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YHL show 1

I visited my sister in DC the week the Young House Love show house first opened to the public. Being only two hours away, I couldn’t pass up the chance to see it with my very own eyes. I don’t care what anyone says about bloggers stalking bloggers. Why can’t people who share similar interests be friends? Isn’t that what being friends is all about?

Anyhow, I know how much hard work and time John and Sherry put into this house and I genuinely wanted to support them and the good cause. The Richmond Homearama benefits Habitat for Humanity. A portion of ticket sales is being donated to the cause plus John and Sherry donated their entire design fee to the organization while their builder is sending money Habitat’s way, too.

After touring the house, I had so many questions floating around in my head. I thought it would be fun to do a little Q & A. Luckily, John & Sherry were up for it.

Q: Okay, so I was totally eavesdropping on the comments other viewers were making while touring the house. I heard “beach house” and “Florida house” which I thought was so funny. I mean, just because a house isn’t tan and cream all over doesn’t mean it’s a beach house. Anyway, I’d love to know how you would describe the house using the Jonny Adler three word rule.

S: Hmm, I think we were aiming for happy, fresh, and comfortable.

YHL show 2

Q: I also kept hearing the phrases “well used space” and “good layout.” I agree. The house is roughly 3,600 square feet but it doesn’t feel like an empty canyon. It’s so cozy! The use of custom built-ins throughout optimizes floor space and storage. Do you think your years spent living in modest ranches had an influence on how you approached the layout?

J: That’s so nice to hear. I definitely think coming from smaller homes (our first was 1,200 square feet) has inspired us to make use of every last inch – and has definitely influenced our love of built-in storage, smart layouts, and other features that optimize space. We also didn’t want the house to feel cavernous (3,600 square feet is a lot of space compared to what we’re used to) so adding functional built-ins and storage systems really made the rooms feel less sprawling and more cozy to us.

Q: You’ve never built a house from scratch before. What was the most surprising part of the process?

S: It was a definitely a whole new challenge to choose everything pretty much all at one time (from light fixtures and flooring to doorknobs, cabinet hardware, and even furnishings and accessories) instead of letting rooms evolve over time, which has always been our method in the past. We’re huge fans of trial and error, so it felt like a giant blitz to make all those decisions at once. In the end, there are definitely a few things we’d tweak if we had more than a few weeks to pull the house together after construction was completed, but overall we’re really proud and excited about where we ended up.

Q: On a similar note, you guys are used to doing most of the work yourselves. How did you feel about handing over the paint brush / hammer to the pros? Was the instant gratification nice or did you miss the pride of doing it yourselves?

J: In some cases it felt really alien to us, I’m not going to lie. But most of the time it was pretty amazing. John Waters (the builder) and his team were great, so it was pretty novel to leave a list of paint colors and sketches for the built-ins and wainscoting and come back a few days later to see them completed. There were moments when we looked at each other and said “we could get used to this…”

YHL show 3

Q: Personally, I loved the playroom and laundry room. They are functional and super stylish. Which room is your favorite? Least favorite?

S: We love those rooms too! I think we’re also really into the living room, the breakfast nook, and the master suite with the big living area on the front porch being our favorite space of all. (Once we furnished and accessorized that blank-slate we were ready to move in). As for least favorite, there are a few things we would have done differently in the guest bedroom if we had more time, so that’s always “the one that got away” in my head…

Q: If you had to do it all over again is there anything you would change?

S: We’re not in love with the wall color we picked for the guest bedroom because in hindsight since the room has a few eaves and cutouts, we wish we had gone with something lighter that we could have put on the ceiling as well – that way it would de-emphasize those angles instead of making them stand out with dark walls and a white ceiling. We also wish we had hung a big quatrefoil mirror higher in the upstairs hallway (we just ran out of time) and we’d change the guest room bedding if we had the chance, too.

YHL show 4

Q: I counted no less than three fiddle leaf figs. They were tall and green and I wanted to take them home with me. (Not that I would have anywhere to put them.) My sister was eyeing all the colorful art on the walls. If you could take one thing from the show house to use in your own home what would it be?

J: I want all the outdoor furniture – especially the stuff on the front porch. Between the porch swing and the egg chair along with that cushy sofa, I’d be a happy guy.

S: And I’d have to agree with your sister and say the art. I loved how much it changed a room when we hung it. That or the curtains. They went up and the space went from bare and cold to a place I wanted to hang out.

Q: Everyone wants to know. Did you get to spend the night in your show house?

J: We considered it after a few late nights, but we always ended up driving home for practical reasons (to get something we needed the next day, etc). We do joke that before the house is sold we want to have a pizza party there with our friends and family – just to pretend it’s our place for one night.

Q: What are some ideas or wisdom gained from this experience that you will be taking with you as you forge ahead with the renovation and decoration of your own home?

S: It was really interesting to work at a higher price point than we’re used to at home. While we love the thrill of being thrifty and DIYing, the show house helped us appreciate how much one or two thought out splurges or customized updates really can bring to a space. So I think we’ll be embracing more of a high & low mixture when we can, rather than trying to pinch pennies at every corner.

YHL show 5

Thanks to John & Sherry for entertaining my nosy questions. If you aren’t able to attend the Richmond Homearama in person, you can read more about the show house and watch for the final room reveals over on YHL.

I have been to a few Homearamas over the years.¬†Normally, I find them too over-the-top for my taste. So it was really refreshing to tour a show house that felt more like a home than a staged mansion. My sister and I genuinely felt as if we were walking through a family’s happy home. It was welcoming, colorful, completely livable and down-to-earth – much like John & Sherry in real life. Bravo!

