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Preview: RowHouse blog: decor, designs, and stylish finds

RowHouse blog

Products and ideas related to design, interiors, restored furniture and homes.

Updated: 2017-11-01T07:21:05.798-04:00


House & Garden and Blueprint... no longer


Oh no! Both are shutting down? Forgive me, I have been so incredibly out of the loop these last few weeks.

I've loved House & Garden ever since my brief stint at Conde Nast after college. I used to flip through some of the old vintage issues in the CNP Library while doing research. A heartfelt good-bye letter from Editor Dominique Browning sums it up. H&G will be sorely missed in my magazine stack.

And I was so bummed to learn about Martha Stewart shutting down Blueprint too, especially just before the holidays! I just read about it at Jossip. I've really been enjoying this magazine's new ideas and style. I guess it just couldn't stand the test of time... seriously, what next? If Martha Stewart's gargantuan empire can't keep a glossie afloat, what hope is there for anyone else?

Magazine publishing is a tough market. Most of my career has been spent working at/selling to major national magazines. It's cut throat at some of them, especially to sell ads. I hope all the Conde Nast and Omnimedia chickies are able to land on their feet...

A moment of silence, please, for Blueprint and House & Garden.

Red Barn Mercantile


(image) Dan Rutherford of Red Barn Mercantile contacted me just a little while back to introduce the grand opening of their shop in Old Town, Alexandria. Wow - this is right in my wheelhouse! And what a fresh departure from the some of the stuffier shops I've seen come and go on King Street.

From their site: "Owner Amy Rutherford started Red Barn because she wanted to deliver a service – to provide both old and new in one place... The trick in blending old and new, vintage and modern, classic and quirky, is balance. And Rutherford’s knack for mixing rustic antiques with urban chic has created a look that is both fresh and familiar."

(image) (image)
Good news - Red Barn has a printable 20% off coupon for in-store merchandise valid until December 24th. Nice! I will definitely be stopping in to do a little holiday shopping. Located at 113 S. Columbus St.

(images by: Red Barn Mercantile)

Back in the saddle...


Hi everyone! Just wanted to drop a quick note to say that I'm back. So many nice emails wondering where I am.... I'm here, and doing well! Things have been busy at work and on the homefront the last few weeks, and I've felt a twinge guilty for not posting new content. Sorry about that. Hopefully I'll be able to steal away some time more often this month and alot more in the new year.

That being said, I've been tucking away TONS ideas and inspiration all along - scribbled sticky notes - magazine articles dog-eared - web links bookmarked - emails from some of you with tips (thank you!) - so there will be no shortage of ideas. More soon... promise.

Eastern Market


Oh how I do love Eastern Market! I love the handmade wares, the organic fruits and fresh-cut flowers, and the history of the buildings and tradition. I love the people watching, and catching up with neighbors. I love browsing, just to browse... for no other reason than because it's a gorgeous, crisp Sunday morning, I have a cup a hot tea in one hand, and newest issue of the Hill Rag, tucked in the other.

So when a devastating fire ripped through the historic South Hall last April, I have to say that I was actually not surprised at the genuine outpouring of support from the Capitol Hill community, and surrounding DC neighborhoods to help rebuild the Hall. Countless supporters felt the love for this institution that I, too, share. Operating for 134 years, Eastern Market, has come to stand as a symbol of this city's history, creativity, and community commerce. So, I guess I just wanted to say, that as a strong supporter of restoration and continued appreciation of historic places, it is my sincere hope that Eastern Market is rebuilt withstand 134+ more...

Just some great architectural salvage and antiques for the home, from last weekend's visit to the Flea Market at Eastern Market...

