By Alexa Epitropoulos | [email protected]
Ellen and John Patrick’s home on the 400 block of East Duncan Avenue has had a variety of themes and color schemes in its eight decades in Del Ray.
Though most of the themes have been toned down since the couple, their 3-year-old daughter Mera and French Bulldog Penny moved in two years ago, a remnant of the house’s wild past remains: the Narnia bathroom, complete with wallpaper reminiscent of a forest and a concrete sink shaped like a lion.
“We were like, ‘We can’t justify ripping it out and putting [in] something boring. Let’s leave it out. It’s fun,’” Ellen Patrick said. “People come over and think it’s the best thing ever.”
It was those creative touches, and the renovations the previous owners had done during their nearly 15 years of owning it, like relocating the staircase to open up the kitchen and dining room and creating a bump-out section to the end of the house that now serves as a living room, that attracted Ellen Patrick, a realtor who is one-half of Bobi Bomar + Ellen Patrick, Homes of Alexandria Team.
Though many of the home’s features weren’t something Patrick would do intentionally, she was captivated by the artistry.
“I always tell anyone who comes here that I probably would’ve never thought to put [some
of the] patterns together, but I really like it,” Patrick said.
The home first came to Patrick’s attention when her team was interviewing the homeowners about listing it. Ellen and John Patrick had outgrown their tiny Del Ray townhouse, and, with a toddler in tow, were in search of more space.
John Patrick, or “JP,” who owns music school Rock of Ages in Del Ray, wasn’t initially sold, but quickly got on board. After that, the process moved relatively fast.
“It worked out for everyone because they wanted to do it really quickly and we were ready,” Ellen Patrick said.
Since moving in at the end of 2016, the Patricks have made some changes, including adding a walk-in pantry, repainting the walls, replacing countertops, cabinets and light fixtures and the front door.
Ellen Patrick has also added colorful peel-and-stick wallpaper to the upstairs office and to
Mera’s room. Patrick utilized cost-saving tactics when it came to doing renovations, such as replacing the cabinets by using Semi-Handmade, which makes custom doors for IKEA boxes. Patrick said making renovations right after purchasing the house has given them time to fully enjoy the space.
“With our old house, we didn’t do any updates until we were getting ready to sell it, … so this is kind of the opposite. We’re really getting to enjoy it,” Patrick said.
The couple also revamped the backyard and planted Wisteria on an existing metal overhang prior to being featured in this year’s Del Ray House & Garden tour. For the most part, though, the Patricks have enjoyed the previous owner’s handiwork, including the addition of storage space between the bumpout level and main level.
“It’s a really good use of space. … It’s just using every square inch. Because it’s a drop, everything under the dining room would’ve been empty,” Patrick said. “The fact that they thought to use it for storage and have those hidden cabinets, it’s just seamless.”
When it comes to furniture, most pieces had to be purchased to fit the
family’s increased square footage.
“What’s funny is I have friends who live in Frederick or other parts of Maryland and Virginia and Loudoun County and, to them, this is a teeny tiny house, but for Del Ray, we’re like ‘This is great. This is huge,’” Patrick joked.
The couple moved their old tiny couch to Rock of Ages, and upgraded almost everything else. The last remaining furniture from their old home, Mera’s crib, has also been replaced with a full-sized bed.
“It’s almost as if we had to upgrade all of our furniture too, but it happened over time,” Patrick said.
The home on East Duncan Avenue is the Patricks’ third home in the area. Their first home
was in Lynhaven and their tiny townhouse was a few blocks from their new home.
J.P. is originally from Del Ray and Ellen Patrick, who is from Loudoun County, has lived in the neighborhood for more than a decade and adopted it as her home.
“We just love it here. Obviously, John grew up here, and while he lived in other places in his 20s, this is home to him and it feels like home to me. It’s been 12-plus years and we had our baby here,” Patrick said.
She said, after 12 years of living in the neighborhood, the family is probably in Del Ray for good.
“Alexandria is so small. It’s a city, but it’s small. It feels like Del Ray is one of those places where people really care about you,” Patrick said. “Your neighbors know what’s going on and they help out when you need something.”