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The where and when of spring’s best tours. By Michelle Thomas
This midcentury home will be one of ten on the Hollin Hills House & Garden Tour. Photographs by David Rivera.

Ah, spring. Though it’s not exactly delightful out today, sunnier times are ahead—and also tours. Lots of tours. The yearly deluge of neighborhood home and garden tours is about to hit full stride. Here’s a rundown of some of the area’s best bets. 

Old Town Historic Garden Week 

Part of the Garden Club of Virginia’s Historic Garden Week, which opens more than 250 gardens and homes statewide, the Old Town-based walking tour visits five homes from the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The ticket price also includes admission to three other historic properties in the area: the Carlyle House Historic Park, the Lee-Fendall House Museum and Garden, and George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens. April 26, 10 to 4. $35 in advance, $40 day of. Alexandria Visitors Center, 221 King St., Alexandria.

Prince George’s House & Garden Pilgrimage

This year’s tour through Prince George’s County—as part of the annual Maryland House & Garden Pilgrimage, which includes close to 50 private homes, gardens, farms, and historic sites in five counties—follows the Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail and Byway, with a focus on the War of 1812. The stops conclude with a visit to Darnell’s Chance, an 18th-century complex listed on the National Register of Historic Places. April 26, 10 to 5. $30 in advance, $35 day of. Patuxent Riverkeeper Center, 17412 Nottingham Rd., Upper Marlboro. 

Georgetown House Tour 

See inside nine Georgetown homes during this annual tour, now in its 83rd year. Tickets include an afternoon tea at Blake Hall at St. John’s Episcopal Church, which the tour proceeds benefit. April 26, 11 to 5. $50 in advance, $55 day of. St. John’s Episcopal Church, 3240 O St., NW. 

Fairfax County: Historic Vienna 

Hosted by the Garden Club of Fairfax, this partial walking tour includes four homes and gardens in Vienna’s oldest neighborhood, Ayr Hill, and Meadowlark Botanical Gardens. April 29, 10 to 4. $25 in advance, $30 day of. Meadowlark Botanical Gardens, 9750 Meadowlark Gardens Ct., Vienna. 

Hollin Hills House & Garden Tour

Check out the midcentury-modern homes of this award-winning Fairfax County neighborhood in a self-guided walking tour, which visits ten Charles Goodman-designed properties and three gardens. The tour kicks off with a morning lecture on modern architecture and Goodman’s other work. May 3, noon to 6. $25 in advance, $30 day of. Hollin Meadows Elementary School, 2310 Nordok Pl., Alexandria. 

Takoma Park House and Garden Tour

Dubbed the Spirit of Holly Avenue, this three-block tour takes visitors through the evolution of the neighborhood from the 1880s through post-World War II. May 4, 1 to 5. $18 in advance, $20 day of. 7064 Eastern Ave., NW. 

Georgetown Garden Tour

For the 86th year, this tour visits nine of Georgetown’s best gardens, from high-tech modern affairs to woodsy fairy-tale versions. The tour includes an afternoon tea at Christ Church’s Keith Hall. May 10, 10 to 5. Christ Church, 31st and O sts., NW.

Del Ray House and Garden Tour 

A biennial project presented by the Del Ray Citizens Association, this year’s tour includes homes ranging from a 1940s rowhouse to a green design that incorporates one of the neighborhood’s only in-ground pools. May 10, 11 to 5. $20 in advance, $25 after May 1. Del Ray Farmers Market, Mount Vernon and Oxford aves., Alexandria. 

Capitol Hill Restoration Society House & Garden Tour 

This is Capitol Hill’s largest and oldest fundraiser, now in its 57th year, and this year the tour highlights four Civil War-era frame houses—a departure from the neighborhood's more prevelant Victorian homes—and a garden that features a fully stocked koi pond.  May 10, 4 to 7, and May 11, noon to 5. $25. Hill Center, 901 Pennsylvania Ave., SE.

Posted at 03:13 PM/ET, 04/15/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
It’s easy. By Michelle Thomas

Like the idea of winning a grand to spend on Room & Board’s modern-meets-classic furniture line? Then you’d do well to swing by the 14th Street showroom this weekend: Not only is the store’s latest collection now on display, but shoppers who visit this weekend also get the chance at a $1,000 gift card. This year’s collection features plenty of timeless-yet-current interior trends (including such Open House faves as marble, velvet, and Scandinavian-inspired white and wood pairings, plus texture blending and lots of animal hides) spread out on four full floors of showroom space.

