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  • 2016, APRIL 13

    Top 2016 Kitchen Remodeling & Design Trends

    Architect Susan Pierce of Commonwealth Home Design discusses current kitchen design and remodeling trends based on her experience working with clients across Northern Virginia. See why bright open designs, storage and cabinet space, islands, and entertainment flow are so important in today’s kitchen design.

  • 2016, MARCH 29

    Creating a Home Remodeling Firm in Northern Virginia

    Commonwealth Home Design has served residents of Northern Virginia for 30 years. Hear what inspired architect Susan Pierce, co-founder and co-owner of Commonwealth, to create a design/build and home remodeling firm in Vienna, Virginia.

  • 2015, AUGUST 25

    Renovate or Relocate: A Common Homeowner Conundrum

    Almost all homeowners contemplate buying a new house or remodeling an existing home at some point in their lives. There’s no right or wrong choice but several potential life-changing considerations.

    Before jumping into a major home remodeling project or spending hours online searching for a new house, create a wish list outlining your needs and wants. Here are four primary considerations to include in your list:

    1. Location, Location, Location

    How much do you love your existing neighborhood? If you have a family or are thinking about starting one, how are the school systems. Would you be leaving behind neighborhood friends and playmates? What amenities are readily available that may not be easily accessible in a new town or city.

    Another incredibly important factor in Northern Virginia is a move’s impact on your commute. Will it be longer or shorter. Are you willing to spend more time in your car than enjoying your new home?

    If these factors make you want to stay, can you renovate within your current footprint? An experienced architect can help you determine if your existing home can expand to meet your needs while complying with local building codes. You may uncover areas for expansion you never realized were available. (See related: Four Ways to Gain More Space in Your Home.)

    Great Room After

    Great Room AFTER Renovation & Expansion

    Great Room Before

    Great Room BEFORE Renovation & Expansion

    2. Quality of Life

    Living through a renovation can be stressful but so can moving! Are you prepared to live through a few months of flying dust, the constant sound of power tools and a bevy of contractors walking through your home. (See related: The Remodeling Process Rollercoaster – What You Can Expect.)

    The idea of packing a lifetime’s worth of belongings may be reason enough to stay put. For some though, moving is an opportunity to purge and start anew.

    If you’re unable to line up closing dates, you may find yourself in a temporary housing situation. Can you deal with the stress of packing/unpacking and moving twice?

    Carefully consider the impact a home renovation or multiple moves may have on your quality of life before, during and after!

    3. Budget and Financing

    A new house means qualifying for a new mortgage and expenses beyond the purchase price of the home—i.e. real estate transaction fees, closing costs, moving expenses, new fixtures and furniture, etc.

    There are also numerous tax laws that affect the calculation of taxes upon the sale of one’s home and the repurchase of its replacement. Tax credits may be available, depending on when you buy the property. Seek professional advice to understand the tax implications of selling your home and buying a new one.

    A renovation can be financed through savings, home equity loans or lines or credit. Acquiring a home equity loan or line of credit depends on several factors: the equity in the home before the project, the cost of the remodel, and the expected market value once completed.

    Extensive renovations and expansions also may end up more costly than expected if your wish list changes throughout the course of the project. It’s important to plan for the unknown in any high value investment involving your home.

    4. Value

    Are you currently living in a booming neighborhood with rising home values. If so, you may want to stay put and invest in your house. A remodeling project should result in added value to your property. According to Remodeling Magazine, the most profitable renovations when putting a house on the market include kitchen remodels and room additions.

    Whether you choose to renovate or build new, it’s important to work with an experienced architect. Superior design not only increases the value of your home, but can also greatly improve your quality of life. Conversely, mediocre design may diminish resale value and lead to missed design opportunities and years of regret.

    Kitchen After Renovation and Removal of Fireplace

    Kitchen and Breakfast Area AFTER Renovation

    Kitchen and Fireplace Before Renovation

    Kitchen and Breakfast Area BEFORE Renovation

    Next Steps…

    Determining you need more space or a change of environment is easy. The quandary is how best to achieve it. Relocating and renovating each can be satisfying and effective if you weigh the options carefully. Seeking the assistance of an expert residential architect may result in upgrades and additional space you never dreamed available in your existing home.

    An informed and educated decision can minimize your aggravation and ensure your family years of good living!

    Give us a call today at 703-255-9861 and let the experienced architects at Commonwealth Home Design help you to weigh your options.

    Live the Difference

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  • 2015, JULY 6

    Whole House Renovation – French Country Home

    Commonwealth Home Design recently reconfigured and modernized a French Country home in Vienna, VA.

    The renovation project includes upgrade of the exterior front door, entryway/foyer, mud/laundry room, office, family room, kitchen and breakfast area, and master bath.

    Exterior Renovation

    A new cherry wood door, brackets and lights significantly enhance the home’s front exterior.

    Front Door Exterior After

    Front Door/Exterior AFTER

    New Cherry Wood Double Door Entrance

    Close-up of New Cherry Wood Double Door Entryway

    Front Door Exterior Before

    Exterior BEFORE

    Kitchen Renovation/New Breakfast Nook

    The complete kitchen remodel includes, aesthetic upgrade of fixtures, new hardwood floor, removal of a fireplace, new breakfast nook, installation of an exhaust hood, new built-in shelves and cabinets, and all new granite.

