We can finally put our feet up! If you've been following along the last few weeks, you know we were feverishly preparing our home for the Scottish Christmas Walk Weekend Designer Tour of Homes here in Alexandria, Virginia. We scrubbed, sawed, painted, restored, and prepared for the big day in anticipation of hundreds of tour goers descending upon our home.

After leaving you with our checklist progress update on Friday, we ended up working at warp speed throughout the day on Friday and bright and early Saturday morning before the tour. We were able to check everything off of our list except for hanging the shutters in the front window. Not bad for the lengthy checklist we thrust onto ourselves. In order to focus on the task at hand we even carted Lulu off to an alternate location to protect her fragile and neurotic psyche from complete and total over stimulus. She knew what was up.

We also made a point to pause on Friday evening and drink our fair share of scotch (celebrating the weekend of course) at the Taste of Scotland event. As usual, it was a great event and we had a wonderful time. 

But we're getting ahead of ourselves. Now that the weekend's festivities have wrapped up, we can take you on a virtual tour of our home as it looked this weekend for the tour, as well as give you a behind the scenes look at one of the busiest weeks of our lives.

Our general whirlwind of decorating started Thanksgiving weekend. This year we went home to Cleveland to celebrate the holiday with our families. The meal was excellent but we also had an opportunity to raid my mom's mercury glass collection. We knew we'd be using mercury glass in our Christmas decor this year, and my mom had a ton of pieces she wasn't going to be displaying.

With mercury glass in hand we headed back to DC on Saturday in order to get a jump start on our decorating. We had a Sunday meeting scheduled with our holiday home tour designer, Sarah Bohl, and we wanted as much out and available in the way of our Christmas decorations as possible. No sooner than we arrived home after our six hour drive, we were back in the car headed to pick up our Christmas trees. Yes, that's right, trees...plural.

We actually bought our trees at The Home Depot this year. Sure, it's no Christmas Vacation "into the wilderness to chop down a tree" type process, but it works well for us. This year is the first year we've had an SUV rather than our mustang, and boy did it make the process easier. No tying down the trunk while we precariously drive home at 20 miles per hour. No strapping the tree to the roof hoping it doesn't blow off into traffic. Having an SUV means we can toss the tree on a drop cloth in the back seat and close back hatch. It's like having a giant pine scented air freshener in the car.

We also stopped in at Michaels to pick up necessary additions for the kitchen tree. Since we had no existing decorations for a second tree, we'd be doing the whole thing from scratch. Wendy had a vision of completing a tree that would complement the mercury glass in the kitchen, and she was a woman on a mission.

By Sunday we had our trees set up in the doorway between the living and dining rooms as well as in the sun porch. The tree in the sun porch was much smaller in stature due to the somewhat tight area where it would sit. Due to our diameter limitation, we opted for a five foot tall tree rather than have to creatively trim a taller tree, but after seeing it in the room we realized it looked much too short. Thanks to my wood hoarding issues, I quickly located several pieces of plywood in the basement to throw together a quick platform box that would raise the tree the necessary 13 inches.

We had made a lot of progress on Saturday, so we were ready to get to work on Sunday when Sarah arrived. Wendy and Sarah started working on decorating the kitchen and the sun porch tree. After laying out the new ornaments as well as Alex's mom's mercury glass collection, they formulated a plan.

Sarah and Wendy began working some holiday magic on the kitchen and sun porch, and it was looking great. After all of their efforts, and after I made a quick run to Target to procure a few additional ornaments and strands of white lights, we had a beautifully and festive kitchen/sun porch full and mercury glass accents and a beautiful Christmas tree. Sarah covered the base of the tree and the box I had built with a few yards of burlap fabric for a final touch. 

It was the perfect use for it, and Lulu was a serious fan. In fact, she took to sitting and laying on the burlap skirt all week.

Throughout the course of last week, we spent time finishing up our huge project list, along with putting up our tree, adorning it with white lights, red berries, and our collection of painted glass ornaments.

This past Friday, we both took off work so we could complete the decorating. Sarah came back again to help us, and worked her bow magic on the yards of plaid ribbon I purchased from Michaels. 

One beautiful bow went atop our tree in the front room.

We decorated a live boxwood wreath for the back door...

...and also embellished an eucalyptus wreath in the foyer with one of the bows as well as the antique bugle Wendy picked up on a recent trip to Lucketts.

Wendy worked to make swags for the French doors (we'll be doing a tutorial on these in a later post).

She also replanted the front urns with festive topiaries and hung a boxwood wreath in each window.

The florist we were paired with for the tour, Helen Olivia, delivered gorgeous arrangement after gorgeous arrangement to decorate each room in our home as well as the back yard. Two of the workshop students, Sharon Hanes and Hope Debrow, made these jaw dropping arrangements.

