For many of us, nothing beats relaxing in the comfort of our own outdoor retreat. But is your outdoor space usable in the hot summer and chilly winter? It is possible to enjoy an outdoor room much of the year if you plan ahead and incorporate features into the design that will make the space more comfortable as temperatures rise or fall. Following are some items to consider and discuss with your design team when you’re trying to get the most out of your outdoor space.
In the summer months heat can make the outdoor entertaining downright unbearable. … Read More >
Kathy Kelly Hines | May 14, 2018
Many clients come to us wanting “more space” or “an open floor plan.” Sometimes an addition to the home is the solution, while other times reconfiguring the existing footprint allows the homeowners to better utilize the space and achieve their goals with the square footage they already have. In some cases, the renovation involves removing walls to create an open-concept living plan and the feeling of more space.
On one of our recent projects in McLean, the clients wanted both an open feel for their main-level and a lovely outdoor living space. One free-flowing area was created by removing walls… Read More >
Are you looking to freshen up your kitchen? In today’s world, the kitchen is the heart of the house. It acts as the center of family life and is often the focal point for social gatherings. These kitchen design ideas for 2018 may spark inspiration if you’re considering a kitchen renovation or just love beautiful projects.
Who doesn’t need more counter space? One way to maximize your usable space and achieve a clean, sleek aesthetic is to hide all those gadgets. The perfect solution that we’ve been utilizing in our recent kitchen remodels is an appliance garage. It’s… Read More >
With winter upon us, you probably have your thermostats and fireplaces running on all cylinders to keep your home toasty and comfortable. But did you know there are other things you can do to help keep your home warm? Following are a few winter design details to make your home more comfortable and efficient, and create the cozy environment you desire.
Heated Towel Racks
This is the quickest way to add warmth to your winter! It’s the time of the year when getting out of the shower means braving the cool air and a cold towel, but not with a… Read More >
Everyone experiences architecture and design on a daily basis, but it can become intimidating when it’s time to remodel your own space. Below are a few tips from our designers and architects that will help ensure your tastes are properly reflected in your next renovation.
The first step in communicating likes and dislikes for your home renovation is to collect imagery. Nowadays, you have more options than just sifting through magazines and ripping out the pages. Websites like Pinterest, Instagram, and Houzz provide easy ways to collect what you like online in a shareable format. Showing designers and… Read More >
Did you know the first freeze typically occurs in October in the Washington, DC area? With that in mind, despite the recent mild temperatures, now is the time to start planning for the winter ahead. Exterior home preparation is critical to helping your home weather the harsh winter elements and avoiding damage. Consider the following steps to get your home ready for winter.
Shut Off Your Hose Bibs
Hose bibs are the water faucets to which your gardening hoses attach. Every year basements become flooded because water is allowed to remain inside the pipes through the freezing winter months, which… Read More >
Kathy Kelly Hines | September 22, 2017
Loudoun County is one of the most incredible places in Virginia with its rolling countryside and beautiful views. This is truly the perfect place to create an amazing outdoor living space for entertaining or simply relaxing in your down time. If your outdoor space isn’t doing much living these days, consider these inspiring ideas for an outdoor renovation in Loudoun.
Screened porches are a traditional go-to for homeowners who want to enjoy a bug-free time outdoors. Screen walls allow you to breathe in the fresh air and take in the scenery without worrying about pesky mosquitoes or other… Read More >
The kitchen is the heart of the home for many homeowners and, with careful planning and consideration, can be a valuable tool for keeping your home and family running smoothly. One of the most important parts of the kitchen design is the island. The kitchen island can provide a lot of functionality while adding style and purpose to the room.
The Purpose of the Kitchen Island
To design the perfect island, you must first ask yourself how you anticipate using the space, both now and in the future? This multi-purpose area may be used for any or all of the… Read More >
Whether you’re happy to see winter go or sad that we didn’t have much of one, now is the time to start thinking about giving your home a well-deserved spring cleaning. From tips for natural cleaning solutions to quick fixes, we have you covered. And the best part – you may already own most of the ingredients you need!
Natural Cleaning Solutions:
Because your home and family deserve only the very best, consider using natural cleaning solutions that will not only be effective in achieving desired results, but will also be safer for the environment.
Lemon or Lemon Essential Oil… Read More >
Kathy Kelly Hines | January 6, 2017
An ice dam is a ridge of ice that forms at the eave or valley of a roof preventing proper drainage. This occurs when snow melts and slides to cooler portions of the roof and quickly refreezes creating the barrier or dam. The risk arises if additional melting occurs and water pools behind the dam. Costly damage may occur if the sitting water seeps between the shingle layers, wetting the roof deck and leaking into the home below.
