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Posted by on Sep 8, 2014 | 2 comments

Dawn and Tim’s Port City Rental

Dawn and Tim’s Port City Rental

A few weeks ago, we shared the first in a series of posts about Tim and Dawn’s outdoor living space renovation. Things are moving along with the project and we’ll be back once there’s more to report. In the meantime, let’s take a look at the inside of their house, specifically the second floor apartment which they rent out through Vacation Rental By Owner (VRBO).


The house is actually divided into two 2-bedroom units with a shared entryway. When they bought the house, they originally planned to convert it into a single family house and even had local contractor Mary Denby stop by to provide an estimate. The conversion was going to cost more than they were ready to spend, so they decided to keep the house as-is for now and gradually make improvements such as renovating the outside and finishing the basement.

Dawn took advantage of a break between tenants and gave me a tour of the bright and sunny apartment last week.


The rental apartment has a spacious living room, dining room, galley kitchen, bathroom, two bedrooms and a small sitting room off to the side. It’s the exact same layout as the first floor unit where Tim and Dawn and their three young children live.




Dawn decorated the apartment on a budget — all the furniture and accessories were either family heirlooms or purchased from thrift/consignment shops, yard sales, the MV Big Flea or discount stores. There are a few DIY projects as well. The top of the dining table used to be a lighter color. They sanded it down and re-stained it to match the chairs they bought separately.


Dawn picked up the over-sized chair in the sitting room on Craig’s list and got the side table at the MV Big Flea.


Dawn stopped by the Big Flea last spring on a day I was volunteering and told me she was looking for items for the apartment to fit into a nautical theme. She picked up the wooden boat and the painting on the ledge shelf, perfect for a Port City home.




A desk in the second bedroom was Dawn’s when she was a child, the bed belonged to a friend of hers and the dresser came from the Big Flea.




In the master bedroom, Dawn created a makeshift headboard using two wall organizers from Home Goods. She found the dresser and nightstand on Craig’s List and the chair was free at a yard sale.





One of my favorite aspects of the space is how Dawn kept all the original light fixtures. Their styles range from stained glass in the dining room that reminds me of my grandparents’ house…


To a retro semi flush-mount in the second bedroom…


And a funky ’70s era wood pendant in the sitting room.


Renting the second floor as a VRBO as opposed to having a full-time tenant allows them to earn money to pay their mortgage and gives them the flexibility to rent out the space to fit their schedule. Most of the people who stay in the apartment are either visiting friends and relatives in the neighborhood or are leisure or business travelers looking for a comfortable space for an extended stay. They recently had a couple rent the apartment who were dropping off a student at a nearby college.

If you’d like more information, check out Dawn and Tim’s VRBO listing. We’ll be back to show some of the projects they are working on in the main level apartment and of course, the progress on the outdoor living space.

Thanks Dawn!


  1. It is absolutely lovely! I have seen it in person and it is such a comfortable place for a visitor! Well done Dawn!

  2. Does Alexandria allow short-term rentals in this neighborhood?

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