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking, published with the consent of Young House Love

27 Comments

12.May.2014

We are driving up from Raleigh on Saturday! Couldn’t be more excited to see the YHL house. Thanks for showing areas of the house we hadn’t seen. Love that staircase!

12.May.2014

How lucky that you got an interview! I live local to RVA and went the first weekend. I loved their house – it was my fav along with the one that was grey/black/brown on the outside (#4?). I loved seeing everything in person after looking at photos on their blog. I would love to buy the house plan, hire an architect, make it the house a little smaller then build that house in 5 years. It’s not out of the realm of my dreams actually!

12.May.2014

YHL did a tour of the other homes in the show last week. I would love to know what house you liked the best, not including the YHL house (because obviously theirs was the winner).

Loved the Q&A with YHL! I also like the different perspective of the house in your photos. I’m totally jealous that you got to check the house out!

Small world! I live in Cincinnati too, but am from DC, and lived in RVA for awhile. There seems to be a Cincy > DC pipeline.

Great to see another perspective on the YHL show house! Thanks for this extra insight, and the photos are beautiful. I think the takeaway on splurging for higher-end and higher-quality pieces when you can is a good one.

12.May.2014

There was a lot that I didn’t like about John and Sherry’s showhouse; I felt like there was a disconnect between many of the rooms, where I would have designed with more cohesion–the wild mix of light fixtures bothered me in particular. In all honesty, that probably had to do with it being a “show house” and its sole purpose to display a variety of design ideas. After seeing the pictures that they posted of the other houses in the show, however, I was much more impressed with theirs. The others were just as you said, over-the-top and, in at least one case, ridiculous. None of them were exactly my taste, but I think that John and Sherry’s took the proverbial cake. It felt the most like a home, the most livable, and it definitely brought the monstrous scale of that house down to what seemed more reasonable.

I think John and Sherry did an amazing job! I can’t get enought of the YHL show house so thanks for additional pictures (eye candy) and insights from John and Sherry! Would have loved to experience (or in your case make out with) the home in person!:-)

12.May.2014

This is so great! H*T and YHL together in one post!

I’m so excited to see the porch now – I don’t think we’ve seen any pics of it? I could be wrong, but I don’t remember any.

So glad you were able to go see their showhouse. Such a treat for you (yes, we’re all jealous) and in turn, a treat for us too! Thanks!

12.May.2014

So glad you did this! I live in DC and have been dying to drive down, but life keeps getting in the way, maybe this weekend. Also really liked the pictures you took, it was nice to see a different perspective on those rooms.

12.May.2014

After touring the house I told Sherry, “you guys were holding out on the outdoor spaces!” They are amazing. I think John and Sherry are revealing show house spaces on their blog weekly. Stay tuned for the front porch and backyard space…

12.May.2014

I love their takeaway too!

beautiful house! i’m in love with the wood throughout which complement the light furniture/walls really well!

12.May.2014

I was sorta crunched for time. My sister and I spent over an hour in the YHL house and then zipped through the other show houses spending maybe 10-15 minutes in each. There were a few cool features in the other houses (like a secret door/bookcase in a children’s room that revealed a small gaming room under an eave) but mostly they were over-the-top with their decor and/or floor plans. (I actually got “lost” in one house.) Some of the houses felt like they either ran out of time, money or energy. That was just my impression though. I wish I would have had more time to take in each one!!

12.May.2014

I wanted to rub my body all over the kitchen countertop! It had the best texture. I felt the same way about the powder room on the first floor. It had floor-to-ceiling tile on one wall that was oozing with texture.

12.May.2014

It is interesting that you said that! For me, only seeing them in pictures, I had the same impression. There is a big difference between being visually appealing (which in my opinion and personal taste, some of the show houses didn’t even have that) and being pretty and practical. There may have been one house (i’m not sure which number) that I could imagine living in besides the YHL house. Theirs seemed to be the only one that was beautiful without being over the top, and even gaudy at times…and im not just saying that because Im a YHL fan.

I loved this post! So interesting to see these rooms shot in your style vs. John and Sherry’s style. It’s fascinating to me that the same subject shot by 5 different photographers can turn out 5 different ways. Thanks for sharing!

Lol, I will have to live vicariously through your titillating descriptions! You may have a 3rd career of writing house romance novels in your future! I would read them! Especially if they contained your fabulous photography!:-)

I felt like their home was so much brighter, fun and more modern than the others. You could tell it was done by a young family and I really appreciated that. The layout was so much better and made sense to me. I would so be down for a pizza party lol – maybe even a pillow fight too ;)

How fun is this house and your post! I wish I lived closer. I would be all over it.

12.May.2014

Thank you! John & Sherry are gradually featuring a full show house tour on their blog so I didn’t want to regurgitate that and impose on their blog content. Although…I did take pics of all the rooms just for my own reference!

12.May.2014

So…if you have more pics of their house, do you feel like sharing them so I could live vicariously through your visit?!?!? Love your photog style and am not able to make the trip up from FL (although I do wish I had an excuse to do so!)

I think it’s awesome you drove down to see the show house. Bloggers stalking bloggers? Nah, bloggers supporting bloggers! Having met them before at the book signing, and also being featured in their book seems like a cool friendship has developed.

13.May.2014

This is the first time I’ve seen their showhouse, but now I’m in love with it and have to go check the rest out on their blog. Great Q&A session. It’s always interesting to hear designer’s own thoughts and especially what they love or would change now.

13.May.2014

Hmmm…possibly after YHL is finished revealing the entire house??

14.May.2014

this was such a fun read, I’m from Washington and if I lived there still I would definitely find my way to Richmond. For me the highlight was that huge picture of Burger over the fireplace – it was awesome!

[…] reading John and Sherry’s interview about their showhouse in Richmond.¬† If you missed the room tours on their own blog, they’re […]