Sarah and Wendy also set the dining room table, complete with china, flatware and stemware generously donated for the day from Design Cuisine, a local event rental company.

And in a tongue in cheek nod to a close friend, we displayed her WalMart plastic Santa in our back yard. This cheery fellow was received in an office exchange, and lands on unsuspecting door steps in the neighborhood when a home's owner least expects it. I thought it was only appropriate that he bid farewell to our visitors on their way out the back gate.

On Saturday morning we woke up early to do a final vacuuming, a little mulching out front and sweeping out back, and Wendy baked a quick batch of pumpkin cranberry almond muffins for the docents assigned to our home. We cleaned ourselves up, and then made ourselves scarce for the next five hours, during which time we viewed the other homes on the tour including this gorgeous 18th century estate on Wolfe Street...

...and this beautiful 1807 home on South Fairfax Street.

Meanwhile, our home was open for the tour. We chose not to go through it because we thought that we would seem like weirdos going through our own home. But let me tell you, leaving our pride and joy in the hands of other people, no matter how capable, was a little nerve wracking to say the least. As we left the house, others were beginning to assemble to begin touring our modest little home. For us, it was an odd sight to see.

If you weren't able to make it, we hope to be able to give you a brief "virtual" tour of our home and how it looked on the day of the tour. Let's start outside.

The exterior of the house welcomed visitors into our festively decorated row house. 

Walking into the downstairs hallway, visitors were greeted with the somewhat simple wreath on the mirror since the harlequin walls can be somewhat overwhelming.

Immediately to the left, our front parlor (living room) provided a warming fire and the first view of our Christmas tree. 

The red dining room, whose color seems very festive this time every year, highlighted the place settings and several beautiful floral arrangements. The tablescape was made a bit more informal by using burlap and two runners of tartan fabric. 

Additional accents were provided around this room through the use of my extensive collection of nutcrackers from my childhood.

Walking from the dining room into the family room, the decorations were far more subtle. A small arrangement on the coffee table, a few holiday pillows, and two silvery trees next to the television is all that is necessary to make this room feel "decorated." Mel, though he was on the couch in this photo, spent the tour closed in our bedroom. He was not a happy feline, to say the least.

The kitchen and sun porch were the final rooms of the house, which featured another large floral arrangement, our second tree, the extensive mercury glass collection, and Wendy's great grandfather's "finished" chair. The chair is another item we'll share more on later this week.

Visitors exited through the rear door of the house and into the back yard where a final floral arrangement sat on the table and Santa waved goodbye. 

We'll be sure to share more details about individual items like the floral arrangements, the exterior decor, and creating holiday-inspired artwork in subsequent posts. All in all, we had a wonderful time participating in this weekend's events, but to be totally honest, we're exhausted. It was a great experience and we'd do it again if asked...just as soon as we get some shut eye...and maybe after we finish a few more projects.

Since we didn't tour our home, unfortunately that means we didn't get to hear what the docents were saying about the house, nor did we get to hear many comments from other people touring our home. If you went on the tour, we'd love to hear what you thought as well as hear any cool or interesting details the docents filled you in on. If you took the "virtual tour" above and want to share your two cents, we'd love to hear that too.

Comments 47


Carrie Cole Jolly
12/3/2012 at 10:40 AM
I'm decorating our home for the first time this year - and doing a mercury glass arrangement as well. I may need some of your tips!
Old Town Home
12/3/2012 at 10:45 AM
Happy to help, Carrie Cole Jolly! Mercury glass is one of my favorite elements to use for the holidays!
Paula Pagano
12/3/2012 at 10:50 AM
Beautiful. I love the festive topiaries.
Patricia Kagaoan Rooney
12/3/2012 at 11:05 AM
Looks great!!! You have a beautiful home. Loved seeing the burlap, I'm nuts about burlap this year and have started to accumulate my share of mercury glass. I am also going to show my son your collection of nutcrackers. We started one for him as well, he affectionalety called them "chestnuts" when he was little and that's what we continue to call them...His Chestnut Collection (he's 15 now).
Old Town Home
12/3/2012 at 11:10 AM
Thanks Patricia Kagaoan Rooney! That's such a cute story about the "chestnuts." :-) Alex has quite a collection from when he was a child. Believe it or not, we didn't even get them all out on display!
Old Town Home
12/3/2012 at 11:15 AM
Thanks, Paula Pagano. I thought they looked cute too. :-)
12/3/2012 at 12:09 PM
Looks lovely! The bugle was a great find!
Thanks, Bekah! I was glad to be able to work the bugle into the design somewhere. :-)
12/3/2012 at 12:16 PM
I'm a local so I did the tour and really enjoyed seeing your home in the flesh. I did note the mercury glass and wondered where it was from. Question answered! We also have a boy with nutcrackers, tho I go for smaller ones. His first was from a teacher friend in old towne. Best comment from someone exiting....bet the Santa came with the house.
"Bet the Santa came with the house." LOL! Hilarious.

