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From dark and outdated to fresh and modern. By Hillary Kelly

This charming bungalow in Arlington was already spacious and inviting. But when the homeowners decided that they wanted a larger kitchen, more storage, and an elegant entryway, they really brought things to a Marie Kondo-approved level. From the moment you pass through their (lime-green!) front door this house just oozes roominess and easy elegance, in large part thanks to the substabtial overhaul from the McLean and Middleburg-based builders BOWA. With lots of white paint, shipboard siding, and a master cabinet-maker, they entirely opened up their first floor and transformed the way the space is used.

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Posted at 03:25 AM/ET, 07/15/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
See the transformation. By Michelle Thomas
All photos courtesy of Ethan Arnheim.

It’s easy to be wowed by a professional renovation that costs as much as a small house. But when someone is able to do their own work—on a budget, no less—and does it well, it's doubly impressive. Example A: Ethan Arnheim’s DIY transformation of a LeDroit Park storage unit into a modern loft studio. Built in the late 1800s, this brick box was located behind Arnheim’s rowhouse, and though he’d been renting it out as storage to an ironworker, the raw space had neither plumbing nor electricity, and he wanted to turn it a habitable haven. There were a few challenges: It was teensy—only 360 square feet—and he wanted something that looked high-end, but didn't cost a lot. So Arnheim decided to skip the pros, and design the place himself. He used the free program Sketchup to create a blueprint with layout inspiration from a friend’s beachside apartment in France, and hired tradesmen he found via recommendations.

Since only one wall was suitable for a door or windows, Arhheim added skylights and high-level windows to allow sunlight to shine in while retaining privacy. To maximize the space, he incorporated small-footprint choices like a sliding glass bathroom door and a combination washer and dryer that's installed below the bathroom sink. All of the materials were sourced with an eye toward his modest budget. The new door came from Baltimore auction house Southern Sales, the kitchen cabinets from Ikea, the lighting from Craigslist, and the bathroom tiles from the Tile Store (after some haggling). The stained-glass transom was made by artist in Baltimore, and the curving ladder is a custom piece by local metal worker Jesse Robinson. Arnheim estimates his final costs ended up around $150 per square foot.

Ready to see the full project? Read on to see the process—and the resulting finished space (rentable on Airbnb!).

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Posted at 03:08 PM/ET, 06/29/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Kube Architecture transforms a dank rowhouse basement into an urban loft-style apartment. By Michelle Thomas
Photos courtesy of Kube Architecture.

When it comes to makeovers, this one offers a pretty dramatic reveal: Once an unfinished lower level of a family-owned rowhouse saddled with little light, low ceilings, and plenty of detritus, DC-based Kube Architecure transformed the space into a loft-inspired bachelor pad for the family’s son. The resulting one-bedroom apartment is barely recognizable as its former basement self.

Kube's team dug out the space to create more spacious nine-foot ceilings and added windows, then created a modern layout that spotlights a large, sleek kitchen—a top priority for the resident, an avid cook who often hosts dinner parties—and split the apartment longwise into an open, lounge-style living space and defined entry, dining, and den areas that are partioned by storage cubes. A primarily black-and-white palette with accents of green and red combine with LED lighting strips, exposed brick and steel, and heated concrete floors to lend an urban vibe.

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Posted at 11:45 AM/ET, 06/11/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
See this room’s transformation. By Michelle Thomas

This kitchen was saddled with a majorly dated look and limited storage and workspace, thanks in most part to its 20-year-old cabinetry and an inefficient layout. The owners were ready for an update—and they had already settled on using cherry cabinets and black countertops in the redesign. They teamed up with Paul Bentham from Jennifer Gilmer Kitchen & Bath, who was tasked with creating a contemporary look and adding more functionality in the space. First step? He got rid of a superfluous pair of columns separating the kitchen from the adjacent living room, then filled in the space with a duo of larger islands that include an under-counter speed oven, dual freezer drawers, and a casual dining setup.

To give the desired materials a modern, unexpected spin, Bentham found cherry veneer with an unusual grain, then carefully laid out the wood veneer to form a herringbone-style pattern, enhanced with an antique stain and sheen that lends a subtle shimmer effect. Next, he split the wall cabinets, leaving a three-quarter inch negative detail painted glossy black. A concealed refrigerator and pantry are recessed into the far wall to maximize storage while keeping the look visually clean. Final touches: Absolute Black granite—which runs down the side of the island to send the focus to the cabinets—and an iridescent tile backsplash.

Take a look at the transformation below.

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Posted at 11:43 AM/ET, 06/04/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Local builder BOWA captured the project in a time-lapse video. By Michelle Thomas
The finished home after a down-to-the-foundation renovation. Photo via BOWA.

In case you’ve ever wondered what a full-home renovation might look like in warp-speed: Local design builders BOWA fixed a camera on the renovation of this Potomac home to capture the daily construction of the project, which involved tearing the existing home down to the foundation and rebuilding an bigger, customized home version on the base. A time-lapse effect brings the five-month project down to a minute. Check it out:

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Posted at 11:41 AM/ET, 05/28/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Here's what DC homeowners spend on repairs, installations, and renovations, according to HomeAdvisor's data. By Michelle Thomas
This high-end kitchen by local designer Jennifer Gilmer Kitchen & Bath cost more than $250,000. According to’s 2015 cost report, DC homeowners spend an average of $20,000 on a new kitchen.”See the before and after of this room.

