One of the most difficult aspects of renovating an old home is to ensure your alterations are not only functional and attractive, but are in keeping with the character of the house.


The hallway on the day we moved in

Anyone who has renovated a home of a certain age knows this all too well. The simple fact is that an old home’s character and identity comes from its many small details that were given the utmost of attention. If you complete a project in a old house that retains some of its original detail, and you and don’t take the time and effort to mimic these original details during the new project, your work often ends up sticking out like a sore thumb.

When we had ducted HVAC installed in our new home, we had to work hard to ensure the ducts would run inconspicuously throughout the house. While we were able to accomplish this in almost all cases, the one place where the air return duct had to make an unsightly appearance was beneath our lovely main staircase.

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We've been working on many projects over the past several weeks, but we've been rather quiet here on the blog.

Seems that we've been working on a lot but haven't been getting many of those items completed. Add a crazy work schedule, Halloween, now Thanksgiving, and an early October vacation into the mix and you've got yourself a recipe for blog slackerdom.

However, what we lack in blog posts I'm hoping we've made up for in progress that we'll be sharing over the coming weeks. Most notably we've been finally moving along the long delayed master bathroom cabinets project.

You remember those right? The two cabinets we've been building that will flank the master bathroom vanity?

We've been slowly making some really great project on these babies. This includes a good deal of working to build drawers to help close up four of the glaring holes on the front of the lower section and replacing it with functional storage.

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While Alexandria's Southeast Quadrant may be a major historic attraction when it comes to old homes, many of Old Town's oldest and most well known homes reside just across King Street in the Northeast Quadrant of town.

As we continue our Old Town walking tour series we'll focus on this important northeast section of Alexandria where the city's original center was situated, and where Alexandria's most famous families, the Washingtons, Lees, and Carlyles, all ate, slept, and lived.

This walking tour is 2.2 miles and should take between an hour and one hour 20 minutes to complete (more if you opt for a tour at any of the museum stops). The terrain is easy and there are no hills or tricky footing.

We'll once again start this tour at the central intersection of Alexandria's four quadrants, Washington and King Streets, directly in front of the Alfriend Building, also known as the John Gordon house, on the northeast corner of the street. This beautiful building is a row end building with a Georgian facade, one of the few remaining in Alexandria.

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Steeped in history, full of charm, and jam packed with interesting sights and architecture, the streets of Old Town Alexandria's neighborhoods make for a day of fun while wandering, gawking, and learning.

Having lived in Alexandria since 2000, and in historic Old Town since 2003, we never tire of Old Town. It's not unusual to find us going on walks several times per week just to enjoy this place we call home. 

Now that we're solidly into the beautiful fall weather, we want to share some of our favorite Old Town Alexandria walking paths with you. Best of all, these are all tours from the perspective of locals.

If you're not familiar with Old Town Alexandria, it's divided into four primary quadrants, Southeast, Northeast, Southwest, and Northwest. These four quadrants are based around the central intersection of King and Washington Streets, and each quadrant has its own unique and interesting elements that set it apart from the others. 

We'll be doing this series of blog posts on walking tours of Old Town with each post focusing on an individual quadrant. It's our hope that these guides will offer you a tour of Old Town from a local's vantage point. While I wouldn't really call it "off the beaten path," I think it's fair to consider these walking tours a deviation from the typical tourist guides offered online. So if you find yourself in Old Town, either because you live here or are visiting, we hope you can use our guide to glimpse something interesting and new. And if you're just reading from afar, we hope our photos and descriptions will help paint a picture of our amazing city.

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Over many years of DIY, we've learned that sometimes even the smallest details that can go unnoticed make a huge difference to an overall result.

Years ago, back when we were renovating our upstairs hallway, we replaced the shiny gold polished brass light fixture that once adorned the ceiling with something a little better suited for our style and decor. We don't have any great photos of that original light, so this is the best we can dig up.

We bought the new fixture from Restoration Hardware and loved that it mimicked the shape of our hanging bell lantern in the first floor hallway while retaining as much hallway headroom as a flush mount fixture. It was the perfect solution for our difficult lighting decision.

As the years have passed we noticed that our use of traditional incandescent 40 watt candelabra style bulbs (the wattage suggested by the manufacturer) seemed to be burning the white plastic sleeves of the fixture. At first it was a little off-white, then brown, and then recently they turned very black.

From this little bit of evidence, it was obvious that the bulbs we were using were getting extremely hot and burning the chandelier sleeves. 

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