(image) (Images by RowHouse, Decal by Rebuild Eastern Market)

Renovator's House Tour


Sometimes when my husband and I are walking the dog after work... when the sun goes down, and people's living room lights switch on, I have to admit... I become a bit of a snoop. Now, before you're completely grossed out, and decide to report me, let me explain. I could care less what Harry Homeowner is doing in his kitchen...or what DeDe Decorator is watching on television. I just really want to peek at his choice in kitchen cabinets or the color paint she decided on for her living room! Or solutions they figured out for small space living, exposed brick, interesting mantels, beautiful chandeliers, mouldings or art pieces, etc., etc. Most importantly because I appreciate it. I value how hard they worked to achieve it, whether I know them or not, or whether they actually did the work/decor themselves, or they moved in and it was done for them. Someone did it, at some point.... and I want to see it!!!

And oddly enough, the more grand and gorgeous the rowhouse, the more historic the property -- the more I feel like it's my right to be able to see how awesome the interior is! Again, because I would appreciate it. These people don't know me, nor do I know them... I just want to see their house! Is that weird???

Well, I might have found my solution...

Saturday, October 13th
is the 7th annual Renovator’s House Tour on Capitol Hill. I haven't had a chance to go to this yet, but I'd really like to make it this year. Has anyone else? I'm interested to hear any feedback if you have. Here is an excerpt from their site.... it sounds promising.

"Designed for the modern homeowner, this popular self-guided walking tour showcases a wide variety of homes and styles across Capitol Hill, from the hip H Street corridor to the expanding Barney Circle neighborhood. AMONG OTHER DELIGHTS, be prepared for a peek into:
  • the unusual apartment space celebrating its 100th birthday overlooking Eastern Market;
  • a 500-square-foot workman’s cottage;
  • the art-filled home of award-winning actor Robert Prosky;
  • a crow’s-nest bathroom complete with claw-foot tub.
Intrigued? Desperate? Tickets are just $25 to see 10 incredible homes, while supporting a DC public school at the same time (100% of the proceeds go to the Capitol Hill Cluster School — how great is that?)."

Old architectural stars


As evident in the header design of RowHouse - I'm obsessed with old stars! To me, they say classic, American, old, and beautiful. What else could be better? Growing up near Old Town, Alexandria I became accustomed to seeing these old solid metal stars on just about every home exterior, especially old rowhouses. Now, I enjoy walking around Capitol Hill looking at these and other architectural details.

Here's a bit of history for why they were actually very useful: Tie rods and these star-shaped "washers" were often used to connect the gable walls of masonry structures. The floor joists would hold the weight bearing walls from spreading, so these were often the solution for the non-load bearing walls.

Design idea: Collect a bunch of these stars in different sizes. You can find them at just about any salvage shop. Find some large nails, and nail through the hole in the center to hang on a wall - hang several. If you are using tiny stars, you could even use a thin piece of rope, twine, or ribbon to hang frames, with/out photos in them. ...Or simply just prop up on a mantel or shelf.

(image) (image) (image) (images via flickr)

More inspiration from the 2007 Idea Home


I really get excited when Cottage Living features their yearly Idea Home. And this year's home, in New Orleans, certainly did not disappoint! I love every room. Here are some of my favorites...

(image) (image) (image) (image) (image)

Painted chalkboard kitchen wall


I just read the newest issue of Cottage Living. And I love, love, love this idea from their 2007 Idea Home. So much so, that I fully plan to do something similar in our next kitchen (our current kitchen wouldn't really work with this). And I really love that this "recipe" below lets you choose your own color, instead of standard black. Oh, and that rustic sliding door -taken from an old bank in New Orleans - awesome.

(image) "Everyone loves the novelty of a chalkboard surface, but most of the time you're limited to black or green. This recipe allows you to mix your own colors. For the pantry area, we mixed the chalkboard paint in 1-gallon batches.

1. Pour 1 cup of acrylic latex paint, in the color of your choice, into a clean, 1-gallon bucket.

2. Add 2 tablespoons of dry, unsanded tile grout mix into the paint, and mix until the paint is smooth and clump-free. (Use plain grout mix without added pigments to prevent color shifts. We used a kitchen whisk to mix our paint.) Repeat the mixing process until you have enough paint to complete your entire project.

3. If necessary, prepare the wall with a light sanding or priming. Apply the chalkboard mixture to any paintable surface with a roller or brush. (We used two coats of our chalkboard paint to build up a thick surface.)