    Kitchen and Breakfast Area After

    Kitchen and Breakfast Area AFTER

    Kitchen and Fireplace Before Renovation

    Kitchen, Fireplace and Breakfast Area BEFORE

    Kitchen After Renovation

    Kitchen AFTER Renovation

    Kitchen After Renovation

    Kitchen AFTER Renovation

    Kitchen Before Renovation

    Kitchen BEFORE

    Kitchen After Renovation

    Kitchen AFTER Renovation

    Kitchen/Breakfast Area After Renovation

    Kitchen/Breakfast Area AFTER Renovation

    Kitchen Island/Breakfast Area Before

    Kitchen BEFORE Renovation

    Great Room Remodel/Reconfiguration

    A complete modernization of the home’s great room includes, removal of walls to create an open floor plan, new built-in shelves and cabinets, a new entertainment wall, window and door replacement to create simulated divided light double doors, and the installation of decorative beams and columns.

    Great Room After

    Great Room AFTER Renovation

    Great Room Before

    Great Room BEFORE Renovation

    Great Room After

    Great Room AFTER Renovation

    Great Room Before

    Great Room BEFORE Renovation

    Great Room After

    Great Room Entertainment Wall AFTER Renovation

    Great Room Before

    Great Room BEFORE Renovation


    Renovations to the entryway and mudroom include new built-ins, new floors, new doors, and installation of a keypad entry to avoid having to enter the home through two locked doors

    Laundry/Entrance After

    Mudroom AFTER Renovation

    Laundry/Entrance After

    Mudroom AFTER Renovation

    Office Upgrade

    Upgrades to the office include the replacement of aging windows and doors and installation of new glass shelves and cabinets.

    Office After

    Office AFTER Renovation

    Office After

    Office AFTER Renovation

    Office Before

    Office BEFORE Renovation

    Master Bathroom Gut & Remodel

    A complete gut and remodel of the master bathroom includes all new fixtures and flooring and installation of a new remote control shower featuring multiple shower heads, steam and jets, and an audio system.

    Master Bath After

    Master Bath AFTER Renovation

    Master Bath After

    Master Bath AFTER Renovation

    Master Bath Before

    Master Bath BEFORE Renovation

    Master Bath After - New Shower

    Master Bath AFTER Renovation


    Let the design/build professionals at Commonwealth transform your aging house into a luxurious modern residence rivaling today’s new homes!

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  • 2015, JUNE 9

    4 Ways to Gain More Space in Your Home

    Feeling like you’ve outgrown your current house? The experienced architects at Commonwealth Home Design can show you how to creatively and efficiently gain more space in your home.

    With housing prices back on the rise in Northern Virginia, you may want to consider a renovation or addition project before seeking a new home.

    Look up, look down, look around—you may find you have more room for rooms than you think!

    1. Tear Down

    Aging homes are often filled with tiny, unused rooms that cramp modern lifestyles. This can be addressed by removing interior walls and expanding important rooms like the kitchen or creating new family gathering spaces, like a great room. Before you remove any wall, you must determine if the wall is load-bearing. The experts at Commonwealth Home Design have nearly 30 years experience transforming cramped rooms into spacious, open floor plans.


    Great Falls, VA – An open, spacious floor plan with voluminous ceilings was created through a comprehensive interior gut and remodeling project. Walls and ceiling were removed and replaced with new wood beams and brackets. A new, expansive kitchen and great room were created.

    2. Build Up

    Attics can be transformed into a variety of spaces beyond your grandparent’s treasure trove. Home offices, in-law and au-pair suites, recreational rooms and even master bedrooms can be creatively situated in a redesigned attic. Reclaiming existing space under your roof also avoids many zoning and easement concerns common to the Northern Virginia area. There are several considerations when converting attics into new spaces, including building codes; support structures; electrical, HVAC and plumbing systems; and access. Commonwealth’s experienced, solutions-oriented architects can help determine if your attic is ready for a life-changing transformation.

    Attic master suite addition with sitting area, large bright; windows and sloped ceilings.

    Great Falls, VA – Attic conversion into a Cape Cod-style master suite with sitting area, large bright windows and sloped ceilings.

    3. Add On

    In many cases, you can gain more space from your existing home through an addition project. There are numerous ways to add onto a home. Adding onto and renovating the first floor may allow for an expansive new kitchen; and you know that everyone tends to gravitate towards the kitchen! A sunroom addition can function in many ways. It can be a light and airy, relaxation space with lots of glass and outdoor views, or a great place to mix, mingle and entertain. Second story additions are increasingly popular. Rather than using limited ground area and building a foundation, adding a second floor addition to a ranch house is a great and cost effective way to gain extra space. Master suites are common second story additions, providing more privacy and task-oriented spaces. Second floor laundry rooms are also popular in comprehensive addition projects. Many second story additions are designed above garages. Building over the garage is an efficient way to add space for everything from a master bedroom suite to an office or “bonus room”.

    Arlington, Virginia - Second story addition with new master suite and multiple bedrooms; bathrooms; and a two-story staircase.

    Arlington, Virginia – Second story addition with new master suite and multiple bedrooms; bathrooms; and a two-story staircase.

