Woodland Heights Renovation

Just over a month ago, I helped Christof and Megan buy an amazing house in Woodland Heights.  Now they are in the middle of doing what many of us dream about: a diamond in the rough foreclosure, a great neighborhood, and major renovation plans.

Click on photo to learn how this house also provided sheep for a family in Kyrgyzstan

I asked Christof about the process of going through a major renovation.  Here, he shares his answers and unveils the master plan for the house.

Christof & Megan with their incredibly cute and well-behaved daughter

MeWhat was it about this house that made you decide to buy it over all the other houses for sale in Richmond?

Christof: This house had, by far, the most character per dollar of any house we saw during our house-hunting process. Also, the curved wraparound porch, and beautiful old Sycamore were selling factors.

 

MeTell us about the process of re-designing so many aspects of the house… Why did you decide to add the bathroom downstairs and change the floorplan the way you did?  What were your priorities (maximize space/resale value/personal needs/historic integrity)?

Christof: The rationale for introducing a powder room in the center of the ground floor was a necessary, balancing, response to our decision to take out the old, full bath next to the kitchen. It didn’t make much sense for us to have a full bath on the first floor anyway, it needed tons of work, and we wanted space for a pantry… so we pulled it out.

 

Original Floor Plan

Renovation Floor Plan

Floor plans shown above are courtesy of Brian Ward, general contractor on this project and owner of Greenleaf Renovations.

Christof: Our priorities all along have fairly focused on livability. So many people view their homes through the lens of resale value. We’re not taking that approach. We knew we wanted a walk-in pantry, open kitchen, large island, and smooth flow from the living room through the dining room to the kitchen. Our secondary concern was historical integrity. We’ve purchased old pine lumber to replace any holes in the wood floor, used reclaimed wood for as much framing as possible, and decided to restore the porch to its original glory with a railing and spindles to recapture some of the romance of the original Victorian look.

 

 

Me: What have been some of the biggest challenges to this point?

Christof: Some of the biggest challenges have been getting the yard in order. The huge Sycamore and surrounding vegetation cost a lot more to handle than we thought. But, on the other hand, now that they’re all trimmed up it’s much more exciting and beautifying than we expected so it all evens out.

 

MeWhat part of the house are you most excited about?

Christof: The most exciting part of the house right now is the kitchen. It looks like it’s just going to be awesome.  There are three additional areas that keep our minds spinning at night. The first is the possibility of fully restoring the wraparound porch. This has the potential to add value to the home and make the home much more useable for entertaining. Secondly, we are excited about the possibility of adding a second-floor balcony off of the guest bedroom/study. This is definitely one of those “aim for the moon” concepts right now, but it’s still within the realms of possibility and so… we keep dreaming. Third thing would be the “loft” – aka attic. We would like to finish it off and are preparing the space for additional work after we move in.

 

Great attic space just waiting to turn into living space

New Master Bedroom closet framed out

 

If you are thinking of buying or selling your Woodland Heights/Westover Hills home, contact me!  I live in the neighborhood… know it, love it, and I’m excited to help you with all things Real Estate.

Keep visiting the blog for more updates on the progress of this home in the coming weeks!

Jay McGee used to live in Southeast Asia, doing language research and literacy development. Now he’s a Real Estate Agent with Compass Realty. He gives a microloan to somebody in a developing country every time someone in Richmond buys or sells their home with him.  Learn why here.
Contact: jaymcgee.kw@gmail.com

10 Holiday Craft Ideas

It’s that time of year where adults get out their crayons and don their smocks.  Holidays awaken the arts & crafts soul in all of us.

 

Yesterday, we took a walk in Forest Hill Park and collected some choice leaves.  This morning, Sam made an autumn leaf, waxpaper and crayon… thingy.

 

 

 

 

If you’re in an arts and craftsy mood for the holidays, check out these ideas from around the web (Click on any picture for the full link.)

 

Step It Up

Tie bundles of bare tree and winterberry branches to the spindles in your staircase for an autumnal look. After Thanksgiving, tie pine boughs to the branches with pretty velvetribbon, and wire Christmas ornaments around the velvet ribbon for extra color.

 

Twinkling Vases

Tiny bulbs create a striking modern display when placed in frosted cylindrical vases. Wrap ribbon around the bottoms of the vases and affix with double-sided tape. Loosely coil a single strand of lights in each vase, and then send the plug end over the back lip of the vase and run it behind so it’s hidden.

