It took seven long months to finish this place, but it’s finally done. For some
reason it’s always the last few things on the renovation checklist that end up
being the most gruelingly difficult to finish. Even though I swore this would
never happen again after it did during my own home renovation, my general
contractor ran off with a couple thousand before finishing the job, so I had to
squeeze out the final touches on my own. With each project I do, I keep
learning that you pay for what you get. If you’re pinching pennies, you have
to be extra careful about the quality of work completed and how the
contractors are managing your money. As much as I don’t enjoy
micromanaging people, it’s a total must – especially on tight-budget projects –
to take charge.
Take the interior paint, for example. Absolutely grueling. Why? Because my
contractor made the assumption that I wanted the entire house the exact same
color. When I agreed to only do one color on the walls as a way to save
money, somehow that translated to painting the ceilings and the trim the same
linen color. To be honest, after countless similar episodes throughout the
project, it was almost a relief when he left the job.
The interior of the house is totally new. Nothing original from its humble c.
1890-1905 birth year remains. So, I chose a dark stain for the red oak floors
because I wanted to give the house a rich, oozing with history feel. Not to be
fake about anything, but to restore some dignity to this home that had it all
stolen away over time. Matte black doorknobs offer a crisp contrast to the
white doors. Crown molding is made of three separate pieces of trim and
makes the transition from wall to ceiling all the more graceful.
Continues after the jump.
The 22 karat gold house numbers in a font created in the first decade of the
20th century give the house presence and legitimacy (expensive but totally
worth it. Monumental Graphics of Hyattsville did the install and this was his
first residential installation east of the Anacostia). It’s these details that really
make the house pop. Would it sell without them? Maybe, but that’s not
always the point.
I found a great mirror for the half bath on Craigslist. After searching high and
low for something in my price range that looked decent, all I was coming up
with was matchy pieces from Lowe’s and Home Depot. Ick. (allow me a gag,
I shop at those places all the time) But, happily, I found a retiree in Takoma
Village (super awesome lady who lived in the co-housing development) who
had bought this windowpane mirror at Eastern Market but was downsizing and
moving to San Francisco. Perfection, I thought, because it was what this house
is all about: old meets new.
Enter my favorite place in the house, the kitchen. Doesn’t it look great? If I
could do it all over again I’d probably make the wall cabinet doors on either
side of the solid wood. I love the glass, as well as the in-cabinet lights, but
people typically like hiding things in their cabinets more than they like
I found the amazing farmhouse table at Miss Pixie’s on 14th Street. I wanted to
have an island-like feature, so opted for a table with handsome pendant lights
overhead. A casual place to sit is always welcome in the kitchen.
I’ve always liked it when bathrooms have unique themes. Nothing cheesy like
Under the Sea or something … but some prefer the “all bathrooms in the house
are one style” approach and that’s just not me. For the upstairs hall bath, I
opted for a custom black and white tile design on the floor (very labor
intensive, as each black hex has to be inserted into the already glued-together
white sheets) and a classic white carrera marble countertop. The faucets,
knobs, and lights all sport white porcelain accents on shiny chrome. It’s a
As much as I would have loved to totally stage this house, I’m not sprouting
money (yet), so you’ll have to imagine the complementary shower curtains and
freshly rolled towels. For the master bath I went with a travertine-look
porcelain tile on the floor, with a tumbled travertine accent in the shower.
Mirrors and vanity are dark cherry. I’ll be honest, I think this bathroom would
look better in a different paint color. It comes across as a calm, sort of
sophisticated look, but isn’t the most exciting of combinations. Fortunately
painting is the easiest thing (for the next owner) to do.
So that’s it, folks. Crossing my fingers the right buyer comes along shortly. It’s
been fun meeting the visitors: young couple from Adams Morgan, home-
schooling mom from Woodley Park, young family from Hillcrest, and even a
government contracting firm looking to locate near St. Elizabeths.
This has been one heck of a project but a really rewarding one. Here’s the
Thanks so much for reading! Ciao!