    4. Reconfigure

    Take a look around your home. How many rooms do you really use on a daily basis? Do you have unused sheds or small buildings on your lot? Your family may benefit greatly from a whole house reconfiguration. Unused sitting rooms, mudrooms, extra dining spaces, even under staircase storage areas and small outdoor buildings can be repurposed for today’s lifestyle and possessions. Additional storage can be found in the most creative of locations. Removing walls can increase the natural light into rooms by allowing light to flow through the center of the house from the sunny to the shady side. Sometimes a modest bump-out combined with an interior reconfiguration can work miracles. Older homes in Northern Virginia no longer meet the needs of modern families. But many people like you aren’t ready to pick up and move. Your love your neighborhood and value your investments!


    Great Falls, VA – Linear design with natural light; contemporary kitchen and family room reconfiguration.


    Let the design/build professionals at Commonwealth transform your aging house into a luxurious modern residence rivaling today’s new homes!

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  • 2015, MARCH 20

    6 Considerations for Creating a Versatile Outdoor Kitchen

    The close of winter and promise of spring are making us Northern Virginians anxious for some outdoor living! Now is the time to maximize your yard and create a dining and entertaining space that compliments your indoor kitchen.

    With an outdoor kitchen you can prepare meals and be around your guests with minimal time spent running inside for forgotten items. Here are some considerations when developing your new outdoor kitchen.

    1. Site Selection & Space Planning

    Choosing the optimal location for your outdoor kitchen can have a major impact on your budget. Ideally, the site should easily connect to home utility sources and be accessible to your indoor kitchen. Your outdoor kitchen will also need shelter from wind, rain and extreme sun.

    Consider your workflow and how your indoor and outdoor spaces will be used together. Design your space according to functional zones, including preparation, cooking, serving, entertaining and cleanup. For example, it’s important to separate beverage serving areas from food prep and cooking to minimize disruption while meals are being prepared. You know what they say about too many cooks!

    Outdoor Kitchen Stainless Steel

    2. Appliances

    A luxury outdoor kitchen may contain just as many appliances as an indoor gourmet kitchen. Grills, smokers, pizza ovens, cooktops, refrigerators, ice makers, recessed blender stations, sinks, and wine and keg reserves are commonplace in outdoor kitchens. Determining the frequency of use and types of meals to be served in advance of your project will inform your appliance selections. Appliances should come from companies specializing in outdoor kitchen supplies.

    Outdoor Kitchen Grill Sink and Brick

    3. Materials

    The look and feel of your outdoor kitchen should be in harmony with the design of your home. Use compatible materials and incorporate subtle architectural details to create a space that’s a natural extension of your house.

    Durability is key when choosing materials and finishes for your outdoor kitchen. Everything has to be waterproofed. Selecting low maintenance materials and equipment that withstand the impact of outdoor elements is critical. High-quality stainless steel provides a sanitary surface that’s easily cleaned and corrosion-resistant.

    Counters and patio or decking material should be resistant to grease stains and able to withstand high temperatures. For flooring, avoid materials that may become slick when wet, such as tile or marble. Natural stone blocks with low porosity, such as granite, sealed pavers or concrete work best for outdoor flooring.

    Outdoor Kitchen Stone Fireplace

    4. Storage

    Determining how many supplies you need on-hand, such as utensils, pots and pans, serving ware, etc., will determine your need for storage. Planning ahead will eliminate the need to go in and out of the house for supplies.

    Like everything else, storage cabinets must be waterproof and resistant to rot. High quality stainless steel that matches a grill is a good option for cabinets.

    5. Lighting

    Much like indoor kitchens, lighting is an essential element of your outdoor space. Adequate task lighting for food prep and cooking, as well as ambient lighting for after-dark dining and entertaining, are important.

    Outdoor Kitchen Lighting6. Dining Spaces

    There are endless options for dining spaces within your new outdoor kitchen. Do you regularly entertain large groups of guests or only need accommodations for a small family?

    Consider creating a bar counter connected to your countertop so guests may sit on stools and chat while you’re working. A bar also can be conveniently used for serving and setup.

    Durable outdoor tables and chairs can look and function as well as any formal dining room set. Consider the placement of seating spaces to eliminate smoke and splatters from prep and cooking areas.

    Spring is just around the corner, now is the time to plan and build your versatile outdoor kitchen. Give us a call at 703-255-9861 today to get started.

    Live the Difference

    Craving more tips? Check out this infographic from Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet.

    Tips for Designing an Outdoor Kitchen

    Tips for Designing an Outdoor Kitchen

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  • 2015, JANUARY 26

    4 Reasons to Start Your Home Renovation Project Today!

    1. New Year, New Inspiration

    The start of a new year brings renewed energy, motivation and a goal-setting spirit. It’s the perfect time to tackle projects that result in a fresh outlook and new way of living. Channeling your forward-thinking mindset into the planning and design of an overdue home remodeling project can be positively life-altering.Start gathering ideas for your home renovation from Commonwealth Home Design’s portfolio, Houzz, Pinterest or other inspirational galleries found in our blog post: From Home Tours to the Web – Home Remodeling Ideas Are Everywhere.

    2. Finish by Summer

    A well-executed renovation project by a professional design/build team requires 4-8 weeks of planning and 2-3 months of build for many types of projects. Beginning your home remodel today will allow you to take advantage of revitalized spaces by summer; just in time for seasonal parties and warm weather entertaining!