4. Allow the paint to completely dry, then sand the surface with fine sandpaper until you achieve a texture that accepts chalk. Next, "color the surface with the wide part of a piece of white chalk to get a chalkboard-like patina.

5. Wipe away excess chalk with a damp cloth."

(quoted article from Cottage Living, photo by Robbie Caponetto for CL)

Poppytalk Handmade launched today!


A huge congratulations to Jan over at poppytalk. Today she launched a site dedicated to her favorite handmade treasures from over 75 vendors, and all are for sale! Spend some time clicking around on the site - some truly adorable finds. What a great way to support emerging artists. Check it out: Poppytalk Handmade

(image) (screenshot from poppytalk handmade)

Affordable throw pillows


(image) How great would these be against a white or pale blue couch? I just saw this site called Wrapables for affordable throw pillows, cushion covers, and fillers among other things. Some are as low as $21.95...

(image) (image) (images from Wrapables)



(image) A few months after graduating from college, my good friend Ann and I moved to New York City in 2001 for a brief stint. We shared a tiny a sublet apartment on the Upper East Side. One of our favorite things to do on the weekend was to shop the discount stores such as H&M and Zara (this was before either store had arrived in DC - so we were in designer knock-off heaven for clothes!). NYC was my first experience with either store, and since then I have been hooked on the good deals. I only just recently discovered that Zara has an entire Home division. The bad news - not in the U.S. The good news, their online catalogue is still lovely to browse. Does anyone know (perhaps from the UK) if their home-wares are as affordable as their clothing line?? I can't tell online. Some of my favorite shots from their Autumn/Winter 2007-2008 collection...

(image) (image) (Images from Zara Home)

Martha's Vineyard


And lastly, to round-out my homage to the Vineyard, some of my favorite landscape shots. I know that I will come back to these images from time to time when the hustle and bustle of city living prove to be stressful, and I need a good dose of the MV feeling...

Oh, I almost forgot: the sweet yellow lab pup is named Munson! We met him on the dock in Menemsha. I seriously about melted...adorable.

(image) (image) (image) (images by RowHouse)

Martha's Vineyard: salvage and antiques


While out on a run one morning I came across this neat salvage/antique shop called Above Board, located in Oak Bluffs... I came back later that afternoon, and was totally amazed at the neat treasures in this nice gentleman's shop. He explained to us the history behind the fish mounted to the wall ... we chatted about loving claw foot tubs (we have an original one in our rowhouse). And he was very kind to let me take some photos. If you are ever in that area, it's a must-see shop, filled with gems found all over the Vineyard.

I really like the Menemsha Fish Market sign (below the fish) - I didn't even realize that until looking at these photos. We had lobster bisque and seafood chowder there one day, so I'm smitten with that little harbor.

(image) (image) John really liked this old ticket booth. ...sigh... if only we had the space. Oh, right, and a way to get it home. The owner did say that they ship some of the smaller items. I need to check in with their website from time to time.

(image) (images by RowHouse)

Martha's Vineyard: shops


Onto the fabulouso shops! This place is prime for good shopping. Some of these images are from Edgardtown, some from Oak Bluffs, and the last few are in Vineyard Haven. My favorite shop was in VH -- called Nochi. Seriously, have any of you been to this shop??? Or heard of it? It completely inspired me want to redo the look of my living room. Everything was white washed, with a great mix of vintage pieces, and fine luxury goods. I vowed to return to Nochi one day...

(image) (image) (image) (images by RowHouse)

Martha's Vineyard: architecture


(image) First of all, let me just say how much I was loving the architecture, details, and lush gardens of Martha's Vineyard. Most of the houses that we saw were built in the 1700-1800s! oooh... I was seriously in love. Where we stayed in Oak Bluffs, there was an entire "campground" of gingerbread-like Victorians, that were each unique in their own right, and beautifully maintained. And I couldn't get enough of the cedar shingles, and ornate moldings on the cottages and churches. I also loved the one-of-a-kind windows and doors. I felt, at times, like I was walking on a movie set. It was just unreal, the craftsmanship and beauty of it all.

