Top Reasons to Remodel your Kitchen

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The National Kitchen & Bath Association offers advice on when and why to update.

Many homeowners think their kitchen is outdated from the looks of their worn cabinets, dated appliances and crackled countertop. What they may not realize is that there are many other reasons, more important than cosmetic, why a kitchen needs to be remodeled.

The National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) offers the following tips to help homeowners evaluate the current condition of their kitchen and decide if the time is right for a remodel.

Adequate space: Are you satisfied with the amount of counter space, cabinet space and floor space in your kitchen? The position of your refrigerator or shape of your counter may be taking away useful workspace. According to the NKBA Kitchen and Bath Planning Guidelines, when replacing a countertop or changing the shape of your kitchen, keep in mind that a total of 158″ of countertop frontage, 24″ deep with at least 15″ of clearance above, is needed to accommodate all uses, including landing area, preparation/work area and storage.

Traffic flow: If there’s more than one cook in your household, you may want to consider making more room around the main workspace. If you enjoy entertaining, you may want an open plan kitchen that allows for more social interaction between the kitchen and other rooms. According to the NKBA Kitchen Planning Guidelines, the width of a walkway should be at least 36″ and the width of a work aisle should be at least 42″ for one cook and at least 48″ for multiple cooks.

If you would like to talk about ideas for remodeling or renovating your home in Fairfax, Mclean, Springfield, Woodbridge, Alexandria, Arlington, and Falls Church VA, reach out to us at Foster Remodeling. Call now for a free consultation!

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article from National Kitchen and Bath Association


 

It’s Remodeling Season. Vet Your Candidates Carefully

It’s Remodeling Season. Vet Your Candidates Carefully!

You’ve been dreaming of that new kitchen makeover, bathroom renovation, or addition for years, and now you’re ready to make it a reality. Selecting the right home remodeling company can be the difference between realizing your dream and ending up in a living nightmare. At first glance, all the candidates may look very similar and tell you what you want to hear. But what happens when you start asking the tough questions. The strong contenders won’t shy away, sweat under the spotlight, or try to redirect your attention to one of their talking points. They’ll welcome the scrutiny and answer your questions directly and thoroughly. Once properly vetted, only the strong will remain, the ones worthy of your vote and your hard earned investment dollars. Here are some key issues to raise as you evaluate the nominees.

What Kind of Track Record Do They Have?

How long have they been in business? What kind of references can they provide? Is it an extensive list where you can call and speak to whoever you want? Or do they just present a list of rather anonymous testimonials? “Steve in McLean, Mary in Alexandria… etc”. When you ask for references does it take days or weeks for them to get back to you? These are signs that they may have a hard time pleasing customers consistently or have something to hide.

Does their Rhetoric Pass Your Fact Check?

Don’t just take their word for it. Do your own investigating and independently verify their claims to be true. Reliable 3rd party sources, such as www.guildquality.com, the nation’s leader in customer satisfaction surveying for the building industry, provide hard data on how companies measure up, as well as reviews from previous clients. www.consumercheckbook.com is another vetting source. They provide not-for-profit ratings of local service companies. Angie’s List, Yelp and Google are also useful tools. Check them all. Some companies may have a few glowing reviews on one sight and a few scathing digs on another. Opinions vary, but listen for common themes. The reliable metric is a combination of quantity and quality.

Do They Have a Plan?

A renovation is a complex project that requires detailed preplanning and skillful execution. The more through and detailed the plan, the smoother the execution will go. That being said, unforeseen circumstances will occasionally arise. For the unprepared, a minor setback, such as a part damaged in shipping or a weather emergency, could create a bottleneck that delays the overall project. A reliable firm will have a comprehensive plan with built-in contingencies to stay on track.

Do they Have their House in Order?

Do the companies you are considering have a “bricks and mortar” office or showroom you can visit, or do they operate out of a truck with a website and 800-number. Be sure to get a copy of their business license and current certificate of insurance. What does their contract look like. Is it a professional document that is detailed yet easy for a layperson to understand, or is it a cryptic legalese that only a lawyer can decipher. Or worse, is it simplistic and vague. The home improvement industry has suffered many a black eye from shady contractors who disappear after a deposit has been given, or even worse, mid-project. If they do finish your project on time and on budget, what does their warranty cover. Remember, a warranty is only as good as the company providing it. If they go out of business, any warranty they’ve provided goes with them. Make sure the company’s foundation is as stable and secure as the one you’d have them pour for you.

Would You Trust Them to Hold Your Baby?

When you renovate your home, you are essentially inviting a stranger, or group of strangers into your house to tear it apart and put it back together again. Who are these people? How do you know you can trust them? A smart home owner will make sure everyone involved is properly trained, licensed, insured, drug tested and background checked. Taking these extra steps will result not only in peace of mind for the safety of your home and family, but also for the quality of the work being performed. If a problem should arise, those who go through the proper channels have recourse not available to those who gambled on a lower price, faster finish time, or some other carrot dangled to entice an easy victory.