    3. Fewer Distractions

    The kids are back in school, major holidays are over—you’re likely less distracted now than any other time of year! Invest your time wisely and focus on all the ways you can improve your home and quality of life. Start jotting down the areas you’d like to expand, the additional spaces you need, the new fixtures and finishes that will breathe life into your dilapidated kitchen and master bath. A clear mind lends itself to careful planning and timely design reviews.

    4. Lock Into Contractor Schedules

    Get ahead of the masses and make sure your project is top priority by locking into contractor schedules now. By the time spring hits, these resources are entirely tapped. Everyone is competing for contractor time and attention in warm-weather seasons. Beat the crowds and lock in today so you can LIVE THE DIFFERENCE by Summer 2015!

    4 Reasons to Start Your Home Renovation Project Today!

    Sample Home Remodel Construction Schedule



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  • 2014, DECEMBER 9

    Custom New Home Design / Build in Vienna, VA

    Commonwealth Home Design recently completed the design/build of a new 2-story, 5,355SF craftsman style home in Vienna, VA. The interior and exterior boast beautiful architectural details and fine finishes throughout.

    New Custom Craftsman Style Home Design/Build

    New Custom Craftsman Style Home Design/Build

    Custom Home Features

    This stunning custom home features an abundance of elegantly designed living spaces and details, including the following:

    • 7 bedrooms with walk-in closets

    • The stunning master suite has coffered ceilings, a see-through, two-sided fireplace and oversized lounging area.

    Spacious Master Bedroom with 2-Way Fireplace

    Spacious Master Bedroom with 2-Way Fireplace

    •  5.5 bathrooms all custom designed with furniture grade cabinetry. A spa-like master bath has a freestanding soaking tub, views of woods beyond, large frameless shower with multiple shower heads, masterful tile design, and cabinet-style vanity

    Master Bath with Soaking Tub, Views of Woods Beyond and Fitted Furniture Vanity

    Master Bath with Soaking Tub, Views of Woods Beyond and Fitted Furniture Vanity

    • Gorgeous gourmet kitchen with premium stainless steel appliances; grand center island for cooking, entertaining and storage; spacious, walk-in pantry; frameless kitchen cabinets providing 15% more storage space; and corner windows with panoramic views.

    Gourmet Kitchen

    Gourmet Kitchen

    • In-Law Suite and Elegant Dining Room

    • Main level in-law suite, guest bedroom or office with full bath.

    • Large, elegant dining room.

    Large Dining Room

    Large Dining Room

    • Double-door Entry, Foyer

    • Open parlor and living room with custom built-in cabinets and gas fireplace.

    • Full basement with family room; recreation room; bedroom or office; full bath; full-sized wet bar with granite top, stainless steel sink and mini refrigerator; and ample unfinished storage areas.

    • Charming flagstone front porch and steps with grand double entryway.

    • Magnificent open stairwell and hardwood rails.

    • 5.25″ plank oak hardwood floors throughout main level.

    • Historically-correct Adams trim moldings throughout.

    Double-door Entry, Foyer, Hardwood Floors

    For more images of new homes and comprehensive renovation projects, visit our Portfolio.

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  • 2014, NOVEMBER 14

    7 Spa-Inspired Ideas for Your New Master Bathroom

    Every day can feel like a luxury hotel retreat when your home includes a modern master bathroom with a spa-like ambience and upscale amenities.

    When building new or considering a major home renovation project, invest in your master bath to maximize comfort, space and aesthetics.

    These seven ideas will help you create a perfectly relaxing sanctuary in your new or newly remodeled home:

    1. Layered Lighting

    The master bathroom is the first place we see ourselves every morning and the last place we see ourselves at night. Achieving the right balance of light in the bathroom is more important than any other room in the house. Consider these four levels of layered lighting:

    a) Task lighting

    – ample, shadow-free light for routine grooming such as shaving and applying makeup.

    b) Ambient lighting

    – bouncing light off the ceiling to soften shadows and create a floor to ceiling glow.

    c) Accent lighting

    – provides depth and dimension, allowing you to illuminate select design and detailed bath features.

    d) Decorative lighting

    – eye-catching fixtures that bring personality and luxury to your master bath design.

    Layered Lighting in Bathroom

    Suspension lights, backlit mirrors and recessed lighting create the perfect healthy bathroom glow. Photo courtesy of Design by Lisa.

    2. Fitted Furniture

    Achieve maximum storage and eye-catching style using fitted furniture for sink encasements, vanities and cabinets. Color and style are important when selecting furniture for your new master bath. White-finish fitted furniture gives bathrooms a crisp and contemporary feel. Today’s contemporary preferences also embrace unusual wood-grains for bathroom furniture.

    Fitted Furniture Master Bath

    Dark wood fitted furniture vanities, soaking tub, expansive views of woods beyond, natural and layered light. Commonwealth Home Design new master bath as part of whole house build.

    3. Splashy Showers

    There’s nothing like a long, hot shower to loosen up our tired bodies and release our minds from stress. Multiple shower heads, temperature control and bench seating can turn a shower into a room of its own.