Oh, and I can't forget about the hydrangea. Simply gorgeous... big, full-headed blooms, dripping out onto every sidewalk.

(image) (images by RowHouse)

Boston, MA


So, as I mentioned earlier, we just got back from a trip to New England, stopping for one day/night in Boston, and then continuing on to Martha's Vineyard for a family reunion. All I can say is that I must have lived in NE in a previous life. I was in absolute heaven! Oh, and the weather was perfect - unseasonably warm for late September.Okay, so on to some inspiration... John's cousin (whom we stayed with) took us on a tour of the downtown area, including the harbor. While walking past some of the old, grand rowhouses bordering Boston Common on Beacon Hill, he pointed out that some had the original window panes with the historic rose-colored glass. Neat, huh?I was really drooling over these spectacular homes... I wonder which famous families or celebrities live in Beacon Hill now? Does anyone know???And check out this beautiful garland of ivy... I looked at it pretty closely, and it appears somewhat simple to achieve, but I don't know..?More inspirational shots of Boston...I love the true, gritty history in this one below... what an amazing cemetery, right in the heart of downtown.More images of MV / lots of shops to come .... hold tight!(images by RowHouse)[...]

Hello! I am back


Sorry, I've been MIA recently. We took a fun trip up to New England (Boston and Martha's Vineyard), and I have LOTS of photos and ideas to share.... so stay tuned! I will try to post as much as I can later today....(image)

Pretty : Darn : Swell


Affordable artwork, as featured in Venus zine, Design*Sponge, Daily Candy, and Good Magazine.... pretty:darn:swell

"pretty:darn:swell was created by brother and sister duo Wade and Lynne Penhorwood. The two, though separated by more than a thousand miles, longed to one day put their heads together towards a common goal... bettering the world we live in. With one being an avid collector and the other an artist, an online gallery seemed a natural choice and thus began pretty:darn:swell!

Each print is a beautiful, open edition reproduction of the artist's original. All of our giclee prints are printed on 310gsm Hahnemuhle German etching paper using Epson archival inks. The quality is unbelievable and the prints have a lifespan of over 50 years!

Next to each work of art you'll notice a little paragraph about a charitable organization. That's because five dollars from the sale of each print goes to charity! There are so many wonderful organizations out there, we've decided to let the artists choose where the money should go! We are also giving five dollars from the sale of each print to the artists themselves hopefully allowing them to continue creating!"

I love it - charitable and affordable -- most prints I saw were only $20!

(images from pretty:darn:swell)
Thanks for the tip Wendy!

Empty frames = easy chic style


I really love this frame montage from Blueprint magazine... It's so simple - easy to do, with frames of all shapes and sizes - and yet oh-so stylish. I think it also works well here because all the frames are of the same color palette. Plus that bench is awesome, and I really like the paneling.

Some Wednesday inspiration...


From 100 Weekend Decorating Ideas adapted from BHG.... some of my favorite pages. Just a little weekend project inspiration to get you started ahead of time - on this Wednesday.

(Images from 100 Weekend Decorating Ideas, 2007)

5-Panel Door Art


My friend, Rachael, created this neat piece of art out of an old 5-panel door that she found next to a dumpster! Seriously, who throws away these things!!!?? So glad that she salvaged it!

She and her husband had lived in the Pacific Northwest for a few years before moving back to the DC area. When she thought about creating this piece, she took a good deal of time to plan out the theme. And to see her face light up when she talks about their time out West, I can understand why the area was a natural inspiration - the landscape and scenery, who wouldn't appreciate capturing that beauty? She choose her own photographs of the Olympic Peninsula, the Seattle market, the Cascade Mountains, and wildflowers in the Alpine Lake region of the Cascade Mtns. She printed photos, and then layered them {so some are thicker than others}, collaged together and then glued down with craft adhesive. Few coats of red paint and.... awesome! I love that she kept the door hardware.