Visible signs of damage may include dislodged roof shingles, water-stained ceilings, peeling paint, damaged plaster, etc. As other damage may not be… Read More >
You might be surprised to learn that recent scientific evidence suggests air inside your home can be even more polluted than outdoor air. With millions of people suffering from asthma and allergies, it’s a good idea to question whether the air in your home might be negatively affecting your family’s health. Fortunately, there are things that can be done to reduce the build-up of indoor air pollutants, thus improving the overall air quality and helping to protect your family. Following are three basic strategies.
Source control is considered to be the most effective way of reducing indoor pollutants.… Read More >
Now that appliances have become about as energy efficient as they can get, manufacturers are focusing on other areas when developing the latest and greatest bells and whistles. It seems the new trend in appliances is what makes life easier for the consumer. Families want to spend less time worrying about household tasks and upkeep, and instead, spend more time enjoying life. Following are a few new appliance features that just might make your household chores a little easier.
Oven Features and Accessories An oven feature that is widely ignored is the door. As it has been forever, the majority… Read More >
There’s nothing quite like the announcement of an approaching winter storm to send area residents scrambling to the store for bread, milk, “TP” and other common necessities. While many welcome the snowfall, winter storms can be challenging and downright daunting if you and your home are not prepared. Consider the following tips to help keep your family and home safe this winter, whatever this weekend may bring us.
Keep up-to-date on weather forecasts and plan accordingly. If there is the chance of a storm, it’s better to stock up ahead of time, rather than waiting until the last… Read More >
Our homes are a mix of many different materials, all with different properties, so proper care of these surfaces isn’t a one bottle solution. Below is a round-up of common surfaces and the recommended care methods for each type.
Granite: Routine cleaning with just mild dish soap and a soft cloth is recommended. General household cleaners, such as Windex and 409, can be used, but may leave a film, so it’s best to use these sparingly. Although granite is highly durable, avoid using any harsh solutions that may break down the sealant.
Marble: As a porous stone, marble is susceptible… Read More >
It’s amazing how much of our lives we can control using the push of a button on our smart phones and tablets these days. Besides schedules, to-do lists and steps walked, there are countless tools we can use to make our homes safer and our lives a little easier by combining home automation with smart phone technology.
Thermostats: We’re all familiar with the benefits of programmable thermostats, which allow you to set temperature adjustments for various times of the day, but do you know about thermostats you can control remotely from the convenience of your smart phone or tablet? Perhaps… Read More >
The traditional incandescent light bulb has been in use for over 100 years, without many major changes. So why all the hoopla over our trusty incandescent bulbs the past several years? Well for starters, they’re not very energy efficient. Less than 10% of electrical power used is converted into visible light, while the remaining energy is lost as heat. A federal law was passed in 2007 to raise minimum efficiency standards for traditional incandescents, as well as a gradual phase-out plan. In 2012, 100-watt bulbs were no longer being produced, followed by the 75 watt bulbs in 2013. At the… Read More >
Homeowners often ask, “What are some general guidelines for keeping my home safe and healthy for my family?”
Our experience over the last 25 years has proven that certain interior maintenance items are critical to the long-term performance of your home. A regular schedule of interior and exterior home maintenance will likely help you to avoid serious home-related problems, or at least identify issues early so problems can be addressed in a timely manner with minimal adverse effects.
Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC)
Maintenance Recommendation: Serviced in the spring and fall; change filters regularly.
As a mechanical system, they… Read More >
Many homeowners wonder: “Am I doing enough to keep my home safe from the outdoor elements?” Our experience over the past 25 years has proven that there are certain exterior maintenance items that are critical to the long-term health of the home. All too often we find that when serious issues arise, they are directly or indirectly due to these basic home maintenance items being neglected, either because they are not understood or forgotten. A regular schedule of maintenance will likely help to identify issues early so problems can be addressed in a timely manner and adverse effects can be… Read More >
Planning for multigenerational living has been on the rise in recent years. With life expectancies increasing and early baby boomers entering their golden years, this trend is expected to continue. As with any remodeling project, there are a number of factors to consider when planning a renovation for a growing household.