    Combine shower components in a variety of ways to accommodate the perfect spa-like atmosphere. Multi-function shower heads deliver a variety of massage options, from pulsing to mists. Rainhead fixtures mimic the feeling of an outdoor summer shower.  Bodysprays and hand-held shower heads allow you to direct the water flow right where you need it, providing relief for everyday aches and pains.

    Spa-Like Master Bath Shower

    Multiple shower heads, artistic tile design, and frameless shower. Commonwealth Home Design new master bath as part of whole house build.

    4. Masterful Finishes

    Stone, marble and tile are all trending finishes for contemporary bathrooms. Combining natural stone textures and marble accents, unique patterned tiles and unexpected tile configurations add signature style to your new bathroom design.

    5. Go Frameless

    Your shower door and glass can be custom fit securely against any surface, eliminating the need for unsightly metal shower frames. It’s a simple upgrade that increases value, adds a touch of luxury, showcases intricate tile work and creates openness in your master bath.

    6. Expand Your Horizons

    Let the sun shine in by adding bay window, oversized or floor-to-ceiling windows to your master bathroom. You’ll enjoy the warmth and energy of bathing in natural light and the dramatic views of the surrounding landscape — where privacy isn’t a concern.

    Expansive View Windows Master Bath Design

    Master bath overlooks a mountain lake with expansive mountain views beyond. Photo courtesy of Carlton Architecture.

    7. Achieve Total Zen

    A Zen bathroom embodies simplicity, clean lines, fluidity and functionality. The floor plan should flow effortlessly, blending one space into the next. The art of placementa focal point such as a claw foot or pedestal tub or fitted furniturecan create a positive channel of energy throughout the space. Natural stone and wood grains, cool grey-brown tones, geometric patterns and glass tile finishes serve as a foundation for a Zen-like bathroom design.

    Zen Master Bath Design

    Zen master bath design with triple pane frameless shower, clean lines, natural stone finishes, large freestanding soaker tub. Image courtesy of Minosa Design.

    The professional design/build team at Commonwealth Home Design will show you how to take advantage of these seven ideas (and many more!) to create your master bath retreat. Call us today at 703-255-9861 and…


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  • 2014, NOVEMBER 4

    Outside-the-Box Thinking for Your Home Renovation Project

    Stories about unconventional home designs are all over the internet. From the “Mushroom House” in Bethesda to the Cliffhanger House in Australia, crafting a home to match your unique personality can dramatically improve your lifestyle.

    Cliff House by Modscape Suspended Above the Australian Ocean

    Cliff House by Modscape Suspended Above the Australian Ocean

    While you may not be ready for hobbit or extreme living, one of the most exciting things you can do as a homeowner is remodel your  house. Large-scale renovation projects that include removing walls to create new spaces, remodeling kitchens and master suites, reconfiguring rooms, finishing basements and attics, and updating finishes can make an aging home feel brand new.

    But where do you start? Contact Commonwealth Home Design (703-255-9861) today for ideas and inspiration that will take your remodeling project to the next level.


    Architect Roy Mason Mushroom House in Bethesda, MD

    Mushroom House in Bethesda, MD Designed by Architect Roy Mason


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  • 2014, SEPTEMBER 30

    Achieve the Luxury Kitchen of Your Dreams

    A gorgeous kitchen begins with inspiration and thrives on expertise and attention to detail. Whether you’ve envisioned a gourmet kitchen for cooking, a more expansive dining area for entertaining, or both, the professionals at Commonwealth Home Design can help achieve your dreams.

    Space Planning For Your Kitchen

    Achieving your signature kitchen begins with thoughtful space planning and design. At Commonwealth, we listen to your needs and evaluate your existing home to determine how areas may be repurposed.

    We recommend creative design techniques to optimize storage, improve workflow, increase efficiency, and achieve symmetry, proportion and rhythm.

    Bright White Kitchen w/Ample Storage and Symmetry/Flow

    Bright White Kitchen w/Ample Storage, Symmetry and Flow

    Frequently we remove walls and visual barriers between cooking and eating spaces to maximize a visual openness and functionality. Opening the kitchen to a grand family room, for instance, facilitates casual entertaining. Coordinating colors, finishes, and textures throughout open floor plans is essential.

    Several of our clients have gained storage space through the integration of oversized pantries, built-in benches and custom-sized cabinets (ask us about our secret for increasing drawer space by 15%!).

    Your Kitchen Design Creates Ambience

    The character of your home is largely influenced by the design of your kitchen. Light, bright kitchens, reminiscent of the 20s, have made a resurgence in luxury kitchen design offering the comfort and simplicity of the kitchens of yesteryear. A palette of cool grays and blues presents a modern yet timeless look. Inserting natural wood beams against white bright achieves a provincial, rustic look. White kitchens not only open and brighten dull spaces, they also can be easily modified to accommodate changes in design preferences over the years.

    Bright White Kitchen, Cobalt Accents

    Bright White Kitchen, Cobalt Accents. Photo courtesy www.lincolnbarbour.com

    Expansive outdoor views – bringing the outdoors in – are more popular than ever and can be achieved with shear glass windows from counter to ceiling for special drama. Large glass doors to decks or patios can make a space feel much larger than it actually is.

