How to Deal With Posts and Low Beams in Your Virginia Basement

Filed Under: Basement    by: Steve Kayhill

Posts and beams present one of the most common challenges of basement renovations. But with a little help and some planning, your Virginia basement will turn out spacious and comfortable in spite of these architectural road blocks. It helps to look at the problem from a certain angle and consider the various solutions available.

Posts in Your Basement?

Depending on the size of your home, posts in the basement may be inevitable. These steel posts often support the main beam of your home, and as such, hold up the main floor and any other floors above that. Your contractor cannot simply knock them out. But with the right design, these posts can virtually disappear and leave your basement living space open and bright.

Choose from these popular ways of dealing with basement posts:

  • Invest in a Double Beam – if the span does not exceed the distance allowed by local building code, you may be able to take out the post and replace the beam above with something larger. This process costs a fair amount and requires extensive renovation work. It may reduce the number of posts in larger basements or completely eliminate the posts in smaller homes, but you should weigh the value of this investment carefully before jumping in.
  • Minimize the Post – using color to “paint out” the steel post, this method basically leaves the posts as is and blends the narrow towers into the space with matching tones. Use furniture placement to avoid awkward traffic and choose bright, neutral colors for both walls and posts.
  • Build the Post Into the Room – incorporate the posts into shelving, half-walls, arches and other basement features to ensure these structural components blend. This won’t work as well with an open concept floor plan, but if you can use the posts as part of the architectural design, they cease to be eyesores and fade into the background of your Virginia basement.
  • Decorate the Posts – if you do not like the look of minimized posts (left in their natural state as smooth, steel posts) and cannot build them in, consider decorating your posts. Some homeowners use trim and molding to create an old world feel, while others opt for more modern appeal and use bamboo slats or soft fabrics to enhance the appearance of the basement posts, making them almost stand out as decor pieces.

Low Ceiling Beams in Your Basement?

Posts are often accompanied by low areas on your basement ceiling, commonly known as bulkheads. Duct work, plumbing and framing for the space above create these challenges that could potentially make your basement space darker and less roomy. And it can be tricky or expensive to remove them.
One of the easiest ways to hide low ceiling beams is with color. Use a bright white ceiling paint (matte finish works well) on the entire room and make sure to eliminate lines near the bulkhead. All corners and seams should be a continuous color to allow the lower areas to fade away. A visual trick that will not add height to the area, painting out makes the overall space feel lighter and more open.

Dealing with basement posts and low ceiling beams in your Virginia basement can be challenging. Ask your basement contractor about the easiest, most attractive ways to handle these design issues and be creative. The solution may be cheaper and more appealing than you think.

Can Your Northern Virginia Deck Include an Outdoor Fireplace?

Filed Under: Deck    by: Steve Kayhill

Bringing features of indoor living out onto the patio is a hot design trend. And homeowners in our neck of the woods wonder whether or not a Northern Virginia deck can include an outdoor fireplace. Does a four-season climate make this deck design impossible or unwise? Find out how to create an outdoor living space that echoes the warmth and charm of your interior with the right support and features.

Specs of an Outdoor Fireplace

Fireplaces built for use outdoors differ in design from those used inside your home. While the models may look similar when finished, outdoor fireplaces must be built with durable materials and include features that withstand the rigors of the local Northern Virginia climate.

Good quality outdoor fireplaces come with an insulated firebox, designed to keep the interior of the unit hot and facilitate a clean burn. Gas logs sets are generally made from fiberglass, and outdoor fireplace sets tend to be more durable and larger, for easier set up inside the unit. Your gas burner should also be designed for use in all types of weather.

Of course, wood-burning fireplaces are also ideal for outdoor use. Simply build or purchase a woodburning firepit and create a stone mantle around it. This area will become a magnet for gatherings, although it will be difficult to incorporate into a wood deck. Think about installing a stone patio if this style suits your tastes.

Specs of a Northern Virginia Deck with Fireplace

You need to be sure your deck is designed to support an outdoor gas fireplace, both for safety and aesthetics. Add extra blocking under the fireplace unit to reduce the risk of sagging and think about incorporating stone decking in the immediate area to protect against damage from high heat. Good quality stone floor tiles can also be installed onto a plywood subfloor. Use attractive trim for transitions between the deck boards and tile.

Will you use the fireplace as a railing as well, or have it installed against the house? Some units float in the middle or work as a dual-sided fireplace, while others can be incorporated into the deck railing or mounted in the corner to finish off the outdoor room.

Keep the stairs away from the fireplace and ensure there is adequate room for furniture around the unit. Generally a 100 square foot space is required (10 foot x 10 foot), although a smaller space may work with a smaller fireplace.

Where is your gas valve located? Hide any conduit running from that shut off to the unit and place the outdoor fireplace close by to enhance efficiency. If your fireplace will run from a propane tank, consider building a storage unit to hide the tank. Many homeowners incorporate the tank storage into an end table or other patio furniture.

A Northern Virginia deck that includes an outdoor fireplace provides the ideal place for a cozy get together. Be sure that your deck builder has designed the structure to support a fireplace and incorporate all of the necessary safety features. Then look forward to long summer nights outdoors, enjoying the warmth and comfort of your new outdoor living space.