So glad you could make it this weekend, and that you enjoyed the tour!
12/3/2012 at 12:27 PM
Looks fabulous. You guys did a great job!
Thanks so much, Becky. It was a ton of work, but we're so happy to have the excuse to finish up those nagging projects and get our decorations up early!
12/3/2012 at 1:06 PM
Your house looked amazing! Really, really, charming! Thanks so much for all the pictures and commentary. I was really looking forward to this. Can't wait to see how you made the door swags - love them! You two deserve a good rest..?
Thanks, Bea! A good rest sounds heavenly right now! :-)
12/3/2012 at 1:28 PM
Of all the years to get sick and miss the house tour, I miss out on this one! Looking forward to hearing "the rest of the story" on Wendy's great grandfather's chair. That was some crazy hard work, but your house looked gorgeous.
So sorry you missed it, Diana. Feel better soon!
12/3/2012 at 2:33 PM
You guys have such a beautiful home! I love the plates above the fireplace. The Christmas decorations looked good too! I think all your hard work paid off :)
Thanks so much, Antonella. It feels really great to have those nagging projects checked off the list! :-)
12/3/2012 at 4:09 PM
I toured your home and just thought you did a great job. I loved the Christmas decor, especially in the kitchen. So fresh. The mercury glass was beautiful, and the second tree was a nice touch. It was also fun to see all the projects you've been writing about on the blog up close! On the docents, the things they honed in on weren't so much the history of your house, but the hallway painting (and everyone marveled that you did that yourself... and wondered how you got the lines so straight!), and they kept saying how you both are DIYer's and where you can follow your work (so, great marketing for the blog! ps... also very clever of you guys to display the QR code advertisement!) Great job Wendy and Alex!
So glad you could make it, Renee, and thanks for the inside scoop! That's great that they told visitors about the blog, and we're so happy you appreciated the QR codes. We weren't sure how many people would know what to do with them. ;-)
12/3/2012 at 4:20 PM
Your house was stunning and I had a blast helping you decorate! I heard LOTS of folks saying it was their favorite house on the tour. The words "delightful," "fresh," "warm," and "inviting" were used A LOT!!! Thanks so much for allowing all of us to invade your home!
Thanks, Sarah! I love how the house turned out too, and we had a great time! Thanks for sharing some of the good feedback! :-)
12/3/2012 at 4:52 PM
It's beautiful! It really all came together in the end! And now you've got all of your Christmas decorating out of the way! How anti-climactic that you didn't get to hear any of the feedback, haha. Glad people are popping in with what they heard.
We feel the same way! It was a ton of work, but now we can enjoy the beautiful decorations for the rest of the month. :-)
Bonnie Michaels
12/4/2012 at 12:17 AM
As a loyal reader, I was so excited to tour your home! It was first on my list and I probably seemed a bit, "blog stalkerish!" I found myself looking for everything...you new door stop, your new curtains in the sunroom, and your new shoe storage project! No worries, no drawers were opened :) It was funny...the docent asked me what else I knew! They did share about the painting in the entryway and highlighted your blog; also, mentioned checking out the nutcracker collection...loved that display! Your home was just beautiful ~ so lovely yet very livable and cozy! Thanks for sharing your home with us!
LOL! Too funny, Bonnie. We're so glad you could make it on Saturday, and that you enjoyed the tour. Thanks too for giving us a glimpse of the narrative, and for helping to add to it!
12/4/2012 at 6:01 AM
Inspiring as always!! What a beautiful home!
Thanks so much, Whitney! :-) Happy holidays.
12/4/2012 at 11:04 AM
I loved seeing your house "in real life."
It was hard to picture the layout from just reading the blog so it was really fun to walk through. I spent the last two evenings trying to copy the swag on your vestibule doors and it didn't come out as pretty as yours - but I tried! I was swooning over your entrway and the hallway paint. Thanks for wonderful inspiration and ideas!
Thanks for coming through the house, and we're glad you enjoyed it.

You're in luck on the swags, we're doing a blog post tutorial on how Wendy made them (hopefully up this week).
12/4/2012 at 2:04 PM
I'd be curious to know about two cabinets partially shown in photos. The one in the dining room with the nutcrackers (I *LOVE* nutcrackers, but I only have 2-3 of them). That one looks like a nice antique, and I don't think I've ever seen this wall/side of the dining room (but I can tell where it is based on the light fixture in the entry). The other one I'm curious about is the TV cabinet. This looks really similar to the cabinet you were planning to paint white for the master bath vanity...?

