Edgewood Is On the Market!


Today we announced some news that’s still a little surprising even to us: We’re selling our house on Edgewood Avenue!

Until recently, we had no intention of leaving this house. We invested in upgrading the kitchen, worked hard on the gardens, and even met with a contractor about adding a master bath and changing up the floor plan. We even thought about putting in a pool one day!

But we had a bit of a lightbulb moment soon after we started renovating the Barton house: If we sold our house and moved into the Barton house, it would make a lot more financial sense. Our own home is in a much more established area, and it’s increased in value quite a bit since we bought it. Barton is still on the edge of the action, plus we’d have to pay a big chunk of change toward the capital gains tax if we just flipped it. If all goes well, we’ll be paying off not one, but two mortgages in a few months. Our goal has always been to be totally debt-free, and we realized this switcheroo could get us there a lot sooner than we’d ever thought possible.

It all hinges on getting the price we want for our current house, but if things go well, we’ll be moving into our newly renovated house—and debt-free—before Christmas. After that, we’d be able to start working on our next flip by early next year, and hopefully do a few more in the next two years, at which time we hope to purchase our “forever home” and fix it up exactly how we want it.

So, know anyone who wants to buy a pretty awesome house on Richmond’s Northside?

2702 Edgewood Ave, Richmond VA from HD BROS. on Vimeo.


The Perplexing Nature of Paint

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I distinctly remember the day we stopped by the Griffin house (our last renovation project) to see the progress the painters had made on the exterior paint job. We drove up, I looked at the house, and I asked Todd, “When are they starting?”

“They’re already done,” he replied.

It was only then that we realized the color we’d chosen, though very different on the paint chip, was so similar to the house’s original color that you couldn’t even tell we’d had it painted. Or that we’d spent about $3000 on it.

After some hormone-fueled tears on the way home (I was about nine months pregnant at the time), Todd made me feel a bit better by reminding me that the house did look cleaner with a fresh coat of paint, even if it looked like the same color. But it was then that we vowed that we would be much more careful when choosing paint colors in the future.

We probably could have gotten by with a power wash and trim touch-up on the Barton house, but we wanted to make it look new. We started by looking at the other houses on the street. We wanted it to stand out from neighbors, but not too much. There are a lot of light beiges and grays on the block, so we opted to add some color and depth.

We briefly considered a sage-ish green, but decided that would blend too much with its surroundings. So we shifted to blue—and that’s when things got complicated. There are about a million shades of blue to choose from. We spent quite a bit of time poring over paint chips and catalogs and Pinterest before deciding we wanted something veering toward navy with gray undertones. But that still left a lot of options.

So then we did something we haven’t done before: We bought paint samples. Lots of them. For both the house color and varying shades of coordinating trim. Our house looked like a patchwork quilt.

And we were reminded that in most cases, the color on the paint chip looks completely different in real life. One beautiful navy looked like purple on the house. A pretty slate blue looked almost pastel. The colors would also look different in the shade versus the sun, and depending on how many coats we applied. Our confusion deepened.

Finally, after many coats of paint and many trips to Lowes, we settled on a color combo we liked: Sherwin Williams’ Slate Tile with Black Magic for the base and trim. The painters aren’t quite finished yet, but we’re really happy with the look so far (forgive the crappy iPhone pic):

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So, the lesson of the day: You can’t be too careful when choosing paint colors.



The Surprise Gut Job


There are few things that can ruin a trip to Paris. One of them, we recently learned, is a text from your contractor saying, “I gutted your house.”

Luckily, this surprise news didn’t completely derail our vacation, but it did put a huge damper on the day, became a topic of frequent discussion for the rest of our trip, and made us extra eager to return home.

After several weeks of talking and negotiations, we’d officially signed with our contractor and gotten him his first check literally the day we left the country. We resigned ourselves to being completely hands-off for the first few weeks of the project, curious how much he would be able to get done while we were away. We were initially drawn to his ambitious schedule—he hoped to be completely finished within six weeks.

Things seemed to be going well until that gut-wrenching text. Our contractor was moving right along with our punch list—which did not, in fact, include gutting the house. The old plaster walls and trim weren’t perfect, but we were fine with them. However, he’d made the executive decision that the house would be better without them.

International calls were made, along with apologies and new agreements. Eventually we decided to let him finish up with phase one, repair what he had done, and reassess when we returned home (to put it simply).

We also decided to make the most of the situation. By taking out all of the walls and ceilings along with some damaged floors, we had unexpectedly been given a blank slate. So we decided to completely redo the electrical, add insulation, add new closets, and change the floor plan a bit. All of this while on vacation an ocean away.

The moment of truth came early this morning, when, heavily jet-lagged after a long day of travel, we went to check out the progress on the house. The walls have been opened up and the new closets have been framed out. HVAC, electrical, and plumbing are well on their way. Damaged floors have been repaired. The exterior has even been painted. It looks… good. Really good.

We have several weeks to go, and a lot is hanging in the balance, but we’re feeling good about where we stand. Here are some photos of where we are about three weeks in.

