When Matt and Angela moved to Del Ray in 2004, they purchased the typical Del Ray rowhouse. Now, nine years later, they are ready to make their next move into a single family home — a 1930s cape fixer — which they happily stumbled upon during their Spring house hunt.
From the outside the house is as sweet as can be, but the inside tells a different story. Though they haven’t moved in yet, Angela invited me over to check out the new digs and get a sneak preview of the updates they are making to this classic house.
Before making an offer, Matt and Angela brought a home inspector/contractor to the house to get his opinion on a few problem areas. They didn’t want to make an offer without a professional opinion about whether or not the issues could be resolved.
The first issue was the living room. When you walked in the front door, you entered a narrow foyer with a wall on your right and an opening to the left leading into a very awkwardly sized living room. With three doorways, a large radiator under the window and a fireplace, there was zero room for a couch, deeming the room practically useless. However, on the other side of the foyer wall there was a small bedroom. With two spacious bedrooms upstairs, they really didn’t need a third.
So after their contractor determined which walls were load-bearing, they made the decision that if they purchased the house they would tear down the wall to the bedroom to make one wide open living room. And that’s what they did.
(And if you’re concerned about resale for this house — 3BR homes usually sell for more than 2BR — the contractor assured them they could build that wall back up again to create a third bedroom if they ever decided to sell.)
So now when you enter the house, you can go left toward the fireplace where they will have a sitting area or you can go to the right where they will have their couch and TV.
The former bedroom came with a full wall of built-in bookcases, wrapped around a radiator and window. Can’t you picture some houseplants over the radiator soaking in the afternoon sun?
They will also patch and refinish the floors (where the wall once stood) and reroute the electrical.
Angela and Matt are bringing over all their current living room furniture and are thinking of painting the walls the same color as their old living room — a buttery yellow, Behr’s Arizona Tan.
Angela is a yoga instructor and she plans to use a small addition behind the fireplace as a yoga and meditation room. The room is too small for chairs, seems like it was intended to be a home office for a former owner. They will put new carpeting on the floor and paint — Angela is inspired by the warm lavender color found at the Pure Prana yoga studio in Old Town.
Angela has already moved over a few pieces of art from her old house to help visual the colors.
The one room that doesn’t need much work is the dining room. Coming from a rowhouse with a dining room so small they had to keep the table tucked in a corner, Angela looks forward to finally having a large separate dining area. They are going to paint the walls a medium shade of grey and replace a chandelier. They plan to keep the chair rail and wainscoting.
The first floor also has a full bathroom. It has some well-maintained vintage tiles that they will keep, but the blue and white striped wallpaper is history. They may also replace the vanity, but other than that, no other changes in here.
The kitchen is also original. Everything is white except the dusty faux brick linoleum floor and there are exposed beams along the ceiling.
Storage is very limited — about 24 inches of counter top space and no dishwasher. Angela is going to get creative with some short-term fixes until they can save for upgrades.
But I love the vintage look so much — these cabinets make me feel like I’m in a rustic beach cottage. I told Angela I hope she keeps it this way forever! She did not seem to share that sentiment.
Off the kitchen is one of my favorite features, a screened-in deck overlooking a brick patio and a spectacular garden with brick pathways.
The patio has plenty of space for a table, grill and outdoor fireplace.
The previous owners haven’t lived in the house in many years, it stood as a rental before being put up for sale. At closing, the owner gave Angela a detailed map of the entire yard, specifying each type of plant, even some which are original to the house.
With some thoughtful pruning, they will be able to restore the backyard to what the previous owner envisioned, a Williamsburg, VA, style garden. (Coincidentally, Matt and Angela met while studying at William and Mary in Williamsburg and it’s also where they were married.)
On the second floor there are two bedrooms and another full bathroom. The closets in the bedrooms are small, but there are crawl spaces for storing out-of-season clothing.
The upstairs bathroom is another one of the “problem” areas — wood-paneled walls, brown checkered wallpaper (on the walls AND the tub), outdated (and leaking) fixtures and a window offering a peep show for neighbors. They are going to gut this as soon as the first floor renovations are complete. Angela is still pondering tile and fixtures, but I’m sure it will be fabulous.
Someone sure loved their brown checkered wallpaper!
And FINALLY, there is one more room to look at – the basement. Half of the basement is finished, a very dated finish at that, but functional enough except for one itty bitty problem — the ceiling is too low for Matt who is over six feet tall. He can’t walk in the basement without bumping into bulk heads. The plan is to rip out the ceiling and possibly leave the floor joists exposed (I’ve seen this done in a few Del Ray houses with rather nice results). We’ll see what happens once the drywall comes down…
Matt and Angela will definitely need a functional basement to support one of their favorite pastimes, homebrewing beer. They’ve already moved their supplies over as well as an assortment of ready-to-serve homebrewed beers (bottled in empty commercial bottles).
They’ve had so much success with homebrewing, they no longer purchase store-bought beer. It’s quite good in fact, always a highlight at Matt and Angela’s signature annual event, their Super Bowl Party, which should be even better this year at the new house (pressure is on, Angela!).
So what do you think of their renovation plans? Have any advice or tips? We’ll check in with Matt and Angela in a few months to see how they are settling in. Stay tuned!