This remarkable whole house remodeling project in Vienna, VA, involved updating and transforming a family home that fell short of modern standards to better suit the needs of today’s families.
The Original House
The original owners had lived in the house for over 50 years, raising 6 children and embracing temporary boomerang young adult children. The construction was solid, the floor plan efficient, and the size was comparatively large. Other than having installed a swimming pool in the backyard, the original owners had left the house virtually in its original condition.
The house was built in the 1960s, boasting 6 bedrooms on the upper floor, perfect during an era of larger families. The house was efficiently designed but fell short of today’s standards. For instance: although the second floor had an overabundance of bedrooms, it lacked a laundry room, had only 2 full bathrooms, and the master suite was merely an average bedroom with its small ensuite bathroom. On the main floor every room was walled-off from the next, making it feel smaller than it was, and cutting off the flow of natural light. The basement had never been properly finished. Siding, roofing, windows, and interior finishes needed upgrading. It also lacked a garage, though there was plenty of room on the lot for one.
Commonwealth Home Design measured and assessed the entire house, both structurally and from the viewpoint of design. We compared town and county zoning regulations and comparable new houses in the neighborhood — and recommended and implemented an optimal plan.
Main Floor Remodel
The first floor was dramatically improved by the removal of a primary bearing wall and several non-bearing walls. A large beam was installed to carry the second floor where the main bearing wall was removed. The dining room was opened to the kitchen, the kitchen was expanded, and both were extensively remodeled.
The existing bland 1960s brick fireplace was replaced with a statement wall and painted a vibrant color. First impressions count, so the foyer was opened up by removing an awkwardly placed closet (another closet was tucked in, in an out-of-the-way place) and by partially replacing the walls on both sides of the stairs with open railings. The powder room was gutted and remodeled. The front door was replaced with a glass front door to allow light to flood in.
The existing kitchen was gutted and expanded. The original breakfast area was eliminated in favor of expanded cabinetry and ample counter space. An island with a warm butcher block top, was fitted in, by removing the wall between the kitchen and the family room. The range/oven is flanked by glass cabinets to give it pride-of-place as a centerpiece. A large sink was positioned in front of the new picture window.
The original walled-off dining room wall was expanded by removing a wall between it and the kitchen. The new, light-filled, airy eating area is an accessible center point to the house. A long window seat facing the pool was created at the table with a built-in bench with storage. It is perfect for curling up to read a book and for efficient seating for family dinners.
On the second floor, two upstairs bedrooms were repurposed; one to make room for a spacious laundry room and a third bath, and the second to expand the master bedroom and allow for two spacious walk-in closets. The two existing bathrooms were gutted and remodeled, including an expansion of the master bathroom, for a total of three bathrooms. Walls in the hallway were removed while preserving structural integrity to create spaciousness and openness.
The basement was gutted and re-imagined into a welcoming family space, effectively increasing the usable square footage of the house by 50%. Basement remodels are low-hanging fruit when it comes to adding square footage, because foundations and roofs are not necessary, as they are for an addition.
A media room was tucked around front of the stairs, a large game area accommodates the kids, and an exercise area was designated. Space was even found for a full bath and a fifth bedroom. A basement bedroom and bathroom can serve so many valuable functions, such as a guest bedroom, an office, a nannie or au-pair suite, or an in-law suite.
Potentially, the basement also could function as an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) in the future, with the addition of a kitchenette, depending upon updates in zoning regulations. This basement was already complete with its own exterior entrance, which makes its use flexible.
The exterior was still in its original condition, save for replacement vinyl windows. Commonwealth Home Design left many of the windows in their original locations, but strategically added and removed some to enhance exterior and interior aesthetics. For instance, the picture window at the front was replaced with better details and arched grills for curb appeal. An octagonal window in the powder room was replaced for the same reason.
A rear picture window was replaced with a different size to accommodate the new kitchen design. Several bathroom windows were added, relocated and/or replaced.
The weather-beaten siding, trim and roofing were all replaced with bold, coordinated colors and textures. Wide composite trim accentuates windows and adds detail and balance. The brick on the main floor was painted to complement the siding and unify the look. A single-color exterior makes a house appear larger and more cohesive.
A new front portico is the crowning touch in exterior upgrades. It is hard to believe that the original owners lived without one for decades, as they are a delightful and functional accessory to almost any house. In this case, the front portico was designed to be timber frame, and painted white for a charming, less rustic appearance than natural wood timbers.
The original owners had added a swimming pool about 40 years prior. It was amazingly structurally sound, but drab. Commonwealth Home Design upgraded it by replacing the plaster liner, new coping and tile around the edge, and new flagstone over the existing concrete.
We’ve been fortunate to have many repeat customers over our 35+ year history. This project was no exception. Phase 2, master planned from the beginning, but postponed for two years, was to add a 4-car garage. The original lot was wide enough to one side, to allow for a spacious two-car garage and, with a little ingenuity, a mudroom between the new garage and the existing house.
The owners have two teen girls, and an interest in cars. After several design iterations, they chose a design that allows for 4 cars – two by two – meaning two in front, two in back. They also chose to have a car lift installed, requiring higher ceilings, which this property and design layout could accommodate, bringing the potential up to a 5-car garage.
The final product is a house that looks and feels as if it were new, without the hefty permitting and redevelopment costs of tearing down and building a new house.