Leah & Rich's Evolving Patina

House Tour

Name: Rich & Leah Moss, three children, one Mexican exchange student, and, until very recently (sniff), a fierce Rhodesian Ridgeback named Koa
Location: Silver Spring, Maryland
Size: 1800 square feet
Years lived in: 3 years — owned

With 3+ years worth of Apartment Therapy posts under my belt and the thick skin to prove it, I decided that it was high time to invite you all in for a proper tour. Unlike most homeowners, we didn't buy our house for its style or even its location. We bought it for its neighbors. Yup, that's right. We're unabashed followers, so when the house next door to my sister and her family went on the market, we turned starry-eyed and began envisioning endless BBQs, daily cocktail hours, and cousins growing up together.

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While the neighbors remain awesome (we've since recruited other friends to join the block too) and the cocktail hours do not disappoint, the house itself has been a lesson in patience. When we moved in, it had seen better days, and so the majority of our budget was eaten up correcting some of the more unglamorous aspects of home-ownership like a failing plumbing system, shoddy "upgrades," and poor insulation. However, going slow has had a positive effect on our decorating process, and perhaps, even on our life. Living in our house before making any purchases (we went without a sofa for months and still sleep on a mattress on the floor) allowed us to develop a style that suits our taste as well as the vintage character of our 1940s house. The result is a mix of earthy, retro, reinterpreted family hand-me-downs, and DIY projects that resembles us and feels like home.

I'm not going to lie though, there have been some sad times along the way. As a decorator, writing for a design blog, working in the design industry, and basically living and breathing and losing sleep over decor-related matters, there were days when I would come home from working on someone else's house, and want to pull my hair out...or at least open a huge credit card and start furnishing the hell out of my home. However, now that I'm more or less on the other side— with a house that feels comfortable as soon as I walk in the door— I hope that anyone in a similar position can stick it out, and help their home form around them little by little. Saving up for big purchases and searching for deals—rather than going into debt on impulse buys that you only sort of like— is so satisfying, and the financial freedom and unique personality that come with it are worth it!

For more detailed information about each room, check out the full gallery and captions.

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Apartment Therapy Survey:

Style: Rustic vintage resourceful. Our style has evolved as we discover or inherit interesting things and find ways to build rooms around them. Rich likes neutrals and clean surfaces. I like old, imperfect, sturdy-feeling things. Most of the spaces I'm asked to decorate for clients around the DC area are formal, tailored, and traditional, so I think at home I tend to sway the polar opposite: super casual and undecorated.

Inspiration: Our favorite places around the world (where we are also lucky enough to have family to visit whenever we can): the Southwest US, Ecuador, and Maui. In each of these places, our families' homes share a similar feeling of peacefulness and simplicity. Rich spent a lot of his youth on his family's ranches in South America, and that rugged aesthetic has totally influenced our style. Also— in case you couldn't tell by the abundance of branches everywhere— nature! We'd live in a tent in a heartbeat if it were in a beautiful spot. with good neighbors.

Favorite Element: The neighbors, of course! In the house itself, we like how well built the house feels. We like the plaster walls, the hardwood floors, the solid wood doors and old doorknobs, and the wide baseboards, all of which used to be standard fare even in our dime-a-dozen post war colonials, but are obsolete in today's cookie cutter new construction.

Biggest Challenge: Aside from working within a budget and having to save up for things we really want, I am a DIYer to a fault and perhaps see potential in things a little too often, which means I have approximately onezillion projects at all times. Also, I have a hard time balancing my conflicting desires for spare simplicity and that "curiosity cabinet," collected feel.

What Friends Say: That it's totally us, or that we must be out of our minds to own a white couch, or that we're suffering from cobbler's children syndrome. But, my favorite comment has come from a 5 year old who said it "feels like a nature walk." I'll take it!

Biggest Embarrassment: The basement, our last frontier. Still a little random, mostly empty, and littered with kid toys daily.

Proudest DIY: For Rich, it's a tie between the blue stone patio and the dining room table. Mine is the mantel-turned-headboard...although my rubber mat block-print rug does make me feel like a thrifty genius whenever I look at it thanks to all your nice comments.

Biggest Indulgence: The house itself. We're totally blessed to be in our 20s and able to afford a house that allows us to live comfortably within our means and work our dream jobs.

Best Advice: William Morris's maxim: "Have nothing in your home that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful." And, the notion that "simplicity and luxury are not mutually exclusive," which Maxwell included in Apartment Therapy's mission. That has totally resonated with me, especially since working in the design industry where that idea is pretty foreign.

