When we featured interior designer Lori Graham’s Dupont Circle rowhouse in our October guide to Dream Kitchens, we didn’t realize just how drool-worthy the rest of the home was. It’s now on the market for $2,749,900, and this photo tour left us with a serious case of house envy.
What’s the best way to make sure your home’s heating-and-cooling system works when you need it? As simple as it sounds, it’s to change the filters regularly.
Bill Wetzel, co-owner of Gaithersburg Air Conditioning & Heating, says old filters are a big cause of system failures: “Some people don’t realize they have air filters that need to be changed on their units. A filter that’s been in there longer than it should be puts a strain on the system. You can really do some damage.”
What’s an easy way to increase the value of your house? Replace your front door.
Remodeling magazine publishes an annual Cost vs. Value Report showing how much various projects add to a home’s resale value. In the 2010–11 study, editorial director Sal Alfano noticed that inexpensive projects topped the list for best value.
How can you keep hardwood flooring looking like new? What kind of wood is right for your home? Here’s advice on installing and maintaining wooden floors:
• Is just one area on a hardwood floor worn—in front of a desk, for example? You don’t have to refinish the whole floor; you can do a touchup. “Most people say it can’t be done because they can’t do it,” says Sprigg Lynn of Universal Floors, which does such touchups.
Looking for a type of contractor not listed? Two local companies offer free referrals to remodelers and repairpeople they’ve screened.
One is HomeWise Referrals (703-360-8222). Formerly called Home Solutions Connection, it was started in 2002 by Debbie Farson. She has built a network of 100 trusted contractors—from carpenters and handypersons to interior designers and custom-home builders. HomeWise checks licensing, insurance, complaint histories, and customer and trade references to come up with a list of reliable contractors; it also relies on customer feedback and site inspections to make sure contractors continue to do good work. The service is free to homeowners; contractors pay a commission.
Working much the same way is Urban Referrals (202-332-0848). The service, started in 2002 by Marla Ray, matches one of the 60 contractors in its network to each job. Urban Referrals also is free to homeowners.
This feature first appeared in the March 2011 issue of The Washingtonian.
1. What’s the size of your average job? If you’re contemplating a $100,000 addition, you could run into problems hiring a firm that typically handles $20,000 projects. On the flip side, if yours is a contractor’s smallest job, it may fall through the cracks. You also want a firm that does a lot of your kind of project—say, kitchens or bathrooms.
This 1870s Capitol Hill rowhouse had been converted into a three-unit apartment building. “It was an incredible house,” says architect Steve Lawlor, “and no one was touching it because it required so much work.”
Though he had helped design dozens of award-winning projects around Washington, Lawlor had never created something from scratch for his own family. He and his wife, Susan Ades, director of exhibits at the National Zoo, decided this was their chance.
When Kevin and Kelly Walker bought an early-1900s Victorian in Winchester, Virginia, their first mission was to overhaul the kitchen. The tiny space—160 square feet—hadn’t been renovated in 35 years. Kevin, an architect at Reader & Swartz Architects, and Kelly, a health educator, had a budget of $25,000. Kevin did the demolition himself, including tearing out a wall of built-in cabinets that closed the kitchen off from the dining room.
Architect Wayne Good’s kitchen is 15 years old, but you’d never know it. “I wanted to create something timeless,” he says.
His 100-year-old rowhouse in Annapolis required a top-to-bottom renovation, which Good did gradually over 12 years. The kitchen was the first room he tackled.
Attorney turned interior designer Lori Graham had options when deciding where to put the kitchen in her 19th-century Victorian near Dupont Circle. The building had housed an art gallery for 30 years, and there was only a tiny kitchen on the third floor.
She decided to build a new kitchen between the living and dining spaces on the first floor. “I loved the open floor plan from an entertaining perspective,” says Graham, who hosts dinner parties and fundraisers.