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Many homeowners think their kitchen is outdated from the looks of their worn cabinets, dated appliances and crackled countertop.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


 

Alternate Countertop Materials

If you ever watch the home improvement shows on television, you might have the idea that there is only ONE acceptable surface for countertops—granite. The television use of granite makes sense; granite countertops are extremely popular among homeowners and new buyers, so they are an excellent choice. However, many other options are beautiful and functional too. We’ve put together a list of just a few of the alternate surfaces that you can choose from when you are replacing your countertops. By considering all possibilities, you will rest assured that your room has a personal touch.

Engineered Quartz

Today’s engineered quartz countertops are extremely low maintenance, resist staining, scratching and other damage. Additionally, they do not need to be sealed. Quartz is available in many colors and patterns—making them very attractive.

Laminate Countertops

These are the most budget friendly option, of course. However, today’s laminate counters come in designs and styles that are attractive and appealing even in high-end kitchens.

Wood (Butcher Block) Countertops

Decorative and functional, wood countertops are a unique choice. They are heat resistant, but they will need to be properly sealed to make sure they are safe for use when preparing food on the surface.

Marble

Marble can be expensive, but no surface offers a more timeless appeal. Additionally, marble hides stains and damage in a way that other surfaces do not. Like granite, it will be necessary to seal marble countertops regularly to keep them in good condition.

Honed Granite

Granite countertops come in both traditional (shiny) and honed (matte) looks. With two options, this means that no matter what your style you can find one that will work in your kitchen. The honed granite is unique when compared to “standard” granite, making it an excellent choice for those who want something a bit different.

Stainless Steel

This attractive surface naturally fights bacteria growth, plus the countertops are very easy to clean with just soap and water. Stainless steel is one of the most recognizable materials on earth—and gives your kitchen a truly one-of-a-kind look.

Recycled Countertops

If you are all about “being green,” one of the recycled countertop options today may be just what you’ve been looking for. These countertops are made of pre and post-consumer products; choosing recycled countertops keeps products out of the landfill and reduces your overall carbon footprint.

If you would like to learn more about any of the surfaces we covered above, or you would like guidance on any other options, contact us at Foster Remodeling. We are your resource for new countertops and kitchen makeovers of all kinds in the Northern Virginia and Washington DC area. Our kitchen experts are excited to work with you!

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!

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. Consumer Checkbook 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.


 

 

4 Ways to Make Your Home Design More Kid-Friendly

When you’re planning what types of changes to make to your home during your next design & build project, don’t forget the kids. If you have small children or there’s one on the way, consider how to make your home more kid-friendly while you’re making other changes. Let’s face it, most homes are built for adults. The kitchen countertops are too high for four-year-olds to see over, and you probably have a stepstool in the bathroom so your munchkins can brush their teeth. Not only are some non-child-friendly features disheartening for little ones who feel like they’re always missing out on the action, but they can also create inconveniences for parents trying to keep them safe under a watchful eye. Here are four ways to make your home design more kid-friendly.

Walls and Open Spaces
Is there a clear line of sight between the kitchen and the area where the kids like to gather before dinner? If they get to watch a little TV or have some gaming time while you’re cheffing in the kitchen, you might sometimes wish the walls were invisible. Consider opening up the dividing wall between the kitchen and the adjoining living room or lowering the wall to a height where you can see the kids from your cooktop.

Stairs
When putting in a new addition, you’ll probably want to add a staircase somewhere for convenience. A long flight of stairs can unnerve some adults, so imagine how you’ll feel if your toddler is suddenly gazing down the long staircase and you’re 20 feet away. Consider using short flights with a landing in the middle, creating ramps or even installing an elevator. Ask your contractor about local zoning regulations that might affect your ideas.

Kitchen Appliances
Your kitchen can be a place of comfort for children. Having a low shelf or drawer in your refrigerator makes it friendlier for thirsty kids. Don’t be shy about putting in some low shelves in your cabinets for pans and dishes. Create a pull-out drawer to make it easier for children to help clean up the kitchen. They can dry the pots and pans or at least put them away. When planning your kitchen remodel, see what’s available in appliances that have cool-to-touch surfaces, like your toaster, so they’ll stay safe.

Anti-Microbial Surfaces
Did you know that copper and copper-based alloys like brass and bronze are naturally anti-microbial? If you’re concerned about kids and germs, give some thought to what materials you’re using on handles to doors and drawers.

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!

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!

Whole Home Remodeling Meets the Changing Family Dynamic

For many Alexandria homeowners, making changes in the house is necessary to meet the needs of the changing family dynamic. For those whose older parents are joining the household, a home remodeling project means more than just converting a nursery into a comfortable bedroom. Instead, the trend is to make several changes to the existing structure and create an in-law addition as well. This allows the family to use the existing space more efficiently while building a safe, close and comfortable place for parents. At the same time, families with young children need room for them to grow. Oftentimes, they will buy a home with the intention of building out the attic or the basement into individual bedrooms when the kids are older. All of these needs of the changing family dynamic can be met through a carefully planned design build remodeling project for the Alexandria home.