Opening up the hallway.
Starting to expose the fireplace.
Opened up the wall between the kitchen and dining room, and added French doors on the back.
Framed out laundry closet.
Oliver approves.
Looking into the dining room from the kitchen. Todd removed all of the plaster on this side of the fireplace.
Looking into the new pantry.
Bedrooms with new closets added.
This room will become a master bath in Phase 2.



The Barton House: Before Photos


Some people would walk into a house like this and walk right back out. It’s old. It’s dirty. It needs so much help. But walking into a house like this makes us giddy. We work hard to look past the grime and the years of neglect and see the possibilities. And there are so many of them. We’re so excited to get started on this house!

First, the exterior. It doesn’t look awful, but we’ll be painting it (stay tuned for a post on choosing exterior paint colors), completely replacing the roof, replacing the front door, landscaping, installing a fence, redoing the sidewalk, installing porch railings, replacing the light fixtures, and doing other minor repairs.



Inside, the layout is very segmented, with every room situated off of a main hallway. We plan to open this up as much as we can, including the walls between the living and dining rooms (above) as well as the hallway. This should brighten things up quite a bit and improve the flow dramatically. The fireplace will be a challenge to work around, but we’re excited about the wood floors and great natural light.


Of course, the kitchen is a complete gut job (as it would be in any older home). But if we’re able to open up the walls between the kitchen, dining room, and mudroom, we’re going to have a ton of space to work with. We may be able to add a walk-in pantry, an island, and a little breakfast nook if all goes according to plan. As for the overall look, we’re thinking of using classic subway tile again, a nice slate tile floor in a herringbone pattern, quartz or granite counters, open shelving on one wall, and some really great lighting. We want to make this room a real gathering place in the home.


There are technically four bedrooms upstairs, but one is very small without a closet. We’ll either turn that space into a master bath or a walk-in closet/dressing room, depending on how our budget shakes out.


This is the current state of the upstairs bath. Unlike the Griffin house, we won’t be keeping the clawfoot in this reno. It’s just too big for the space, which is pretty compact. Instead, we’ll be adding a new tub with a tile surround. The downstairs bath is pretty much too small to photograph, but we’re hoping to do something fun in there, like a patterned floor tile.


The bedrooms are all a good size, but as with most of these older homes, the closets are tiny. We could either eat into the floor space by adding new closets, or hope buyers will be OK with what we’ve got. We always lean toward the latter option, because we prefer to keep the square footage.


This house has a great backyard with both shady and sunny spots. We’ll be removing that old balcony and replacing the door with a window. We’ll also add a privacy fence around the whole shebang.

Next steps: We’re getting quotes from contractors and starting to put together our budget and shopping list, with everything from tile and light fixtures to appliances and doorknobs. Luckily, we learned a thing or two from our last renovation, so this stage will be quicker—and probably more fun—than last time.

Want to see what’s inspiring us? Take a peek at our Barton House Pinterest board, which we’ll be updating on the regs.

On to the Next: The Barton House


After many months of waiting, we can finally share some news we’ve been excitedly sitting on: We have purchased another house to renovate! And we’ve already learned something from this experience: Short sales are no joke. Seriously. Lots of red tape. Lots of back-and-forth. Lots of waiting. But it was worth it, because we got a great deal on this house.

And it’s a good thing we did, because it is going to need a lot of work. Previously used as a halfway house, it’s in serious need of TLC. It needs a brand-new roof, new HVAC, and all-new kitchen and bathrooms. Refinished floors and significant exterior improvements. Not to mention all the little things like paint, light fixtures, and landscaping. The current layout isn’t great, so we’re planning to tear down a lot of walls, too.

A few things we love about this house: The big, shady backyard. The spacious kitchen (we’re planning to put in an island). The original tile fireplace. The beautiful wood floors that just need a little work. The spare room upstairs that will either become a master bath or walk-in closet. The location just off up-and-coming Brookland Park Blvd., spitting distance from Black Hand Coffee and The Luncheonette.

Stay tuned, as we’ll be documenting the process once again from beginning to end. We can’t wait to share the journey of this house with you!

Richmond’s Cobblestone Group Getting HGTV Show


When we first moved to Richmond, we noticed that a lot of the renovations in the neighborhood had a look that we really loved. We soon learned that they were the work of the Cobblestone Group, a renovation and construction firm run by husband-and-wife team Josh and Breese Romano. Since then, we’ve loved following their growth, and they’ve served as an inspiration for our own foray into home renovations.

We’re so excited, then, to hear that the Cobblestone couple is getting their own show on HGTV called Richmond Rehabbers! This is great news for this hard-working young company, and great news for our city. Best of all, the pilot episode features a renovation happening in our own neighborhood of Battery Park. They’ve transformed many dilapidated homes in the area, and we can’t wait to get a closer look at their process.

Check out Cobblestone’s website to see some of their impressive transformations (like this amazing flip on our block, pictured below), and read the article about HGTV’s Richmond Rehabbers here.