• 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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  • 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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