Britt’s Dream Home Improvements

It’s incredibly rare to move into a house and have everything exactly as you want it right away. When our clients are looking for a new home, we try to manage their priorities and their expectations about the features on which they should not settle and those for which they should be willing to be a bit flexible. My sister, Paige, just bought a house in Arlington that is by no means her dream house but has great bones and potential, so she’s now having to decide what she wants to do right away and what she can put off for a little while.

Even when Geoff and I worked with our wonderful builder and architect friends to custom-build our dream home, we had to make choices about what we wanted done immediately and what wasn’t quite how we wanted it but could make do with for our first year or so there. Recently, after about a year and a half of living there, we decided to start on our first round of major improvements. I wanted to share them with you as an example of what projects can wait until you’re ready to put some more money into your most important asset.


1. Adding built-ins

We knew we wanted a breakfast nook in our open-concept kitchen and family room for a more casual alternative for nights when we don’t use our formal dining room, and we knew we ultimately wanted built-ins there. As built-ins are a not-insignificant added expense, we started with a small dining table in the space and circled back recently to have a crew install a built-in bench that we adore! We had the same approach to our mudroom: found some placeholder furniture for the space until we could add shiplap walls and built-in cubbies and storage with Restoration Hardware fixtures. We called in our fantastic friend and interior designer Casey Sanford to design the space and are so thrilled with the result.


2. Backyard work

This one is less glamorous but needed to be done! We had an irrigation system installed (no pictures because our backyard is currently torn up), added uplighting, had an area of the yard leveled out, and changed where the sump pump was draining to make our backyard less muddy (mostly so Paisley will stop tracking mud in every time we let her outside). Some projects are more fun than others.


3. Additional purchases for optimum function

What good is your dream house if you can’t make the best use of it? We ordered a generator for when the power goes out and a patio heater so we can still enjoy our screened-in porch on cold nights.


4. Adding window treatments

When we moved in, we decided which window treatments were necessary right away and which could wait. Pro tip: approaching home décor in this way makes your initial move less overwhelming.


We’re not done yet! We still want a garage organizational system but decided it wasn’t a priority for now. The lesson we’ve learned is that you want your house to be livable immediately; beyond that, some things can wait, but it’s fun to always have another project in mind!


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Born, raised, and bred in Alexandria, VA, Britt Patterson is a true product of the great state of Virginia. Britt attended Waynewood Elementary (Class of ’96), Carl Sandburg Middle School (Class of ’98) , and West Potomac High School (Class of ’02), she then went on to attend Virginia Tech (go Hokies!) where she majored in Business Marketing and Minored in Real Estate. Britt “officially” joined the family business as a licensed Realtor in 2008 after two years of working the political fundraising field and prides herself on her Alexandria real estate knowledge, alongside her integrity, loyalty, and professionalism as an agent and Vice President for the family business.

The Patterson Group is one of the most experienced and trusted real estate teams in the area, serving Alexandria, VA for over thirty years. We offer professional, hardworking, detailed and friendly service and a large network of contacts and resources accrued over our many years in Alexandria real estate. Comprised of seven Alexandria locals, six of whom are licensed realtors and three of whom are accredited staging professionals, The Patterson Group is passionate and knowledgeable about Alexandria, VA and here for all of your Northern VA real estate needs. Allow us to help you find your home here and discover all that the Alexandria lifestyle has to offer.

400 South Washington Street
Alexandria, VA 22314


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