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Posted by on Jun 6, 2013 | 4 comments

Danielle and Casey’s Eco Modern Rowhouse, Part 2

Danielle and Casey’s Eco Modern Rowhouse, Part 2

Danielle bought her rowhouse in 2001 with the full knowledge that she was getting a fixer, and by fixer we’re talking a hole in the roof, no air conditioning, no heating, and no hot water heater.


She’s put her all into restoring the house over the past 12 years, many with help from her now-husband Casey. In Part 1 of our home tour of Danielle and Casey’s rowhouse, we revealed their outdoor updates — a water catchment system and underground cistern, rooftop garden, shed, and beautiful landscaping that makes use of many low maintenance and native plants and trees.


Today, in Part 2, we take you inside and show you the amazing progress she and Casey have made. In this three-part series, we’re saving the “worst for last” because in Part 3, we’ll tell you all about Danielle and Casey’s trials and tribulations (there were some doozies) and lessons learned.

This is the before photo of the front room with its solid staircase, but obviously subpar flooring.

danielle-living room

Danielle and Casey use this room as an office and library with ceiling-high cabinets and bookshelves from IKEA lining the walls.

Danielle had covered the original, damaged parquet floors (that you can also see in an upcoming photo of the dining room) with floating floors in Beech from Kahrs.


Now we enter the kitchen renovation and back addition to the home. Danielle showed us some of her “before” images in a photo album of the original kitchen. The pictures speak a thousand words of despair. Remember still that the house also lacked heating, a/c, or a water heater.


danielle-Dining Roomb4

It gets worse before it gets better. The previous tenants were actually using the sink without a connection to the waste stack, so the water had been running into the cabinet and through the floor. Danielle also discovered that the horrendous smell emanated from inches of fetid water and slime in the dishwasher and sink cabinet. The yellowing on the cabinets and track lighting — it’s grease.


Danielle ripped out the entire kitchen herself. I can imagine how good it must have felt to be rid of this nightmarish kitchen and start anew. It took her 11 months in all to gut the kitchen, remove the center wall, reroute the water and ducts from the wall, and then another two weeks to install the cabinets and tile. For those of you who want more of a play by play of the kitchen reno, she recounts more details on her blog.


She and Casey keep a small table with an extension flush against the left wall. The kitchen bar is hinged so they can fold it down to make more room when they want to move the table out and seat guests on both sides. It’s still a tight squeeze — once you’re seated, you’re staying put for the entire meal — but not impossible.



Under the bar and as a backsplash, Danielle created mosaic after seeing one in the bathroom at Evening Star, no doubt the artistry and handiwork of Christi Hart whose dazzling mosaics grace Rustico restaurant inside and out, as well as her home.


Where the original home, and most if not all rowhouses, have stairs going down to the basement, Danielle and Casey, turned the space into a pantry. As we’ll see later in the post, they installed a new set of stairs against the back of the addition and turned the original stairs into storage cabinets in the basement.



The pantry door is actually a set of window blinds from IKEA. Danielle likes the look of them, but admits they’re hard to use, often getting jammed if you try to open and close them quickly. So, not appropriate for a high traffic door. But, for them, it keeps their prying cat out — one of their main goals.


Underneath the bottom shelf of the pantry, Danielle uses big storage tubs from IKEA, and clever as she is, she attached casters to the bottom. That way, she can easily move them in and out to retrieve supplies. It seems the squares on the four corners were made for the casters to begin with.


Here you can see the tubs side by side under the bottom shelf and the flooring from Lowes, a set of interlocking vinyl tiles ($1 each tile) that snap together instead of requiring adhesive. On her blog, Danielle shows her step-by-step process for laying the tiles, as well as how she installed the shelving and accomplished the wiring for the lights (by herself, at that).


The custom cabinets come from Cabico.  You can see here how they worked around the bulkhead by making one set of shorter, narrow shelves.


I like her use of IKEA magnetic containers along the side of the frig where they’re easy to see but don’t get in the way and include easy-to-read handwritten labels on each.


The dark orange steel beam? It’s a design feature, but is also basically holding up the entire second floor.


As an elegant solution, Casey found a set of i-beam clamps that would work perfectly for hanging the pot rack from the exposed beam.


For the work on the addition which they embarked on a year after finishing the kitchen renovation, Danielle and Casey worked with an architect, Camilo Bearman. It took them six years to complete the addition. In Part 3, we’ll chronicle the setbacks that occurred.


