Before and after bathroom tub2

Major Project Alert!

Well, we did it.  This is either the stupidest thing we’ve ever done or the most brilliant.  I’m talking about our decision to buy a new house.  A house that, for us, was pretty expensive, and yet still required work.  After 5 days post move in I was convinced that it was a dumb idea.  We had already found 3 leaks and evidence of a mouse infestation.  I was probably just tired and overwhelmed from all the hassle and chaos of moving and I wasn’t seeing the big picture.  The bigger picture is that this house is huge, about 5200 square feet.  It has all the things we wanted, a pool, a 3-car garage, was in our kids current school boundary, and most importantly, it had space.  Wonderful, glorious space.  I could stretch my arms out wide at our last house and touch both my and my neighbor’s home, so this new house on 5 acres, just outside of Washington DC, is a rarity and a real treat.  Sure, everything has its cost, and in this case getting what we wanted was going to cost us both monetarily and with the promise of investing time and sweat equity.  So now, after being in the house for just over a week, and already starting a few small projects, and in the midst of unpacking I’m feeling better about our decision.  Welcome to my major project, my new home!

My hope is to be able to document the renovation on the blog from start to finish.  So first, I guess it’d be smart to show you some “before” pics and describe the place.  Warning, these pics (namely the interior) show unadulterated moving mess and chaos.

Real estate is all about location, location, location, right?  This house is in Fairfax County, VA.  Close enough to commute to downtown DC for work every day, some of the best schools in the country, and quintessential suburbia.  Except this house is nestled in the woods on one of the few remaining 5+ acre lots in the county.  The location is about as close to perfection as we could get.

end of cul de sac

The lot is at the end of a cul de sac on a private drive.  It’s so nestled in the woods that you can’t even see the house from the street.

driveway

The house style is a 1980’s contemporary.  It’s got a long and rambling floorplan that contains one main living level and a walkout basement level.  The current style, both inside and out could most politely be described as “retro”.  I’m pretty excited to venture into designing a contemporary home since almost every project in this area is traditional, colonial, or coastal.  This will be a great change of pace and a bit of a challenge for me design wise, but I’m up for it!

1980's contemporary front

80's contemporary

The exterior of the home is brown, lots. of.  brown. Brown wood siding, brown brick, brown painted wood decks, brown asphalt shingles.  The solid wood front door blends right in because, yep, you guessed it, it’s brown,

brown exterior

The foyer is large, has lots of good light from the front windows, some crystal and gold chandeliers that aren’t my bag and frankly don’t go with the home.  The flooring is a glossy Carrera marble tile, which isn’t bad, but several tiles are cracked.  The foyer is the central hub with stairs leading to the basement (and a very traditional style railing), forward to the living room, left to the kitchen and right to the two main floor bedrooms. Yep, new flooring samples are scattered on the floor presently.

The living room is huge.  Everything in it looks huge.  Big wood picture windows with casement bottoms, vaulted ceiling to probably about 20 feet high, massive stone fireplace and the first appearance of the omnipresent mirrors.  I haven’t counted, but this house is like a funhouse.  There are mirrors everywhere you turn.   Full wall mirrors, cutout mirrors, tiled mirrors, mirrors on top of mirrors.  The living room also boasts the spongiest carpet I have ever felt.  My daughter has taken to practicing cartwheels here because it’s just like a gymnastic floor.

living room

The dining room is connected to the living room and shares the fireplace wall.  There is a smaller window overlooking the back yard, flanked by, yes, more mirrors, and a fun little drive through opening to the kitchen.  And by fun, I mean for my 10 year old self when I used to dream of working the drive through at McDonald’s (talk about #goals).   The dining room also has a chandelier very typical for the 1980’s, bright brass and faceted glass panels.

dining room

dining room

 

The adjoining kitchen is small by today’s standards.  The dated white cabinets, oak flooring, leaky skylight, unintentionally retro ceiling fan, fluorescent lighting and a wall of black mirrored glass are all the things that need to change.  To its benefit it does have nice granite counters and an updated fridge and wall ovens.  The ancient ceramic cook top and mismatched dishwasher are also less than ideal.