When it comes to improving your home, vetting the candidates is a critical step. After all, once your vote has been cast, you’ll be living with the results for years to come. Choose carefully!

If you would like to talk about ideas for remodeling or renovating your home in Fairfax, Mclean, Springfield, Woodbridge, Alexandria, Arlington, and Falls Church VA, reach out to us at Foster Remodeling. Call now for a free consultation!

written by: Dory Clemens, Design Consultant – Foster Remodeling Solutions, Inc.


 

 

Fireplace Face-Lifts

00_hamiltonThere’s nothing like the ambiance and warmth of a fireplace on a cold winter night. A fireplace not only creates a cozy and romantic atmosphere, it is also a major architectural element. However, an outdated and unattractive fireplace surround can kill the mood and dampen any hopes of creating a stylish living space. Most Northern Virginia homeowners have either an old outdated 60’s style brick fireplace or an inexpensive builder grade gas insert and surround.

Fear not. There’s hope for the eyesore that is your current fireplace. A makeover can be easily accomplished. But, please remember, it is critical to understand the clearances required by law in relation to the fireplace opening. This is necessary in order to maintain the proper distance between the firebox and combustible materials. So, let Foster Remodeling Solutions help you get it right.

To get your creative juices flowing, here are a few ideas that will give your tired, old fireplace a beautiful new look!

This couple in Annandale, VA was looking for a completely updated look, consider taking the brick down and replacing it with stone.  There are many great textures and shapes in cultured stone.  Cultured stone is a man-made product that looks exactly like stone.  Installing this type of material looks great when it goes all the way to the ceiling, and will make the room feel bigger.  This look can be rustic, traditional or modern, depending on the product.  Cement panels can be used as well, and it can be mixed with glass or stones for a unique look.

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If your brick façade goes wall to wall like this families home in Vienna, VA, you can put a few feet of cabinetry on each side.  Not only will you get more storage space, you will visually change the look of the room with a new texture on the wall.  Accessories on shelves will give even more texture, and glass items will reflect light.  Taking this one step further, you can add tile to the face around the fire box.  If your brick goes to the ceiling, you can drywall right over it as long as you leave a fireproof surface 12” around the firebox.  Drywall from the mantle up will be a dramatic change as well.

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Remodeling a fireplace is a common request at Foster Remodeling Solutions.  Our designers can come to your home and help you work out a design that will work with your décor and style, within your budget.

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If you would like to talk about ideas for remodeling or renovating your home in Fairfax, Mclean, Springfield, Woodbridge, Alexandria, Arlington, and Falls Church VA, reach out to us at Foster Remodeling. Call now for a free consultation!


A Closer Look at Flooring in Home Remodeling Projects

Flooring is sometimes an afterthought when you’re thinking about a home remodeling project. Space, fixtures, function and colors are usually the first things most homeowners want to change right off the bat, but floors play a prominent part in the look and feel of your home.

Hardwood Floors
Many of the homes in Northern Virginia were built with hardwood floors. Some of them are in wonderful shape and can be refinished as part of your home remodeling project. If they no longer fit your footprint, they can be repurposed if they are still in good condition. Hardwood floors are a strong and suitable option for nearly any room in the house. From wide planks to thin strips, they add sophistication and beauty to bedrooms, hallways, staircases, hobby spaces, and living and dining rooms. For new hardwood flooring, look for modern choices in very hard varieties like mahogany, cypress and teak. Oak, maple and ash are also durable and popular. Engineered wood floors are layered wood, rather than solid planks, but still wood nonetheless. Hardwood flooring is easy to clean, but can pick up divots and scratches under high traffic and vigorous activities. Hardwood flooring is available in a wide range of colors and coordinates well with almost any room decor.

Natural Stone
Natural stone surfaces are popular choices in Northern Virginia kitchen remodeling, bathroom renovations and home additions. They are featured not only in flooring, but for countertops, vanities and other purposes. Natural stone floors are durable and easy to maintain when they are sealed. The distinctive tones and patterns in travertine, granite, slate, marble and quartz add color and depth to any room. Natural stone flooring is especially fitting in the kitchen, hallways and bathrooms. If you’re looking for a sturdy flooring material for your outdoor spaces, sealed natural stone is a great place to start.

Carpeting
While soft and warm on the feet and comfortable to sit on, fewer homeowners are using wall-to-wall carpeting in home remodeling projects. It is hard to clean, tough on those with allergies and provides unique challenges for people with pets and small children. Area rugs are a popular choice for purpose-specific rooms and provide extra protection for floors in high traffic areas, especially entrances and playrooms.

