DC Kitchen Remodeling Tips Load Bearing Walls and GFCI Circuits

Here at Finesse Design Remodeling, we want every household in D.C. to have gorgeous and functional spaces, and this should also be true for your DC Kitchen Remodeling. For the next few weeks we will talk about important factors to consider when remodeling your kitchen. Without further ado, here are this week’s tips:

Brian Bielski

Partner at Finesse Design Remodeling

We recently posted a video where we talked about removing load bearing walls. And we want to qualify that when we do so, we’re re-supporting the structure in a different way. First of all, before we talk about how that is done, we need to know what a load bearing wall is.

In a residential situation, a load bearing wall is a wall that’s supporting the structure above, whether via floor or roof and there are several ways that you can do that. Sometimes load bearing walls are wood. We have 2×4’s, and 2×6 studs and they are supporting the floor load above or roof above. How do you remove a section of wall in opening up your kitchen to your dining room?

If you are dealing with wood structure framing, you can do that by sizing appropriate wood beams. It could be double 2×10’s, double 2×12’s, LVL’s (laminated veneer lumber) – these are designed to support high weight loads from above. And our engineer helps us decide what size beams that we have to put in place to support the span that we open up.

If we are doing a brick wall, which is a lot of jobs we do in DC Kitchen Remodeling, we take out the entire back of the house. How do we do that? There’s a method called stitching and in stitching what we do is we punch through the wall and we support it temporarily with support legs down to the floor which is supported down in the foundation. Then we take a big steel i-beam and we put it up there while we have to remove the brick.

If you are adding something like a French door, you can do two angle irons where you’re moving one side of the brick, putting in one angle iron then removing the other side of the brick and putting in that angle iron. These are the several ways of how we take out load bearing walls and putting in complementary support from what we removed.

Elizabeth Mitchel

Partner at Finesse Design Remodeling

Another important element to consider in your upcoming DC Kitchen Remodeling is the placement of the outlets. Code requires that all of your outlets in your kitchen be GFCI protected which means “ground-fault circuit interrupters”.

What this means is that the outlet is protected in case an appliance is plugged in and it falls in the water. There will not be any issue of electric shock being that the power is cut off to the outlet at the intersection of this. This being an important safety measure, you want to make sure that all the outlets are GFCI, but also code requires that you have these outlets every four feet in your kitchen.  And when you are taking into account your sink, it needs to be within two feet of the center of that sink.

So what if you are planning a new backsplash and you have some beautiful tiles picked out and you don’t want to have outlets interrupting that new pattern or tile material?

What we recommend to our clients is using plug molding. This is a strip of outlets that are GFCI protected and looks a lot like a surge protector. We mount these to the underside of your wall cabinets. This way, you are meeting the code requirement of an outlet every four feet but you have nothing interrupting your beautiful new backsplash.

We hope these DC Kitchen Remodeling tips help you!

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D.C. Home Remodeling: 7 Tips to Enhance Your Mood at Home

Remember the day when you first bought your home? There must have been a lot of excitement in the air.

Flash forward a few years later, and perhaps the song, “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin” by the Righteous Brothers started playing inside your head. Or worse, you come home after another long and stressful day at work and immediately feel worse.

Your external environment can have an adverse impact on your mood. Don’t let the space inside your home negatively affect how you feel. Below are seven tips to help liven up your mood.

Change Your Paint to Relaxing Color Schemes

Dark and gloomy days outside can make you feel blue. The same result can happen when you have boring, dark tones inside your home.

Try changing the color of your wall paint to fresher, lighter and more relaxing colors to liven things up. Use colors that represent the things that can help you keep calm, like the sea. Want some sunshine inside when it’s dark and gloomy outside? Bring in some bright yellow and orange to brighten up your space.

Light Up the Room

One way to lighten up your home and mood is to open up windows and use lighter fabrics for curtains. This gives you more natural light, which energizes you better throughout the day. You can also save on energy costs as you are using less electricity.

If natural light is not an option, then you can brighten up the room using good lighting in the right locations. Having a spotlight on areas where brightness is needed can change your room and your mood. Some rooms could also benefit from using dimmers. And in your kitchen, you can also use bright lighting that can mimic natural light, even at night.

Add a Design that Will Attract You!

Would you rather walk into a closed off and cramped space inside your home or an open space?

The way in which a room is arranged, the artwork displayed, and in some cases, an accent wall that stands out can make a room more appealing. The key is to focus on what you consider to be attractive that will get you to go “Wow!” each day, and leave it up to the designers and builders to create this experience to brighten up your day.

Add Your Own Space

Is cooking relaxing to you? Then personalize your kitchen theme without compromising its functionality.

Love books and a cup of tea? Add a small, comfortable reading nook inside your home where you can snuggle, read and relax.

Create Some Interesting Patterns in Your Home

If you don’t have patterns or haven’t changed the patterns or colors on your walls or ceilings, consider doing so.  Also, rearranging the furniture placement can make a difference. After all, change can be good.

