house hunt – episode 2

So two Fridays ago I was perusing Redfin when I saw it — an adorable little Cape Cod house with tan siding and a red door.  I thought about it, and sent it to Nick.  Two hours later, he calls me, telling me we need to see a house this weekend because it is adorable.  Yep, same house!  So, after a few days we made it over there.

It was built in 1946 and is in the neighborhood of Greenway Downs in Falls Church.  No, it’s not Arlington, but we could manage an extra few minutes on the commute for a house that we could make a home.  Needless to say, it needed a little TLC, but dang, it had potential!  Take a look…

First, the charming parts.




Love those arches, how the stair opens at the bottom and the top, and the stone fireplace.  Now, some vintage charm…that we would have to definitely change.


helllooooo mint! #allminteverythang


I mean, I guess this is technically a built-in…and yeah, let’s not talk about the kitchen.


This wall paper is obviously original


Oh, hey nipple light!

And the ugly:



So, what would I do?  Well, we made a detailed list to weigh the cost benefits if we were to buy the place and renovate it.  Technically, we could have made out alright–the house is cute and has good bones!  But, we’d be in a state of disarray for about two years, which neither of us really want.  If we would have put an offer in and got the house, here’s what we would have done and the estimated cost:

  1. Exterior: new siding, new roofing, door and exterior light. Estimate: $10,000

Modern Cottage Style in Connecticut - love the lanterns!:

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Image via here

2. Landscaping, patio, shed with two rooms (I need an artist studio!) Estimate: $9,000

Color and wisp:

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3. Refinish the floors and strip the wall paper, skim and repaint walls and trim.  Light blue greys, beige and white.  Lots of white. Estimate: $8,000

this railing---easy to clean ---Modern Cottage:

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4. Refinish BASEMENT.  Scary.  This would be 25-30% of our reno budget.  I can’t even tell you what I would do, other than make a bedroom and living area.  The ceiling is low, so it would be more of a movie room. Estimate: $25,000

5. Kitchen….completely new.  I’d take down the wall between the dining room and kitchen as much as possible.  Cabinets would extend into the dining area, meaning the “built ins” would have to go.  Thinking simple and clean, possibly utilizing Ikea components. Estimate: $15,500

Shake it Up: 7 Creative New Ways to Lay Subway Tile:

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Subway tiles take on a fresh look when they're laid in a herringbone pattern that runs diagonally.:

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The herringbone subway tile is just begging to grace the walls of this little house!

6. Two bathrooms.  Really, we would have a third in the basement, but that is covered by the basement cost.  Thinking about $10,000 each.

Le Petitchouchou:

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Cottage tour: Stylish master bathroom {PHOTO: Robin Stubbert}:

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7. Bullshit.  Because you know it always shows up. $5,000

So, about $92,500 in renovations.  As I am an architect and Nick was a contractor, we always add on a contingency of about 10-15%…which would get us right over $100,000.  The house was listed at $400,ooo; however, there were three other potential buyers while we were there, so we had a feeling the price was going to come up.  Comparable houses with renovations were selling for $550k.  Chances are, we would have broke even with all that effort.  So, while I would love to make this my project, it was not the one.  The search continues!

PS- If you are looking for little Cape Cods, ramblers or two-story Colonials, Greenway Downs and Devonshire, as well as Hillwood, Holmes Run and Pimmit Hills, seem to be reasonably priced neighborhoods.  I also saw a hot young dad with his little girl and it was adorable…I blatantly pointed out to Nick that that was my dream, and he did not protest…such a good husband.  So, if you like to have fun, want to possibly be my neighbor or can get down at a block party, look there!  We just might be kicking it on the front porch together one day!

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