Dream Sources: Too many, but my top three are Ochre, Brook Farm General Store, and Baileys Home and Garden.

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Resources of Note:

PAINT & COLORS

    • Living Room: Benjamin Moore: Linen White
    • Dining Room and Stair Well/Upstairs Hallway: Benjamin Moore: Glazed Green
    • Kitchen: Benjamin Moore: Patriotic White
    • Craft Room: Benjamin Moore: Barely Teal,
    • Main Floor Bath: Benjamin Moore: Tapestry Beige
    • TV room/Guest Room: top half: Benjamin Moore: Simply White, bottom half: Benjamin Moore: Van deusen blue
    • Basement: Benjamin Moore: gray sky
    • Leah & Rich's bedroom: Restoration Hardware: Pale Silver
    • Girls' room: Behr: Valley Mist
    • Baby's room: Benjamin Moore: Van deusen blue
    • Upstairs Bathroom: Benjamin Moore: South Beach

LIVING ROOM

    • Sofa: Urban Retreat
    • Leather chair: Restoration Hardware Outlet
    • Linen chair: Crate & Barrel
    • Coffee table: Crate & Barrel
    • Etagere: Roost
    • Side tables: Target
    • Sconce: Restoration Hardware
    • Drapes: canvas painters drop cloths
    • Art: the bull painting and the woman carrying the calla lillies are from Quito Ecuador where Rich grew up. Ecuadorians must have art in their blood. There are some seriously awesome artists there and whenever we go visit we pick up something new.

DINING ROOM

    • Table: Rich built it!
    • Chairs: craigslist
    • Etagere: Roost
    • Sideboard: the now defunct Storehouse Furniture outlet (sniff!)
    • Art: the photos of the buffalo and the horse are by a Durango CO (totally living there someday!) based artist, Claude Steelemen, the other photographs are antique prints of small business entrepreneurs in Mexico City given to us by Rich's dad who is a total globetrotter

KITCHEN

    • Pendant lights: Seagull Lighting
    • Tile: Mosaic Tile in Rockville, MD

LEAH & RICH'S BEDROOM

    • Headboard is a DIY
    • Dresser: Old Lucketts Store
    • Portrait painting is by Leah's mom, Judy Kearns.
    • Jar painting is by Nicole Bourgea
    • lamps: IKEA
    • Drapes are canvas painter dropcloths
    • the rug is made from multiple IKEA signe mats

GIRLS' BEDROOM

    • Beds: Old Lucketts Store
    • Desk was Rich's great-grandmother's, knobs are from Anthropologie
    • Roman shades are made from Target sheets
    • lamp was a DIY

BABY'S BEDROOM

    • Mini crib was from a consignment shop in Indiana. We painted some bars white.
    • Leather chair was Rich's grandfather's office chair. It's perfect because it's comfy, cleanable, and it rocks.
    • Frames are from IKEA and Target.
    • Mirror is a DIY
    • Rug: IKEA
    • Blanket is by Jenna Rose. I won it in a giveaway from one of my favorite blogs,the Design Pages. It is the softest blanket ever!

MAIN FLOOR BATHROOM

    • Oversink light fixture: Shades of light
    • hand towel: Oliver Dunn, Moss and Co, Catherine Roberts
    • Shower Curtain: discontinued fabric sample from a textile showroom where I used to work
    • the mirror hails from my in-laws garage. It was peeling when I found it, but after I scraped off all the excess I fell in love with what was underneath, so it stayed. Most people assume it's still in progress but I think it gives the whole bathroom the casual wabi sabi feeling that i'm after
    • pedestal sink: kohler
    • faucet: Restoration Hardware outlet. It's from the "vintage" collection, and I love this faucet. Seriously, it makes washing your hands feel like a luxury.

UPSTAIRS BATHROOM

    • Shower curtain: Target
    • Bath mat: Target
    • Sink: IKEA
    • Faucet: Kohler

TV ROOM/GUESTROOM

    • sectional: craigslist
    • Rug was a DIY
    • Blue pillows: Restoration Hardware Outlet
    • Stripe Pillows: DIY from Calico Corner's Primitive Stripe Linen

CRAFT ROOM

    • Table: DIY
    • Chairs: the streets of DC
    • Globe Pendant: DIY
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Thanks, family!

Images: Leah Moss

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Re-edited from a post originally published 3.4.12 - AB

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