Home & Style

Look Inside My Home: A Renovated “Fixer-Upper” Rowhouse in Burleith With DIY Statement Walls

Photograph by Jamie Sutera Photography.

Sarah Wetzel, a NICU nurse, lives with her husband Bryan, an Air Force pilot, and their son Mason in a four-bedroom rowhouse in Burleith. The family has lived in DC for three years, and after two years of renting in the neighborhood, they decided to stay. Their home was a “fixer-upper,” which Wetzel says worked to their benefit, as others shied away from the project: “We knew there was hidden promise in the light filled end-unit, with basement rental potential and ample storage,” she says of the home, which they renovated with Navi General Contractor. “We narrowly edged out the ever-lurking developers and bought our forever-home project.”

The family loves their neighborhood for the diversity of its residents—college students, young families, diplomats—and its small, village-like feel that’s only blocks away from city life, says Wetzel.

She and her husband are both essential workers, but while they aren’t working from home right now, they’re still especially thankful for their home these days. “The hospital has been busier and I’ve been working extra [shifts], so if anything, I’m just grateful to have our home to decompress after the long shifts,” says Wetzel, who especially loves her bedroom after working overnight.

And even though the house is fully renovated, the Wetzels have decided to to take on another project: a backyard renovation—perfect for socially distancing outside.

Photograph by Jamie Sutera Photography.

Who lives there: Sarah Wetzel, Bryan Wetzel, and their son Mason Wetzel
How long they’ve lived there: A little over a year
Approximate square footage: 2,000 square-feet
Number of beds: Two in the main home, two in the basement apartment
Number of baths: Two-and-a-half in the main house, one in the basement
Favorite piece of furniture: The handmade rug in the master bedroom, which Wetzel’s father brought back from his deployment in Afghanistan, as well as the clear barstools in the kitchen.
Favorite home interior store: Wetzel is a fan of West Elm, CB2, Ikea, Etsy, and Second Chance in Baltimore.
Favorite DIY: The wallpaper decals in the Wetzel’s bedroom and Mason’s bedroom. “It was very DIY-friendly, didn’t require any expensive tools, and can quickly transform a room,” says Wetzel.
Splurge: Instead of just refinishing the wood floors in the house, the Wetzels decided to spring on new wood floors. They also opted to make a bold statement with black indoor and exterior windows. “They definitely were a splurge, but we receive numerous compliments on them and they have made the house much more energy efficient,” says Wetzel.
Steal: The Wayfair dining room chandelier. The Wetzels also kept costs down during the renovation by doing much of the demolition themselves, and Bryan built a new fence and deck himself.
Design advice: Smaller places let you go a little bolder with the color and decor, says Wetzel, pointing to their powder room, which is outfitted in tropical wallpaper and green paint. Also, make sure you’re discerning about what you bring into your home, she says. “It’s OK to furnish the house slowly until you discover just the right pieces. After multiple military moves and the associated accumulation of stuff, we decided to start fresh with this house and only keep really special items from our past homes.”

Photograph by Mario Mineros.
Photograph by Jamie Sutera Photography.
Photograph by Jamie Sutera Photography.
Photograph by Jamie Sutera Photography.
Photograph by Jamie Sutera Photography.
Photograph by Jamie Sutera Photography.
Photograph by Mario Mineros.
Photograph by Mario Mineros.

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Mimi Montgomery Washingtonian
Associate Editor

Mimi Montgomery joined Washingtonian in 2018. Her work has appeared in Outside Magazine, Washington City Paper, DCist, and PoPVille. Originally from North Carolina, she now lives in Petworth.