House Crashing: Classic & Natural With A Twist

Quick note Book holla! -We’re publishing this post early since we’ll be at our stop in Wilton, CT this morning and then we’ll be at Bookends in Ridgewood, NJ at 5:30 pm (and staying as late as it takes to hang/sign/geek out with everyone). More details here. We’d love to see ya!

A little while ago we took a road trip up to Northern Virginia to crash an awesome house that we thought you guys would love. It’s in a charming town called Herndon, and Michele and Nate poured some serious love (in the form of some serious work, time, and sweat) into their home. So let’s get our with the tour on, shall we?

Here’s the sweet couple now. They were so friendly and humble – we were so happy they invited us over with our camera (and Clara) to snoop around. Thanks again guys!

If you peeked past them in that picture above you’ve probably already noticed that awesome painted wall that Michele did with some painter’s tape and a whole lotta time and dedication. I also love that console table, which she revealed was from HomeGoods for some crazy cheap price but it was a bright orange-y wood tone, so she stained the whole thing down with some darker walnut stain. Always a good reminder that if the lines/materials of something are good but the color is baaad, you can save it (and probably save some money on the item thanks to that less-than-appealing color). And if you peer past it into the living room you might recognize the rug. It’s actually the same Pottery Barn clearance guy from our guest room. It’s a nice splash of color that draws you into the room from the entryway.

Beyond the living area is a charming dining room with two light fixtures from Overstock above the table (I thought two of them was a fun choice!). And do you see that sweet wainscoting that they added along with some awesomely textured walls thanks to… fabric?

Yup, they starched some textured linen fabric (on sale from Joann) and stuck it up on the wall! How awesome is that. Here’s her tutorial on that for anyone interested (I love that it’s removable, so it’s even a cool idea for a rental).

As for their kitchen, let’s just say they put in some major time here. Not only did they do things like tile the backsplash and redo the counters, they actually built the cabinets themselves. Yes, they built them from scratch! So inspiring, right? I can tell you that in person they looked amazing. I seriously never would have guessed. Oh and those stools are lucky Crate & Barrel outlet finds.

They also created this awesome little wine nook in an odd recessed area by adding a bench and lots of wine-a-licious built-ins.

Here’s the money shot for ya. Does this gorgeous marble mosaic tile say “how you doin?” or what? In lurve. I petted it. No shame. And that awesome apron sink is from Overstock in case you’re in the market for one.

The family room was super cozy and welcoming. Everything from the large scale art they made to the stone wall and the dark wall color was totally doing it for us. We both were like “this room – yeah we want it.” Oh, before I forget, the wall color is Benjamin Moore Gunmetal Gray. This was just one of those rooms that sucks you in and you want to snuggle down on the sectional. So casual and inviting.

Here’s a better shot of the art, which they actually made with an ebay map and some reclaimed wood that they already had (more on that project here). And how cool is that awesomely nature-esque tree trunk coffee table? Here’s the story on that from Michele: “We made it! A pretty bad storm rolled through VA and we contacted a tree guy that we know in the area. He was taking care of some larger trees that had fallen and we asked that he cut us a chunk. It is a red oak. We counted about 110 rings and it was about 350 lbs! We let it dry out for a few weeks and Nate begin using a chainsaw to carve out the inside to lighten it up. (This was NOT an easy task!!). We spend weeks sanding it, chiseling off the bark, etc. After we had a smooth, hollowed out stump, we tung oiled it. Thanks for reminding me about a post that I need to write!”

We loved that every nook was an opportunity for Michele and Nate. They even added some great wood detailing along the stairway walls, and the awesome orb-like light is super cool too. They actually made that with a light kit and a big metal cage that they found at a secondhand store.

Here’s the guest room, which had a pretty cool story when it came to those dressers along the wall. They’re actually Nate’s from when he was a kid, and instead of retiring them, Michele refreshed them with some paint and new hardware (Benjamin Moore Chelsea Gray, with pulls from Home Depot). You know we love that use whatcha got spirit!

This bathroom was another showstopper when it comes to details that they added (like the penny tile border along the wall, the awesome dark floor tile, and the vanity that they got from Lowe’s). It felt really classic and crisp in there.

Boom. I just hit you with a detail shot. How you like me now?

Seriously, that bathroom was awesome.

And speaking of bathrooms, this one was a powder room downstairs, and it was really cool because they added an entire accent wall of tile (from Home Depot). It looked so great with the sconces and the pedestal sink and that awesomely rustic wood mirror (which they made with some old wood). This picture doesn’t do it justice at all.

And the garage. Oh the garage. Let’s just say that John wanted to move in. It was awesome. Again they were so smart about using what they had, so these are actually their original kitchen cabinets. Yup, instead of demo-ing them out when they built the new ones, they moved them right into the garage and primed/painted them. It was such an organized and inspiring room. Made me wanna build something.

There were some really cool personal touches too, like some old airplanes that Nate framed (he’d made them as a child and his Grandpa saved them and gave them back to him as an adult). How sweet is that? And of course John was drooling over the supreme organization going on when it came to all of those labeled screws and nails (it might have inspired this recent basement project). The funny thing is that when John asked Nate if he cleaned things up because we were coming to take pictures he said “nah, I’m just a type-A guy.” So funny!

And we saved the best for last. How awesome is this backyard? Did you faint? I almost did when I rounded the corner and saw this. I was all “wait, am I in Hawaii? How did I get here?”

Not only was there an outdoor kitchen that they paintstakingly pieced together over time, but they also have some great outdoor furniture and even had a hot tub tucked in the back. Yeah, buddy. I was in heaven. Jersey girls like me love their hot tubs. Just saying.

And look at those pretty stone steps. The hardscaping in the front yard and the backyard were so great.  It was like extra credit. It went the extra mile above regular garden borders and stairs and felt so special and upgraded, you know? Nate and Michele are actually both landscape architects, so that might explain why they have some seriously swanky outdoor areas. And the planters all around the yard have been collected over time (some are leftover from the previous owner and they spray painted them oil-rubbed bronze to freshen them up).

So there you have it, Michele and Nate’s awesome house in Northern Virginia. You can read more about their amazing DIY journey here on their blog, but first let’s play the what’s-your-favorite-part game. I’m all over that giant map against the dark walls of the family room. And John’s very much in love with that garage. As in, he smiles like a fool when I mention it. I’ve been calling him Young Garage Love for weeks.

Psst- Don’t wanna stop snooping around? You can check out dozens of House Crashing adventures right here.


  1. Amy says

    This house is awesome sauce. It’s nice to see a more traditional home (like the ones you see ALL over my home state of Indiana ) take on a completely different feel. I’m just so impressed – thanks for sharing.

    • Kyle Elizabeth says

      I totally agree with this…AMAZING. I actually just texted my mom (in Indiana) and told her to check out YHL today… because there’s a house tour of a home with her floorplan!

  2. Olivia says

    Yess first comment!! (probably not but excited anyway). I am in love with this house. repinning for future reference. Also love you guys so much! Best blog ever!

    • says

      These are my favorites too! The wine nook is so simple yet so practical and pretty! I love it! And the tree stump coffee table… I’m trying to think of how I could get a massive 350lb tree stump to my house so I can make one too! Ha! Love, love, love this house! Great ideas… really lovely! Thanks for sharing!

  3. says

    I’m with John, the rest of the house is AWESOME (I love the exterior especially) but that wall of cabinetry in the garage is the show stealer. I love that they bothered to paint it! Awesome awesome awesome.

  4. Kate says

    Hi Sherry and John,

    I know you’re headed to Ridgewood tonight. I planned to attend, but have been displaced from my home due to lack of power, tree damage at my house, etc. I think you’ll find the majority of the homes in the area around Ridgewood are still without power. I’m actually surprised Bookends has it.
    Could you please consider posting about the status of the area? I try to follow a good number of blogs and it is upsetting to see that just about none have posted anything about the devastation in the tri-state area. Maybe it’s because Snookie and the crew have made Jersey into a joke courtesy of MTV.
    But you guys have a lot of followers and I feel it could do a lot of good. Maybe you already have and if so, I apologize. I’ve been without power so I haven’t been able to read every post.

    From one Jersey girl to another,

    • says

      Oh Kate, stay safe and warm! We heard from Bookends & the Wilton Library who have been open with power since Wednesday so they said they were very busy since the business district of Ridgewood has power so everyone is happy to come to the book store and library for warmth and power if they don’t have it at home. For that reason we decided to drive out and keep our commitment since they were open and they said people seemed to appreciate something to get out and do. After announcing it was still on it was heartwarming that we heard from so many folks (some family and friends included) who were thrilled it was still on and said it was a bright spot in a crappy week.

      We totally feel for you guys and my brother lives in Jersey City which is a wreck! We have seen Jersey on the news a ton in the last few days! Rest assured everyone in other states knows about what you guys are going through! We are sending everyone so much love! I have mentioned a few times that I hadn’t heard from my brother in flooded Jersey city and then thankfully did (along with my family in Jersey not having power) so I’m spreading the word too!


    • Kate says

      Thanks so much for your response. I realized after I hit submit that this probably wasn’t the place for that kind of comment.
      Thanks for keeping your commitment to the area. Agreed, I think your visit will be a welcome distraction for those in the area. Just wish I could be there myself. Was looking forward to a night out on Ridgewood Ave with my bff.
      Next book tour :)

    • kate says

      PS – so glad your brother is safe too! My bro used to live in Jersey City too and I lived in Hoboken for years. So heartbreaking.
      OK, I’m officially done bothering you now :)

  5. jessjdycus says

    Their house is beautiful. I love the stump table and that orb cage light thingy.

    In even happier news, your book has shipped to my address!! YAY!!!!!!

  6. says

    One of my favorite house crashing houses yet! On top of its stunning details, we used to live in NOVA so I probably have a soft spot. But that outdoor space is amazing!

    Good luck today at your signing. Come to Pittsburgh!

  7. Jennifer P says

    That house is amazing!! Every room is pretty much what I dream about when I imagine my perfect home. I actually also live in Herndon, and I really want to meet these people/trade houses with them! It really is inspiring!

  8. Risa says

    Love love love. Beautiful house. I love the bathrooms the most! Although maybe that’s because we’re working on ours right now…

  9. says

    What I love most about this adorably fun house is that from the curb, you’d never guess that’s what the inside looks like! I love a good SURPRISE house and looks like y’all found a good one :)

  10. Vickie M says

    Oh my goodness!!!! I gasped when I saw the garage and nearly dies upon seeing the backyard. Seriously love the yard!

Leave a Reply

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