Introducing Our Northern Virginia Home

craftsman bungalow with carport

Alright guys, here it is!  I know I’ve been teasing the new house by talking about it on Instagram and I’m so sorry it’s taken me so much time to finally show photos of it!  I still haven’t seen it in person and we committed to it before either of us had seen the inside because of COVID-19, but I’m already in love with this little old house that we will call ours for the next few years.  Tom’s been living in it with just an air mattress and the furniture that came with the house (it will be removed shortly) and he says it’s going to be perfect for our family.  I am THRILLED about this next chapter!

Our Northern Virginia Craftsman Bungalow

craftsman bungalow front porch craftsman bungalow porch

So a little back story for ya.  Tom is now working at the Pentagon.  Back when I worked there from 2013-2014 I lived in northern Virginia and we fell totally in love with living in the DC area.  So many great restaurants, convenient metro stops, walkable grocery stores, fantastic running routes, it checked all the boxes and ever since then we’ve really valued living in a place where we can walk to things.

craftsman home living room craftsman home fireplace with bookcase craftsman fireplace craftsman home brown wood trimcraftsman bungalow wood trim

When we first found out that Tom was hired for a job at the Pentagon we toyed around with the idea of him being a geographical bachelor.  He’d get a small apartment in the DC area and we’d buy our forever home in the Charleston, SC area and he’d join us in a year or two.  (We still plan on ending up there in the next couple of years, but we’re going to do this DC stint first.)  We thought that he could commute back and forth a couple times a month on the weekends, but then we realized that would be much easier said than done, and we didn’t want to be apart that much.  We decided that it was best if we all moved up to the DC area, but I had a number of hesitations as well as a pretty substantial wish list.

craftsman home dining room craftsman home dining room

Hesitations about moving to the DC area:

  1. The commute for many people in the DC area can be incredibly long.  With our wish list (see below) we didn’t think Tom would be able to have an easy commute, and he really deserved one after his long commute in Hawaii.
  2. After looking at Charleston homes on Zillow for months I had a picture of my future home vividly in my mind.  A graceful Carolina lowcountry home that was on the newer side of things  Once we realized the DC area was going to happen instead we started searching for homes in the area to rent.  We knew we didn’t want to purchase since we likely will not stay in the area forever.  Plus it’s really expensive.
  3. It’s likely not going to be where we put down roots and stay forever.  The thought of moving again isn’t all that exciting to me, and this next time we will have to pay for the move ourselves.  (The military pays for moves when you’re on orders, so that’s what we’re used to.)
  4. The housing market is really competitive.  COVID-19 and the lack of military moves happening at the moment ended up benefiting us, as far as the housing rental market goes.

New home wish list:

  1. I needed a true backyard for the kids.  That’s something we’ve never had and my kids really need a space where they can play where I don’t have to interject with “don’t get on their lanai!” or “don’t go in the road!” or “don’t walk on that rock wall!” all the time.  (Those were all common sayings in Hawaii due to our precarious spot on a blind curve in a condo neighborhood.)  Anyway, we needed a yard and I didn’t think that we’d be able to get a home with one inside the beltway due to high property prices.
  2. We needed a bigger home than our Hawaii condo.  Our place in Hawaii was just over 1,100 square feet with 3 bedrooms, which was ok with 2 kids, but once Tate was born things got difficult.  It was also too small for when family visited.  We needed a bigger place so we started looking for homes that were 2,000 or so square feet.  We didn’t want huge, just needed quite a bit bigger.  (Another thing I didn’t think we would get inside the beltway at a reasonable price.)
  3. After urban living in the DC area previously, as well as in Columbia, MD and in Ko Olina, Hawaii we really value walkability.  We enjoy being able to walk to restaurants, stores and recreational activities.
  4. I needed the home to have some charm.  Because I blog and share our home with the world I needed a backdrop that I could do something with.  It didn’t have to be brand new or perfect, but I didn’t want something that I couldn’t photograph very well.
  5. We needed 4 bedrooms.  Jack and Caroline each had their own room in Hawaii but have been sharing a room while we’ve been at Fripp Island.  It’s not ideal due to their personalities.  Jack can be disruptive and Caroline has been getting way less sleep than she needs, so we really need to be able to separate them so that everyone sleeps better.

checkerboard floor in kitchen checkerboard floor breakfast nook

We ended up getting this home due to a number of quirks that made it undesirable to other potential renters.  It sat on the rental market for 5 months despite being in a fantastic neighborhood and at a very competitive price!  It’s a 1920s Craftsman bungalow (which is one of my favorite styles that I’ve always wanted to live in!) and many of the original details are still in place.  The kitchen has been updated (though the stove situation makes me a little nervous) and the bathrooms have new vanities and toilets, but other than that it probably looks a lot like it used to back in the 1920s.  Which I absolutely love!  I really appreciate a home with character and charm and this one definitely fits the bill.  Our historic home on Fort Leavenworth, KS was so special to me and I really enjoyed living in it.  Can’t wait to be in an old home again!

black and white bathoom bedroom in craftsman home

Here is what’s a little funky about it that allowed us to get it:

Funky things about our new home:

