• 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, JUNE 7

    Necessities for Modern Bathroom Design in 2016

    Light, bright and open bathroom designs have become commonplace in new home and renovation projects. Learn more about Spring 2016 bathroom design trends in this interview with Susan Pierce, owner and architect, at Commonwealth Home Design.

  • 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, 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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  • 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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