 

Card Garlands

The season’s first greeting cards, arriving weeks before the family tree goes up, are enough to stir most people’s decorative impulses. This year, festoon mirrors with Lametta tinsel and use the sparkly wire to display your collection of cheerful tidings. Under the garlands, nestled in compotes, ribbon-lined candy pouches make sweet, simple party favors.

 

Mini Christmas Tree Door Decoration

Turn the traditional Christmas wreath on its head with a handmade container for a live tree. Make a pouch by sewing the sides of a folded piece of burlap or a similarly styled dish towel. Wrap damp cheesecloth around the roots of a small sapling and place the tree into a plastic bag. Tie a few holiday-hue ribbons around the bag and attach bells or ornamentswith hot glue or thread.

 

Make-at-Home Simple Snow Globes

Oversize glass containers and vases offer a great see-through way to display holiday colors. Start with a large tray and a few jars and containers in various sizes. Plantevergreen saplings (we used Golden cypress) in several of the containers and cover the soil with faux snow. For contrast, pile another jar or two with red fruits — apples, pomegranates, or cherries — or red ornaments. Place the collection in front of a window, at an entry, or as a centerpiece for your holiday table.

 

Welcoming Doorknob Decoration

This fun holiday door decoration will welcome guests with the festive scent of evergreen and a friendly message. Fold over the top of a wideburlap ribbon and cut a slit through both layers to slide over a doorknob. Use adhesive letters to spell out a message and use wire to attach bits of evergreen and pinecones.

Editor’s Tip: Create a handful of these door accents in just an hour or two — just change the message on each one and use them on guest bedroom doors or the front door.

 

Winter Branch Chandelier

Stand back and marvel at your beautiful handmade and eco-friendly chandelier. Happy Holidays!!

 

Mini Evergreen Shelf Decorations

Planted inside transferware bowls, a series of baby Norfolk Island pines brighten up a mantel. The idea also works for shelves, bookcases, or tabletops. Choose bowls in complementary colors or plain white, whichever best suits your existing holiday decor color scheme. Cover the dirt with nuts and acorns or with a collection of mini ornaments.
Indulge in a little holiday nostalgia by displaying vintage Christmas postcards in classic frames. Cards, from $6 each;ikea.com

 

 

Ornamental birch bark makes a handsome wrap for glassed-in candles. Peel it into thin, pliable sheets, trim to fit, and hot-glue to the candle cup. Bark, about $20 for three 12-inch-square sheets; birchbarkstore.com. Pillar, $20;yankeecandle.com

 

 


Jay McGee used to live in Southeast Asia, doing language research and literacy development. Now he’s a Real Estate Agent with Keller Williams Realty. He gives a microloan to somebody in a developing country every time someone in Richmond buys or sells their home with him.  Learn why here.
Contact: jaymcgee.kw@gmail.com

RVA Spaces: Barry & Sue’s Byrd Park Garden

“In The Garden The Answers Come.”

I see a lot of houses in Richmond.  Last month, while helping some friends of mine with their search for the perfect house, I stumbled across Barry and Sue’s house in Byrd Park.  I have probably driven by it a hundred times, but never realized that on the other side of their pine fence (hand-crafted by Barry) there was a beautiful back yard oasis in the middle of Byrd Park.  I asked them how they created their back yard oasis:

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Me: How does your yard compare to when you bought the house?

Sue: We moved to Richmond in August of 2001 from Sarasota, Florida. We both enjoy outdoor living and fell in love with the house because of the double lot and the potential it had. Initially it had an old deck with walking stones to the deck, a chain link fence, old broken storage shed, weeds, weed trees lining the sidewalk and lots of ground.

Me: Who is the master gardener in your house?  How did you come up with what we see today?

Sue: We decided to consult with Sneed’s Nursery and with our input they came up with a design. We used that as a basis for the development of the retaining wall, brick patio and design of the deck. We made some changes in adding a pond and a storage shed.

 

Barry is a carpenter by trade and was able to build the fence, pergola entry, deck and pergola over the deck. He also installed the wall and laid the patio and sidewalk.

Me:  Any projects or plants you want to highlight?

Sue:  The plantings of the garden have evolved over the years. Initially Sue worked at Richmond Hill Retreat Center in Church Hill and was inspired by their gardens and used them as a place for meditation. I found a little statute that stated “In The Garden The Answers Come.” I envisioned the garden as a place for people to sit and find peace in their lives. Richmond Hill was also going through a major renovation so I was able to acquire some of their plants they needed to get rid of in order to renovate. That was the beginning of a continued process of getting plants from friends, Ginter Botanical Gardens Fall and Winter Sales and the continued
process of process of transplanting. The focal tree in the middle of the garden, which is a curly willow, was purchased for the purpose of floral design which I use in designing for weddings, etc.