The tiles on the exterior are called Tegola tiles, a recyclable asphalt tile wrapped in copper foil. They used an insulation that is the most environmentally sound and least toxic choice — a foamed cement called Air Krete.


Today, Danielle and Casey enjoy their beautiful interior space — modern, sophisticated, and designed for maximum comfort.



The ductwork is exposed on purpose as a design element. It’s not something you see often in a home, but makes the space feel like an urban city loft. They chose the living room fan from Modern Fan Company.

She and Casey installed the flooring in the living room, an  engineered hardwood from Elmwood Reclaimed Timber. They chose a walnut flooring from downed trees from an ice storm in Missouri and used a water-based sealant.

And the shelf with the doors that you can slide into the top to create open shelving or close for a sleek appearance, comes from IKEA.


One shelf holds a projector they bought from eBay. Danielle told us she wanted to avoid having a TV. So, instead, they project shows and movies, and the Internet or anything really from their computers through the projector. I can’t imagine a better small-space solution. By painting the wall slightly off white, they didn’t have to buy a film screen either. All of the wiring goes up and over the room, completely hidden inside the ceiling.


Here’s Casey showing us how he works the projector with his smartphone. It’s simply the coolest, high tech feature we’ve seen in a Del Ray home yet.


And here is their Netflix account, projected on the wall opposite. It was broad daylight when we visited, but you can imagine how, by night, the living room becomes an intimate home movie theater.


Danielle let her DIY talents shine again in the living by transforming two chairs rescued from a United Way dumpster into a duo of beautiful modern Bauhaus-style chairs.


She reupholstered the original cloth with leather in “brown zebra” dye from eBay. She learned the technique from watching an HGTV episode and her blog gives a detailed how-to for anyone doing a DIY upholstery project.


Their living room now comes complete with a wood burning fireplace. You may recall seeing the chimney on their rooftop garden. This was an absolute must for Danielle. How nice it must be on cold winter days to cozy up on the sofa and start a movie on the big screen.


The exterior sides and back of the fireplace are lined with blue mosaic tiles.


Behind the fireplace, they installed a long wall of glass that provides a back wall for the living room and a divider for the stairs that go down parallel to it.


What Casey is viewing from his vantage point is the inside of these Pella low-E double-paned windows. They ordered them directly from Pella and  assembled and installed them with the help of friends.  on the back of the addition that make up what Danielle calls the “Wall of Glass,” or two-thirds of the entire back wall of the house.



To the left of the windows, at the foot of the new stairs is an exit to the back patio. The steps turn there and head down a few stairs into the basement.


The basement is now where Casey plays music. The stairs where the pantry now sits serves as storage in the remodeled basement.

Before we left, Danielle took us upstairs to see her rooftop garden and to tell us about her bathroom remodel. In particular, she pointed out this pentagon-shaped Kohler sink that her mother had bought but never installed and agreed to set aside for Danielle years ago.

Danielle had gutted the bathroom, demolishing it by herself, and removing three layers of linoleum and a layer of ceramic tile, before installing new subfloor, drywall, tile, rewiring the electrical, and all the rest. You can read more about the bathroom remodel and see before and after pictures on Danielle’s blog.


Here is a recap of some of the resources that Danielle and Casey used in their renovation:

Stay tuned for Part 3 — the dramatic conclusion of this series in which Danielle and Casey share some pretty scary stories and lessons learned about this 12-year labor of love.


  1. Such an inspiring transformation! Can you tell us if they used an “expert” or a particular plant center to design/choose their low maintenance and native plants and trees? Thanks!

  2. Man, I was feeling so good about myself today because I sanded and spray-painted some furniture. This is so cool!

  3. There was no expert – just us and many hours researching garden design and technology on Google (especially for the cistern design, which was my own cockamamie idea) and then many more fun hours at Behnke’s and Merrifield. It took about 4 years for the front yard to look the way it does now. Merrifield’s horticulturalist (the one out by Dulles) is particularly good. We were debating/fighting about the white pine in the back, but when he came and quoted the Last Samurai to us, we were comfortable having him make the call. 😉

  4. This is so amazing, Danielle! I remember how you started working on that house and already then managed to make it so modern! And now it’s totally unbelievable! If you get tired of law, you could become a designer!

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