kitchen

leaky windows

stainless apppliances

The hall next to the kitchen leads to another room with a raised platform that forms a bar to the kitchen cutout, but this platform makes the rest of the space in the room awkward and unusable.  This room, which probably served as a family room, breakfast room has 3 different floors, black bamboo, red bamboo and glossy black granite.  The vaulted ceiling is nice as are the skylights and the large front windows.  We hope the woodburning stove will help with energy efficiency this winter.  This room actually used to be a garage so when it was converted to living space room was “taken” for the electrical panels by building a awkward closet.  The home has a number of electrical issues so as we fix them we’ll probably also relocate these panels since their current set-up is neither to code nor aesthetically pleasing.

family room

family room

Across the hall from the family room is a powder room, with floor to ceiling travertine tile, dated sink cabinet and lighting and a toilet complete with a wooden toilet seat.

powder room

Next to the powder room is one of my favorite rooms in the house… well not in its current state… but I’ve been wanting a mudroom forever.  Eventually this will be a mudroom/ laundry room with extra pantry style storage.

mudroom

The final room on this side of the house is yet another living room type space, which we’ll call a den since we’ve already got a living room and a family room.  Our hope is to not call it a den for long, we’d love to convert this room to the kitchen to maximize easy access to the back decks and the overall larger space.  We’ll know this Friday when we meet with a structural engineer to tell us if these dreams can come true since some adjoining walls would need to come down and we’d want to vault this ceiling as well.

den

Across the other side of this level is the bedroom wing.  The hallway has a coat closet (with mirrored doors of course) and leads to a bathroom and our daughter’s room. The bathroom isn’t too bad.  Sure it’s got a grey toilet and tub, 4 different kinds of tile (to the ceiling no less), a worn vanity, dated lighting, a mirrored medicine cabinet on top of a wall mirror, old brass fixtures and a brass and glass shower enclosure.  While we await for approval to knock down walls, I’ve taken on this bathroom and the nearby linen closet as my first pet projects.  I’ll detail more in a future blog post so you can see my low-budget reno on this bathroom.

hall bath

The 1st bedroom off the hall is my daughter’s and it’s a pretty standard bedroom.  Smaller than her last but it overlooks the pool.  We’ll eventually update it by replacing the traditional trim with something more contemporary, replace carpet with hardwood, new closet doors and paint.  Pretty simple, right?

bedroom 1

Finally, the master suite.  It’s huge, thanks in part to an addition in which the previous owners added a room on top of an existing deck.  However, this room currently seems to slope downward and features a gas fireplace that doesn’t seem to work, and burgundy and grey tile that is popping up unprovoked.  It’s a good thing that this space is so large because we will need to borrow some space to make the master bathroom larger.  The bath currently has gold framed shower doors, mirrors everywhere, some glass block and a plum purple sink and coordinating 80’s era tile on the walls.

master suite

That’s all for today, over the coming days I’ll take you on a tour of the basement and our favorite part of this property and the real reason we bought it, the outdoors.  Of course if you have great design recommendations, put them in the comments and share with your friends and family!

 

 

Before and after bathroom tub2

HGTV Dream Home: Inspiration for 2017

One thing I look forward to every New Year’s Day is the unveiling of the HGTV Dream Home.  I like to watch to get attainable (they use materials from every-man retailers like Lumber Liquidators, Wayfair and Cabinets to Go) design ideas to implement in my home or to inspire new designs for clients.  I really like that over the past few years HGTV remodeled existing homes vice building anew as they always used to.  This year’s home was a stunning remodel converting a Contemporary-Spanish-ish home on St. Simons Island, GA into a Modern-Low Country beauty.

