The impact that a whole house remodel can have is sometimes hard to imagine before construction is complete. In the case of this beautiful Fairfax, Virginia home, the starting point was a basic, dated 1960s rambler floor plan with 8’ ceilings, limited views, small rooms, and underutilized spaces.
Our clients loved their neighborhood and their lot. Instead of moving, they sought out a design-build firm to reimagine, redesign, and remodel their entire home – in style. The stunning difference between the before and after images below is worth delving into (see Whole House Remodel Projects section for more).
Our clients lived in this house for several years, raising a family and thriving. But, as is true with many homeowners, their house didn’t reflect who they were. Walls separated each room, and natural light hardly penetrated their home.
They approached us with two well-considered requirements: 1) open out the floor plan and 2) open up the ceiling.
Their whole house remodeling needs were determined to be:
- a bright, airy kitchen to serve their nuclear family, friends, and neighborhood (and for holiday gatherings);
- a generous, open dining area;
- an updated open family room;
- open sight-lines to the sunroom (which, with its many windows, had the potential to bathe the space in natural light);
- an updated fireplace;
- an attractive entryway with mudroom capabilities; and
- a front porch.
Once the general scope of work and a ballpark estimate for construction were established, Commonwealth Home Design’s architect extensively interviewed the owners and came back with a plan for a massive overhaul of the main floor. We then modernized and remodeled the whole house according to the plan.
Relocating and Reconfiguring the Entry Foyer: The Initial Game-Changing Decision
The entry foyer is deceptively simple. The existing front door location was a long walk from the driveway on the left side of the house. The foyer amounted to no more than a narrow hallway. There was a long concrete walk and several concrete steps up. Once inside, there was no elbow room and almost no storage.
To solve this and more, our architect proposed relocating the entry entirely, which would not only allow much better access and curb appeal from the front but also free up the interior for creative repurposing of spaces.
A new glass front door allows light and views, bringing the outside in. Attractive built-in storage along one wall provides the highly desirable functionality of a mudroom. In this particular home remodeling project, closing in a traditional mudroom with walls would have been visually detrimental to the space. This solution was ideal for our client.
When stepping in the front door, owners and guests are greeted with open views not only forward but also to the right and diagonally to the left. (See the floorplan below for a better understanding, or call our office at 703-255-9861 to discuss how a similar approach may work for your home!)
Removing Interior Bearing Walls and Non-Bearing Walls
All interior walls were on the chopping block, including load-bearing walls. Commonwealth Home Design has the capability to assess, engineer, and implement complicated structural conditions such as bearing walls. Removing all interior walls, as we did in this entire home remodel, allows repurposed living spaces to flow into each other and allows light to flow from space to space, illuminating each area with natural light.
Raising the Ceiling and Ceiling Beams
Most dramatic of all changes was the impact of opening up the entire ceiling in a feat of engineering. In this case, the existing roof and roofing were kept intact, and all work was performed from below. For this whole house remodeling project removing the entire roof made sense (call us at 703-255-9861 for a consultation on your specific conditions).
Timber rafters and ceiling joists were installed inside to support the new ceiling. Electrical wiring came next, then insulation, and finally the finished grooved plank ceiling – all were painted white to reflect as much light as possible. This over-arching volume ceiling with multiple ceiling beams and rafters is what sets the stage for such a dramatic whole home remodel.
The family room was left in its current location but is barely recognizable in its new open configuration. The fireplace was given new life by removing the wall in which it was set, and with custom painted panels floor to ceiling, that lift the eye to the beamed ceilings. The mass of the fireplace also helps define spaces so that the floor plan is not too open.
Repurposing Spaces in Whole House Remodel
With many whole house remodels and large-scale home remodeling projects, the specific use of spaces can be up for grabs. Our architect evaluates each project in tandem with our clients’ desires and needs and in the context of the house and lot as a whole. Often, the best solution entails repurposing some or many of the rooms for optimum traffic flows, views, and efficiency.
Reconfiguring the Dining Room
Our clients already had a large dining table they wanted to integrate into their full home remodeling project. Our architect positioned it in the most central location in the plan as a focal point. Dining tables function better than seating areas in larger spaces where traffic flows through.
Taking Advantage of Natural Sunroom Light
Our client’s existing sunroom is the only space that was largely left intact. The biggest change was to remove a sturdy brick and block-bearing wall that was a barrier between the sunroom and all the natural light it admitted and the rest of the house.
The roof on both sides of the removed wall was temporarily supported, and a large beam was installed. The new cased opening was trimmed to look like a wide doorway. Finally, we upgraded the finishes in the sunroom.
Creating a New Front Porch
A new front porch was requested by our client. We designed it with wide steps for better connection to an existing front patio that is shaded by a mature tree. The patio had always been an important feature to our clients because family and neighbors would pause and connect there. Being in front of the house, the patio fosters a connection to community in a way that a backyard patio or deck could not.
Redesign the Kitchen and Adding a Kitchen Bump-Out
The kitchen required the most planning, and many configurations were considered. The final plan, with a moderately-sized kitchen bump-out, gave our clients the expanse of countertops, a large island, lots of glass, and elbow room that a thriving family loves.
The new kitchen encompasses the old foyer location, which afforded a long wall for cabinets. A structural beam where the front wall of the house was removed, and footings, were necessary to support the kitchen bump-out and its gable roof.
The kitchen sink was set in front of a large picture window in the bump out for light and views.
The large quartz-topped island was painted a contrasting shade of blue, and 3 – 4 accent chairs provide informal seating for a cup of coffee and reading the paper, quick meals, or doing homework.
A commercial stove with a custom cabinet hood was set on the long wall (formerly the old foyer wall).
A large custom built-in cabinet was constructed on the back of the family room fireplace. This built-in has the style of a break-front dining room piece and the functionality of a pantry. It is an ingenious way to hide a lot of storage in plain sight.
Our homeowners’ personal sense of design, color, and drama was the starting and ending point for a showpiece home that will delight for decades.
As featured in Arlington Magazine, this whole house remodeling project was the 2019 CotY (Contractor of the Year) Grand Award Winner in the category of “Entire House under $250,000”.
Are you ready to tackle a whole house remodeling project that will bring renewed spirit and joy to your home and life? Give us a call (703-255-9861) today to get started!
Connect with our talented client, Laura Wilson of Indigo Interiors, for your own interiors, or call us and we will connect you.
After Photos Courtesy Robert Merhaut Photography