 

Me: How do you use your garden space and how does it shape your life?

Sue: Our garden and deck have been a place of recreation for our family, neighborhood and friends. We love to entertain and what better ambiance to refresh the senses than the beauty of seasonal flowers and plants, deck lights, waterfalls, fish and smells of smoked pork on the grill which is a favorite of all.

 

Looking for your own Byrd Park garden?  Barry and Sue are currently selling their home.  Their address is 2202 Maplewood Ave.  The current list price is $289,900.

 

RVA Spaces is a place for Richmonders to share their design triumphs with each other.  A kitchen redo, a beautiful bedroom, an inspired yard, any small space of your Richmond home that you are proud of.  Want to share your RVA Space with Richmond?  Contact me on the Hire Me page for details!

 

Jay McGee used to live in Southeast Asia, doing language research and literacy development. Now he’s a Real Estate Agent with Compass Realty. He gives a microloan to somebody in a developing country every time someone in Richmond buys or sells their home with him.
Contact: jaymcgee.kw@gmail.com

RVA Spaces: Totty’s Byrd Park Kitchen Transformation

UPDATE on Station 2 GIVEAWAY: Congratulations, Liz R! You have won the Giveaway to Station 2!! You are in for a real treat! I will be contacting you via email to send you your $20 gift card.

 

Totty and her Handy Husband live in Byrd Park with their 8 month old son and 2 black labs.  They both have a background in design and they love a good renovation challenge.  Totty blogs about life and her experiences renovating her home at bootsandtotty.com

 

 

 

     Then…                                                                                               Now…

My husband Dave and I have been living in our 1920’s row house for over 5 years now and have renovated about every room top to bottom.
Our favorite redo so far has been our Kitchen. What started as a simple “let’s move the cabinets around a bit” turned into a full blown kitchen renovation. It took us almost 6 months to finish, but we did it all ourselves and we love it!
Here’s the breakdown…
The original kitchen had base grade cabinets, mix matched appliances, and a horrible orange tile floor.  It had to go!

So we started by taking down all the existing upper cabinets and then relocated them about 12″ higher and in a new configuration.   We reused the existing box portion of the cabinets because they were in great condition, and we knew if would save us major money.  The doors, however, did not make the move, but more on that later.

 

Next Dave built floating shelves to hang below the cabinets to house everyday items such as plates, glassware, etc.  Instead of buying them, Dave just attached pieces of re-bar into the brick wall.  Then he built a box out of MDF that would slide around the pieces of metal and become our shelf.

With the cabinets in their new location, off to Ikea we went in search of new cabinet doors and hardware.  Slowly but surely we replaced one or two sets of cabinet doors at a time.  It was amazing how the new doors and hardware totally transformed the look of our formica countertop.  I was originally hoping new countertops would be in the budget, but luckily I was able to take that money to spend on other things.

Like what you might ask?  Well it paid for having our hardwood floors refinished as we found gorgeous hardwood that just happened to be hiding under the horrible orange chipped tile.  Dave and I figured we had nothing to lose by tearing up a few tiles to see what kind of sub floor was beneath?  Man. I’m glad we did.

Let’s see what else.. We knew we wanted some sort of tile backsplash under the cabinets, but again the budget was tight.  Luckily, one of us had the brainstorm to use the left over tile and grout from our bathroom renovation and it worked perfectly.  We ended up only having to buy a handful of tiles to finish the project, so overall we saved big money here!  Plus the install was super easy and we had it done in less than 2 days.

 

Last but not least we treated ourselves to some new appliances.  Again saving money by going to the Sears Scratch and Dent store and getting products at about 40% off.
Here’s the Finished Product…
So there you have it.  We think it turned out pretty darn good for reusing a bunch of things we already had.  It was definitely hard having the kitchen torn up for 6 months, but it was so worth it.  Both Dave and I love to entertain, and we certainly don’t mind now when the guests want to hang out in the kitchen!

RVA Spaces is a place for Richmonders to share their design triumphs with each other.  A kitchen redo, a beautiful bedroom, an inspired yard, any small space of your Richmond home that you are proud of.  Real Richmond neighbors, real Richmond homes.  Would you like to share your RVA Space with Richmond?  Write in to jaymcgee.kw@gmail.com for details!