    Eat-in Kitchen w/Walls of Windows & Expansive Views

    Eat-in Kitchen w/Walls of Windows & Expansive Views

    Adding a fireplace to your dream kitchen creates a stunning focal point and invigorates the atmosphere of the room. At Commonwealth, we integrated a fireplace with a floor-to-ceiling stone chimney, both white and black cabinetry, and natural wood beams in a large-scale kitchen remodel. We removed all interior walls and opened the space to the family room, dining room, and front porch. We eliminated several small rooms in the process. The ceiling was also removed, and the beams are both attractive and structural.

    Kitchen Expansion & Reconfiguration; Fireplace in Kitchen; Natural Wood Beams

    Kitchen Expansion & Reconfiguration; Fireplace in Kitchen; Natural Wood Beams

    Finishing Touches On Your Kitchen Have A Dramatic Impact

    Lighting, cabinetry, color selection, countertops, and appliances, if all coordinated professionally, have a dramatic impact on the design of your kitchen. We work with clients to explore a spectrum of styles and finishes with the goal of creating a harmonious design.

    Stainless steel appliances complemented by brushed stainless steel sinks and cabinet handles continue to be a popular choice for luxury kitchens. Islands with contrast finishes provide a fitted furniture effect, adding versatility and visual interest to the room. To add dimension and character to your dream kitchen, you may consider coffered ceilings which first came into vogue in ancient Rome.

    A visual layering effect can be effected by the use of pendant lights, island hoods, and contrasting cabinet finishes. Layering facilitates both function and creativity, and proportions must be correct for a pleasing effect.

    Unique Lighting and Contrast Island Design

    Unique Lighting and Contrast Island Design

    Achieving your dream kitchen is a cinch when working with an expert architect and experienced design/build team. If you’re interested in creating a luxury kitchen you will cherish for years to come, contact Commonwealth Home Design today and live the difference!

    Bright White Kitchen; Custom Cabinetry, Oversized Eat-At Island

    Bright White Kitchen; Custom Cabinetry; Oversized Eat-At Island

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  • 2014, JULY 30

    Choosing a Residential Style

    Does your existing house style match your personality and lifestyle? Maybe it’s time for a change! Learn what characteristics define each type of home in this Guide to Residential Styles published by RealtorMag.

    Not sure how to make your home match your living and design preferences? Contact Commonwealth Home Design today to discuss how a renovation project can transform your dreams into reality.


    (Stay tuned for a closer look at popular residential styles found in the Northern Virginia area.)

    Guide to Residential Styles

    Photo courtesy of RealtorMag

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  • 2014, MAY 12

    From Home Tours to the Web – Home Remodeling Ideas Are Everywhere

    When planning your next remodeling project you needn’t look far for inspiration. Design ideas can be found everywhere from inside your neighbor’s home to the internet. Here’s a list of readily available resources:

    Home Remodeling Ideas Source #1: Other Homes.

    Pop inside a model home or open house and be sure to have your camera on hand to snap pictures of your favorite fixtures, finishes, and interior/exterior layouts. Whether you’re having dinner in a friend’s newly remodeled home or you’ve signed up for a new house tour, you can uncover ideas first-hand within your own community.

    Home Remodeling Ideas Source #2: Resources.

    Publications like Remodeling Today and Qualified Remodeler Magazine and organizations such as the National Association of the Remodeling Industry, contain a wealth of ideas and resources. Interior and exterior design magazines also can be found everywhere from local bookstores, to grocery stores, drugstores and home remodeling warehouses.

    Home Remodeling Ideas Source #3: The Internet.

    The Broadband Information Age has had an enormous impact on the residential remodeling and design industry. Imagery intensive sites such as Pinterest and Houzz make it easy to locate and virtually organize remodeling ideas.

    Home Remodeling Ideas Source #4: Publications.

    Many conventional home publications, such as Better Homes & Gardens (www.bhg.com), Country Living Magazine (www.countryliving.com) and HGTV (www.hgtv.com) devote entire sections of their online sites to remodeling tips and ideas.

    Visit Our Work and follow us on Houzz to get design ideas for your next remodeling project!

    See Commonwealth Home Design and Remodeling on Houzz for Home Remodeling Ideas

    Follow Commonwealth Home Design on Houzz.com

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  • 2014, APRIL 15

    Home Remodeling Projects On the Rise According to Latest LIRA Study

    The second quarter of 2013 saw an upward trend in home remodeling projects that have continued to spike throughout the first three months of 2014. Double-digit growth in the residential home remodeling industry is expected to continue into the third quarter according to the Leading Indicator of Remodeling Activity (LIRA), a tool developed by the Remodeling Futures Program at Harvard University. It is expected to stay strong but moderate to the mid-single digits in the 4th quarter.

    The rise of home prices and increasing stability in the housing market have contributed to the stimulation of remodeling efforts as home owners take on previously deferred projects.

    Now is the time to start your remodeling project. Let the award-winning team at Commonwealth Home Design realize your dreams and help improve your quality of life!

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  • 2014, FEBRUARY 5

    Commonwealth Home Design | VBA Happy Hour Mixer in Vienna

    Commonwealth Home Design cordially invites you to mix and mingle with us at the Vienna Business Association Happy Hour Mixer.

