• 2016, DECEMBER 1

    Experienced Residential Architects Deliver On Details

    Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, a pioneer of modernist architecture, is often associated with the adages, “less is more” and “God is in the details”, concisely expressing that purposeful design elements transform good buildings into extraordinary ones. When remodeling or designing a new home, seamlessly blending form and function with attention to detail creates a lasting impression.

    Interior Design Elements

    Simple elements, like columns, baseboards, moldings, trims, hand railings and banisters, can have a dramatic impact on the design of your home.

    Columns are a great way to separate rooms without using walls to achieve an open floor plan. They can be used as load-bearing elements or just visual additions. Similarly, pilasters may be used to separate rooms that share common walls or to add vertical separation between two areas of a home. Pilasters can be used decoratively around fireplaces or in lieu of normal casings, to create a grand entrance for any formal room or doorway. Both columns and pilasters can enrich the ambience of your home.

    Baseboards are a defining feature serving as a visual link that travels into every room in your home. As part of a remodeling project, replacing or enhancing baseboards can go a long way. If baseboards have stature, a room becomes regal; when they’re skimpy, that same space can look unfinished. Modern homes have a minimalist approach to baseboards. An experienced residential architect ensures a home’s baseboards are in harmony with its overarching design.

    Door and window trims add a completely different look to your home with very little work. Adding details to windows and doors brings a certain elegance to any home and often creates a first and last impression.

    Other fine details, such as moldings, give rooms a sense of depth. They can be used on ceilings to mimic architectural details in a room, run along hallways or stacked in layers to create the illusion of length and height.

    Ceiling Architectural Design Detail


    Thoughtful lighting design can transform a house into a home allowing the personality of the owner to shine through. Without good lighting, no other design elements have an impact. Experienced home designers create spaces that maximize natural light year-round using a combination of floor-to-ceiling windows, clerestory windows, above-counter windows, corner windows, skylights and glass doors.

    Other fine elements, such as lighting fixtures that are distinct and look like works of art, can add emphasis and creativity to ordinary rooms.

    Lighting coves are a great way to indirectly create a warm space. With this detail, light can shine up if the ceiling is vaulted, or down if there’s a painting or other feature on a wall to highlight. These are great places to add lighting while at the same time, creating an architectural detail within your home.

    Contemporary Great Room Design


    While the focus on interior details is often thought of when considering a home remodeling or new design project, the exterior of a home is just as important. The facade of every home needs balance and symmetry in order to appear properly designed and pleasing to the eye. A professional architect manages the complicated process of balancing detailed color choices, materials, shapes, and lines with functionality and durability.

    Most modern exterior detailing is free from heavy ornamentation of classical building design and replaced with simple linear forms. Rooflines may have distinct cantilevers or large overhangs. Unique features such as seemingly flat rooflines constructed with materials from the exterior can blend harmoniously with nature around your home.

    Windows serve as the eyes into a home; they should not only reflect the character of your house but also need to be durable and functional. Modern homes often incorporate large expanses of floor-to-ceiling windows, while traditional homes tend to look best with symmetrically placed, white-paned, rectangular windows. Other factors to consider include: UV ratings, privacy, proper ventilation, ease of cleaning and views beyond.

    home remodeling northern virginia

    Thinking Ahead

    According to renowned designer Frank Lloyd Wright, “The architect must be a prophet… a prophet in the true sense of the term…if he can’t see at least ten years ahead don’t call him an architect.” Wright designed buildings in harmony with their environment and according to his vision of what the future would be, not what the world was. He saw the need for homes to be more fluid, more open, more livable, and less restrained.

    A professional architect continually improves upon his/her craft, understands current trends, is attentive to detailed distinctions, and designs with an eye for the future.

    If you’re considering a home remodeling project, contact us today (703-255-9861) and we’ll help turn your dreams into reality!

    Live the Difference with an Experienced Residential Architect

  • 2016, JUNE 21

    Best Practices in Architectural Design for Home Remodeling Projects in 2016

    Residential architect and Commonwealth Home Design co-owner, Susan Pierce, discusses the importance of considerations like curb appeal, traffic flow, balance and symmetry, and functional design in home remodeling and new design projects.


  • 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, 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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  • 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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