We've all likely seen it in magazines, or heard of it being done from a friend or antiques dealer, or witnessed it in a friend or family members renovated bathroom, and it seems like a pretty straight forward and simple idea. The concept is one that can both save a few bucks, add a little character to a room. What am I talking about? I'm talking about taking an old low dresser, side board, or buffet and transforming it into a bathroom sink or vanity.

Really, the idea seems like it should be so easy. Just take an old vanity, cut a few holes in the top, drop a sink or two in, call it a day. Better yet, don't even bother with the old top, take it off and grab a piece of remnant marble or granite, pop in a sink, and you've got yourself a one of a kind vanity.

I have to admit, at first my mind went to the good old "Yeah, that'll be no problem." But then reality set in and I realized that pretty much anything involving retrofitting an existing piece of furniture to be something else, let alone one where you must ensure plumbing has a place to run, is an entirely new set of challenges. Sure, the Pinterest boards are alive with the look of effortless simplicity. "Here, here's a stunning before and after!" We all collectively ooh and ahh at the magnificence of the piece, like a couple of grandmas at a fireworks display.

Slap that little Pinterest price tag ribbon on the piece to add a little salt to the wound. "Wow, would you look at what someone was able to accomplish for just $150.00! Take that, $3,299 Restoration Hardware mass produced double vanity, I'm all in, and I'll raise you a bundle of character you can't possibly be dealt in your hand." Ignore the man behind the curtain and the fact the $150 tag is only talking about the faucet hardware.

Gone are the nitty gritty details, the hole necessary in the cabinet interiors that look like they were chewed by beavers, the sweat and tears no doubt shed while trying to wrestle this piece of furniture from intended purpose into the submission induced new life it's surely meant to lead.

The sad fact is that the majority of these such re-purposes, or "up cycles" as it is often called, end in wasted effort, broken dreams, or in the worst case scenarios, a pile of useless kindling created from the lethal combination if craftiness, power tools, and the haze of an Internet inspired dream.

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Comments 21

Old Town Alexandria is known for its close ties to the life and legacy of George Washington. Our most recognizable founding father had a townhome on Cameron Street, attended services at Christ Church (where his family pew still stands), and lived just a few miles south of Old Town in his rolling and picturesque Mt. Vernon estate. 

It's no surprise that the President's Day holiday holds a special place for Old Town. So much so that the city puts on a parade through the streets of Old Town celebrating George Washington's birthday. Actually, it's the largest such parade in the world. 

Parade day is not small deal in our area, so we're going to take you on a little tour of our day. It's a little chilly, quite sunny, and there's no better way to celebrate a day off than watching a good old fashioned parade.

5:15 PM - Parade watching on Prince & Royal. #aroundoldtown #extraordinaryalx

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Comments 0

Jump To Latest Update - 5:45 PM

All day I've been a giddy as a camel in an insurance commercial. Seriously, ask my annoyed co-workers, I've been this way all day long.

Mike, Mike, Mike, Mike, Mike, guess what day it is!!! Guess. What. Day. It. Is!

That's right, folks! We've got ourselves a good old fashioned DC metro area snow storm a brewing. And like every overhyped weather event in DC, I'm super excited for the potential of what might come. So excited, in fact, that I'm setting up our snow cam once again and plan on blogging the fun that is sure to ensue!

Live Shot

At this point, without a massive and historic snow storm, I can only be let down.

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Comments 12

Among our friends, family, and now the Internet, we're somewhat known for starting and working on many simultaneous projects. We may preach the good old "one room at a time" approach to DIY home improvement, but in actuality, we practice "one major room ripped apart for what seems like an eternity while also taking on lots of other "smaller" projects...which may or may not include other entire rooms." And by "practice," I mean, "we're expert at."

In all honesty, it's an exercise in DIY futility and one we can't recommend for anyone wanting to get something done quickly.

Software development is my day job line of work, and we have a rule when it comes to defining a complex system and managing the project. No matter what the customer wants, they have three options, but they can choose only two. Their system can either be good, cheap, or fast (completed quickly). In other words, the better the solution, and the faster they want it done, the more expensive it is. Alternatively, the cheaper they want it for and the faster they want it done, the worse quality the system will be. And so on...

In DIY home improvement (as with many things in life), the same principles apply, except with one modification. Rather than representing a triangle of options, this is more of a quad point scale of measurement. The new major decision points are similar with one major addition: Good, Fast, Cheap, and Life.

Let's look at all four of the these items with respect to DIY.

Good: This rather subjective yet all encompassing aspect of renovation projects is rather hard to quantify, but relatively easy to identify. A project with a "good" result is one where you've not taken short cuts along the way and the finish work, as well as the work below the surface, is executed to the best of your ability. This requires a time commitment that allows you to hone your skills in what you're dealing with if they don't already exist, as well as a desire to achieve a caliber of workmanship that satisfies those with a discerning eye. (Read: "your significant other.")

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Comments 5

If there was one thing we knew about the purchase of our home over a decade ago before we even started a single project, it was that we'd eventually install crown moulding in pretty much every single area of our house. It's an element of home decor, historic homes, and general home aesthetics that Wendy and I both enjoy. It dresses up almost any room, it's not cost prohibitive from a materials standpoint, and it's something that the general DIYer is completely capable of handling with a little knowhow, patience, practice, and the right tools.

Now 11 years later, we've applied crown in three different profiles within eight of the 11 rooms in our home, and the other three rooms won't escape our ownership without eventually being adorned with this delightful carved wood architectural detail. Looking back on our early gusto, it's funny to think about all of our attempts and missteps early on in our process of developing solid crown moulding skills.

We made a whole bunch of mistakes when hanging that first room of crown. From painting the wall and ceiling before putting up the moudling to using the wrong type of caulk. But it was a learning experience that helped set our stage for the next project, the next next project, and beyond.

After I had nearly completed hanging our crown in that very first room, I proudly marched Wendy into the living room and presented the hung (but un-caulked) 4" traditional crown that I had slaved over for days. I had just once piece to go, but I was too excited not to show it off. Wendy's response, "Maybe we should have hired someone???"

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Comments 9
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