    Pierce Residence
    8830 Old Courthouse Road
    Vienna, VA 22180

    Date: February 18, 2014
    Time: 5:30 PM – 7:30 PM

    Get to know your neighbors and find out what the VBA can do for your business and our community!

    Meet Susan and see scenes from this recent Vienna Business Association Mixer at the Pierce residence (designed/built by Commonwealth Home Design).

    home remodelers northern virginia

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  • 2014, JANUARY 9

    5 Home Remodeling Ideas To Increase Your Home’s Value

    Need some home remodeling ideas? Get more life out of your home and increase its value with these five trending home improvement projects.

    Home Remodeling Idea #1: Curb Appeal Improvements

    Everything you’ve heard about curb appeal is true; the exterior of your house makes a first impression. The majority of today’s residential renovation projects include basic to elaborate curb appeal improvements. Because they have such a commanding presence, upgrading a garage door with a vibrant color, engaging design or unexpected material such as glass, can dramatically improve the way your home looks. New outdoor architecture design, porches and decks, sunroom additions, porte-cochères and entryway construction, can turn a tired home into a neighborhood masterpiece.

    Home Remodeling Idea: New Glass Garage Door and Natural Wood RailingsNew Glass Garage Door and Natural Wood Railings

    Home Remodeling Idea #2: Baby-Boomer Suites

    Middle-aged couples used to build new or purchase homes with in-law suites to care for parents in their elderly years. Today’s trend is somewhat reversed. Aging baby boomers, with newer and nicer houses than previous generations, are creating smaller attached or detached living spaces for themselves and turning over the rest of the home to their children. Today, on-site cottages, renovated garages and basements, and third-story additions are becoming living spaces for aging parents wanting to downsize, yet keep their family home.

    Home Remodeling Idea #3: Nature-rich Living Spaces

    As demand for land increases and availability decreases, homeowners are seeking creative ways to be one-step closer to the great outdoors. Sunrooms, screen porch additions and walls of windows present expansive blue skies, lavish green foliage, and blooming florals, bringing the feeling of being outdoors, inside.

    Home Remodeling Idea: Fireplace built within wall of windows to give outdoor viewFireplace Built within Wall of Windows

    Home Remodeling Idea #4: Upscale Garages

    In recent years, the demand for bigger garages has intensified with the increasing size of cars and SUVs, as well as the need for more storage space. The garage has turned into the oversized master bedroom closet—once you have it, you’re continually reorganizing and filling it. Many homeowners, however, are moving cars out altogether and turning them into attractive, functional spaces. Garages are being converted into recreation rooms, party areas, stylized storage spaces, family rooms, computer rooms and additional bedrooms. Nowadays, garages are serving well beyond a resting place for your car and becoming the focal point of a home’s exterior.

    Home Remodeling Idea #5: Entertainment Spaces

    State-of-the-art home theaters, game rooms, custom bars, and sitting rooms are must-have spaces in today’s modern home. The experience of a well-designed home entertainment space is an improvement in lifestyle the whole family can enjoy. Homeowners are extending great rooms, renovating basements, and converting attics into valuable bonus rooms.

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  • 2013, MARCH 21

    Design-Build vs Competitive Bids

    What you need to know about the design-build and competitive bid processes before starting your home renovation or new build project.

    Is the competitive bid process a better approach than design-build for home remodeling?

    True / False: A homeowner’s best way of getting what they want from a remodeler is to get competitive bids.

    Answer: False
    A negotiated price with trusted remodelers is the best way to get what you truly want in a remodeling project.

    Here’s Why Design-Build Makes More Sense:

    There’s a widespread misconception as to what makes a competitive bid. Many people assume that simply describing a project to several different remodelers will produce prices from each that can be compared one against another. The truth is, not even design drawings, let alone a description of the project, are enough for comparing prices.

    Gathering “bids” in this manner will produce three different things:

    1. some accurate pricing
    2. some of what is commonly known in the trade as “lowball” pricing
    3. and occasionally, some high pricing.

    Lowball Pricing

    Lowball pricing carries the most potential for disappointment while being terribly enticing to the Owner. Remodelers who engage in lowball pricing must somehow make up for lost revenue. They do this by sacrificing materials or craftsmanship, by shortchanging the design, or by submitting change orders for extra work that was “not included” in the bid. The length of the project often slips weeks or months out of control, as the contractor leaves the lowball project to work on more profitable projects. The actual dollar cost to the owner may then be even higher than is fair, and the emotional and convenience cost is far greater.

    A True Bid Package

    A true bid package is a comprehensive set of documents produced by an architect for a substantial fee of 8 to 16% of the projected costs of construction. A bid package can take many months and thousands of dollars to produce. Unfortunately, after this cumbersome phase is completed, the bids are often far higher than expected; architects love to design, but are not always realistically in touch with costs. Re-engineering of the plans must take place at yet more time and expense. Or the design is abandoned and it never gets built.

    Design-Build Negotiated Price

    NEGOTIATED PRICE with a trusted design-build firm marries the construction costs with the design in the planning stages and gives the Owner control over where the construction costs will go.

    Here’s How Design-Build Works:

    The design-build firm interviews the Owner and together they accurately ballpark a low to high range of construction costs. The Owner chooses both the level of design and detail, and the quality of materials to keep the project within their chosen cost range. If the Owner chooses to change or add elements to the design, the firm can give immediate feedback on the added costs.

