FIRST LOOK: Julia Child’s Georgetown House Has Been Renovated and Could Soon Be for Sale

Nathan Law

Approaching Julia Child’s onetime home on Olive Street in Georgetown, it’s easy to imagine the chef herself welcoming you into the butter-yellow, 19th-century clapboard house. But when its current owner, Rory Veevers-Carter, opened the door one recent afternoon, the illusion that she might be simmering a pot of beef bourguignon […]

Approaching Julia Child’s onetime home on Olive Street in Georgetown, it’s easy to imagine the chef herself welcoming you into the butter-yellow, 19th-century clapboard house. But when its current owner, Rory Veevers-Carter, opened the door one recent afternoon, the illusion that she might be simmering a pot of beef bourguignon somewhere inside was quickly shattered. Today, as Veevers-Carter nears the end of a transformative renovation, the famous house’s interior is surprisingly modern. A back wall is made almost entirely of glass, and the steel frame of a custom floating staircase almost resembles a backbone. In the basement, the owner has installed a Turkish steam bath clad wall to wall in pink marble. Child would never recognize the place (though she’d probably love that bath).

The house’s current owner, Rory Veevers-Carter, has been working on the renovation since 2015. Photo by Evy Mages

The overhaul has been in the works since 2015, when Veevers-Carter bought the home for $935,000. (He declines to say how much he’s spending on the renovation, offering only that the amount would make “any self-respecting DC contractor blush.” He has documented the process on Instagram.) Veevers-Carter was intrigued that Julia and Paul Child owned the house from 1948 to 1961, he says, and that she worked on Mastering the Art of French Cooking while living there. But mostly he just wanted a fixer-upper in a good location. “Fixer-upper” is an understatement: The house—long rented out to students and other tenants—had so much rot that Veevers-Carter’s crew worried it would collapse. 

The rear of the house includes a wall of windows, originally installed as part of a renovation in the 1970s led by prominent architect Hugh Newell Jacobsen. Photo by Evy Mages

A view of the same rear wall of windows, from the house’s main level. Photo by Marisa M. Kashino.

Though he originally intended to live in the house, his plans have changed due to personal circumstances. That means the famous address—which Julia referred to as her “little jewel”—could be on the market as soon as this summer. Veevers-Carter, who hasn’t decided whether he’ll sell or rent it out, insists he’s not too sad to let it go. “If you like houses, you don’t get attached to them,” says the software entrepreneur, who owns two other old homes: a place on Cape Cod from the 1700s and one in Vermont from the 1800s.  

The very modern custom staircase, made of wood reclaimed from the house and steel. Photo by Evy Mages

An upstairs bedroom. Photo by Evy Mages

A soaking tub in one of the new bathrooms. Photo by Evy Mages

Of course, the biggest question for Julia Child fans is what’s up with the kitchen. Veevers-Carter wasn’t able to find any photos of it from when she lived there, but during demolition he uncovered a wall of muted green paint, which matches the color of her Cambridge, Massachusetts, kitchen, now preserved at the National Museum of American History. Convinced it’s a remnant of her favorite room, Veevers-Carter has left a patch exposed; he plans to protect it behind glass taken from one of the house’s original windows.

 

During construction, Veevers-Carter uncovered old green paint, which he believes marks the location of Julia Child’s kitchen. Photo by Marisa M. Kashino.
The space where the new kitchen will soon be installed (and where Veevers-Carter believes Julia Child’s kitchen was also located). The ceiling beams were reclaimed from elsewhere in the home. Photo by Evy Mages

Aside from that, the new kitchen will have the same au courant vibe as the rest of the house. Veevers-Carter thinks Julia would approve. “She always had the latest gadgets,” he says. “I feel if she was redesigning a kitchen, it would be modern.”

Senior Editor

Marisa M. Kashino joined Washingtonian in 2009 as a staff writer, and became a senior editor in 2014. She oversees the magazine’s real estate and home design coverage, and writes long-form feature stories. She was a 2020 Livingston Award finalist for her two-part investigation into a possible wrongful conviction stemming from a murder in rural Virginia.

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