Name: Bree, creator of Capitol Romance, and husband Andy Ryback
Location: Trinidad, Washington, DC
Size: 1250 square feet
Years lived in: 3; Owned
There's no question Bree and Andy Ryback want you to feel welcome in their home, and they start up front, where their sunshine yellow door and mustache 'Bonjour' mat instantly brings a smile to your face. The couple's renovated space smacks of cheer and warmth, not just because of the bold color choices, but for the personal and worn touches they have added through photos, art, and second hand items.
For the first few minutes one can't help but gawk at all the beautiful detailing the couple managed to pack into an open floor plan. Their home was essentially gutted and renovated from the floor up when they intially purchased it. The brick wall (a feature that’s not as ubiquitous in DC homes as in neighboring Baltimore) was completely covered in drywall before Bree’s husband Andy had it stripped. The exposed brick complements the industrial-meets-vintage vibe. The couple has made great use of vintage items that have been re-purposed for their modern needs. A metal utility cabinet now acts as a bookshelf. What used to be a metal serving table, found in an industrial kitchen, now acts as a newly-appointed TV stand and storage space.
It's no surprise that an affinity for colors and wonderful design comes naturally to this creative duo. Bree’s career as a wedding planner and Andy’s career as Vice President at Broadcast Management Group have put the couple in touch with a wide range of artists, both locally and beyond. And their appreciation for great local design is apparent in the prints from independent Etsy designers and local artists displayed throughout their home. What I’ve especially come to love (having photographed many homes and apartments DC) is the ever-present District pride.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
Our Style/Inspiration: We’d describe our style as “vintage industrial,” if that makes any sense.Really, we just like anything old and anything with character. We’d rather buy something from a salvage yard that has some history behind it than buy something brand new from a box store that lots of people might own (though, full disclosure, we have plenty of items from box stores). We also like to make style choices based on things that are meaningful to us — posters, pictures, and items that are tied to us, our relationship, our family, or our favorite things. We also like bright, bold paint colors, which we’ve incorporated throughout the house.
Favorite Element: Definitely the reclaimed hardwood floors on the main level. We used reclaimed maple flooring that we bought online through the Woods Company. The planks are from an old factory in Pennsylvania, and they’re about 100 years old. We hired a local contractor to do the install and finishing (the planks were so old/dirty that the grooves needed to be manually cleaned and most of the planks did not fit perfectly together) and finishing. Even though the installation process was very messy and extremely dirty (the planks were literally black when we got them), we love the way they came out. Each board has SO much character!
Biggest Challenge: We usually have a tough time finding specific furniture pieces that we have in mind. It took us over a year to find a media stand that fit our specifications. We usually have something very specific in mind and because we’d prefer to buy something from a vintage shop, local store in DC, or salvage yard, sometimes it takes lots of searching and patience to finally find and buy what we wanted. Also, living in a row home, we’re somewhat limited on space, so we’re usually hunting for something with very specific dimensions.
What Friends Say: “If we had a house, we’d want it to look like this” or “Come decorate my place?"
Biggest Embarrassment: The upstairs carpets (they’re next one our list to tackle) and re-doing the downstairs half-bath. Andy had zero experience hanging wallpaper, but decided to give it a shot. He found some really cool (but really expensive) sugar skull wallpaper online, so he ordered some with the idea of wallpapering the whole bathroom. The company he ordered from was based in the UK, so the dimensions of the wallpaper roll were listed in metric units. Being an ignorant American, Andy grossly miscalculated how much square footage he’d get from one roll. So instead of doing the whole bathroom, we only ended up doing one wall. The wallpaper was also not pre-glued, which apparently is much more difficult to work with — especially when it’s your first time wallpapering. The end result isn’t perfect, but it still looks good (and comes with a story!) and we get a lot of compliments on the wallpaper regardless. Other than that, our basement is a pretty big embarrassment. It’s basically a glorified storage room for now, but we’ll get to it eventually.
Proudest DIY: All the DIY wood projects (multiple shelving units, our palette wall in the bedroom, and the mantel above our media stand made from old wood from Andy’s parents’ garage). We got all the wood for our 3+ shelving units from Community Forklift and piping from Home Depot. Andy built all 3 installations (the floor-to-ceiling piece in the kitchen, the shelves in the upstairs bathroom, and the shelving unit in the office) himself using just some pictures online as inspiration. He also did the DIY palette wall (which was not as easy as the Pinterest tutorials make you believe ;) and installed the mantel that Bree just had to have. Before Andy’s parents moved to AZ, they cleaned out their garage in NJ, and this stunning piece of wood was just waiting to be reused. After fighting with some floating wall anchors and some other hanging options, we have a beautiful mantel over our TV that also has a great story behind it.
Biggest Indulgence: Probably the floors. We got a good deal on the material, but the labor was pricey because it was so time consuming. The reclaimed wood was so dirty and grimy that our crew had to manually hand scrape the tongue and groove to get 100+ years of dirt out from the seams. The end result exceeded our expectations, though, so it was worth it.
Best Advice: Do what makes you happy. Unless we buy a private jet (fingers crossed) this will probably be the biggest purchase of our lives, so we want our investment to bring us joy. We bought our house from someone who flipped it, so everything was turn-key (i.e. builder’s grade/generic) when we moved in. We didn’t NEED to make any changes, but we’ve spent the last 2 ½ years infusing our own personal touches and design choices into it. It’s 100% ours, and most of our friends and family tell us the house is a great reflection of us. We love our house, our neighborhood, and our city!
Dream Sources: For inspiration, we love looking at other houses in our city and all the new restaurants that pop up almost weekly in DC. We also watch a lot of HGTV. For shopping, we love Good Wood and Miss Pixies here in DC. We’ve also gotten a ton of material from Community Forklift, and some cool finds from House Werks in Baltimore. We’ve also lucked out with some great pieces from Craigslist, including our tanker desk in the office, our metal lawyer’s bookshelf, and the vintage, stainless steel vanity in the bedroom.
Resources of Note:
PAINT & COLORS
Thanks, Bree and Andy!
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