A Space of Their Own A self-contained guest house or in-law suite offers the most privacy for all generations. Including a full bathroom and kitchenette, as well as a separate entrance in this space, allows an older family member to retain their independence and privacy. Adding a small sitting… Read More >
Whether you’re searching for a plumber to fix a leaky pipe or doing a complete kitchen remodel, finding and hiring the best professionals for the job can be a challenge. We’ve all heard enough horror stories of what happens when someone hires an unethical or unqualified contractor, so it’s perfectly natural to be wary. But doing a little homework before signing a contract can help you rest assured that you’ve hired the right home pro for your job. So how are homeowners finding good people these days?
Phone a Friend: Often times the best place to start is with who… Read More >
A lighting strategy is essential during the early stages of planning a successful renovation or remodel. As lighting is an integral design component, it should not be left as a last minute decision or afterthought. The location of the room and the way the space will be used are important factors when determining the best lighting solutions for your home.
Two-Step Planning Process
Creating a plan in the early stages allows you to coordinate other elements within the design, such as smoke detector or speaker placement, which typically also require wiring in the ceiling. If a ceiling fan and recessed… Read More >
We’ve all seen enough commercials, magazine ads and sales fliers to know that kitchen appliances are always evolving and manufacturers are in a race to reveal the next big thing. But, which ones are catching the eyes of kitchen experts and their clients? The following highlights might shed a little light and be helpful whether you’re looking to replace one kitchen staple that is on the fritz or you’re planning a kitchen remodel and need everything and the kitchen sink. Move Over Microwave The GE Advantium Speedcook Oven is available in either a 120-volt or 240-volt model, and features multiple… Read More >
While previously seen exclusively as a high-end luxury item, elevators are becoming a more popular feature in today’s homes. Perhaps due to the wave of baby boomers that are planning for their long-term needs and recent innovations that have made the technology more affordable, residential elevators are now seen as a practical solution to many home challenges.
Benefits Homeowners who wish to age in place, have existing mobility issues, or will soon be caring for older parents, often think about adding on a ground-level master suite. However, if the added square footage isn’t otherwise necessary or if lot space is… Read More >
Is a kitchen remodel in your near future? Are you planning a master suite addition? Whether you want to renovate or you’re just looking to freshen up your living room with some new furnishings, there are some great online tools available to help with the design process. Looking for Inspiration? If you’re looking for something above and beyond just tearing out magazine pages to show to your design team, you may want to check out Pinterest. This website, also available as a mobile app, allows you to collect, organize, and share visual bookmarks of all the things that interest you.… Read More >
We plan for retirement, vacations and home improvements, so why not take some time to put a plan in place for dealing with a home emergency? As the old adage goes, it’s better to be safe than sorry, so it’s important to make sure safety precautions are in place to keep your home and family safe.
Test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors monthly to ensure they are working properly. Change the batteries at least once a year, and if you need help remembering when it’s time, choose a special date every year such as a birthday, anniversary,… Read More >
Even though recent days have been unseasonably warm for the greater Washington DC area, sporadic cold spells and snow showers remind us that winter is still here. While some folks live it up on the slopes and school-aged children cherish the snow day, snow safety is an important topic for homeowners. Below are some tips to keep you, your family and your home safe during the winter season.
Snow Shoveling Safety
On average, more than 11,000 people are injured while snow shoveling per year. But doing some light exercises and stretches before getting started, dressing in layers that can be… Read More >
Have you decided it’s time to replace your water heater? Or, are you looking to make your home more energy efficient? In either case, following is an overview on how tankless water heaters work and some helpful advice on why a tankless unit may (or may not) be the best option for your home.
Tankless Water Heaters 101 Also known as instantaneous or on-demand heaters, this type of water heater provides hot water only as needed, so no storage tank is required as with conventional units. Since the water isn’t continuously heated, it doesn’t produce the standby energy losses associated… Read More >
This time of year many of us make an effort to help those in our community who are less fortunate through the donation of goods, dollars or service. Whether it’s the spirit of the season that motivates you or a year-end push for tax purposes, consider the following organizations that will gladly accept your donation of home-related items.
A Wider Circle
This organization provides basic-need items to families transitioning out of shelters and those living without life’s necessities. A Wider Circle furnishes the homes of more than 1,000 children and adults each month. If you wish to donate furniture and… Read More >
Today’s master baths goes beyond mere bathrooms to also serve as places to pamper, relax and rejuvenate. Since it’s where your day begins and ends, it’s definitely a space you’ll want to be comfortable in and enjoy. The amenities in some master baths today can rival those of a luxury spa. So what are homeowners doing these days to create their own personal retreats?
