Tuesday, December 31, 2019

And now for something completely different

Happy almost new year!  It's been awhile since we've posted and we're still plugging away on getting our plans drawn up and permits approved for the house but in the meantime, we...bought a studio apartment and renovated it.  This wasn't mentioned before because it wasn't actually part of our plan!  One of the hazards of not having a renovation in progress is that it apparently leaves me with too much time to look at real estate listings and, long story short, we found a very good deal on a very tiny studio in a condo complex where I used to rent many years ago.  The combination of familiarity and opportunity proved too much to resist and we bought it in mid-October.  And promptly found ourselves spending a lot of nights and weekends working on the renovation but, in just a couple of months, we finished the renovation, listed it for rent, and will have a tenant moving in soon.  Fingers crossed that we like being landlords...or our realtor will be getting the next phone call!

The studio is so small that it was both quick to finish and very frustrating for the lack of space for tools.  We're already looking forward to working on our own house where we don't have to drive even a short distance or play the never-fun game "where is that tool we need right now?"  And there are a lot of things we would normally rip out and replace but shared walls and basic economics prevented us from doing so in the studio.  Nevertheless, we've managed to make some tweaks to the studio and think that it's nicer now than it was before - the pictures will tell the tale!

Existing kitchen - meh, fine, nothing great to see here

Existing bathroom - that is not a trick of lighting, there really are two (slightly) different color tiles here!

The main room, looking towards the entrance (on the right).  Floors aren't bad, everything else is pretty much just okay

Main room, looking from the entrance.  Note the fancy green "feature wall" (spoiler alert: we did not keep the green wall).  Old windows, old window blinds, trim around the doorless door, weird box-out on the wall for long abandoned hvac.  All functional but...could be better
One of the more perplexing design decisions was that the former owners took out much of the wall between the kitchen and main room.  But with a studio, you need all the wall space you can get!  We decided to install a half wall here with a bartop to provide more seating/counter space and a wall against which a sofa can go

Getting going with the new kitchen flooring - a cement-look tile

New flooring complete!
Drywall up on the half wall
Turning to the bathroom - old, mismatched tile gone, starting install on the new marble-look porcelain tile.  Love a large format tile, it makes install so much faster!
Working on the floor - going with a gray hex tile here for a more modern look
Skipping ahead...we didn't do a good job taking in progress pictures but here's the reveal:

Ta-da!  The new kitchen has stainless steel appliances, granite countertops, new light fixtures, and space for a cafe table by the window.  The oak bar top provides a transition into the living room and the half wall is a good place to put a sofa

Hello kitchen!  You look much better now!
One more of the kitchen - Brian custom built the wine rack to the left of the microwave because there wasn't an off the shelf option to fit the space.  Maybe it's just because I love wine (I do), but it's one of my favorite things about the kitchen

Another angle

And still looking out from the kitchen - Brian designed and built the moveable divider wall, which separates the main room from the entrance and provides some privacy to have a bed against the back wall.  He also built oak shelves on both sides and they can be moved anywhere on the rack to provide storage.  It turned out to be quite a squeeze to get the wall into the studio - we were lucky it made it up the stairwell but it did and now it's here to stay

More main room - you can see how the divider wall makes for a nice entry way when you come in

Among other things, we replaced the windows and added trim around them.  The new trim makes such a big difference!

Moving into the bathroom
Having a lot of oak boards in the basement turned out to be very useful - more custom shelves in here, plus everything else is new (vanity, countertop, medicine cabinet, lights, fixtures, towel racks...literally not one thing was worth saving)

Newly tiled bath/shower - and no mismatched tiles here!
And finally, the two walk-in closets.  It might have been overkill but we ripped out the old single poles, repaired the walls, painted, and put closet systems in.  There's actually a fair bit of storage for a small apartment and this should make it even more usable

Second walk-in.  Hopefully no one will complain about storage space!
So that's it!  The final tally for 2019 is one house sale, one house purchase, one move, and one condo purchase/reno/rental.  That's a lot more excitement/stress/progress than we would have expected a year ago! 

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Here we go again

And...we're back at it with another renovation project!  After looking at what seemed like every house for sale - with our wonderful realtor, Heidi Robbins of Buck Realty - we settled on a project that is new in more ways than one.  Unlike our prior projects, we're not intending to completely change the exterior look and feel of this one because we love the original style.  Also, it's already bigger than any of our other houses originally were so, hopefully, we have less to add to it.  And instead of aiming for a Craftsman-style look, we're thinking of a more modern design this time around.  All in all, there should be plenty of new challenges ahead!

