Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Flip't: It's Finally Finished

the brand-spankin-new-yet-still-old-looking exterior as viewed from U Street SE

[Editor's Note: been wondering why I've been off the blogging recently? Well, here's my excuse. Sometimes you gotta get off the screen and make neighborhood changes the old fashioned way. Enjoy - and if you know someone looking to buy, send 'em this way!]

It took seven long months to finish this place, but it’s finally done. For some reason it’s always the last few things on the renovation checklist that end up being the most gruelingly difficult to finish. Even though I swore this would never happen again after it did during my own home renovation, my general contractor ran off with a couple thousand before finishing the job, so I had to squeeze out the final touches on my own.

the side of the house BEFORE (yikes)

With each project I do, I keep learning that you pay for what you get. If you’re pinching pennies, you have to be extra careful about the quality of work completed and how the contractors are managing your money. As much as I don’t enjoy micromanaging people, it’s a total must – especially on tight-budget projects – to take charge.

the side of the house AFTER ... loving how Charlston-esque it feels

Take the interior paint, for example. Absolutely grueling. Why? Because my contractor made the assumption that I wanted the entire house the exact same color. When I agreed to only do one color on the walls as a way to save money, somehow that translated to painting the ceilings and the trim the same linen color. To be honest, after countless similar episodes throughout the project, it was almost a relief when he left the job.

The interior of the house is totally new. Nothing original from its humble c. 1890-1905 birth year remains. So, I chose a dark stain for the red oak floors because I wanted to give the house a rich, oozing with history feel. Not to be fake about anything, but to restore some dignity to this home that had it all stolen away over time. Matte black doorknobs offer a crisp contrast to the white doors. Crown molding is made of three separate pieces of trim and makes the transition from wall to ceiling all the more graceful.

The 22 karat gold house numbers in a font created in the first decade of the 20th century give the house presence and legitimacy (expensive but totally worth it. Monumental Graphics of Hyattsville did the install and this was his first residential installation east of the Anacostia). It’s these details that really make the house pop. Would it sell without them? Maybe, but that’s not always the point.

I found a great mirror for the half bath on Craigslist. After searching high and low for something in my price range that looked decent, all I was coming up with was matchy pieces from Lowe’s and Home Depot. Ick. (allow me a gag, I shop at those places all the time) But, happily, I found a retiree in Takoma Village (super awesome lady who lived in the co-housing development) who had bought this windowpane mirror at Eastern Market but was downsizing and moving to San Francisco. Perfection, I thought, because it was what this house is all about: old meets new.

Enter my favorite place in the house, the kitchen. Doesn’t it look great? If I could do it all over again I’d probably make the wall cabinet doors on either side of the sink solid wood. I love the glass, as well as the in-cabinet lights, but people typically like hiding things in their cabinets more than they like displaying them.

I found the amazing farmhouse table at Miss Pixie’s on 14th Street. I wanted to have an island-like feature, so opted for a table with handsome pendant lights overhead. A casual place to sit is always welcome in the kitchen.

the hall bathroom (tub is just out of frame)

I’ve always liked it when bathrooms have unique themes. Nothing cheesy like Under the Sea or something … but some prefer the “all bathrooms in the house are one style” approach and that’s just not me. For the upstairs hall bath, I opted for a custom black and white tile design on the floor (very labor intensive, as each black hex has to be inserted into the already glued-together white sheets) and a classic white carrera marble countertop. The faucets, knobs, and lights all sport white porcelain accents on shiny chrome. It’s a clean look.

the view into the master suite ... stairwell is to the left

As much as I would have loved to totally stage this house, I’m not sprouting money (yet), so you’ll have to imagine the complementary shower curtains and freshly rolled towels.

the master bath

For the master bath I went with a travertine-look porcelain tile on the floor, with a tumbled travertine accent in the shower. Mirrors and vanity are dark cherry. I’ll be honest, I think this bathroom would look better in a different paint color. It comes across as a calm, sort of sophisticated look, but isn’t the most exciting of combinations. Fortunately painting is the easiest thing (for the next owner) to do.

So that’s it, folks. Crossing my fingers the right buyer comes along shortly. It’s been fun meeting the visitors: young couple from Adams Morgan, home-schooling mom from Woodley Park, young family from Hillcrest, and even a government contracting firm looking to locate near St. Elizabeths.

looking towards U Street BEFORE

This has been one heck of a project but a really rewarding one. Here’s the Redfin listing one more time: 1214 U Street SE

looking towards U Street AFTER

Thanks so much for reading! Ciao!

Click Here for the entire Flip't series on Prince of Petworth
Click Here for the project write-up on Urban Turf


xtra said...

where did you get your cabinets? They look great.

David Garber said...

Thanks! the cabinets are from Ikea. (shh, don't tell!)

Benefits: they are formaldehyde-free, and you save some money putting them together yourself ... that is, if you have the time (and it Does take a while).

daplushman said...

Wow, great job on the house!!! Hope you get a buyer soon.

whateva(thecultureof) said...

It's beautiful! Shows what love and hard work can do to a down and out house.

IMGoph said...


Rae Rae Rock On said...

Gorgeous!! I have been following the renovation on your blog and am so super incredibly impressed - way to go!

mrb said...

the glass cabinets are beautiful silly.

Sean Hennessey said...

looks like a great job.
the before/after pictures made my jaw drop. good god.

Sarah said...

incredible Garbster! So impressed with all the amazing things you're doing, keep it up!

Anonymous said...

Wow!!! The House Look Great..Hey David, Do You Plan On Doing More Houses In The Area?

Now If We Can Get More Good Folks On Board And Work 2Gether..We Coming Around Slowly.. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Hey David,

You keep this up and you might become a master of restoring community treasures. The house came out wonderful and remember you always have a "lessons learned" list after each and every one of these projects--the 7 months must have been a grind, 3 usually does me in.

Sorry to hear about the GC splitting on you. We should talk about developing your SPEC's for these projects, they can really help eliminate a lot of the "he said, she said" issues that come up between property owners and contractors!


Unknown said...

Great work. It's truly a pretty house.

Presbug said...

Great work! I saw the video posted by Anacostia River Realty and I thought I had seen this house before while it was being renovated. Again, great work! Please continue to work in the area.

Catherine said...

This is a fantastic renovation job! How many other projects are you undertaking?