  1. There is only 1 full bathroom.  Yikes.  It’s on the main floor flanked by the two smallest bedrooms.  There is only one half bathroom and it’s in the basement.  Luckily we’ve dealt with a funky bathroom layout before, back when we lived in Kansas.  Our 115 year old Army quarters didn’t have a bathroom on the main floor, but did have a full upstairs and a full in the basement.
  2. The two larger bedrooms are upstairs, where there is no bathroom at all.  The way we’re solving this problem is by turning the larger of the two downstairs bedrooms into the master bedroom.  We don’t need and extra space anyway so this is going to work out well.  The kids still wear diapers or pull-ups at night so it’s not a big deal that there isn’t a bathroom upstairs.  We will likely put a kids potty upstairs just in case.  I did also consider purchasing this portable potty for upstairs back when we were considering keeping the master bedroom upstairs, lol.
  3. The home is heated by radiators.  (This probably wasn’t a deterrent but it will prove to be a furniture layout challenge.)
  4. The living room, dining room, hallways and stairs are sea foam green.  It’s really light so I’m hoping I can ignore it or get used to it.  Or maybe paint it if I’m feeling up to the challenge.
  5. Not a lot of kitchen storage or countertop space.  The kitchen is black and white and has a really pretty sink though, so we will figure it out.  And there is a window into the backyard that’s over the sink!  There is also a breakfast nook!
  6. It required a 2 year lease.  The owner currently lives overseas and we heard from the realtor that the plan is for him to tear the house down once he moves back to DC and he wants to build a new house on the lot.  Hopefully we will be able to extend if we need to.  We only plan on spending about 2 years here so that works out perfectly and because it’s going to be torn down (so sad to me since it’s so charming) we are able to make updates to it if we want to.  Tom is already working on some paint projects for me 🙂

craftsman home staircase kids playroom in craftsman home white panel door in craftsman 3 seasons room

The wonderful things about our new home:

  1. 4 bedrooms!  We’re going to have the girls share a room upstairs and will turn the second room upstairs into a playroom.
  2. It’s over 2,400 square feet, which is over twice the size of our Hawaii apartment.  Not sure what we will do with all that space!
  3. Cute backyard.  It’s the perfect size for us and has nice, lush grass.  There is also a huge patio and I can imagine spending so much time outside back there.  There is also a cute little back porch.
  4. Nice front porch.  It’s weathered looking but we are able to make some updates so we are going to add some paint and hang a porch swing.
  5. Amazing neighborhood.  I remember this neighborhood from when I lived in the DC area last time and can’t wait to live there!  It’s a quiet street despite being walking distance from restaurants and stores.  Tom has met some of the neighbors already and says everyone is very friendly.
  6. Tom will have an easy metro commute!  And because he will be riding the metro to work we are not going to buy a second car, which we had anticipated having to do since we left my old college car back in Hawaii (gave it to our babysitter who needed a car).  Very excited to be a one car family.
  7. Lots of storage space because we have a garage and a full basement!  I can’t wait to resume furniture rehab projects now that I will actually have a place to work!
  8. There are some really pretty plants in the yard.  Crepe myrtle should be blooming later this summer and I can tell that the bush in the front of the house is a flowering bush of some sort but I haven’t figured out what it is yet.  Can’t wait to find out!
  9. The patio dining table and grill came with the house!  Very nice that we won’t have to buy those ourselves.  I’m pretty sure the table set is this one from World Market.  I’m planning on hanging bistro lights over the area and I already bought a fire pit too.
  10. There is a small 3 seasons room upstairs!  I think I’ll add a small heater and a fan so that I can turn it into my little office/blogging space and hopefully use it throughout the year.

craftsman bungalow backyard

So anyway, hope you enjoyed this rough looking tour of our home for the next couple of years!  The photo of our bedroom was taken when the movers left, which is why there are a ton of boxes that Tom hadn’t tackled yet.  We have a lot of unpacking to do but I can already envision our furniture and decor fitting perfectly in here and can’t wait to get everything settled.  I’ll be sure to share as we tackle some (affordable) projects and make the house our own!

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Katie Vail
Katie Vail

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11 Comments

  1. Carly
    May 29, 2020 / 12:43 pm

    This is the cutest house. I am such a sucker for charm! I am excited to see what all you have in mind! Excited for you!

  2. Allison
    May 29, 2020 / 12:54 pm

    It’s adorable and I’m very happy for you guys! I am in Bethesda so I understand all the huge pros about location, size, walkability, etc!

  3. Lynn
    May 29, 2020 / 2:32 pm

    Love this! What a fun move for you guys. Can’t wait to hear about your projects and watching the kids out the kitchen window. And there is nothing better than a porch swing. I cuddled on ours with the kids as long as I could hold them still. ❤️

  4. Dina Astemborski
    May 29, 2020 / 4:25 pm

    I love the house. It is so charming and with your stunning decorating style it will be beautiful. May the five of you experience much love and happiness there.

  5. Delaney
    May 30, 2020 / 1:58 am

    Love all the charm and can’t wait to see what you do with it!!

  6. melissa
    May 30, 2020 / 3:29 am

    Congraulations

  7. Jen
    June 1, 2020 / 1:43 am

    Love this and so excited for you!!

  8. Jenna
    June 9, 2020 / 5:20 am

    Looks like a cute home and perfect for your family. Can’t wait to see what you do with the indoor and outdoor spaces.

  9. June 16, 2020 / 4:26 am

    It’s so sweet! Heartbroken to hear that the owner plans to tear it down! All the beautiful craftsman charm just isn’t built anymore! Can’t wait to see you make this space yours!

    • June 24, 2020 / 7:16 am

      Thank you, Emma! I agree, the craftsman details have been preserved so well, I hope it wont get torn down!

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