Starting from the exterior - the house is a Federalist style, built in 1940 and designed by Louis R. Moss, a DC architect who also designed the Chevy Chase Arcade and Yates Gardens in Alexandria.  Some exterior shots:

Hi new house!

Our neighborhood is called Country Club Hills for a reason - our house sits up on one of the hills

With our trusty pickup truck in the driveway

And from the back (with more hills)
And another from the backyard
We found the original blueprints in the basement when we were cleaning things out - check them out!  We'll frame them and eventually hang them in the house.

There were a few changes to the house (most notably, the garage and room above are wider than shown) but the house today still looks much the way it was envisioned in 1940

Another blueprint of the exterior

And the back of the house

Moving to the interior, we forgot to take photos on moving day so instead of a big roundup now, we'll be posting before and after shots by room.  We're working with our architect and engineer to draw up plans but have also started deconstructing the house.  Now that we're on our third major project, we have the (over?)confidence to start demo before our plans for how to rebuild are finalized.  We both took a week off from work in July and spent the time gutting the basement and starting to demo the family room.  Among other things, we took out a half bathroom in the basement and a full bathroom on the first floor - so as Brian likes to say, we're in the stage where our house is currently worth less than we paid for it.  Which to me means, there's no turning back and the renovation is officially on!

From the basement:

The basement is/was partially finished, with a storage room and a game/family room off to the side (with the plaid carpet)

View from the other side - all these walls made for some tight spaces

Partially finished laundry room

Getting the demo tools out - time to get to work!

Oh hey, a whole room is gone!

Just taking stuff apart
Now that is a demo job!  Still need to get that carpet up but one big room is done

Much better
Then we moved up to the family room.  You'll be shocked to hear we aren't keeping the wood paneling:

This side of the room had two closets and a full bath

Same side, different direction of photo
Given the location, this was the easiest demo of anywhere in the house - we just built a little ramp to the dumpster and opened the window and tossed everything out.  Minimal carrying required!

Side view - since this was temporary, we used clamps to put the side rails on
Taking out the formerly full bath and small closet
We forgot to take an "after" shot with the other closet and that side of the room demo'd but here's a good before and after of the dumpster!

Getting going in the basement
Nearly done!  We packed this thing completely full by the time the week was over


Saturday, March 30, 2019

(Not so) Suddenly Done!

After many months of neglecting this blog, we're back with an exciting update...the house is officially finished and under contract!  Happily, we negotiated a long close period so we have a couple of months to figure out our next move/project but for now - the professional pictures from BTW Images (with commentary, of course):

All the landscaping work paid off - looks lush and green!

Walking through the front door - the formal living room.  And so much wood floor!  We remember installing every piece...
Close up showing the fireplace with reclaimed barn wood beam for the mantel

To the left of the front door, a den/reading room

Moving into the family room/kitchen space, featuring Brian's custom built barn door to the pantry

Close up of the island with marble countertop and walnut bar top slab

Eat-in kitchen, featuring custom walnut table built by Brian and built-in banquette

Same space, different angle
More kitchen

Is this overkill on the kitchen pictures?  Probably, but I never get tired of this space

I'll miss you, Wolf range

One of my favorite features (and one that was replicated from our last house): double outswing French doors.  It feels so airy and spacious when they're open
Just rounding off the kitchen space - please note the stairwell, which very nearly killed us with its difficulty and stress

Finally moving on - into the pantry (with giant wine fridge
Formal dining room (with yet another custom-by-Brian table)
Mudroom with built-ins
And starting the parade of bedrooms and bathrooms.  With six bedrooms and five and a half baths, I'm not sure I'm going to post pictures of each one but this is the first floor bedroom (with en suite bath)
And one of the five full baths (so much tile work)
Moving upstairs - hello stairs!  You look so nice for something that was so time-consuming and stress-inducing!
Entrance to what we like to call the second-floor living room (but will probably end up as a kids playroom in its next life).  More barn doors.  Barn doors seem to be becoming our signature look
Master bedroom with accent wall
Some of my other favorite spaces - the master bath

Definitely going to take at least one more swim in this tub before we leave

Hello closet!  You make it so easy to be organized.  I'll miss you when we're living out of boxes again

Another bedroom
Another en suite bathroom
And another bedroom
The jack-and-jill bathroom with double sinks
Down to the basement - another reclaimed barn beam mantel over the fireplace

Wet bar in basement
Another bedroom

And another bathroom (no wonder we're tired of tiling!)
And, finally, the media room

The outdoor patio with fire pit

Longer view

The twilight photo shoot!

And from the backyard