How to win: Head to Room & Board Saturday 11 to 7 or Sunday 11 to 6 to register for the prize.

Room & Board. 1840 14th St., NW; 202-729-8300.

Posted at 03:51 PM/ET, 02/07/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
The organization relocates to L Street. By Carol Ross Joynt
The new National Restaurant Association offices feature a lounge with a fireplace. The television is one of several in the duplex office complex, meant mainly for broadcasting in-house food programs. Photograph by Carol Ross Joynt.

In a reflection of the growth industry that restaurants have become in Washington and other US cities, the National Restaurant Association has moved to larger, cooler digs in downtown Washington. The association will celebrate the new duplex offices at 2055 L Street, Northwest, with a party Wednesday night featuring cocktails from Todd Thrasher (PX, Restaurant Eve) and food from Occasions Caterers.

We stopped by the space for a tour, which included the kitchens—there are five in all—and the large event space. It holds the largest kitchen, which is restaurant-grade and equipped with high-definition cameras to shoot food segments that can be broadcast inside, on several big-screen televisions, or used for TV programs (Top Chef, perhaps?). There is also an outdoor terrace, contributed by the Trinchero Family Estates winery in Napa, California.

The NRA, which says it represents half a million restaurants nationwide, moved from smaller offices at 17th and L Streets, Northwest. The local office holds 80 of the total 225 employees; the rest work out of the Chicago office. According to CEO Dawn Sweeney, the new offices show a 20 percent growth in the NRA staff over the last decade, which she says matches the growth rate of the industry.

The new space also includes the NRA’s Education Foundation, which is celebrating a new two-year program to bring culinary training to high school classrooms. The program, according to the NRA, is offered in 1,900 schools in 48 states, including the local area, serving 95,000 students overall.

1837 Some of the National Restaurant Association’s brain trust: Christin Fernandez, manager of media relations; Dawn Sweeney, president and CEO; Marion Austin, head of office services; Sue Hensley, senior vice president of communications; and Katie Laning Niebaum, communications director.

Posted at 01:32 PM/ET, 11/13/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
No cheesy skeletons here. By Sarah Title
Photographs via Women's Day; Jolly Mom; I Heart Naptime; Instructables; Martha Stewart.

With one of fall’s favorite holidays right around the corner, you may start to notice some over-the-top decorations taking over your neighbors’ homes—a fake graveyard spread across the entire front lawn, perhaps. But there are plenty of ways to festively dress your home while keeping it classy—and without dropping big bucks. We've found five great DIYs to try.

1) Try sweetening up your candles by adding candy corn to the holder, like these ones from Women's Day. Tip: Place the candles somewhere the kids can’t reach so they don’t burn their hand trying to steal a piece. Total cost: Under $20

2) Light up your walkway with this tin can luminary DIY tutorial from Jolly Mom. All you need is an old can, some black paint, a hammer, and a nail. Doesn’t get much easier than that. Total cost: $2.99

3) Switch out your usual flower pots for pumpkins with this easy craft from I Heart Nap Time. Try incorporating synthetic pumpkins so you can reuse them for next year’s festivities or swap in flowers anytime. Total cost: $16

4) Finish off the last of the olive oil or syrup that’s been sitting in your pantry forever, and use the bottle to add a spooky touch to any mantelpiece or entry table, as seen on Instructables. By spraying them black and adding an appropriate label, you’ll have witch potion bottles in no time. Total cost: $6

5) The patron saint of creativity, Martha Stewart, can help you wow Halloween party guests with this pumpkin cooler. Throw in some Oktoberfest beer and you’re good to go. Total cost: Market price of a pumpkin at your local patch

Posted at 09:45 AM/ET, 10/18/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
It’s slated to open in NoMa by the end of March. By Mary Clare Glover
Renderings of the new NPR headquarters courtesy of Hickok Cole Architects.

Hickok Cole Architects released these renderings today of the new NPR headquarters, which is under construction in NoMa and is scheduled to be finished by the end of March. Unlike the old NPR headquarters in Penn Quarter, this new building will be much more open to the public—a concept that is reflected in the glassy, open design. There will be tours of the 90,000-square-foot newsroom as well as an exhibit tracing the history of NPR. A big coup for NoMa, the building will breathe even more life into a neighborhood that’s undergoing tremendous change. And it looks pretty good, too.

Posted at 05:10 PM/ET, 02/01/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()