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The Second House

Less than two years after we moved to Salt Lake City, I accepted a job at a TV station in Washington, D.C. with the same company and we were off for another adventure!

We were excited to move back to the east coast. I had not lived in the Washington, D.C. area since I was six years old. As a family growing up though we often stopped there to visit grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins on our way to The Farm in West Virginia.

My cousin/oldest friend and her husband lived in Potomac, Maryland and had a daughter the same age as my daughter when we moved there. It was wonderful for us to be able to see them on a regular basis. My parents were living only three hours away at The Farm and came back to the D.C. area all of the time to see their mothers, my mom's twin sister, and of course us.

Moving from Salt Lake, where home prices were significantly lower, it was a challenge to find a house that we could afford. We lived in a temporary apartment for months and I ran out of the office to see every new listing that my fantastic realtor found for us. Much like the majority of the country today, houses sold during the first open house with multiple offers in the D.C. area. We lost two houses before we found this one. When we bought it, our realtor had found out that this house in Chevy Chase, Maryland was going to go on the market later that day. It was five minutes from my office so we tore over there and I put a full price offer on it before I even left.

The house was a true fixer upper. It was built in the 1940s and the original owner was still living in it. It was infested with termites. It did not have air conditioning. It had the original everything. Even still, the owner tried to back out of the deal when he started to receive multiple offers for more than his asking price. The contract was as-is though and he did not have a way out luckily for us.

In the course of the almost four years we lived in this house, we re-did almost all of it. The guts (new roof, new exterior paint, new gutters, added air conditioning, replaced plumbing, etc.) and the glory (new interior paint, refinished wood floors, new kitchen, new sunroom, finished the attic and basement). Sadly, I have almost no pictures documenting the before and after so I will share the few I have found and some still shots from home movies. These do not do the house justice, they do give an idea though.

Here are some before photos of the kitchen:

This view if from the door to the dining room.

This view is the shared wall with the dining room.

The kitchen had the original metal cabinets, pink tile backsplash, formica, range, hood, and a pink wall oven (to the left of the range). There was a newer, large refrigerator opposite the oven which blocked the door into the back hallway.

The kitchen could not easily be expanded because the exterior stairs to the basement were directly behind the back window (opposite the range) and the driveway bordered it so closely on the outside. We needed to work within the footprint and make it feel larger so we put in open shelving on the sink side of the kitchen; added a dishwasher, put in a downdraft range/oven with a microwave on top. We put in a counter depth refrigerator where the wall oven had been before which freed up space to have a custom made table for a very small and efficient eat in kitchen.

Here are some (shaky home video) stills with glimpses of the finished product. It's so sad, because the copper light fixtures in this kitchen were amazing and the tile floor was beautiful. Alas, this is all I have....

Here is an exterior picture of the house, showing the porch before it was a sunroom:

We added heat to this room (I found radiators to match the rest of the house at a salvage store), we put in a brick floor, exterior walls and windows as well as French Doors to the backyard. Here is a glimpse into the sunroom from the living room with the slightly older little lady of the house:

The attic had a full set of stairs leading up to the unfinished space. We added a window in the stairwell and new windows on both sides of the main room. In order to put air conditioning in for the second floor and attic, the tubing needed to be run through the the attic so we put bead board and hatched openings for the mechanics around the base of the room and drywalled above that. We divided the room into an "office area" on one side of the stairs and a "sitting area" on the other. The attic also served as a playroom.

Again, some shaky pictures of the space:

The stairwell.

The office side.

This sitting room side.

Turning this house into a home was a labor of love. My dad, a good friend of his, and I did almost all of the work ourselves. I cooked my first Thanksgiving turkey in this house. The little lady started kindergarten when we lived in this house. I was close to family for the first time in years in this house. This home is the backdrop of many great memories (if not photos!).

Thank you for sticking through to the end, Kerry




Hi, I’m Kerry, a true lover of all things home design.  Thank you for stopping by to check in on the journey.  Please feel free to reach out to me, I love to talk design!

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