They did away with a previous yellow stucco in favor of a white cedar shake siding and bold black trim and shutters.  The entry way and several other access points were converted from dated archways to expansive double doors.  Finally, the brown architectural shingle roof was changed to a lovely metal roof complete with an adorable cupola to give it an authentic Low Country look.  The conversion looks great, and close up shots reveal gorgeously finished wood front doors, but from a distance I’d maybe like to see a front door with a fun color maybe a vibrant mango or coral, especially since this is a seaside community.

HGTV Dream Home Before (Photo: Joe Loehle)
HGTV Dream Home Exterior, After (Photo: Robert Peterson, Rustic White Photography)

 

The interior designer, Brian Patrick Flynn, wasn’t afraid to take a few risks in the interior and achieved bold looks without looking totally whacko.   This large scale bust portrait at first glance has an air of traditional to it, when in reality, with her bandana and earrings, she’s a bit irreverent and lets you know her owner has a sense of humor.

HGTV Dream Home Entry with Quirky Art (Photo: Robert Peterson, Rustic White Photography)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This living room is a great mix of styles, Southern, Rustic, Glam, Cottage…. which could easily have gone awry, but instead looks relaxed and collected.

HGTV Dream Home Living Room mixes styles without looking chaotic (Photo: Robert Peterson, Rustic White Photography)

 

Ok, I’m a bit conflicted on the kitchen selections.  I really like the drab khaki-grey toned shaker cabinets as they remind me of the early 2000’s Martha Stewart drabware everything.  Totally a great fit for a Low-country home and a great alternative to the bright white cabinet of 2016.  But oh, the green subway tile AND green counters AND green hardware?  I get the earthy vibe it’s trying to elicit to keep in touch with the swampy, Spanish moss covered setting…. but it’s a bit much for me.

HGTV Kitchen with 2017 trend in cabinets (Photo:Robert Peterson, Rustic White Photography)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’d change out the counters for something like this and the hardware for something in black, like this one below.

River White Granite as a more neutral alternative

 

Almost black oil rubbed bronze might be hardware with more style longevity

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This Master Suite design is spot on.  The blue shade is calming but rich and vibrant and I think taking it onto the ceiling was the right decision (maybe without the bright white can lights, though).  I think we’ll see a resurgence of the traditional heavy drape in 2017 too, and Brian Patrick Flynn does them perfectly here, keeping the color light and style classic.

HGTV Dream Home Master Bedroom mixes calming blues (Photo: Robert Peterson, Rustic White Photography)

 

Usually home gyms are utilitarian and stark.  Why not exercise in a space that has a bit of style so that even if you don’t enjoy what you’re doing you can at least enjoy where you are?  Cork floors are a smart choice for the occasional dropped weight and are forgiving on the joints, not to mention looking classy.  The mullioned antiqued mirrors are also a great choice that make this look more like a real thoughtful room in the home than just an industrial utilitarian space.

HGTV Dream Home Gym to workout in style (Photo: Tomas Espinosa)

 

I wanted to be sure to share this guest bathroom from the HGTV Dream Home.  Is it the most spectacular bath in the home? Nope, not at all, BUT I think the setup of this bathroom is very similar to bathrooms in many American homes – it’s small, has room for just a single vanity, and has a standard tub – yet it still looks fantastic.  Some takeaways for what you could copy, rather than a regular shower curtain, use real drapes and take them from ceiling to floor.  Remove that frameless contractor grade mirror and replace it with a uniquely framed mirror and don’t be afraid of a bold color, especially if your fixtures (sink, tub, tile etc.) is white.  You could do those 3 things for under $200 and totally give a new 2017 look to your bathroom.

HGTV Dream Home small bathroom with big style (Photo: Robert Peterson, Rustic White Photography)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally, one of my favorite spaces in this home is actually not in the home at all, it’s the backyard and pool area.  Much of the style isn’t because of any intentional styling at all but rather due to the landscape designers decision to leave lots of foliage, including that lovely dripping Spanish Moss.

HGTV Dream Home pool and arbor (Photo: Cristina Wedge)

 

HGTV Dream Home backyard lush with mature trees and Spanish moss (Photo: Tomas Espinosa)

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