    The Home Owner’s objectives are:

    • …to get the financial planning and design synchronized at the earliest possible stage
    • …to produce the most pleasing design possible for the budget
    • …and to expedite scheduling of the project.

    The design-build firm’s objectives are:

    • …to product the most pleasing design (which will make for a happy client, and increase referral business from the client)
    • …for an achievable budget (which will encourage the Owner to come back to the remodeler for more work in the future)
    • …and to expedite the scheduling of the project.

    This is a true win-win relationship!

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  • 2013, FEBRUARY 6

    The Home Remodeling Process Rollercoaster – What You Can Expect

    Tackling a home remodeling project can be an emotional rollercoaster.

    Emotions and expectations run high during the excited expectancy of the remodeling design phase, but sometimes, spirits plummet at the time of receiving the estimate!

    The mood starts to soar again during the early phases of actual construction because of the perceived rapid progress.

    As work proceeds the emotional curve starts high and heads downhill. Installation of electrical, plumbing, and heating and air conditioning seems tedious, compared with the heady progress of the framing stages.

    Drywall installation is often a low point because the drab, dusty drywall closes in previously wide-open spaces. The effect can be suffocating – and there aren’t yet any beautiful colors or details in focus.

    As installation of interior finishes progresses, the mood starts to brighten, especially as colors and textures come together. Though, anxiety about details and schedule can set in.

    At the end of the job it is typical to feel like “We love you but please get out of our house!” It can take a little time to recover – from the stress of the effort, activity, and disruption.

    The best way to describe the home remodeling process is to call it an “Invasion”. But the end result is worth a few months of disruption.

    Commonwealth understands what you’re facing. Our processes proactively manage the progress, speed the project along, and pave the way for an excellent experience.

    Contact us to today discuss these issues and any other concerns you may have.

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  • 2013, JANUARY 22

    Homeowner Maintenance Tips for Each Season

    A little bit of maintenance will go a long way in keeping your home trouble free, energy efficient and safe. Here are a few homeowner maintenance tips to consider throughout the year.

    Homeowner Maintenance Tips: Winter

    • Replace furnace filters once a month
    • Clean dryer vent
    • Clean air filters
    • Check caulk on windows and doors
    • Test sump pump
    • Change batteries in smoke detectors / carbon monoxide detectors
    • Turn off and remove outside hose lines
    • Disconnect and drain outdoor hoses
    • Turn off and drain all exterior faucets-a hard freeze could burst faucets or pipes
    • Test and clean the sump pump, and replace batteries if applicable

    Homeowner Maintenance Tips: Spring

    • Change batteries in smoke detectors / carbon monoxide detectors
    • Replace furnace filters once a month
    • Reverse ceiling fan direction for downward flow
    • Clean gutters
    • Check roof for loose, damaged, or missing pieces
    • Re-seed yard or bare spots in your yard (weed, feed, fertilize, lime
    • Re-mulch shrub beds
    • Check foundation for proper drainage (add fill dirt if needed to keep water draining away from the foundation)
    • Check gutters
    • Clean condensate lines prior to starting up the air conditioner
    • Re-caulk shower and bath tile, escutcheons, and plumbing penetrations
    • Clean exterior window sills before installing screens
    • Install window screens
    • Have septic field serviced

    Homeowner Maintenance Tips: Summer

    • Replace furnace filters once a month
    • Change batteries in smoke detectors / carbon monoxide detectors
    • Re-paint and re-caulk exterior wood surfaces every 2-3 years (this will help wood products last their longest and beautify your investment)
    • Treat pressure treated decks, steps, etc. every 2 years
    • Clean and lubricate windows and sliding glass doors for smoother sliding
    • Locate gravity drains for any obstructions

    Homeowner Maintenance Tips: Fall

    • Replace furnace filters once a month
    • Reverse ceiling fan direction for downward flow
    • Re-seed yard or bare spots in your yard
    • Clean gutters, possibly several times
    • Check wood burning stove pipes and fireplace chimney – clean if necessary
    • Have gas supplier check and clean gas appliances
    • Change batteries in smoke detectors / carbon monoxide detectors
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  • 2013, JANUARY 22

    5 To-Dos Before Starting a Home Remodeling Project

    Remodeling is an adventure and with all adventures, needs planning to succeed. Here’s a list of five things you can do to prepare for an engaging and efficient remodeling project:

    1. Gather Ideas for your Home Remodeling Project

    Gather ideas in magazines, books, Pinterest, or other online sources that are similar to what you’re envisioning.

    2. Consider Your Space

    Consider how you use the space today and how you’ll want to use it in the future.

    3. Consider Your Schedule

    Determine how having workers in your home and unusable spaces may disrupt your schedule. Is there a time of the year that’s more suitable for potential disruptions? Is there a particular event at which you would like to showcase your new space?

    4. Determine How You’ll Finance Your Remodeling Project

    Consider how you’ll finance the project; remember that many lenders consider what the value of a home will be AFTER the remodel when offering finance.

    5. Look at Other Options

    Is remodeling your home the best option? In some cases, it may be more efficient to start new. See Washington Times article, Renovate Old Home or Tear it Down? for more insight.

    Contact us to today discuss your home remodeling project and any other concerns you may have.

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