Close to Home: Tight-knit, waterfront community becomes home to longtime city residents

Close to Home: Tight-knit, waterfront community becomes home to longtime city residents
Bookshelves from wall to wall in the living room are packed with multiple types of books. (Photo/Caitlyn Meisner)

By Caitlyn Meisner |

It’s not often that new construction finds its home in Old Town, but for Ronna and Patrick Traylor, they struck gold in this clandestine situation.

The couple were moving to the region in 1995 for Patrick’s environmental law focus at The George Washington University following their graduations from Texas A&M University. Ronna received her bachelor’s in English, Patrick in history.

Upon first visiting Alexandria around July 4, the couple fell in love with the area, and particularly Old Town. They admired the neighborhood’s endless charm and antique feel.

They soon found themselves in a home in Rosemont and have bounced around Alexandria since. Patrick began his GWU program and Ronna began teaching high school English. Ronna enrolled in watercolor courses at The Art League, rekindling her love for art.

In June 2020, the couple found a dream location at The Watermark, an 18-unit condominium complex home to year-round and seasonal residents. The complex was built in 2020 and the Traylors were among its inaugural residents. The family loved the complex due to its waterfront location and tight-knit community.

It was a hidden gem for the Traylors, finding it randomly as they were casually searching for a new place to call home. Ronna was dead set on finding a new home for the couple, their son, Benjamin, and dog, Robicheaux.

The 2,240 square foot spacious condominium was the perfect fit: It was one level, it had enough space for the couple’s library, a room for Ronna’s art and a balcony to overlook the Potomac River.

Ronna said a one-level condo was the “must-have” on the list when searching for a new home, as this would likely be their last move. Patrick, on the other hand, was not too worried about this feature.

Upon walking into the third floor unit, walls of color, books and light immediately grace the eye. The foyer is adorned with a textured wallpaper of several colors, a large chest, a 1940s typewriter and a large mirror. Both of the latter items were gifts from Ronna and Patrick’s families.

The ceiling in the foyer is also not lacking in color; with an indent in the ceiling leaving space for a lime green splash of color, there’s also room for a matching baby blue and dark navy to grace the space.

Ronna said the bold colors were her doing – with the help of the designer to choose the particular pairing of colors – which are an expression of her artsy nature. Now, as an art teacher for younger children at the Potomac Classical Conservatory in Alexandria, Ronna can both express her creativity and continue teaching.

Walking directly into the dining and living rooms, there are hundreds of books in built-in bookshelves along the wall facing the street interspersed between the massive windows.

“Of course [the library] is in the Dewey Decimal system,” Ronna laughed, looking at Patrick, who took the lead on organizing the library.

The couple had a local craftsman build the bookshelves for them both in this area and Ronna’s art room, which is just off the living room. That room too is filled to the brim with books in addition to art supplies and Ronna’s artwork.

The living room is also alive with color. The lofty teal couch takes a backseat to the custom rug and ottomans the couple had made. The rug was a design by Ronna herself, taking colored pencils to paper and envisioning the living room’s colors. The ottomans, which beautifully accent the rug, provide enough seating for guests the Traylors often host.

Ronna’s art room is bursting with color, too. The large white built-in, filled with art books and organizers on the outside, hides the bountiful art supplies Ronna holds as the art teacher at a local school. This is also where any guests stay as the room is host to a Murphy bed.

“Most of this is supplies for school [and the kids],” Ronna said. “I love scrapbooking, so I have all my materials over here.”

In the dining room, there is a large – “but not large enough,” Patrick said – dining table and eight chairs. The couple said they often host large groups of people, including some of Ronna’s friends from church.

“We usually pull the ottomans over to the table to fit everyone in,” Ronna said. “That usually fits everyone.”

Turning to the left of the table is the spacious and bright kitchen. Hosting the original white cabinets and countertops is an updated kitchen with a touchless sink, large refrigerator and double oven.

The balcony is right off the kitchen and provides a serene view of the Hotel Indigo and a sliver of the waterfront. Ronna said the hotel’s presence is welcomed and that she likes to see decorations for each event.

Down the hallway is the main bedroom. The agreement made between Ronna and Patrick was a tradeoff in color: If the living spaces were bright and colorful, the bedroom was to be more muted and calm; therefore, the room is filled with grays and dark blues.

The dichotomy between the main living spaces and the main bedroom is telling of the couple: Ronna, the loud, outgoing and daring teacher mixed with Patrick’s calm, introverted demeanor make a beautiful match.

Centered around the large bed, the room provides a calm and cozy oasis from the hustle and bustle of life. The couple also renovated the closets to maximize space and installed sliding glass doors. Off the bedroom is the large bathroom with a detached tub, stand shower and double-sink vanity. A bright and spacious bathroom is perfect for the couple and Robicheaux to relax in.

The condo is also accessible to a rooftop with grills and seating. Although their unit does not have a complete waterfront view, the rooftop is the perfect replacement for it. Views of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge and Potomac River are plentiful.

The bright and colorful home captures the essence of the family: lively, energetic and excited for the new chapters Old Town brings. It’s a fulfillment of their 1995 dream to reside in this picturesque neighborhood.