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Over nine years, Jeff and Lyndsey Reese’s former Arlington house held a lot of memories. They brought their daughters — Isabella, 8, and Lyla, 4 — home to that house, and their conversations about leaving it were bittersweet.
“We loved it, but it was time,” Jeff said.
It wasn’t the house itself that led the Reeses to that decision. It was the backyard.
“The house had plenty of room for us,” said Jeff, an implementation manager for Electronic Funds Source. “But our backyard was basically a big hill with a little flat area. I was watching the girls run in the backyard, and Lyla was running up the hill and she kept falling down. That was kind of the point that it became time, because they couldn’t run in the backyard and have fun.”
Added Lyndsey, “That was a big deal for us.”
The Reeses thought about moving long before they actually acted on the idea. Their conversations began to get serious about a year ago.
“We had thought about selling the year before, but it just wasn’t the right time,” Lyndsey said. “We were waiting on some new construction. We really wanted to build.”
“The options were limited,” Jeff said.
The family knew they wanted to stay in Arlington — they love the girls’ schools and have many friends nearby. One Arlington neighborhood, The Villages at White Oak, seemed to have a higher concentration of their friends than any other.
“We had a lot of friends from church in this neighborhood, so we were very familiar with it,” Lyndsey said. “This particular house came on the market and people kind of joked about us looking at it. We were like, ‘No, we really are set on building and we don’t feel like that’s the right thing for us.’ ”
Jeff called the subdivision’s developers to find out when they planned to start building its next phase. He learned they were one to two years out from having infrastructure complete and new lots available for development.
“That kind of put a damper on that option,” he said.
On a whim — and to appease their friends — the couple decided to take a look at the existing house for sale in the neighborhood. They liked it, but not enough to change their plans.
“We were so set on building that we left thinking it still wasn’t for us,” Lyndsey said.
However, as time passed, the Reeses found they couldn’t get the house off their minds.
“I started thinking about it more and realizing we could make it work,” Lyndsey said. “It had some changes that we wanted to make, but the previous owners had done some really nice upgrades and it had the big backyard we were looking for.”
Though they weren’t able to start fresh and choose all the finishes, the Reeses decided they could still make the house their own. And it had one thing they knew they couldn’t get in new construction: the perfect location.
“This is not a neighborhood, this is really a community,” Jeff said. “We know our neighbors, we’ve got close friends here and everybody looks out for each other. Like when we’re traveling, we get a phone call from the neighbors checking in if something looks odd or out of place. They catch our dog for us.”
“On numerous occasions,” said Lyndsey with a laugh.
Once the decision was made, the Reeses had to figure out the logistics of a quick move. Since they hadn’t started a serious search, their former house wasn’t even on the market.
The couple contacted Jon Moultrie of Enterprise Realtors in Arlington to list their house and make an offer on the Villages of White Oak house contingent on the sale of their home. It turned out selling their former house wasn’t an issue.
“We got our house listed in less than a week and it sold in two days,” Lyndsey said. “So it all happened really quickly.”
The family bought the four-bedroom, three-bath, 3,175-square-foot house in March for $293,500. Built in 2008, the house had many features the Reeses wanted in a new home. What it didn’t have was an office for Jeff, who works from home — but it did have renovation potential.
After moving in, the family worked with David Zinn of Redeemer Renovations to convert an upstairs loft into an office that’s tucked behind French doors. Also upstairs is a big playroom for the girls, as well as their bedrooms and shared bath.
The Reeses like the floor plan of their new home even more than their former home’s design.
“One thing we really liked about this house was that the bonus room was not over the master bedroom,” Jeff said. “In our old house it was right over our bedroom. We could hear everything, and we like to sleep in on Saturdays.”
Added Lyndsey, “The layout of this house is really great.”
The house has a formal dining room off the entry, and a sunny guest bedroom doubles as a craft room. The previous owners did a full-scale kitchen renovation, the highlight of which is a backsplash of shimmering penny tile that continues onto a breakfast room wall. The white-painted cabinetry includes some open shelving, and Lyndsey papered the backs of the shelves to add a pop of teal in the gray and white space.
The Reeses plan to eventually update the master bathroom and do a little painting.
“The playroom upstairs needs to be painted, minor touch-ups,” Lyndsey said. “Everything is in really good condition and luckily they had great taste. All of our stuff really just fit in and we haven’t had to do a lot.”
As for the neighborhood, it’s lived up to — and even exceeded — the family’s expectations.
“We just had a big, we call it ‘Oak-toberfest,'” said Jeff. “It was a Halloween-themed fall festival with a costume contest for the kids, pumpkin carving, chili tasting.”
“It’s just little things like that that make this neighborhood great,” added Lyndsey.
Their new, huge backyard is all they’d hoped it would be. With a covered deck complete with a porch swing, a playlet for the kids, a trampoline and plenty of room to run, it’s the family’s favorite feature of the house.
“Part of it is just childhood memories of me and my dad throwing a football and Frisbee in the backyard,” Jeff said. “And now I’m able to do the same thing with my kids.”