Natural stone is as popular a choice as ever for bathroom floors and walls. Extending the tile work from the shower to the walls can help minimize the number of different elements in the… Read More >
For most homeowners, the kitchen is the heart of their home, and having surfaces that will last and remain beautiful over time is a priority. Today’s countertops go beyond functionality and serve as an aesthetic focal point in many kitchens. Listed below are some tips on how to keep these surfaces in tip-top shape.
Keeping Natural Stone Beautiful
Granite, marble, limestone, travertine, and slate are all part of the natural stone family. For routine cleaning, a mixture of dish soap and water is recommended. Non-abrasive and non-acidic, this simple mixture neutralizes any acids that are left behind, plus contains a… Read More >
Does your water have a strange odor or taste? Do you find your soap doesn’t lather well or you have water spots on dishes and glasses? Or, do you simply wonder what could be in it? Whether you think your water has a specific issue or you’re just concerned about the safety of your family, the first step is having your water tested. You can also check out a copy of your water company’s Annual Water Quality Report. While this report doesn’t tell you what’s coming out of your tap specifically, it can give you an overall idea of what’s… Read More >
The summer season is in full swing for pool parties and backyard BBQs in the greater Washington, DC area. Today’s backyards are multi-purpose spaces that are great for relaxing, entertaining, and spending time with the whole family. On a warm evening there is nothing better than dining al fresco on your own deck or patio with good company and great food! Do you feel that your backyard space is underutilized, neglected, or dated? If you don’t love what you see when you go outdoors, read on to find out how to transform your backyard from blasé to beautiful.
Poolside Paradise… Read More >
There aren’t always surefire ways to tell that your water heater’s time is up, but it’s best to not wait until you’re jumping in an ice cold shower at 6 a.m. to find out. Listed below are a few tips to help you decide whether you should fix or replace your unit.
Signs you may Have to Replace your Water Heater
Aside from a giant puddle of water on the floor, here are a few signs that may signal something is wrong:
Water does not heat as rapidly as it once did. Keep in mind that if this occurs as… Read More >
If your home is anything like the typical household, then your answer is probably “Yes!!” Most homeowners can never have enough storage and there seems to be a constant battle between how much “stuff” you own and how much space is available in your home. The good news is there are a number of creative ways to address your needs.
Consider a “Family Foyer”
Designing an ample informal entrance is a great use of space to provide more storage for your household. Walk-in closets can help keep coats and shoes from piling up, corral sports equipment, or serve as a… Read More >
Although it’s been around for a number of years, “Geothermal” is becoming an increasingly popular buzz word these days as more and more homeowners are looking for an energy-efficient and environmentally-friendly heating and cooling solution. Unfortunately, the biggest drawback of switching to this type of system is the high cost of installation when compared to conventional systems. When evaluating that cost, remember to factor in your savings on monthly energy expenses with and the annual maintenance on your current system to determine if geothermal will be a sound investment for your home.
So How Does Geothermal Work?
The answer lies… Read More >
Long gone are the dark, gloomy and cavernous basements of yesterday. With proper planning, a well-executed basement renovation can help your family enjoy the extra square footage you may have long forgotten.
A Welcoming Lower Level
Today’s basements are becoming more integrated with the first floor of house, and are typically referred to as a “lower level” rather than a basement. In the past, the entrance and stairwell to the basement were often narrow and dark. Nowadays stairways are designed to be more open and inviting, and frequently feature a nice railing or banister for an added touch. Also, some… Read More >
With an option for any décor, wood flooring is a leading choice for today’s homeowners. While its natural beauty may be at the top of the list, there are numerous reasons for its popularity. When cared for properly wood flooring can last a lifetime and add value to your home should you choose to resell. When created from a sustainable natural resource, wood flooring is an eco-friendly option unlike many other coverings. And, wood flooring doesn’t harbor dust mites or mold, which are common causes for indoor air quality issues that affect all family members, especially those who suffer from… Read More >
Internet technology seems to be changing faster than ever, with new products and services constantly emerging. If you find that trying to stay on top of developments is like trying to keep up with the most recent celebrity marriages and divorces, we have a few helpful tips for you.
Home Internet Choices
Following is a breakdown of the options available when it comes to Internet access for your home. Broadband – A high speed internet connection provided by an ISP (Internet Service Provider). Three common broadband options are:
FiOS – A Verizon product that employs the use of fiber optic… Read More >
Whether it’s a closet, the kitchen or a study area, there are numerous ways to incorporate kid-friendly design into any space, and children today are becoming more and more involved in the process. Even if your child is toddler-aged simple tasks, such as picking colors, themes or bedding, can help them feel that they are part of the process. Besides being used more frequently, we can all hope that greater input in the planning stage will result in more pride in the space later and an unwavering desire to keep it neat and tidy!