Remodeling Versus Moving
There are a number of reasons why homeowners prefer to remodel instead of buying a larger home. One important point is availability. According to Trulia.com, the number of listings on the Alexandria residential housing market has steadily decreased over the past year. The options are simply not there. Rather than relocating and trying to find a larger home that meets the family’s needs, it is more practical to stay in the same neighborhood and make some changes. This is a critical reason for families who love where they live, but just feel a bit cramped with the addition of new members into the household or demand for more space as the children get older. For those new to the area, it may make more sense to buy an Alexandria home that comes close to their preferences and make necessary changes to it before moving in, rather than holding out for something that may never materialize. Changes to flooring, ceilings, lighting, wall structure and appliances can be made to suit the household, customized to the family’s needs and wants.

Home Additions
Adding an in-law suite offers parents of adult children privacy and comfort without compromising their need for independence. They can design a bedroom, living room, kitchen, bath and storage space to meet their individual needs. Mobility features can be designed into the plans for comfort and safety. For Alexandria properties that have space on either side of the present structure, home additions on the opposite side of the house from in-law suites can accommodate garages, additional bedrooms, home offices and entertaining areas. When building on to the rear, second and third stories over the existing structure can offer much-needed bedroom, bathroom and living space. Decks and hardscapes are also options.

When combining all of these projects into one, the structure and style of the home is protected. The grandchildren can have improved space, like their own bedrooms, without feeling neglected or compromised. The seniors can have their independence and privacy without overly concerning their adult children. The parents can have peace of mind.

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!

Making Your Home Accessible to Aging In Place

The oldest of the Baby Boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964) reached the age of 65 last year in 2011 and by 2030 the number of Americans over the age of 65 will soar to 72.1 million, 1 out of every 5 Americans!  Given those numbers there is no question why we get so many calls here at Foster Remodeling on how to remodel an existing home to make it more comfortable and accessible for the homeowners as they age.  In fact, according to a recent AARP survey, 73% of respondents strongly agreed with the statement “What I’d really like to do is stay in my current residence for as long as possible”.  Most homes, especially in Northern Virginia, weren’t designed with long-term accessibility in mind, but there are several projects that can make you and your family more at ease with you staying in your home as long as possible.

Kitchens are great way to update a home’s accessibility and a valuable remodel that many can enjoy over the years.  In the same AARP study, 75% of Boomers didn’t feel their current kitchen layout met their living needs; there are a few ways to update your kitchen.  For this generation transitioning from a 42” bar height table or overhang to a 28” or 30” height is more accessible should one need a walker or wheel chair in the future.  Also, because kitchen space is frequently used by Boomers and other generations alike a standard-height table or island for social gathering is ideal.  Creating wider walkways or paths throughout the kitchen and adjacent rooms provides easier mobility.  Storage options should be easily reachable and/or pull out, older cabinets without rollouts or few drawers can be taxing for those with back problems.  Keep hardware in mind as well, for those suffering from arthritis or hand-mobility/gripping issues small knobs can be difficult, but larger pulls can be much easier to manipulate.

Another room where updates should be provided is the bathroom.  Maneuverability should be a priority in a bathroom, providing a 60” turnaround (minimum size needed for a wheel-chair to turn) if the space allows or an acceptable T-turn space should be planned for.  Creating a shower with zero-threshold allows for easy entry and exit into and out of the shower space with no tripping hazards.  If a bathtub is a requirement, grab bars with adequate bracing behind them should be installed to ease entry and exit.  Benches are also a high-demand item which can be built-in or installed as a fold-down to accommodate those who have problems standing.  When thinking about faucets and shower valves, lever handles are much easier to manipulate and installing a separate handheld shower provides ease of use.  Toilets have come a long way, and many companies have “comfort height” or ADA approved height versions which typically have a seat height of 17”-19” above the floor, a much easier location to lower to and rise from.  Keep in mind that many of these features can be integrated into the overall design so it needn’t feel institutional or hospital-like.  Many of our clients are surprised at how gorgeous their “universally designed” bathrooms are when the project is complete.

There are several small areas around the house that one should also think about when remodeling.  With flooring, low or zero-thresholds between surfaces is important because of tripping hazards.  Typically we recommended hardwood, laminate or tile flooring since it is a smooth surface that is easy to get around on and dust is less likely to collect on hard surfaces compared to carpeting for those with respiratory problems to consider.  If you really feel more comfortable with carpet, consider a low pile height.  Hardware on doors should be levers, as knobs again, can be difficult to manipulate.  At the entry point of the home, creating a clear accessible path to a no step covered door is ideal, also providing a 36” wide opening of the door to accommodate walkers or a wheelchair.  If possible, we’ve had many clients relocate their master bedroom to the first floor or add an addition to accommodate a first floor master suite for themselves or aging parents.

As many of our clients or their parent’s age, we know what your concerns are and can help you plan for them.  In a Genworth 2010 study of Cost of Care, they found the average cost of a 1 bedroom single occupancy assisted living facility was $38,220, multiply that by 5, 10, 15 years and you are looking at a large investment.  For many families whether they are keeping parents in their own house or joining them into their own homes, we can guide you to make smart choices to keep you or your family as independent as long as possible.  We know how important your home is to you, so whether you or a loved one is looking to remodel or update to accommodate your lifestyle give us a call.