A Basement Renovation in Our Alexandria, VA Townhouse – Part 1

Well, the time has come and the basement renovation in our Alexandria, VA townhouse is underway!  We have talked about this for the longest time and now that construction has finally started it’s exciting to think of the end result.

When we first bought our duplex in Del Ray – then a still sketchy neighborhood between Old Town and the railroad yard* – it was new construction on a piece of land originally used as a farm.  One of the options was to finish the walk out basement which would have consisted of two small rooms, a full bath, a laundry room and a mechanical room. From a financial standpoint we decided to only finish the one small front room (with a very large closet) and leave the rest.


The small room was first an office and then later our TV room. The larger area, which housed our washer/dryer/furnace/hot water heater/extra refrigerator/freezer, etc. has been another office, a work and workout room, a potting shed, and, most of all, a repository for “stuff”.

(Ladies and gentlemen, it was that “stuff” that nearly derailed our getting started. All I can say is thank goodness for ALIVE and the MVBigFlea. Sometime in the future I’ll devote another post to my new found advocacy for downsizing!)

I think one of the reasons we used it “as is” for so long is there are 12 ft ceilings, light comes in through the door to the stair well and it never felt like a basement.  The other advantage of waiting is we were able to configure it to be as open as possible while still incorporating almost everything we wanted.

The renovation as planned will include a full, if petite, bath with a curbless shower, a wet bar with a sink and full size European refrigerator, a stacked washing machine and dryer, pocket doors, built in cabinetry and shelves, and recessed lights.  After much discussion we did decide to install soundproofing and drywall on the ceiling but it will be done to retain maximum height.  The floors, again after much discussion, will be polished concrete – even in the bathroom.

Check out our video for a ‘first look’ and then come back for Part 2 of our basement renovation where we’ll talk about our process and the local Alexandria architect, contractor, and designer who are making it happen.

Virginia and Michael

P.S. – that railroad yard* is what is now known as Potomac Yard.