The house looks great.

Will you guys also be sharing photos of the houses you toured? That was kind of a tease! :D
The first cabinet with the nutcrackers on them is actually part of the whole set we bought about 10 years ago. It's the china cabinet with a matching dining room table, chairs, and buffet. It's a 1940s or 1950s piece. Not in the best shape in the world, but it has beveled glass and holds LOTS of stuff.

The second on with the TV on it is a really cool antique. It's an 1850s-ish marble topped buffet with big feet and wheels. Not sure what type of wood, possibly walnut. It too holes TONS of stuff.

As much as we'd absolutely love to share photos of the other houses, such as the basement of one that was one of the coolest spaces I've seen in all of Old Town (brick arches galore), they frown on photography while on these tours. While we don't mind our home's photos being all over the Internet, the other owners may not appreciate it. This is why we try to stick with home's that are already photographed online in home listings.
12/4/2012 at 2:08 PM
Also, I'm confused. I was under the impression that the antique chair had only been reassembled last Thursday or Friday (30th), but the photos seem to show that it was done the week before... since the tree was already up, and the chair was there, stained, and with a new seat.
No, you're correct, it was reassembled the week prior, but not stained until last Thursday. The main delay was actually waiting on the dye to arrive. We had a week between assembling the chair and when the dye we ordered actually showed up. There's not really a "seat" in it, just a pillow we threw into place to make the "chair" a chair.
12/4/2012 at 8:40 PM
Your house looks so festive! I like that you were able to use your own Christmas tree decorations. And now you have a nice long time to relax and enjoy all your hard work.
We also have a great excuse to keep having people over our house to see all of the floral arrangements and wonderful decorations. It's making for a very lovely Christmas season.
12/4/2012 at 10:55 PM
Hi Guys!
I also toured your home this past Saturday and LOVED it! It looks even better in person than on your blog. The docents pointed out the doorstop and some of the recent project items in the kitchen. The neatest docent point out was the diagram of the original old town street layout that you have framed and up on the wall. Loved that detail! I was also awed by the plate wall above the fireplace. Great job guys!
Hah! I love that they pointed out the doorstop! We love that map on the wall. The original owner of our home, Mrs. Bryan, is actually listed on that map from when she lived around the corner on King. Thanks so much for the additional information. We love hearing what other people heard.
12/4/2012 at 11:12 PM
House looks beautiful! Great job and I can't believe you got all that done. What are you supposed to do now then;)

You've inspired me to get on things and I'm writing my list and got started a little bit today with filing papers.
Perfect! I love when we inspire lists! Lists are often our lifeblood. They really keep up moving in the right direction.
12/5/2012 at 12:09 PM
The house looks amazing! Great job, Wendy and Alex! Looking forward to hearing more about some of the projects, especially the door swags!
Thanks! Keep your eyes open later in the week for those.
12/5/2012 at 2:17 PM
I live up the street from you on Prince and found your blog after reading your note in the Kitchen during the tour! I have to say that this was my favorite house on the tour! I love the finishings and decorations throughout the main floor of your town home, they are really lovely. My favorite part, however, has to be the front door color. It is bright and cheerful. It is really interesting to see what goes on behind the scenes of the home tour-- I would have never known how much work is required! Thank you so much for sharing!
12/5/2012 at 11:28 PM
Your house looks beautiful! I wasn't sure what to expect when decorating for a house tour but the decorations are gorgeous yet understated and really highlight all the hard work you've done. And it's been so nice to get a behind the scenes look.
12/6/2012 at 11:22 AM
Hi Wendy and Alex,

My friend and I really enjoyed going through all the beautiful homes that were on the tour with our give-a-way tickets.

All of your hard work really paid off,everything looked fabulous! It was great to see in person all the things you've posted on the blog.

My friend and I made a day of it in Old town and went home with tired feet but great memories!

Thanks so much for the opportunity.

12/8/2012 at 8:14 AM
Thank you for the virtual tour! I live in New York and fell in love with Old Town many years ago when my daughter moved to the area. She now lives in Capitol Hill (which i also adore) but whenever i visit i need my Old Town "fix". I admit to being an "Old Town Home" addict! From the trials and tribulations of your beautiful restoration, your heartfelt stories on your wonderful pets, your vacations - it's like reading a storybook! Since i was unable to get to Old Town that weekend - thanks for the pictures- gorgeous!
12/20/2012 at 10:59 AM
I love the fact that you guys have some pretty loyal addicts to your blog. It is pretty damn cool. Sorry I missed it, but the house AND the flowers were STUNNING!!! :)
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