Welcome! We're Alex and Wendy, owners and insane DIYers of not one, but two fixer uppers: an 1880s row house in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia as well as a 1908 foursquare, a short drive from DC but what feels like miles away from Beltway life.

Having bought our first house in early 2003 just months after getting married, we purchased our row home in a "bachelor pad" state, having no idea what we were in for. After years of blood, sweat, and tears, not to mention most of our free time and savings, we've decided to share our story of do-it-yourself adventures, in hopes that others can learn from our successes and failures, and be entertained along the way. 

After 12 years of homeownership, we were itching for a new project and more space. While the natural thing to do would be to move, we simply couldn't leave behind the home we've lovingly renovated for over a decade. Therefore we decided to take on a new and second project with a completely different feel. Only a year in, we've been faced with more challenges than we bargained for (frozen pipes and toilets throughout the house, nearly six months without running water or HVAC, tick borne illness, tornado scares, and more), but we're not giving up.

Even though we began our renovation journey in 2003, we're somewhat new to the blog scene having started Old Town Home in April of 2011. In this short time, we consider ourselves fortunate to have met so many fellow DIY and design enthusiasts, and have even been lucky enough to have been featured on Apartment Therapy, and in The Washington PostOld House JournalNorthern Virginia Magazine and The Washington Post Express. We were even a winner of eCollegeFinder's Top DIY Blog Award, a finalist in Apartment Therapy's 2013 Homies for Best Home Projects & DIY Blog, and were named one of the 17 Best DIY Blogs in 2014 by Domino Magazine.

Is it your first time here? Check out our Welcome Page or learn more as we answer FAQs and talk about why we DIY.

Our Crew

When the kids aren't working, they're usually fighting:

In Memory - 2008-2010

Oliver

Oliver

"Director of Safety and Security"

In his all too brief time as a member of our renovation crew, our Daug (Dachshund Pug mix) Oliver ensured that the proper safety gear was worn at all times, as well as provided perimeter security of the property. His side hobby was redecorating replastered walls and refinished baseboards...with his teeth.

Comments 21

Comments

Marlene
6/12/2011 at 11:39 PM
Love your gardening proyect...last year we built a small box and planted tomatoes...I was lazy and it was late in the season, so I just drop the bags of soil in the box sideways and poke holes on it; then just "planted" the small plants in the holes. Everybody made fun of my "technique" and said it was going to fail and what do you know? I had a bumper crop of tomatoes all the way through the fall! Beginners luck? I prefer to think I have a green thumb!
Wendy
6/13/2011
That's hysterical Marlene. Sounds like you showed them! We're so glad you liked our gardening project and thanks for visiting.
Lindsay
6/28/2011 at 4:39 PM
Hi Wendy and Alex,

I'm a house tour contributor for Apartment Therapy and would like to discuss the possibility of setting up a photo tour of your place. I couldn't find an email address on your website, so I'm sending it through here. If you are interested, please email me at [email protected]

Thanks so much,
Lindsay
bu2fulday
7/27/2011 at 7:55 PM
dang, guys...

you have been busy on the website. I love the new treatments of your home for the header? Gesh, I am not a tech guru. ALEX... what are those things called? they are cool.
9/28/2011 at 2:25 PM
Here's the video link of my journeys enjoying the quaint Old Town Alexandria, Virginia community. Thank you for sharing your site. Link to a 2 minute video I did for my Master's class: www.thankfulrevolution.com/2011/09/28/old-town-alexandria-virginia-convenient-cozy-and-a-quaint-small-town-thats-a-stone-throw-away-from-washington-d-c/
Joan D
3/29/2012 at 7:33 PM
Wendy and Alex, I love your blog! As fellow residents of OT, I challenge you to find our Alley House in Hammonds Ct in the historic district. It's a reno'd 1850-ish cart house for an ice house that stabled it's carts and horses in what is now our kitchen and dining room and stored hay in our upstairs bedrooms and bath. As the first two-legged residents, we had a blast renovating it and love showing it to people who discover us. Alley living is the best kept secret in Old Town. thanks for your great coverage of our extraordinary community. Joan
Wendy
3/30/2012
Thanks so much Joan! Hmm, we'll definitely have to set out on a trek to find your adorable-sounding alley house. That is just too cool that your home once housed carts and horses!! Who knows, maybe we'll bump into you some day and you can give us a tour? ;-)
2/6/2013 at 10:29 PM
LOL.. I just stumbled onto your site via the Victoria Elizabeth Barnes link. Must tell you that I enjoyed reading your crew bio's - sounds like my crew, hubby and me = contractor & designer. I love your design sense! Girls rock.
Andrew
12/20/2013 at 8:46 PM