Hottest Sink Choices for Your Bathroom Remodeling in Virginia

Filed Under: Bathroom    by: Steve Kayhill

Concrete sink - photo credit Jeremy Levine Design

Bathroom fixtures play a major role in the design and function of a bathroom. If you are planning to tackle bathroom remodeling in Virginia, take the time to browse the hottest fixtures to capture the ultimate in style and value. The bathroom sink is often a focal point and deserves to be set apart by shape, design, color or impact. Check out these bathroom sink trends, the hottest models available for Virginia homeowners planning a bathroom remodel.

Glass Vessel Sink

This design is not new—vessel sinks have been on the market for quite a few years now. But today’s designs incorporate patterned glass in visually striking shapes and give fresh life to this trend.

From bathroom sinks that echo the luster of copper to those in bright shades of tangerine and lime, the glass vessel sink is constantly evolving and becoming bolder. Find a reputable manufacturer and look online for brands not necessarily available in the local Virginia plumbing shop. Small enough to be shipped affordably, your glass vessel bathroom sink should stand out from the crowd.

Rectangular Double Sink

Angled sink shapes lend a masculine air to your bathroom, and work especially well in ensuites with a double sink design. Stunning in pearl white or gloss black, this squared-edged style of sink runs across a wide vanity and boasts a tap on either end to create a spacious experience.

Use bulky taps with complementary shapes and layer the vanity with a framed mirror, hidden storage and recessed lighting. And look for a rectangular double sink with enough depth to cap your vanity. Wetstyle carries a line of double sinks that suit this style, so modern and unique that you’ll feel young just using them.

Concrete Sink

Perfect for any room in your home, from the kitchen to the bath and laundry, a concrete sink can be formed in many different shapes. Highly durable, concrete bathroom sinks can be mounted on standard vanities, provided an adequate amount of support is included in the vanity design.

Tinted concrete works well to avoid an industrial look. Textures and decorative additives can lend an upscale look to your bathroom remodeling in Virginia, personalized to suit your tastes and formed to fit into your home décor.

Traditional Pedestal Sink

Long favored in the main floor powder room, the modern pedestal sink goes far beyond a simple porcelain stem and vessel. Look for pedestal sinks that feature fancy chrome accents and built in shelving. Glass shelves help to maintain the open feeling of a pedestal sink and still provide functional space for your necessities.

Dress up your modern powder room with a pedestal sink that invites conversation. American Standard and Kohler have a few lovely vintage-style sinks that will make the perfect focal point in your new bathroom.

Let your imagination loose when choosing a sink for your bathroom remodeling in Virginia. This fixture will set the tone of your room and should make a statement while complementing your tastes and the overall style of the bathroom.

How Do Northern Virginia Additions Change Your Landscaping?

Filed Under: Additions, Deck    by: Steve Kayhill

Building a home addition certainly alters your interior living space, expanding the space and often rearranging traffic inside your home. But have you thought about how Northern Virginia additions change the landscape as well? More than simply displacing a few flower beds and chewing up the turf, large scale home improvement projects such as this one may require major landscaping alterations.

Common Landscaping Changes

Some home addition designs do not alter the exterior living space as much as others. For instance, an attic refurbishment or second story addition does not change the footprint of your house. Other than the heavy equipment tracking through your front yard and debris cast off in the demolition stage, this type of project should not greatly change your yard or landscaping plan.

On the other hand, any Northern Virginia additions that do expand or alter the footprint of the house will very likely affect the surrounding gardens, turf and hardscaping such as decks, patios and fences. Consider how these changes influence your outdoor living by asking the following questions:

  • Where will the newly expanded foundation be located?
  • What trees, gardens and hardscaping will need to be removed? Can they be moved to another location?
  • How will the traffic flow and walkways change and how do those changes affect safety and security?
  • Will the new addition create more shade or alter the exposure of your yard?
  • Will existing trees need to be trimmed to avoid potential damage?

Depending on where the addition is located, the most common landscaping alterations include:

  • deck or porch renovations
  • patio repairs
  • fence renovations
  • garden relocation
  • tree transplantation or trimming
  • turf repairs
  • irrigation system repairs
  • hot tub relocation

Some landscape features cannot be relocated, repaired or affordably renovated. A swimming pool, for instance, may need to be ripped out and replaced if your home addition encroaches on the pool deck. Older trees and traditional stonework may not survive a move, and when extended restoration is required, you can expect these heritage materials to take a back seat during your home addition project.

Budgeting for This Portion of the Project

It may be difficult to predict the costs of landscaping alterations. Major deck or patio renovations can cost nearly as much as building a new structure, and the cost of replanting your garden often depends on the success of transplantation. Turf repairs are easier to budget for, although you may not know how much of the yard will be destroyed or damaged during the project.

Talk to your general contractor about this situation and go over the potential exterior work. Find out whether they will be working with a licensed landscape professional and consider how that hiring decision will affect your overall cost. You may want to delay the landscaping work until weather permits or plan to DIY certain parts—all of these decisions will affect the budget.

Certain styles of Northern Virginia additions will alter your landscaping and require an expanded budget. Be sure to have a trained professional on the job and consider delaying some of the landscape work if the weather or budget does not allow. These details help to make the most of your home improvement project, and keep your home looking its best.