After spending a month in North Carolina, my boyfriend and I needed to return to the DC area due to appointments and family events coming up. The search for a place in the DMV as we natives call it (DC/Maryland/Virginia area) that fit our requirements as well as our budget was quite difficult. The area can be pretty expensive, and we wanted to make sure we were within a good distance to our appointment locations.
After extensive searching, we booked a duplex in Alexandria, Virginia. Alexandria is a large city in Northern Virginia that borders the nation’s capital. Like most places, the neighborhoods can range from older and more established to new and recently developed.
As soon as we hit the reserve button, we immediately second guessed our decision. It was a new listing, but the owners had several reviews for other properties. So we weren’t concerned about them as hosts, but we realized we didn’t know much about the actual neighborhood, and we also realized we had not seen any pictures of the outside of the house. After our NC bungalow, the visual bar for our homes was set pretty high.
So of course, as soon as we received the address, we immediately did a google map search of the property. And that did not help our concerns. But what’s done is done, we had paid our money, and that would be our home for a month… unless we wanted to cancel and lose our money. Ummm no.
Unlike the first home, the check-in for the Alexandria duplex did not go smoothly. With it being a newly listed property, the owners were working on final touches in the home up until and beyond our check-in time. Our check-in time was delayed so we had to pass the time, which was hard to do when we were still in the midst of pandemic lock-down and stores are limiting entry. But fast forward a couple hours, and we checked into the home.
The home was located in a well-established aka older neighborhood as we suspected, and visually, the home was not as attractive as the NC bungalow. Once inside, the furniture was older, and there were some areas of the home that weren’t completely finished (ie., blue tape on the walls, a chandelier that the owner had to come back and finish hanging, dust that they probably would have swiffered if they had a little extra time, etc.). But…there was a homely charm about the home and I was determined to make the best of it.
THE NOT SO GREAT:
I really gave the owners the benefit of the doubt–sometimes first rentings just don’t go as planned. I know they wanted to have a guidebook prepared, and I’m sure they wanted the space to be Airbnb perfect. Unfortunately it didn’t happen that way, and by the time we arrived and were able to check in, we just wanted to get unpacked and settled. The moment for the cute arrival had passed, and it just wasn’t going to happen.
Some of the things that made the stay less than perfect included the home not having central heating, so with it being the middle of winter, it was quite drafty sometimes. There wasn’t a ton of space for our clothes, so it felt like we were always shuffling things around just to get things from our luggage. There was only one bathroom, and after having two, it was difficult to adjust to one…though we did it, and it was fine. There was only one television in the house and that wasn’t ideal.
There were a lot of great things about the home and the location. We were able to see family and friends since we were close to home, so that was really nice. We were able to both have cars so that helped with getting to our appointments and such with no coordination efforts. We took walks quite a bit even though it was snowing a lot of the time, so we were able to get out of the house and get fresh air. The home had a dedicated workspace and multiple rooms to spread out, which we cannot say about some of the other places we’ve stayed. The home had a lot of kitchen amenities so I cooked quite a bit, which was really nice. I also stocked up on my craft supplies and started teaching myself ceramics, and there was enough space to spread out and craft. The home had this really cute loft area, so we liked escaping to that space to think or just have some alone time. It was also perfect when we had meetings and needed personal space for those. The home had some really cool decorative elements and pictures that I thought made such a nice touch. The neighborhood was so quiet, so we slept like babies. And speaking of sleep, the bedding was so comfortable, I had to message the host to ask about the sheets and pillow cases, and I ordered my own!
AT THE END OF THE DAY we were looking for peace, safety, and a space to work, and this home provided just that. We have been out of that home for about six months and I still have moments that I flash back or miss something about it. It really was a unique and cozy vibe, and sometimes you don’t find that in “perfect” homes, or homes that are staged immaculately. Though it wasn’t the prettiest house on the prettiest street, the hosts were awesome, the space was quiet, the home was safe, and I would absolutely stay there again.
Here are some of the cute decorative touches that I really feel made the space unique and cute.
What if something makes a bad first impression for you? How good are you at finding the good in situations? I felt like a month was a long time to not love the space we chose, so I really focused on what I loved about the home. And it turns out, this home actually had a lot to love!