I appreciate all you wrote on http://www.oldtownhome.com/2012/6/7/Ask-OTH-Dusty-and-Dripping-Basement-Walls/, relevant to my similar basement today in Lancaster, PA. I'm wondering if you or any of your readers have any thoughts about this product and the claims for it: http://www.sanitred.com/basementform.php

I just happen to have grown up in Alexandria (uptown, near the Seminary), by the way. Amazing what has happened in Old Town since the 1960s.

2/13/2014 at 6:09 AM

I just watched the video of the cat/dog fight. Hilarious! As a dog/cat owner I totally relate. The sound effects were a hoot!

Betsy
7/28/2014 at 11:51 AM

Would love to know what if any research you have done on the cost of adding a gas line and lamp. I have also wanted to do the same and am curious on where to get an estimate for the work. Fellow Old Town neighbor...

Jeanne
8/24/2014 at 4:02 PM

We just bought a house on n. Columbus and totally are interested in what the cost of your cast iron step project.

Wendy Smith
9/2/2014 at 1:11 PM

Thank you so much for your post about buying your Volvo. My husband and I are planning to go abroad to do this as soon as I can order the hybrid XC90. I was going to order a 2015 model tomorrow but when I read about the hybrid I felt I had to wait. It was so nice to read about the trip experience and I can't wait to go! So cool you got to keep the plates.

Jayme
10/14/2014 at 3:08 PM

I just stumbled upon your blog while dealing with the loss of YoungHouseLove. I am from Cleveland, Ohio and also a Miami University alum! Your home is absolutely stunning. I'm so excited to start reading all of your archived posts! I can't believe I've been missing out.

Wendy
10/14/2014

Welcome, Jayme! We're so glad you found us, and love to hear from fellow Clevelanders/Miami Alum.Alt smile

Sharon Raven
11/26/2014 at 12:30 PM

I am looking for the large rusty initials. Can I get the contact info for the vendor that has them?

Vic Carbone
2/4/2015 at 10:50 PM

I'm glad I found youse..I live in Nassau County N.Y. My uncle lives in Queens. He got a cracked & sagging bathroom plaster ceiling. But it looks like its only th'top finis'layer ov plaster that's separated. th base or Brown coat layer seems to be still "keyed" in.
Do I tear th' loose material & skim over th' firm base coat? & if so, what product shud I use? regular pre-mixed j.c. OR a "mixed"plaster product? OR do I RIP it down to th'lath & sheetrock?

Jean Carol Stone
2/5/2015 at 5:47 PM

We are building a small cabin and are thinking about having the kitchen and bathroom counter tops made of cedar. We will be cutting our own seasoned cedar logs. Can you tell me if I need to use the same procedure to condition them as you did with the butcher block wood?

Remie
2/22/2015 at 9:22 AM

Dear Alex,

I just read your article "Window Restoration: How To Re-Rope Sash Cord." I am so grateful for it. You have a way of making people laugh and getting the main point across with clarity.

I purchased a 1925 Pier & Beam Houston house. It has tons of windows just like the ones in your pictured article. Just like you, I discovered the website "smith restorationsash.com." My main question is "how do you clean and remove these heavy round weights?" Houston is a very humid place.

Respectfully & thankfully,

Remie

sj
4/12/2015 at 6:25 PM

Just read your NVM article and your comment that the master bath would be completed by end of 2012. Proof that the "best laid plans"... But considering all the work and challenges, not too bad on time. Still had to chuckle though.

Kevin
6/23/2015 at 10:22 PM

I found your site when investigating butcher block finishing.
We just had a kitchen island built for us with a maple butcher block top. Someone told me I should use mineral oil, so I applied one coat prior to thinking things through. We don't plan to use it as a cutting surface just a food prep area with the use of cutting boards to cut on. after thinking things through I plan to use a polyurethane sealer on it so if we spill anything the wood will not absorb it, Now, i'm not so sure if I can do this as I did apply the mineral oil. Should I wait a certain amount of time, sand it good and then start over. How soon could I do something like this?

thanks,

Kevin Schmidt
Hales Corners, WI

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