By Chord Bezerra
Photography by Todd Franson
Published on May 6, 2004, 12:00am | Comments

Two Himalayan von Trapps (of the feline variety)and a suburban GM couple make this 3 BR, 3 1/2 BA townhouse a relaxing stop for themselves and their friends. Sometimes it's better to stay in.

Steve Humes and Craig Villalobos, both architects who work in home design, naturally take a hand-on approach to home improvement. Three years after moving into their Herndon, Va., townhouse the couple have finished their improvements and are ready to slow down and enjoy the sweet sound of music.

Craig: I used to live out here. Steve and I met when he lived in Arlington, and after we had dated for 18 months I moved in with him in there. We had to give that up that rental apartment because they were selling it. We were going to rent a house, but then we saw this house for sale and fell in love with it.

Steve: It was a good location for us. I work in Chantilly and he works in Tyson's Corner -- it's about half way between. Everybody we hang around with on a regular basis lives within four to five miles of here. It is a pretty central location. When I moved out here my friends used to joke that they would have to check the flight schedule from National to Dulles when they wanted to visit. I had to prove to everyone that Herndon is not that far out.

Craig: [In the kitchen] That bamboo was a birthday present a few years ago from Steve to me.

Steve: It's still surviving. It shows a few kitty scratch marks.

Craig: Some of the plants the cats bother, some they don't -- they have their favorites. We've lost a palm or two to them. Steve gave the cats to me for our fifth anniversary.

Steve: We got them from a breeder. They're Himalayan -- basically half Siamese and half Persian. They were in a litter of seven and their names are Kurt and, technically, Fredrick, but we always call him Freddy. There were five boys and two girls in the litter so the breeders named them after the von Trapp kids. We figured they were gay enough names.

Craig: [In the backyard] We have a patio and a deck out here and a fishpond with real fish. We had the builder put in the patio and the pond and some of the landscaping but we reworked a lot of the landscaping. We also did some work out in the woods behind the house, which really isn't our land but you can see it.

Steve: We are the only people who are going to look at it, so the development [company] is not going to want to take care of it as much as we want to.

Craig: We're not happy unless we're doing something.

Steve: [In the master bedroom] We have a lot of people comment on this. It is a decorative wall panel system -- these are just two-by-two maple panels set up in a grid.

Craig: They match the cabinets in the bathrooms as well.

Steve: They are hung just like pictures -- almost. You have to make sure they are all lined up.

Craig: We put them up ourselves. You have to level it left to right and then front to back. It's a trip to get them so they are all flush. We spent three weekends banging that wall.

Steve: We finally had to have the neighbors over and show them what all the banging was -- their master bedroom is on the other side.

Craig: [In the family room] We have the surround sound and the big screen TV in here, so this is where we watch movies. We usually have friends over to watch movies on Friday nights -- half of us fall asleep and half of us see the movie.

Steve: On a Friday night our typical thing is to go out to dinner and get a movie and by 10:30 or 11 p.m. everyone is ready to go home and go to bed. Every now and then you stop to think, "I wonder what all the guys in D.C. are doing?" Probably just getting ready to go out. But you know, I prefer it this way. I prefer living out in the suburbs.

Craig: [In the living room] I think we have different styles. I used to be really traditional and now I am a lot more -- I don't what you call it -- a lot more easygoing. Steve definitely has some opinions on what is good and what is not.

Steve: I'm more into comfort and functionality. If you are going to buy a chair it should be as comfortable as it is stylish. All this high contemporary furniture is nice to look at but it is really uncomfortable. I want the house to be comfortable so when people come in they're not afraid to sit in any room -- you can come in here and feel comfortable enough to put your feet up and relax.

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