A Cookie Cutter House Turned Cozy, Organic Oasis

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Name: Lesley Charris, my husband, our two children (Eva and GQ), my father, and our family dog
Location: Montclair, Virginia – Suburbs outside of Washington, DC
Size: 2,600 square feet
Years lived in: 1 year, owned

A little over a year ago my husband was afforded an incredible work opportunity in Washington, D.C., and we decided to take the leap. We sold our little Los Angeles gem and first labor of love, packed up our two kids, my father, and our beagle pup, said our goodbyes to family and we headed East for a new adventure!

My husband and I love the big city life. I was born and raised in Los Angeles and he was raised in NYC, but we knew that we wanted to have more space for our growing family. When we began our house hunt, we had decided that we were willing to trade the city for the suburbs if we found the right house. We toured about 15 cookie-cutter homes the day that we walked into this one, and as soon as I walked through the front door I knew that my search was over. It was dark and dingy, had the original, very worn oak floors, bathrooms straight from the ’90s and way too much furniture in it, but it was tugging at my heartstrings. The white colonial with the black shutters and red front door just felt like home to me.

Two months later we moved in, refinished the hardwood floors, painted every room in the house Greek Villa by Sherwin-Williams and voilà! Brand new. I am a person who sees things for what they can be, not what they are. I knew that with a little bit of love and time that I could turn this house into our home. We live about 30 miles south of D.C. in Montclair, Virginia, and although it has taken some adjusting, we are starting to grow fond of our new lives here. You can hear the birds chirping and singing away on bright, sunny days. You can smell the bloom of spring in the air. The greenery is lush and bountiful in the summer. The changing of the leaves in the fall is a spectacular array of color and the first snow in the winter really makes you feel like you are in a wonderland. It’s a neighborhood straight out of the books and movies that I read about and saw on television growing up. There are still several projects to be done and some rooms that still feel incomplete, but I enjoy the process of figuring out our spaces and filling them not just with stuff, but with meaningful pieces.

Describe your home’s style in 5 words or less: Cozy, organic, fresh, and vibrant

What is your favorite room and why? My favorite room would have to be my formal living room. Before we moved in I created mood boards for all of our spaces and this room just really came to life. My 6-year-old daughter has dubbed it “mom’s room.” The deep blue velvet chairs, the supple leather couch, the vibrantly colored rug—it is hands down the warmest and most inviting room in the house. Then there is the sentimental component—the shelves house a box of my childhood photographs that were gifted to me by my mother and it also holds my father’s official Olympic ski bib from the 1980 Winter Olympics. The room has a cozy, feel-good vibe and it is my zone to decompress, read a book, and enjoy a hot cup of coffee at the end of a long day.

What’s the last thing you bought (or found!) for your home? The last purchase that I made for my home was four RIBBA picture frames from IKEA to display the photos from our latest getaway. I am big on framing photos from our travels. Well, I am big on framing photos in general. For me, the photos throughout our home serve as a reminder of our story and the beautiful moments that we have shared.

Any advice for creating a home you love? My best advice for creating a home that you love is to be true to yourself and to have patience. Don’t do or buy just because it is trendy—buy and do because it is reflective of you and because you love it. Creating a home takes time and it is not something that can be rushed or forced. If you want to truly love your home, you must fill it with the things that truly make you happy.

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