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A Bright Outlook
The homeowners opted not to hang blinds or drapes on the downstairs windows to make the most of the natural light, a precious commodity in many attached Fan houses. The walls are painted in Valspar’s Coconut White for added brightness. A glass bubble chandelierby local designer Kenneth Byrd is airy, yet makes an impact. (Photo by Barry Fitzgerald)
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Room for Relaxation
The spacious master bedroom features a bright bay window and window seat. Carey Wodehouse and Rob Burden enjoy a glass of wine by one of the home’s original fireplaces. (Photo by Barry Fitzgerald)
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Keep it Simple
The couple removed cabinets and installed white subway tile up tothe ceiling to create a sleek backdropfor rustic wooden open shelves from West Elm. (Photo by Barry Fitzgerald)
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Wonderful West Avenue
The Victorian home, built in 1905, is located on West Avenue, a quiet, tight-knit street in the Fan near the heart of Virginia Commonwealth University. (Photo by Barry Fitzgerald)
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The couple remodeled thehall bathroom opting for a spare, modern aesthetic. (Photo by Barry Fitzgerald)
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Burden’s mother and aunt are antiques dealers and many of the pieces in the house were acquired from them, including the dining table and chairs and the painting above the fireplace, which dates from the 1800s. (Photo by Barry Fitzgerald)
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The master bathroom features a claw-foot tuband plenty of space to relax. A mix of antiques and exotic lanterns, purchased in Nantucket, add charm. (Photo by Barry Fitzgerald)
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A Moroccan wedding blanket adds texture and intrigue to the bedroom, which is furnished in a mix of antiques and new, vintage-inspired pieces. (Photo by Barry Fitzgerald)
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Wodehouse works from her home office asa copywriter. A writing project for One Kings Laneinspired much of the home’s décor. (Photo by Barry Fitzgerald)
They say you shouldn’t take your work home with you, but when freelancer Carey Wodehouse took a job with One Kings Lane — writing a history of furniture for the online furniture retailer — it had a direct effect on her West Avenue home.
“Growing up, my aunt was an interior decorator but it never really clicked with me,” Wodehouse says. “It was like Brunschwig and Fils and Queen Anne-style stuff and wallpaper. I thought that’s what interior design was.”
After spending a year at the Richmond Public Library, researching and writing articles about everything from Louis Philippe-style armoires to George Nelson’s coconut chair, Wodehouse felt inspired. “I was exposed to Midcentury modern and Danish design and was like, ‘Oh my God — that’s the stuff that really clicks with me. I’m going to make my house the way I actually like it.’ ”
Wodehouse and her husband, Rob Burden, bought their 2,700-square foot Fan home in 2012. They had recently moved to Richmond — where Wodehouse grew up — from Vermont, and they wanted a house that needed updates, not a total renovation.
The property was renovated in the 1980s and a new kitchen and master bath had been added more recently. The house had lots of natural light, a requirement for Wodehouse, who works from home. And its location on West Avenue — a city street so quiet that neighbors can get away with pulling their grills out onto the sidewalk for cookouts — made up for the fact that everything, including the new kitchen, needed attention.
Before the couple moved in, they refinished the floors and repainted every room in the house. Out went gold walls, a purple ceiling and what Wodehouse refers to as “Liberace light fixtures.” The living room, foyer and upstairs hallway got a coat of Valspar’s Coconut White; the trim throughout is Simply White by Benjamin Moore.
“When you try to stay really true to the Victorian [aesthetic], you sort of feel like you’re in a cave. I can’t handle it. For me, it’s a major mood thing,” says Wodehouse, who also opted not to hang blinds or drapes on the downstairs windows. In the Fan, she says, residents can have great light or they can have privacy, but not usually both at the same time.
Wodehouse employed other tricks to brighten up the home. In the living room, she hung a glass bubble chandelier by local designer Kenneth Byrd. An acrylic coffee table from One Kings Lane makes the room feel more open and lets the light (and attention) fall on an overdyed turquoise Oriental rug from Pirouzan. An oversized mirror from West Elm magnifies the light from the living room’s bay window.
Wodehouse and Burden built the plumbing pipe industrial-style shelving in the living room themselves. “Doing built-ins wasn’t in the budget but we needed a little vertical,” Wodehouse says. “The tall ceilings in this house are amazing but they can be so challenging. They dwarf a lot of my favorite pieces. The lower Midcentury stuff tends to look [particularly] tiny.”
In the kitchen, the cabinets and countertops were in good condition, but the couple wanted to lighten things up. They removed upper cabinets on either side of the range, tiled the newly exposed wall all the way to the ceiling with white subway tile and installed open shelving. Then they ripped up a ceramic tile floor and laid wide-plank pine, which they stained a pale blue-gray. The result was a kitchen that felt transformed.
In between retrofitting the kitchen, gutting two bathrooms and resurfacing three fireplaces, Wodehouse and Burden worked hard to collect furniture, art and collectibles that give the house an eclectic vibe.
A pair of white Eames reproduction chairs Wodehouse picked up on overstock.com flank a Moroccan tray table given to her by her maternal grandparents. The television sits on an old engine repair cart that was so heavy the couple had to build a ramp to get it into the house. Outsider art and Black Crowes concert posters share wall space with a 19th-century portrait of a rather smug-looking fox. The painting over the living room fireplace is by Wodehouse’s best friend, Lizzie Oglesby, who earned her MFA at the Savannah College of Art and Design and now works at the Virginia Historical Society.
“I didn’t want to subscribe to one [style],” Wodehouse says. “That may be overwhelming for some people, but I like how layered and individual it is. A lot of that comes from mixing the old and the new, from picking up pieces that grab the eye.”