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Posted by on May 13, 2014 | 3 comments

Jon and Lisa’s DIY Fixer

Jon and Lisa’s DIY Fixer

If you went on the Del Ray House and Garden Tour this past weekend, you got to see something new for the tour, a house currently undergoing renovations. This “project” house is the work of homeowners Lisa and Jon, a pair of intrepid DIYers who are turning a classic Del Ray fixer into their dream home.


At the next Del Ray House and Garden Tour (in 2016), their house will once again be featured on the tour — most likely it will look very different — but in case you missed this year’s event, here’s a look at the before state of the house.


Jon and Lisa bought the house two years ago from the Burke and Herbert bank next door. It had been a rental for over 40 years — those 40 years came with a wide variety of decorating styles in the form of wallpaper, wall-to-wall carpet, paint and wood paneling. It also came with dated fixtures, a lack of air conditioning and water and roofing issues.


When they moved in, Jon and Lisa’s first goal was to fix the urgent issues, remove the unwanted decor and restore the home’s original features. Then, down the road, they would do a more substantial renovation, possibly with an addition on the back, designed by Lisa who is an architect. In order to save money, they would live in the house while they did the renovations themselves.



Leslie and I visited in March on a day Jon and Lisa were busy scraping and sanding the damaged plaster in the dining room. The walls and ceilings had been covered with wood paneling, wallpaper and tiles. Those dots on the ceiling are adhesive residue. Before they could patch the plaster, all the adhesive had to go. As you can see, it made quite a mess.



Over 40 years, many layers and styles of wallpaper were added to the house. They saved a relic of one and framed it in their bedroom. Wood paneling over the wallpaper seemed to preserve the paper nicely.


In the attic, layers of wallpaper still remain.


As well as the ceiling tiles, floor tiles, wood paneling and several shades of paint.




There are two rooms in the attic. Lisa is using one as a walk-in closet and the other is a home office. Eventually this entire level will be gutted. They hope to add a second bathroom too.



Who could say no to a house with an original Peanuts pencil sharpener?



But not all the rooms are overwhelming. Some are already finished. On our visit, the guest room was a staging area for the dining room furniture. The walls and trim are painted and it’s ready to be used. (The dining furniture has since been moved out and replaced with bedroom furniture.)


The bathroom is a good example of how to refresh a dated room on a budget. They kept the tile on the floor, mostly hidden by a rug, painted the vanity and walls and added new hardware.


The bathroom door was a freebie from Freecycle. It’s an exterior door and they covered the glass with adhesive frosting paper for privacy.


Another “finished for now” area is the kitchen. Long-term, they want to renovate the kitchen, so the changes they’ve made are only temporary while they save up for a larger-scale project. They painted the cabinets a greyish blue and on the upper cabinets they removed the doors and added a pop of orange inside.



The narrow spice rack cabinet was another Freecycle find, painted to coordinate with the rest of the cabinets.



The old stove still works. They purchased a new refrigerator and found a new, heavily discounted dishwasher at Restore.


The front door and porch exit right onto the sidewalk on Monroe Avenue, but the view out the kitchen shows a secret gem, a very deep backyard and a large garage, the perfect workspace for all their DIY projects.



For even more photos of the unbelievable transformation of this home, check out this video slideshow Jon made. It was running on their TV during the house tour.

We can’t wait to see how Jon and Lisa continue to renovate this diamond in the rough. Stay tuned for updates on their progress.


  1. We heard from so many people that this was one of their favorite parts of the 2014 Del Ray House & Garden Tour. Can’t wait till 2016!

    • I drove by recently and noticed Jon working away on the front porch steps (power washing?) well into the evening. His loyal pup was sprawled out by his side, fast asleep. (He had a hard, hard day.). Best of luck with the project!

  2. LOVED getting a peek at this house. Their hard work is really inspiring!

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