Wondering how much it might cost to overhaul your outdated home? Here's your answer: According to data culled from's 2015 True Cost Guide Report—which compiles its information from member-submitted cost reporting—on average, remodeling a kitchen in the DC area will cost you $20,000. Most of the 236 homeowners surveyed spent between $11,000 and $30,000, with the most expensive renovation ringing in at $45,510. A bathroom? That'll cost around $9,000, based on the average from 632 surveys. Or if you want to build an addition, plan to put in around $70,000.

For once, these numbers aren't sky-high over average prices in the rest of the country. In fact, Washington's remodeling rates fall right in line with national averages. Go to HomeAdvisor's 2015 report for more details on repair, installation, and remodeling costs on all variety of projects—and to see data from other cities, too.

Posted at 11:42 AM/ET, 05/19/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Stylist Naina Singla shares a glimpse inside her fun and functional Bethesda workspace. By Michelle Thomas

When you work from home, having a great office is practically a non-negotiable. So when stylist and medical consultant Naina Singla was renovating her Bethesda home, nailing the perfect workspace was a top priority.

“I have worked from home the past ten years in various roles and sometimes it feels like I spend countless hours at my desk,” says Singla. “So it's important that the space around me is not only functional but inspirational and fun.”

The first step in the quest for fun: That bold fuchsia rug. Singla’s a longtime fan of textile designer Madeline Weinrib, and her graphic Brooke carpet ended up informing the entire room’s look. Since the office is located right off the entrance to the home, Singla wanted to make sure its design worked with the rest of her first floor, which is decorated in a clean, minimalist aesthetic with a touch of glam modernism and a neutral color palette. So she countered the vibrant hue of the rug with airy white walls and furniture, working in hints of gold and black and mirroring the hot pink accent in the room’s artwork.

Singla didn't scrap everything from her old office, though. Turns out that chic white desk is actually an old brown wooden desk that Singla had been using for more than 10 years. It was functional, but didn’t have the right look—so she had the desk wrapped in white linen fabric and topped it with a glass surface. A pretty inspired choice, we say.

Take a peek inside this feminine office below!

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Posted at 11:48 AM/ET, 04/30/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
See this room’s major transformation. By Michelle Thomas
All photos courtesy of Jennifer Gilmer Kitchen & Bath.

This makeover renders this kitchen practically unrecognizable. The original space had a few basic layout problems—including a standard U-shape design that left lots of unusable space but offered little storage—and not much personality. The homeowners wished for a clean-lined, modern look with a touch of European style.

Designer Paul Bentham of Jennifer Gilmer Kitchen & Bath completely renovated the space to incorporate a 13-foot center island that follows the room’s length. On one end is stovetop cooking and a waterfall top; on the other, seating for five and a table-style overhang. The island's four-inch Peruvian walnut imparts a rich warmth against the slick, high-gloss white of the wall and island base cabinets and cool marble backsplash and counters. Bentham searched for eight months to source the matching walnut veneer for the perimeter cabinets. Final touches? Hidden Miele appliances and wine chillers to stash the homeowner’s collection, a stainless steel vent hood, and sculptural pendant lights.

Take a closer look at the transformation below.

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Posted at 02:52 PM/ET, 04/21/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
This room takes a chic turn with mixed metals, glossy subway tiles, and a marble-top vanity. By Michelle Thomas

As one of the area’s top wedding photographers, Abby Jiu hangs out in some pretty glamorous settings on the regular. So it should come as no huge surprise that she’d want her home to reflect an equally stylish aesthetic—and that includes in her master bath. Jiu recently paired with designer Joanna Abizaid of Cline Rose Designs to transform her Alexandria home's basic bath into a dreamy, vintage-inspired haven.

Top priority was incorporating a freestanding soaking tub—a must-have that ended up informing the entire project as Abizaid worked to blend Jiu’s love of clean lines with a feminine, vintage vibe. Abizaid chose a modern take on the classic claw-foot and combined it with white subway tile on the walls and a dark gray herringbone tile on the floors. Next, the pair added a chic mix of metals, pairing a soft aged brass hardware with glossy chrome fixtures. The finishing touches? A luxe Carerra marble-top vanity, French-inspired mirrors—only $159 each!—and a shimmering crystal mini-chandelier to maximize the room’s glam factor.

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Posted at 04:10 PM/ET, 04/01/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
And now it costs nearly $4 million. By Michelle Thomas

If you've secretly always wanted to live in a church—and you also have nearly $4 million to burn—here's your chance. For 80-plus years, this 1855 Tudor was known as the Market Street Chapel to its Georgetown neighbors. Then in the 1930s, it was redeveloped into a residence, and in 2012 underwent a complete renovation to end up the place it is today—a five-bedroom, four-bath home with an in-law suite, a contemporary kitchen, two separately deeded garages, and a rare side garden that connects to the the rear patio. Architectural features include wooden beams and accents, a huge arched window, and, of course, cathedral ceilings.

1552 33rd Street NW is listed at $3.895 million. See inside below, then go to Washington Fine Properties for more details.

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Posted at 12:11 PM/ET, 03/26/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()