Michael Nash Design, Build & Homes

Monday, April 30, 2012

Old for new – replacing windows

Spring is the time we think again about the outdoors and many people start to think about bringing it inside the house with windows. Their remodeling ideas include replacing old ones with new.

Windows are about two things: beauty and function.

The variety of windows available to us today just seems to grow. Here are a few of the standard kinds available:

  • Fixed – a basic window, one that does not open.
  • Double hung – a traditional window found in older homes where only the lower half opens.
  • Casement – these windows swing open and closed usually with a crank.
  • Awning – these windows are like casement windows but swing up and down.
  • Sliding – another traditional window, these slide to either side on tracks.

Windows provide us with a wide variety of options, even the standard, traditional style can be anything but standard depending on the options you choose.

When planning your remodel, consider doing something a little more. For example, you might choose:

  • Bay windows
  • Bow windows
  • Accent windows
  • Garden windows

These can also allow for a window seat because of their style.

You may even want to consider replacing a window with something like French swing doors that opened onto your backyard – that would really open up a room.

The window types are many and the variety of decorative styles is wide. And replacing windows is not simply about make your home more beautiful. The right windows can make your home more energy efficient and environmentally sound.

How to open up a room

It might be a bedroom. It might be a den. It could be the kitchen or it could be the living room. In fact, it could be any room.

You want to open it up. What does that mean?

For most people, it means a sense of spaciousness and light and liveliness. But unless you can take out a wall and literally expand the room, you are restricted to the room’s size.

Even if it’s a small room, like an additional bedroom, you can still “open it up.” There are four ways to do this.

Change the color

The simplest and most common change is color. Do you have a standard beige that you find boring? Paint the room a color that reflects you and your style. For openness, try for a bright or light color as opposed to something dark.

Use an accent wall

A room has four walls. Why paint them all the same color? You can use one of the walls to accent the room, something that either contrasts or complements. For example, if the room is primarily a shade of yellow for brightness, a green or blue shade might by used for one of the walls. Or, you could be more daring and try an orange!

Natural light

Nothing opens up a room more than natural light. If it’s within your budget, change the window – go for something that might be a bit larger, allowing for more light. Depending on the room’s size and where it is in the house, you might even consider a skylight.

Even if windows and skylights aren’t a possibility, consider changing the blinds and curtains. Try to avoid dark and heavy curtains if you are trying for a feeling of openness.


Last but by no means least is the room’s lighting. A bulb in the ceiling may be functional but it adds little to the room’s personality and a sense of openness. There are a large number of lighting options to consider from fixtures to lamps and they can make a room come alive, depending on what you choose to go with. 

Consider a remodel that includes the front porch

In the spring of the year when we think of remodeling we often think of a deck – adding one, expanding one or replacing one. But what about the front porch?

It’s a part of the home easily neglected. Increasingly, however, the front porch is being rediscovered and rejuvenated as homeowners realize how important it is for making a statement about their house and for their simple enjoyment.

Essentially, porches fall into two types. There is the porch that acts as a type of gateway into the home and there is the porch that acts as a living space. The first type tends to be smaller and the second larger, in some cases even wrapping around the side of the house.

When remodeling and refurbishing a front porch it’s important to know which of these two types your porch will be. 

Once you know what type your porch is or will be, you’ll need to decide what kind it will be. There are generally four.

Covered: This is where the roof extends several feet beyond the edge of the house creating a shaded, covered area. Poles are used as support and it may have a railing. It may also have steps leading up to it or it may be level with the ground.

Screened: This is a covered porch. However, rather than a railing it has a short wall. It has poles for support but also several additional supports and it is between these that screens are placed.

Wraparound: More common in larger, older homes, as the name implies this porch runs along the front of the house but also wraps around at least one side of the house.

Pergola: This is where the roof of the home does not extend out past the edge of the house. Instead, the pergola porch uses supports and crossbeams to create a sem-covered “roof.” It is generally flat and creates a shaded area for a sitting space.

Whether as an attractive way to welcome visitors to your home or as a living space that faces onto your community, your front porch is an important part of your home. 

Sunday, April 1, 2012

What are the best investment renovations?

We love remodeling parts of our home – even the entire home – because of the thrill and joy it gives us when it is completed and we see our vision come to life. But there is another aspect to remodels. That is the investment. For many, that is a key aspect and the question becomes, will there be a return on the investment when we sell?

Opinions vary on what the best investments are but two appear in most lists, kitchen and bathroom.

Today, the kitchen is the home’s hub of activity. It’s a place not simply for cooking and eating but for people to gather and converse. This probably explains why open concept kitchens are so popular. When potential buyers view a home, the kitchen can be the key element in their decision. They may love the house but if they don’t love the kitchen, it could overshadow all the aspects that they find attractive.

Similarly, bathrooms are a key area of daily living. More than functionality, people like a feeling of space and comfort. With a remodel, even a small bathroom can have a sense of spaciousness. Where it’s possible, a remodel that increases a bathroom’s size is a good idea. Buyers can sometimes be resistant to a home they sense has limited bathroom space.

Another remodel that often comes up in terms of good investments is the siding. This is about curb appeal. Does the house look clean, new and inviting from the street? Curb appeal also relates to the yard. How does it look? Could it use some landscaping to spruce it up and make it a bit more appealing when seen from the street?

People also like additional rooms so if your home allows for it, an additional room can be a good idea. This might be an addition to the house, a remodel of an attic or some other variation that allows for another room, be it an office, extra bedroom or work area.

Homes are about where we live and so they should fit our lifestyles and our personal styles. But they are also investments and that is something we should also keep in mind when remodeling.

Michael Nash Design, Build & Homes
Fairfax Virginia