Duane and Pete are do-it-yourselfers in their Kensington, MD home

By Chord Bezerra
Photography by Todd Franson
Published on March 18, 2004, 12:00am | Comments

Double your pleasure in Kensington, Md., with this 2 BR, 2 BA house that's now twice as big as it's original size. Occupies by a GWM duo armed with a DIY attitude and a shared sense of humor.

Armed with a library of how-to books, teacher Duane Rollins and dog-walking business owner Pete Fosselman set out to turn shabby into chic. After two years of refining, refurbishing and expanding they can finally say it's done. Now if they could just do something about the cooking.

Duane: It's kind of funny. We were living in a condo about two miles from here. I was out running one day and saw this house had a "For Sale" sign. It was basically a white and black house and only about 850 square feet. There was just something about the house that shouted out to me. We originally bought it as an investment and didn't really plan to live in it. But the more we started to expand -- we doubled the size of the house -- the more we liked it, so we eventually decided to move in.

One of the biggest problems with the expansion was that neither of us had done it before. I had helped my father build a house but that was really about it. Some nights I would come into the house, whip out my two or three do-it-yourself books and study up so I could work the next day. Other than that, it was a blast. It was an awesome experience -- a great learning experience, especially for me.

It was amazing when we dropped the ceiling out of the front room. It literally came crashing down on me. I don't think Pete was here. I started to take it down in sections and it started creaking and I could tell it was coming down. I jumped off the ladder and all of the sudden it just let loose and fell on the floor. It was like this big thundercloud.

[In the master bedroom] We met through friends about ten years ago. We didn't start dating right away -- I guess about seven years ago...

Pete: ...he came to his senses.

Duane: I was really drunk one night and said I'd go out with him if he quit stalking me.

Pete: We started living together a year after we started going out. We lived in the condo and then moved in here about three and half years ago.

Duane: [Laughs.] Don't print that, you'll ruin my dating possibilities.

[In the hallway] I bought these embossed tin panels from a fellow at Eastern Market. I forget why I bought them...

Pete: You gave them to me as a gift.

Duane: Oh yeah, they were a gift. I bought them from a guy at Eastern Market. He is from Baltimore and he tells me they're from a building in Baltimore. He didn't mention it was a religious building but the panels certainly have a lot of religious symbols.

[In the kitchen] This whole front room is new.

Pete: This space where the kitchen and living are now used to be three separate rooms.

Duane: When we did the renovations we took down all the walls and opened up this space so the kitchen and living room would be one big space. Putting the kitchen together was a nightmare. It took us eleven deliveries to get all the cabinets because they kept coming shattered or the wrong size.

Pete: Or the wrong color.

Duane: It was a mess. We laid it out and designed the kitchen ourselves. We like to have a lot of parties so we wanted this room to be really open so we could have friends over and talk to them while we were cooking. We're not big cooks, though. I came from a family where if my mother couldn't fry it we didn't eat.

Pete: I came from a family where my mother didn't cook.

Duane: Pete has become a pretty decent cook.

Pete: He's better than I am. I'm learning more. My mom sent me this cookbook for idiots so I've been reading it and learning.

Duane: I've been hospitalized twice from his cooking so...

Pete: No, you haven't.

Duane: I don't want to speak for Pete, but the house was ugly as sin before we bought it. Once we started to really renovate it and get an idea of where we were headed, that's when we really started to appreciate the house more.

Pete: It took me a little while to get acclimated to the house but I love it now. If we ever have to move I'd rather pick the house up and move it with us.

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