Sometimes I find inspiration when I least expect it. But when it appears, it's important not to ignore it and to simply hang on for the ride. 

Last week I found myself in the Kingstowne neighborhood of Alexandria, dropping off a housewarming gift for a client who just purchased her first home. Afterwards, I felt the invisible but very real draw of the nearby Home Goods. I was passing it on the way home, so what's the harm in just stopping by? Over the years I've stumbled upon some great finds at this particular location, so I I decided to make a quick pit stop on the way home, you know, to see what I'd see.

What was intended to be a quick perusal through the store, perhaps finding something for the new house or as a staging item I could use in one of my listings, instead led to the discovery of the catalyst to an unexpected whole room redo. 

When exploring the rug selection, I noticed the edge of the pictured gray and cream geometric rug peeking out from behind the hanging row of rugs. Upon exposing it, I was instantly smitten and wracked my brain to think where I might be able to use it. My inner dialog went as follows:

"Dining room at the new house? Nope, already have a rug for that room picked out. Hrm...what about the guest room? Nah, too big. Do I have any friends who are looking? Can't think of anyone."

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Comments 20

Q: How do you know you've neglected your yard for way too long?

A: When the weeds are taller than you are.

The last seven months at the new house have been largely devoted to getting the house back up and running following the whole house catastrophe last winter. We've been spending roughly 85% of our time ripping out the old copper plumbing, demolishing the old baseboard radiators, and coordinating the insurance and contractor process. The remaining 15% has consisted of trying to distract myself and stay positive by working on design plans for the house, combined with the renovation of the living room. I think it's fair to say that this has been 100% of effort we absolutely didn't expect during our first year of ownership.

We're accustomed to city living in so many ways, but one of the most noticeable is our lack of experience with gardening. To go from a 15' wide bricked courtyard with a few plants to over an acre of lawn, hedges, gardens, and more has been a huge change. 

But while we want the yard to be beautiful, our time and attention has been focused on interior projects. We hired a lawn service to keep the yard cut (and hopefully the snakes out!), but aside from the occasional weeding, trimming, and watering, we haven't done much else.

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Comments 13

I haven't talked about any good to tool purchases for a while, but I recently picked up a little something that is making me feel like a pro woodworker. It's a complete wood plug cutter set.

We're running full steam ahead towards our floor refinishing project in our house, but there are a few things we need to take care of before we can take the plunge. Most notably, the 108 year old antique heart and yellow pine floors are full of over a dozen holes from the baseboard radiators we removed from the house, and a large missing section of flooring where we removed the partial wall in the living room.

The living room patch job will be fairly straightforward with a few spare pieces of wood I collected when I cut the hole for the air return under the stairs...

...but the holes all over the house are a bit more involved. The various holes range in size from 3/4" to 1-1/4", with some strange shapes and very Swiss cheese looking sections. Overall, it's unsightly and can't really just be left as is.

If you're ever faced with something similar, the plug cutter is the perfect tool out there for you. All you really need is the right sized cutters and a few spade bits or hole saws and you'll have yourself plugged up holes in no time.

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Comments 10

We're debating what our fireplace mantel should look like, and we'd love to hear your thoughts.

Since we bought the house and started working on the living room project last October, we knew we'd be making some pretty significant changes to the fireplace mantel. The mantel that was there when we purchased the house seemed fine at first glance, but when we really started looking at it we realized it was a slightly odd looking and somewhat out of place mantel that was put in around 1992.

It didn't mesh with the rest of the house, seemed to be somewhat shoddily built, and actually fell right off of the wall when I applied a little pressure with the pry bar. When I saw the back of it, I could tell it wasn't really meant for our house, and in a way, I was freeing it to go run and play with its friends in a field somewhere.

Now that we've made our choice to build a custom mantel rather than trying to find a salvaged mantel for the space, and we've made the choice to do our own version of shiplap above the mantel, we need to actually figure out how the new custom mantel should really look.

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Comments 32

This week we've been getting stuff done.

That's about as simply as I can put it. We haven't had enough time for major projects due to continued hectic schedules, so I've been making a concerted effort to accomplish at least one thing in three categories each and every day. My goal is to get more done than just three tasks, but my focus is to ensure at least one task in each category gets checked off of our list.

Our To Do list is way too long and overwhelming to just start working through things, but if we don't start somewhere, it's never going to get done. So I've broken the list into three distinct categories.

1. Daily chores/maintenance (like laundry, cleaning, watering flowers, etc)
2. Home improvements/fixes for our Old Town house
3. Project work for our second home

Pretty simple, right? Get some chores done around the house, take care of a nagging thing that's broken or incomplete that needs to be done, and do a little work to move along the HVAC or project work at the other house? Well, as anyone without enough hours in the day knows (I think that's most of us) it's so much easier to use any extra time to sit on the couch, sleep in, or any number of things that's not nearly as productive.

I won't bore you with step by steps on the mundane things like "I did the laundry and watered the flowers," but I will bore you with the details of two items I checked off the list yesterday under bullets #2 and #3.

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Comments 4
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