A well-designed study area… Read More >
With Hurricane Irene moving up the eastern seaboard, it’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to preparing your home and family for whatever the storm may bring. A few simple preventative steps, outlined below, may help you to avoid costly repairs once the storms have passed.
Clear away yard debris and dead/dying branches
Large branches or fallen trees can easily be tossed about by high winds during a storm. If you have trees near your home, be sure to trim any dead or dying branches, or at least ask your landscaper to do so at your next… Read More >
Whether you’re looking to replace your old countertops as part of a full kitchen remodel or a quick facelift, you’ll find there is a wide array of options when it comes to materials and distinctive finishes. The best surface for your home often depends on your budget, style and lifestyle. Keep in mind you don’t need to pick just one! A trend we’ve seen in our recent remodeling work is that many homeowners are mixing and matching complementary surfaces in different areas of the kitchen to achieve a truly one-of-a-kind look. The following overview of available countertop options may be… Read More >
As the price of electricity continues to climb, many homeowners are looking for new ways to shave down their energy costs. And, these days, more and more are considering renewable energy sources as an option. Technological advancements and an increase in manufacturing volume have significantly lowered the price of solar energy so it now costs about seven times less than it did twenty years ago. As the cleanest and most abundant renewable energy source available, solar power is definitely worth a closer look to see if it’s right for your home.
Solar Electric Power
A solar electric system harnesses the… Read More >
The recent sunshine and warmer temperatures throughout the Washington DC area, remind us that we’ll soon be able to enjoy pool parties, picnics, and of course, backyard BBQ’s with family and friends. If you’re thinking about incorporating the convenience of an outdoor kitchen into your backyard, listed below are some helpful tips to consider.
To Cover or Not to Cover
When creating an outdoor kitchen, one of the first things to consider is whether or not to have the space covered. Unless covered, you should expect to experience significantly more wear and tear on your surfaces and appliances than if… Read More >
In the greater Washington DC area, there’s no question that space comes at a premium. But, with careful planning, a number of area homeowners have found creative ways to maximize both their storage and livable space during renovations of all sizes. Following are examples of just a few creative living solutions we’ve seen in recent projects.
Backsplash Appliance Garages
Having an appliance garage in your kitchen is nothing new, but the twist comes in creating one or many storage areas hidden behind your backsplash. If you are in need of more counter space (and who isn’t with all the must-have… Read More >
During the winter months, many homeowners are looking for ways to keep their energy bills down, while still keeping their homes nice and toasty. With 50% of the average homes' energy usage going toward heating and cooling alone, the winter months provide an opportunity for considerable savings. Listed below are some helpful tips for lowering your home heating bills while Jack Frost is in town.
For many of us, the holidays are a busy time filled with gifts to wrap, cookies to bake, family to entertain and parties to attend. Unfortunately, it’s easy for fire prevention and other safety issues to be overlooked during the hustle and bustle of the season, but they should never get put on the back burner (pun intended). According to National Fire Protection Association, more than 40% of home fires occur during the months of December, January and February. Listed below are some precautions to take to help ensure that you and your loved ones have a safe and happy… Read More >
Permanent standby generators are a considerable investment, but the convenience of an autostart system, along with the peace of mind of having one, are well worth the price for many homeowners. And don't forget, having a home generator will likely increase the value of your home.
Many people have a favorite space in their home, be it a cozy nook for reading, a luxurious bath for escaping the hassles of a long day or a gourmet kitchen ideally suited for preparing meals the whole family can enjoy. Your favorite space may be a home bar perfect for entertaining family and friends (see last month’s issue) or an area custom designed to match your children’s interests so they can enjoy time with friends in the safety of your own home. If you don’t already have your favorite space picked out keep in mind a well-planned home renovation … Read More >
A home bar is a great place to entertain family and friends from the comfort and safety of your own home. Customized bars continue to be a welcome gathering place in luxury homes throughout Washington, DC, but now with so many options you can truly make it your own. A home remodeling expert can help you to transform an ordinary space into an inviting entertaining area that complements your home, taste and lifestyle.
Where Everyone Knows Your Name
A classic pub-style bar is a common design direction that is not going anywhere any time soon. Envision a “Cheers” style bar,… Read More >