House Crashing: John And Sherry Plus 8

You know how excited we get to snoop around houses and share the goods with you guys (we’ve even crashed open houses and stores), so just picture our excitement to crash EIGHT houses on one block for your viewing pleasure.

It definitely wasn’t our most traditional house crashing adventure – it was actually a home show here in Richmond called Richmond Homearama, where home builders team up with local designers to construct and decorate eight houses in a variety of styles. Most of the homes are already sold by now, but you can still stroll around for ideas and inspiration. So we thought we’d show you a few of our favorite nooks and crannies.

It was pretty cool how from one house to the next you could go from a casual elegant dining room…

… to a polished transitional one. And since all of the rooms were done by local design pros, they seemed to be more layered and intricate than the average staged-for-sale new construction. A lot of the designers tried to do something different and take interesting risks (like two large light fixtures over a table or a backsplash made from river rocks) so it was fun to see them stretch the usual “keep it basic and neutral” house-selling rule.

As much eye candy as there was to take in, some rooms definitely stood out to us as favorites. One being this could’ve-been-overlooked mudroom in the “European Elegance” home.

My penchant for old boxes and crates was satisfied, while Sherry appreciated the open space under the built-in bench where shoes could be casually kicked off while still remaining wrangled (let’s face it, kids don’t always put them in baskets, but the least they can do is kick them into that zone under the bench).

But our favorite details by far were these coat hooks made from brightly-colored valve handles. The designers picked them up at a local hardware store (Pleasants, for all you Richmonders) and spray painted them in a few happy colors (there are also ready-to-order collections on Etsy if you’re looking to recreate the look).

This house also featured one of our favorite bedrooms. And come to think of it, this was also where we found the first dining room pictured above (who would’ve thought we’d be so into European Elegance?). See that cute dog on the bench at the foot of the bed? He’s not real. But he could have fooled us when we walked in (and we later admitted we were sad that he wasn’t).

We liked this gutsy and graphic choice for the headboard. Maybe cranes (herons?) aren’t something we’re brave enough to do in our own home, but it was certainly fun and very memorable.

We also liked that they woke up the room with a big blast of color on one wall, thanks to this kick butt piece of art (from Crossroads here in Richmond, for anyone interested). It’s like, just when you thought the room might be too gray-washed… BAM! How you like them florals?

Speaking of gray + color, this guest bedroom from the “Swift Creek Cottage” also had a cozy stay-a-while vibe. We thought the shutters on the inside was a fun touch to play off the whitewashed wood wall. The whole room felt like a comfortable sun porch or something.

Here’s a closer shot of that wall, which they made from reclaimed pieces of lumber. And isn’t that yellow inset on the headboard a nice detail? Most of the furniture in all eight houses came from The Greenfront Furniture Market (although some of it was altered by the designers) so hopefully that helps if you’re looking for something.

One room I’m bummed I didn’t get better pictures of is what I call the “Angel Kitchen.” Why? Because when they flipped on the lights it was like a chorus of “Hallelujahs!” It was like we had died and gone to white, glass-fronted, brilliantly-lit cabinet heaven. Feel free to play this music while staring at this picture for the full effect.

This home, named the “Modern Craftsman” was probably the closest to our current style. Actually, speaking of which – see that upholstered chair in the background of this striped side table shot? We actually used that fabric in one of our book projects!

This house is also a good place to point out one trend that we noticed across all of the houses: lots of molding and trim that went the extra mile on both the walls and ceilings. For example, here’s the staircase right beside the table shown above. This was a huge double height entryway, so the trim-work cozied things up and made it feel less like an ampitheatre when you walked in.

This house also carried the feature moldings into the bedroom with this pretty tone-on-tone coffered ceiling. Oh to have high ceilings like this…

Coffered ceilings seemed to be all over the place actually. Some were more subdued (like the one above) while others were more bold, like this living room from the “European Elegance” house that used a darker color to cozy things up.

This sitting room in the “Swift Creek Cottage” used the white paneled wall to offset a bold blue accent wall, showing that just because a wall has some trim detail doesn’t mean it needs to be the only focus.

Back on the bolder end of things, the designer of the “Vintage Rediscovered” home had this outside-the-box solution for the monstrous ceiling in the master bedroom – she had the builder add faux beams (surprise, they’re actually just painted drywall).

Though in this house it was the master bathroom that caught our eye the most. The mixture of textures and tiles just made the whole space feel really comfortable and lived in. Sherry was thisclose to drawing herself a bath (and rubbing her face on that grasscloth wallpaper).

Another trend we noticed across the homes was how the builders didn’t miss opportunities to steal extra storage space by adding nooks and recessed shelves in the walls. Like this stylish kids’ bathroom in the “Swift Creek Cottage” with some built-in storage on either side of the sinks.

It seemed like every kitchen island had an open shelf or built-in bookcase on at least one end. And the kitchen from this same “Swift Creek Cottage” also had a little shelf in the half-wall next to the benched breakfast area.

Now if only ceramic animals had been more of a trend in all of the spaces. Although we did find these guys chillin’ on the dining table…

And while we’re still in the “Swift Creek Cottage”, let’s finish out some of the other cool details that we spotted there that certainly go beyond average builder finishes. Like this hammered copper apron sink (the first one we’ve ever seen in person):

They also traded out standard double-doors for these cool rolling barn doors in an upstairs media room. Still gotta figure out a place to use these guys in our house somewhere…

We even found the entrance of the “Swift Creek Cottage” inspiring. Check out the fun green door:

Speaking of entrances and outdoorsy stuff – we noticed more than one home that featured rain chains (which are basically downspout alternatives since rain hugs the chain and is led down to the ground). Looks like those are becoming more and more of a thing, even in new constructions. Sherry always wanted one for our first house, so we might have to make it happen in our current one.