Rachael is such a creative talent - always thinking of new ways to view familiar items, especially those dear to her heart. Oh, and she also does terrific graphic design - check out her site:

Washington, DC rowhouse details...


Found some beautiful shots via Flickr for anyone needing color or architectural inspiration for their exterior. How awesome are these places??

(image) (images via Flickr)

Painted brick rowhouse - finished!


Ta-daaa! As promised, here are the photos of our latest project - painting the front of our rowhouse. The "before" photo was taken the night we went to closing, back in January 2005... seems like eons ago. I can't believe it had taken us so long to actually tackle the front yard. We went back and forth about painting the concrete walk and wall. It was John's thought to one day take remove the concrete walk and eventually lay down brick or pavers... but not a priority any longer. So, I painted it with some porch & concrete floor enamel to match the window sills. Planted some seasonal mums, and my eternal favorite (earlier this summer) potato vines, and viola! ...a whole new, crisp look.The door we found at Lowe's about 2 years ago -- a special order Jeld-Wen (if anyone was interested) - it comes unfinished, blonde wood. I stained it twice and put several coats of spar varnish to protect it from the elements. It's held up pretty well. Door hardware is from Lowe's. I've been obsessed with the oil-rubbed bronze fixtures - we put them throughout our entire house....I'll show more on those later. And our mailbox, my splurge -- from Restoration Hardware. I would actually live in that store if I could... that, or Anthropologie of course. The chair was a trash-day find -- John spotted that one on the side of the road in Alexandria -- I painted it last weekend.BeforeHouse numbers tip... figured this out myself, and I've been dying to share with anyone who might have transoms over their front door. If the original house numbers are no longer on your transom, here is a simple, stylish, and inexpensive way to "paint" them yourself.Measure your transom, so you know approximately how large your numbers should be. Create a template in Word or Photoshop like the one below and print out (any font your heart desires!) Tape template to outside of your transom window, making sure that the numbers are level and centered. On the inside, using an $2.99 gold paint marker (similar to this one, found at Michael's), trace out the numbers. I used a straight razor to clean up my edges. If you mess up, or don't like the outcome - just scrape off and try again. So easy!**If you have any good suggestions for increasing your curb appeal, please do share :) ** (images by RowHouse)[...]

Home Office ... more inspiration


After my previous post, I was thought it would be fun to do a quick compilation of inspiring home office images gathered from all over... See if any of these get your creativity going---

Some are from various mags (domino, Cottage Living, etc.) and few others are from Flickr individuals with a camera and whole lotta talent:

The floors below are in fact floors, not a rug! For a how-to, click here.

(image) A random assortment via From House to Home:

Wendy spotted this one from the Lowe's site -- she said, "just thought this was a cool idea if you have the extra closet but not an extra entire room…" Yes indeed! Love this concept when you're short on so many of us are. Plus I love the brown and blue...


Budget Ideas for a Home Office


I saw these great tips on BHG for an unused space turned into a super-functional home office. I love the white painted floors! If we ever have a space where I can do that, I absolutely will. I've been keeping my eye out for filing cabinets that I can paint and use in a system like below. Or, creating a desk out of them by building the table piece to rest atop of two cabinets... It could be glass, or wood, or wood covered in a cute fabric.

(image) Other tips in the article that I thought may be helpful:
-- Coat wood floors in cream paint to brighten the space.
-- Put a slipcover over a retired dining room chair for fresh color and homey style (put casters on the bottom for mobility).
-- Build your own desk by attaching a flat door to stock leg posts bought at a home improvement store.
-- A garden urn and vase hold pencils and pens.
-- Tall table lamps shed more light than short fixtures would have, plus, there's no installation hassle.
-- Attach inexpensive molding to a dry erase board and paint to match the rest of the room.
-- Add new drawer pulls to painted file cabinets -- put several units side by side for an impromptu credenza.
-- Spray paint dark shelving white.
-- Be firm with your labeling system -- it will force you to edit things you don't use or need.
-- Look for a unit with adjustable shelves so you can tailor your containers to ever-evolving storage needs.

(images from bhg)