearly violent orange African feathered headdress above the fireplace in the dining room beckons guests to keep moving inward from the foyer with naked promises of visual decadence. On the other side, the cool grey-ish lavender walls of the formal living room invite and portend a serene, fantastical and underwater-like space. Upon passing through the threshold one realizes the colorful disruption first presented in the foyer and dining room continues with hot pink poufs from Morocco and bold, mis-matched patterns including the violet star fish shape on the carpet, the red coral print on the sofa pillows, and the toile–ish fabric on the slipper chairs. Everything in the room becomes both balanced and up-ended by the landscape painting above the sofa that feels warm to the room’s cool. Your Mama could do without the pussy willows on the ceramic Chinese stool, but that’s really splitting hairs, isn’t it?
The paneling and the decorative moldings in the family room are bathed in a rich, milk chocolate color that sets off that eye-popping orange painted into the back of the built in book shelves that flank the fireplace and are filled with actual books that do double duty as artwork with their own kind of multi-hued and random sequencing. The children will note, of course, that the repetition of the oranges and pinks throughout the main rooms, including in the family room, provides a much needed through line in a complex decorative brew that could have easily become chaotic and cacophonous. A long, tufted chocolate brown sofa overflows with cushions of various patterns and colors that ought not go together, but somehow do in a perhaps not so subtle homage to the late, great David Hicks. Tables are filled to almost clutter with stacks of books and magazines topped by sea shells. A giant basket over flows with lap blankets and, in the corner near the fireplace, a bulky, brown, grey and gold striped armchair is having an energetic conversation with a zebra skin rug. It’s difficult not to mention dangerous to try to turn a bunch of decorative orphans into a functioning family, but here children, it seems almost effortless.
We can’t help but feel the kitchen, with it’s white, flat fronted cabinets and lemon chiffon colored walls lacks some of the verve and joie de vivre of the rest of the house. Listen chickens, Your Mama likes a utilitarian kitchen as much as the next water boiler and we detest decorative affectations such as putting table lamps on kitchen counter tops in an effort to make the cookery look like the damn living room. However, we’re afraid it looks to Your Mama like Mister S. and Miz W. cheaped out and opted not to pony up the cheddar for their ladee decorator to do up the kitchen with the same sort of cosmopolitan and contemporary point of view as in the rest of the house. And please, for the sake of our sanity, let’s refrain from any discussion on upsetting and unholy incongruity of that tiled back splash behind the range.
Although working the same mixy–matchy motif that includes leopard spotted drapes, ikat covered cushions and a tufted teal green bench that jumps up off the deep brown wall to wall carpeting, things are not quite as decoratively polished in the master suite as they are in the rest of the house. Maybe it’s the angle or maybe it’s that awful awful awful duvet. Your Mama might have gone with something a little punchier to tie it to the careful and incandescent color scheming seen in the rest of the house. Or, perhaps, we’d have just gone there and done something in a shade of brown or maybe blue or something red and coral patterned. Anyhoo, the master suite is comprised of a bedroom, sitting room, dressing room and dual poopers. We’re not sure if the “her” bath is a decorative delight, but the “his” bath is an abomination of glass block and that same 1980s tile pattern that was used as the back splash in the kitchen. Ugh. With all due respect to Miz Martin, who Your Mama thinks is talented, but trying to unify this bathroom to the rest of the house by throwing up some patterned wallpaper and painting the inside of the linen cabinet coral is a little like putting lipstick on a pig. And this, butter beans, is a piggy pooper if there ever was one.
The wee back yard, if if can be called that, consists mostly of a flagstone patio with a gurgling fountain surrounded by a perforated brick wall and furnished with some comfortable looking but not particularly interesting patio furniture. Presumably there is a grill back there somewhere because for some reason Your Mama cottons to the image of Mister S. standing around in a pair of Tevos with a beer in one hand and a spatula for flipping burgers in the other.
Additional and other amenities and luxuries, according to listing information, include the three fireplaces, a private elevator, staff quarters, a 2 car garage, fully finished basement and a wine cellar/grotto.
Mister Stephanopoulos and Miz Wentworth’s real estate shuffle involves not only selling their house in the capital, but they’ve also been swapping houses in the Hamptons. In early 2008 they sold a house on East Hampton’s Clover Leaf Lane for $2,500,000 and recently spent $3,500,000 for a new house, also in East Hampton, near hoity–toity Hook Pond and the even hoitiy–toitier Maidstone Club. According to previous reports and listing information we teased out of the interweb, the classically shingled residence was built in the 1890s, sits on just over an acre, spans 4,500 square feet and includes 5 bedrooms, 4.5 poopers and three fireplaces. The well-located property also includes a 60-foot long gunite swimming pool with a blue stone surround and terrace and a detached guest cottage with studio space, loft bedroom and a private pooper.
Records show that Mister S. sold a Gramercy Park apartment in 2003 for $2,700,000 and as recently as 2005, Mister S. and Miz W. did have a copiously chromatic and art-filled crib in New York city that was all did up by color queen John Barman who had the passionately hued pad photographed for the April 2005 issue of Architectural Digest. We’ve heard whispers that Mister S. and Miz W. may have already purchased a place in Manhattan. However, Your Mama don’t know a cookbook from an umbrella about Mister Stephanapoulos‘ plans–or lack of plans–for a New York City residence. According to a Kiki Ryan at Politico, Mister Stephanopoulos “hopes” to stay in Washington–at least temporarily–and commute to New York for work. That’s one wicked and soul crushing commute considering that Mister S. has to be up before the crack of dawn in order to host Good Morning America. At the very least, Your Mama, Miss Kiki and the New York Post all expect he’ll spend big to lease a crib in Manhattan where he can crash during the week, returning home to Washington on the weekends. That is until his D.C. domicile sells anyway, and since we hear through the gossip grapevine it is already in escrow that shouldn’t be very long.
photos: Georgio Furioso / TTR Sotheby’s