This home below was called “Simply Flexible” and featured another space that’s apparently really “in” right now which is known as the command center. See that area to the left with the pencil art? It was a small area that housed some built-in cabinets, a built-in desk and functions somewhere between a drop-zone and a mini office. Perhaps it’s the 2012 version of having a small desk for a laptop right in your kitchen?

Of course, beyond these broader building trends there were still little decorating/crafty projects that we noticed. This Check Your Pockets sign in the laundry room of the “European Elegance” home (with jars to stash change, pens, candy, and money before they go into the washer) is a cute functional idea. Plus it’s inspiration to make sign art from scrap wood with any message stenciled on the front.

The equestrian-themed kids room in the “Historic Richmond” home had this cool idea of showcasing prize ribbons by clipping them on a couple of old shutters. We thought it was a fun idea even if you’d rather hit up eBay instead of the stables for your ribbons.

And speaking of themed kids’ rooms, I couldn’t resist showing you guys this Angry Birds room. Yes, it’s definitely bold, but I’ve gotta give them points for creativity. I loved how the bed, shelves, and even the nightstand were constructed to look like the game. Let’s just hope things don’t fall over or get blown up as easily as they do on my iPhone.

Obviously we’ve only scratched the surface of all eight houses at Homearama, so it’s totally worth a visit if you’re a local (it runs Wednesdays – Sundays through May 6th). As a heads up, it’s $10 for adults but free for kids 12 and under. Oh, and we’d love to know what home jumps out as your favorite, or if there’s a particular room or idea that you’d love to make yours. Or what general trends you’re noticing in new constructions when it comes to their layouts/design.

Psst- Still feel like snooping? Check out over 35 other houses we’ve crashed right here.


  1. says

    Oh my gossssh! I forgot how much I love you guys house crashing! I so miss that (kind of nostalgic now that you guys are so famous!)

    If you ever want to house crash in the rural greenery of Hanover, VA…..not too far from you guys….well you know who to call! hahaha :-)

    • says

      Aw, send us pics of your house and we’d love to see if we can crash you! We actually still House Crashing people as often as we can (we might have run out of locals, but we’re even up for travel- haha). We just shared this one from Portland a little while back. So for anyone out there who wants us to crash- just send photos to and we’ll try to fit it in!


    • says

      Rain chains are a cool, inexpensive way to capture rain water from a gutter, have it run down the chain, and collect it in a reservoir or other container (such as a barrel) for use in watering plants, bathing your dog, washing your car, etc. The Swift Creek Cottage uses a tea cup shaped chain where the water fills the first cup, then flows into the second, then the third, and so forth until it reaches our containment barrel. Come check it out!

    • Alex says

      Rain chains remove the actual downspout and hang a chain from the opening where the downspout was located. Yes, the water will follow the chain. However, what you have at the bottom is a very important factor to consider. As the water comes down quickly and will splash if the base is not designed to absorb some of the impact of the water flow.

      Think the rate of water flow from your downspout in a heavy rain, now consider there are at least a two turns in most downspouts (generally 3 turns) each turn will slow the water flow slightly, and end with the water flowing out away from the house. With a rain chain you are removing all turns, and dropping the water straight down.

      We had one in the house we grew up in and it was cool to watch as a kid, but splashed and made a mess of the sidewalk next to it until we redesigned the rockbed at the bottom.

  2. says

    The valve handles as hooks is absolutely genius. Especially when you’re hanging heavier items like jackets, you would want that extra support. I definitely think that is an idea I’ll be stealing. Thanks for showing the goods! :-)

  3. Jennifer says

    Those are some cool pictures of some unique rooms/decor. I LOVE the copper sink!

    We have something similar where I live called the Street of Dreams. I’ve gotten some great ideas from going to that.

  4. Stephanie says

    I find my reaction to the bird headboard funny. I just stopped and looked at it and said “No birds.” It’s weird how much my italian family has engrained birds in the house are bad luck in my head. It was an automatic reaction.

    Also, I am OBSESSED with that grey/yellow room. I was considering doing purple/grey when I decorate my room at my new place but this might sway me to yellow.

  5. Natalia says

    That copper sink was beautiful! so much eye candy and inspiration, I almost think it’s too much to take in all in one day. I think I would have love the “simply flexible” home. That family room looked like a great space to just hang out!

    • says

      It was so funny because we kept saying “if we could take different rooms from all eight houses and make them into one house it would be the prefect house!” They really did all have rooms and features that we loved!


    • says

      Oh no, it’s a good question! They’re just chains that rainwater follows down off the roof instead of gutters. Physics says water hugs the chain and it’s true!



  6. says

    Love the angry birds room…. maybe I can convince my fiance that we need to do this for our guest bedroom. :)

    …I wish we had sliding barn doors! Those are so cool.

  7. Stephanie M. says

    Ok I’m sitting at work seriously drooling over all these houses. Ah-mazing. All of them. Totally jealous right now.

  8. says

    Wow, amazing inspiration in these images! I’d never heard of rain chains before (comes of growing up in the Wyoming high desert, I guess), but I’d love to add some with rain barrels to our home. I pinned a few ideas I’m going to implement ASAP–that laundry room sign is perfect for me, since I’m already working in mine. And I’ve got a pass-through wall that is begging for some built-ins between the studs. Fingers crossed I can make that work.

  9. Suzy says

    That was House Crashing Plus+++loved the rooms & pics.
    Fav – green door, gray striped table, mudroom, & hammered copper sink. Again, some wonderful ideas to experiment with.
    Love the post!

  10. Jill says

    Thank you John and Sherry for sharing. Loved it! Home tours are the best for inspiration and yours just put me into a “Pinning” frenzy!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *