The Progress-Index - - REAL ESTATE - By Jura Kon­cius The Wash­ing­ton Post

WASH­ING­TON - In an old house, there are end­less places to spend money. But for the Hoburg fam­ily, whose Capi­tol Hill rowhouse is 117 years old, it’s never been about per­fec­tion. In the 14 years the fam­ily of four have lived in the nar­row, three-story house, they have pa­tiently carved out a sense of home -- one ex­posed brick wall and yard-sale chan­de­lier at a time. “Liv­ing in smaller, older spa­ces, you have to be cre­ative,” said Meg Hoburg, 50, a de­signer whose spe­cialty is bud­get-minded jobs.“We did things in stages as we were able to af­ford them.” Her hus­band, Glenn, 52, a pas­tor at Grace DC, said he used to dread the word “project,” but he’s con­tin­u­ally mas­ter­ing the skills needed to keep home im­prove­ments mov­ing forward. “I didn’t grow up learn­ing how to fix any­thing, but Meg had a vi­sion of what the space could be­come and wasn’t afraid to take risks,” he said.“Now I can in­stall wall­pa­per and tile and change out faucets.” The Hoburgs are one of many ur­ban, space-chal­lenged fam­i­lies who love their neigh­bor­hoods and will make life­style com­pro­mises to stay in the city.There’s not a bath­room ad­join­ing each bed­room and no mas­sive tro­phy kitchen in the Hoburgs’ 1,500-square-foot home.There are no walk-in clos­ets, though their teeny third up­stairs bed­room is the size of one. But by us­ing ev­ery inch, do­ing much of the work them­selves, con­tin­u­ally coming up with new stor­age so­lu­tions, re­pur­pos­ing fur­nish­ings, and con­stantly con­dens­ing and purg­ing their stuff, they found af­ford­able ways to make the house func­tional and com­fort­able. No coat closet? They put up hooks in the small en­try vestibule and en­livened the space with a navy-and-white wall­pa­per in­spired by Mex­i­can folk art, , Otomi by Hygge & West. Lim­ited kitchen cab­i­nets? Be­cause they have high ceil­ings, they looked for ex­tra stor­age ver­ti­cally and added a wall of open shelv­ing and a Crate & Bar­rel pot rack. No back pa­tio? They Googled how to build one them­selves and bought a truck­load of bricks. With the help of friends and fam­ily, they car­ried the bricks through the house to the back, as they have no rear ac­cess to their tiny yard. Their daugh­ters Is­abelle, 17, still at home, and Mad­die, 20, who re­cently moved out, have con­trib­uted to the over­all de­sign of the house and de­vel­oped their own DIY projects. Is­abelle’s art in­stal­la­tions in­volve pa­per flow­ers of her own de­sign. She em­bel­lished her bed­room chan­de­lier, bought at a com­mu­nity yard sale in Grafton, Ver­mont, for $2, by paint­ing it bronze with touches of gold leaf and dan­gling her white-and-gold flow­ers from it. She also cre­ated art­work us­ing a piece of drift­wood from which an arm­load of her hand­made blooms are sus­pended. Mad­die painted her closet doors bright aqua (Warm Springs by Ben­jamin Moore), and her own framed art­works hang through­out the house. When the Hoburgs moved into the house in 2003, pre­vi­ous own­ers had al­ready given it a ba­sic ren­o­va­tion: a sim­ple Ikea kitchen, up­dated bath­rooms, re­plas­tered walls and a fin­ished base­ment that serves as a fam­ily room, guest quar­ters and stor­age. But some of the charm­ing quirks of a house that dates to 1900 were still there: slanted floors, wooden door­knobs that rat­tle, and brass hinges lay­ered with paint.The tiny back yard was a patch of dirt and weeds. When it rained, wa­ter oc­ca­sion­ally trick­led into the mas­ter bed­room through the light fix­ture. But the house had its orig­i­nal pine floors, tall ceil­ings and claw­foot tub.The Hoburgs in­vested about $45,000 in the past 14 years on ma­jor im­prove­ments in­clud­ing a new roof, air con­di­tion­ing and built-ins, as well as ex­te­rior im­prove­ments; most years they spend $2,000 to $3,000 on re­pairs, up­keep, fur­ni­ture and ac­ces­sories. Meg ma­jored in in­te­rior de­sign in col­lege and then at­tended a sem­i­nary. She con­tin­ued to do dec­o­rat­ing for fam­ily and friends, then opened her own busi­ness last year. As her own client, she knew her chal­lenges: choos­ing fur­ni­ture that was the right scale for the rooms, us­ing lots of mir­rors to open up the spa­ces and pro­vid­ing plenty of light­ing, as row­houses are no­to­ri­ously dark in­side. The first floor of the house had a small liv­ing room and a small din­ing room. In stages, the Hoburgs took down the walls be­tween them, put in crown mold­ing and added two plas­ter col­umns to de­fine the rooms. They ex­posed a brick wall to add char­ac­ter and added a built-in book­case. In the kitchen, the orig­i­nal tin ceil­ing had been painted white; they painted it sil­ver (Mod­ern Masters’ metal­lic paint) to make it look more au­then­tic. The kitchen pantry had al­ready been turned into a util­i­tar­ian pow­der room; Meg and Glenn up­graded it by in­stalling re­mov­able wall­pa­per tiles (Pe­tal Pusher in black by Hygge & West) and added a new mir­ror, light fix­ture and faucet to give it more per­son­al­ity. In the din­ing room, a 19th-cen­tury pew that was a gift from a for­mer church has styl­ized flo­ral pil­lows by Ri­fle Pa­per Co. A gallery wall above is hung with an as­sort­ment of art in­clud­ing works by Mad­die, framed sil­hou­ettes of both girls done by Is­abelle, and vin­tage mir­rors. Up­stairs, the tini­est bed­room is now Meg’s of­fice and has a twin bed squeezed in for guests. Is­abelle’s bed­room is awash in color and tex­ture, with her pink Ty­ley chair and boho cot­ton kilim, both from World Mar­ket, and her flow­ers. Meg and Glenn were able to squeeze a queen-size black pen­cil-post bed into the mas­ter bed­room.“The bed gave us some height with­out be­ing bulky,” Meg said. Paint­ing seems to be an on­go­ing ac­tiv­ity at the Hoburgs’. Right now, the liv­ing room is Gray Owl by Ben­jamin Moore; pre­vi­ous colors have in­cluded Restora­tion Hard­ware Latte, Ben­jamin Moore Sag Harbor Gray, Ben­jamin Moore White Dove and a mus­tardy yel­low whose name Meg has blocked out be­cause she said it was “a big mis­take.” Ac­cord­ing to Glenn, Meg has a limit on how long she likes a paint color. They painted when they moved in. Two years later, she told Glenn she was ready to change it up. They work as a team, with Glenn do­ing the rolling and Meg do­ing the edges and the trim. “She’s the skilled la­bor,” Glenn said. The Hoburgs brake for yard sales, and they like to shop lo­cally at Union Mar­ket and Eastern Mar­ket. Meg loves vin­tage but has also found a lot of great home ac­ces­sories at Ikea, HomeGoods and Tar­get. She dis­cov­ered a way to add some patina to the newer pieces on one of her vis­its to Stylish Patina in Falls Church,Vir­ginia: Pe­beo gild­ing wax, which comes in a jar and can be rubbed onto wooden lamps, frames, door­knobs and mir­rors.“It adds char­ac­ter and rich­ness and makes de­tails stand out,” Meg said.“In a small space, gold ac­cents, dif­fer­ent tex­tures and any­thing with a sheen adds a lot to a room.” Their house is a work in progress. On the list for the fu­ture: new kitchen cab­i­nets, paint­ing the floors up­stairs and a new liv­ing room sofa. “We learned to be con­tent with each stage of this house over the years,” Meg said.“We learned to be thank­ful. We know this house is a real gift.”

The Hoburgs took down the wall be­tween the liv­ing and din­ing rooms and added col­umns to de­fine the spa­ces. The liv­ing room is painted Gray Owl by Ben­jamin Moore. Be­cause cab­i­net space was lim­ited, Meg Hoburg added open shelv­ing to her kitchen. The...

The tiny pow­der room just off the kitchen was orig­i­nally a pantry.To add some per­son­al­ity to the space, the Hoburgs put up re­mov­able wall­pa­per tiles by Hygge and West. The me­tal mir­ror with shelf is from Shades of Light.

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