Ceramic and Porcelain Tile
If you’re looking for a splash of color and distinctively sophisticated patterns, the answer may lie in ceramic tile or its subset of porcelain. While durability isn’t their strong-suit for high traffic areas, porcelain is the stronger of the two and works well in the bathroom, or hallway. Save ceramics for lightly traveled areas. They are both well-suited to mosaics and patterned designs, and are a popular choice in Northern Virginia bathroom remodeling projects.

If you’re interested in seeing what different flooring choices would look like in your home, visit our Foster Remodeling Solutions Design & Selection Center in Lorton. One of our professional designers can walk you through the process with our Design CAD drawings and help you choose flooring options that are suitable in looks, quality, durability and maintenance for your Northern Virginia residential remodeling project.

If you would like to talk about ideas for remodeling or renovating your home in Fairfax, Mclean, Springfield, Woodbridge, Alexandria, Arlington, and Falls Church VA, reach out to us at Foster Remodeling. Call now for a free consultation!

Staircases: Taking the Next Step in Remodeling Projects

One of the things that makes a home feel old and worn is the sound of creaks and groans as people walk through it. One of the noisiest places is usually on the stairs. This is noticeable in many homes throughout Northern Virginia, including those in Arlington. Stairs are more than just a means to travel from one floor to the next. They are a focal point for the household. Most older homes have a single main staircase located in the center of the home, although some that were built specifically with servants quarters may have a second, smaller staircase in the rear of the house as well.

Stair Replacement
If your home is more than 10 years old, the steps probably creak when you climb. It might be just one or two spots, or it might seem like every step has something to say. When considering the details of your residential remodeling project, don’t take your stairs for granted. It might be time to replace or reinforce your existing staircase as part of your home renovation. This is a good time to check their structural integrity, especially if they’re noisy. You might find loose steps or even cracks and gaps if you look underneath. Most homes in the area that have hardwood floors have matching steps. Some have been covered with carpeting. If you remove the carpeting, you might find steps that are worn hard in the middle and are barely touched on the sides. These can be replaced as part of your Arlington design build remodeling project. You can move or change the effect of the staircase by changing its direction, its color and its shape. You may want to move an attached pony wall for a different appearance altogether.

Railings and Posts
Change your railings to bring them up to code or to modernize your stairs with the rest of your home’s new look. Some homeowners prefer to use iron instead of wood; others want to close the gaps between the slats to make them more child-friendly. A post at the bottom of the stairs can take many shapes, from large to small to round to square.

New Staircase
Building a new staircase into Arlington home additions can create convenience, flair and depth in your layout. They are especially effective if you are adding a second floor over the first and when you are significantly increasing the square footage of your house. Remember, steps don’t have to be a straight line up and down. They can curve and turn to maximize your space. They can also have short flights and a landing to make traversing them easier.

Our Foster Remodeling design and build team can help you decide how to change your existing staircase or where to put a new one. At the very least, we can reinforce what you have so that your stairs don’t creak and talk to you every time you cross over them. We can incorporate this in the rest of your Arlington home remodeling project.

If you would like to talk about ideas for remodeling or renovating your home in Fairfax, Mclean, Springfield, Woodbridge, Alexandria, Arlington, and Falls Church VA, reach out to us at Foster Remodeling. Call now for a free consultation!

Incorporating Natural Lighting Into Home Additions

When planning a residential remodeling project for a Northern Virginia house, some homeowners are interested in adding as much natural light to their homes as possible. There are several ways to do this. From large sliding glass doors to bay window seating to skylights and sunrooms, the addition of natural light can brighten up a room and lessen the need for light fixtures. Also, many modern LED lighting fixtures don’t emit the warmth that incandescent light bulbs have to offer. Natural lighting can add some warmth to a room, and the type of windows and window treatments used will affect just how much.

Skylights
For rooms that have no exterior walls, skylights offer a natural lighting alternative. They also provide added value to your property. Skylights can be installed in nearly any existing room in the home or incorporated into a Northern Virginia home addition project.

Sunrooms
One of the most popular options for adding windows and natural lighting is through a sunroom, or Florida room. If you’re adding extra square footage and you want to feature a scenic area on your property or off in the distance, a sunroom is an excellent choice for a Northern Virginia home addition. This also creates the perfect place for hanging plants and greenery.

Bay Windows
Bay or bow windows add more light than standard windows. They also add extra space and make rooms feel bigger. Incorporate a bay window into your kitchen remodeling project or in a master bedroom addition. Incorporate cushioned seating and extra storage space into the area below a bay window for a cozy place to curl up or add a table in front for a pleasant view from your breakfast nook.

Glass Walls
Some windows can take up an entire wall. This is a great way to appreciate a beautiful view on a lakefront home, a wooded lot or the rolling foothills of the Shenandoah mountains off in the distance. Sliding glass doors leading onto the porch from the living room or dining room are another option.

If you would like to talk about ideas for remodeling or renovating your home in Fairfax, Mclean, Springfield, Woodbridge, Alexandria, Arlington, and Falls Church VA, reach out to us at Foster Remodeling. Call now for a free consultation!