 

Jay McGee used to live in Southeast Asia, doing language research and literacy development. Now he’s a Real Estate Agent with Keller Williams Realty. He gives a microloan to somebody in a developing country every time someone in Richmond buys or sells their home with him.
Contact: jaymcgee.kw@gmail.com

RVA Spaces: Anne’s Byrd Park Kitchen Makeover

RVA Spaces is a place for Richmonders to share their design triumphs with each other.  A kitchen redo, a beautiful bedroom, an inspired yard, any small space of your Richmond home that you are proud of.  Not million dollar houses in California with one hundred thousand dollar remodels- real Richmond neighbors, real Richmond homes.  Would you like to share your RVA Space with Richmond?  Write in to jaymcgee.kw@gmail.com for details!

 

 

Anne lives in Byrd Park with her husband, Philip, and their two young children.  She confesses to spending more time on design websites than she ought to.  She blogs about life, faith, and learning how to be a mom at worthingtonwords.blogspot.com

 

 

 

 

When my husband and I bought our first home, our kitchen and dining space was one of the first things we set out to change. The sellers had renovated the space, so it was fitted with most modern conveniences, but the aesthetic just didn’t suit us. It felt a bit too plain and generic for our taste, so we set out to make it our own. We placed importance on making changes affordably and with relative ease. We really wanted to avoid hiring outside help as much as possible, so we put on our “handy hats” (these were new “hats” to both of us!) and went to work.

Here’s a photo of the space as it looked when we bought the house:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s a picture of our space as it looks today:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Three years later, we’ve made quite a few changes. Some occurred in the weeks immediately following closing on the house, and others as recently as last night (ie. The chalkboard wall!) For us, one of the biggest tools in our arsenal for making quick, cheap changes was paint. I really cannot underscore how great of an impact a couple gallons of fresh paint can provide! We painted over the wood paneling in our dining room which instantly lightened the space and made it feel much less like a depressing cave (generally a good thing!). We also painted our kitchen cabinets with white semi-gloss paint and added new, brushed nickel hardware from Home Depot. A can of paint  also came to the rescue in transforming the child’s table and chair set and the tall open shelf , both found on Craigslist (Behr paint from Home Depot is my favorite, and they can match any color from any company for you). I even used some leftover paint on the interior doors in our kitchen and I have to say that this was one of my favorite quick changes we made! I love the depth and dimension the color adds to the room.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We changed out the laminate flooring in the kitchen for black and white vinyl tiles. We considered putting in hardwoods or ceramic tile, but for a variety of reasons we went with this very economical option. We like how it gave us a bit of vintage appeal for around $200! We did have a little outside help last summer when we replaced our laminate countertops with inexpensive butcher-block ones from Ikea. During this time we also switched out our stainless steel sink for a ceramic, farmhouse style sink, also from Ikea. The new white sink really brightened things up and actually made this part of the kitchen feel much more spacious. Our faucet (from Overstock) is another favorite feature of mine—I love its industrial feel. We also added white subway tile with gray grout, which we cut and laid ourselves.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The back room has become a great spot for our kids to play while we work in the kitchen.

Here it is when we first bought the house:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The addition of a soft rug, a chair, and of course a spot for toys was essential to achieving this function. We chose inexpensive bamboo blinds (on clearance at Target.com) to add texture, while custom Roman shades (graciously made by my mom!) bring in a pop of whimsy and color in the dining room.  Here’s the back room afterwards:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aesthetics aside, our kitchen was also a bit lacking in terms of the amount of storage it offered. I wish I could tell you that that closed door leads to a pantry, but it does not (it’s a half bathroom in case you’re curious). To remedy this, we added a tall cabinet (found on homedecorators.com) and changed out its hardware to match the rest of the kitchen. Philip also built the open shelving unit where we’ve chosen to conveniently house our very breakable glass collection out of our children’s reach!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A few more of my favorites from this space include our “new” kitchen pendant-style light, which I found at the Habitat Re-Store and spray painted, the gallery of bird prints, which are straight out of a calendar that I had matted and framed, and the vintage Persian rug (I love its soft, aged feel!). What I appreciate most, however is that this space has developed into a place that feels like us; all of our time and energy has paid off and it really feels like home.

 

Have a question or comment for Anne about her makeover or the products she used?  Share your thoughts!

Jay McGee used to live in Southeast Asia, doing language research and literacy development. Now he’s a Real Estate Agent with Keller Williams Realty. He gives a microloan to somebody in a developing country every time someone in Richmond buys or sells their home with him.
Contact: jaymcgee.kw@gmail.com

 

 


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