If your walls are monotone, then try adding simple patterns with soothing and vibrant colors. You can even add texture to your walls using a variety of materials, such as wood, fabrics and even stones.

If you aren’t keen on changing your wall or ceiling colors, then maybe consider some changes to your furniture. This can be as simple as adding couch pillow covers with simple patterns and vibrant colors. Rugs with cool patterns can also help give your home a little change.

Give Your Home a Touch of Nature

Just like natural light, a touch of nature can create a stress-free environment. There are dozens of plants that you can bring inside your home to create a relaxing effect. Not only can these plants make you feel refreshed, but they produce oxygen which helps purify the air inside your home naturally. Jasmine, Aloe Vera, spider plants and peace lilies are some great plants you can put inside your living room and bedroom.

In the kitchen, you can have a small plant box for herbs, such as thyme, basil, parsley, and rosemary. These herbs are small and do not take up much space inside your kitchen. You can even use these herbs to add a little fresh flavor to your meals.

More space, Less Clutter

There is nothing more depressing than seeing things pile up because you were not able to put them away immediately. Mess causes stress.

Start letting go of things that you don’t need in your home. Donate these items to people or charities. Decluttering your home not only creates more space, but it can also make your home a more relaxing environment.

You deserve to feel good in your home each day! Use the tips discussed above to help create a positive atmosphere in your home, to live a better quality life, and to liven up your mood.

Be sure to join our community of awesome D.C. homeowners below. You will get weekly home design and remodeling tips – straight to your email for free. And you will also receive our free 5-point bathroom remodeling checklist!


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DC Remodeling Kitchen Tips: Adequate Storage & Properly Sized Hood Ranges

We are thrilled to be sharing our home design and renovation tips with you each week. It is our intent to provide you with as many valuable tips as possible to help you better prepare for your next big home design and remodeling project. Think of us as your partners each step of the way!

Last week, we have shared some valuable kitchen tips which you can check out with this link. Here are some more tips to consider when remodeling your kitchen:

Elizabeth Mitchel

Partner at Finesse Design Remodeling

Another common complaint that we hear from our homeowner clients when we are planning for a new kitchen renovation is that their existing kitchen does not have adequate storage or countertop space. There are a number of things that a designer will take into account when designing the new kitchen to take care of this concern.

One of the first things that we do is start by calculating a number of cubic inches you have in your existing kitchen so we can make sure that the new kitchen has more actual storage space than you currently have. On top of that, when we go through a new kitchen layout, your designer should sit down with you and go over each cabinet in the new design and what is going to go in each cabinet to make sure that that cabinet functions appropriately for the items that you plan on storing inside that space.

Finally, an item for countertop storage is to make sure you have appropriate landing areas on either side of every major point in the kitchen. There are certain formulas that kitchen designers use that are general guidelines and rules of thumb to make sure that your kitchen sink isn’t too close to the range or that your refrigerator has space nearby where you can set down a tray when you’re opening your door and getting things in and out.

Brian Bielski

Partner at Finesse Design Remodeling

One of the biggest complaints we get from people that are looking to remodel their kitchen is when they cook steak or fish, they are not getting the fumes or smell out of the house. The reason for this is that they don’t have a properly sized hood. And since a lot of our clients are buying these larger format ranges, they require a lot more air to be pulled out of the space.

If the hood is below 400 CFM, you don’t have to have what they call makeup air. But most of these larger ranges require hoods that are over 400 CFM- that’s cubic feet of air per minute. When you go over 400 CFM, you have to have makeup air.

Makeup air has a control wire to a motorized damper and when that hood is turned on, fresh air is drawn into the ductwork from the outside to make up for the air that is being pulled from the inside of the house. Your hood will not draw toxic fumes from your fireplace, windows, bathrooms or other ventilation sewers in the house.

Be sure to join our community of awesome D.C. homeowners below. You will get weekly home design and remodeling tips – straight to your email for free. And you will also receive our free 5-point bathroom remodeling checklist!


*Once you select the “join community” box above, simply check your email to confirm. We do not share or disclose your personal information to third parties. 

DC Kitchen Remodeling Removing Load Bearing Walls, and Toe Kick Heaters

We are thrilled to be sharing our home design and renovation tips with you each week. It is our intent to provide you with as many valuable tips as possible to help you better prepare for your next big home design and remodeling project. Think of us as your partners each step of the way!

For the past weeks, we have shared some valuable bathroom tips which you can check out with this link. For the next set of tips, we will be focusing on kitchen remodeling, to get that wonderful kitchen you’ve always wanted.  Without further ado, here are your tips for this week!

Elizabeth Mitchel

Partner at Finesse Design Remodeling

Many of the clients that we meet with are suffering with small and closed off kitchen space. This makes it very difficult to be able to entertain for family or friends or to be able to keep an eye on small children if you’re fixing dinner or breakfast. One of the solutions for this is to open up the kitchen to some of the neighboring living spaces such as the family room.

But some of our clients, whether they have spoken with a well-intentioned friend or neighbor, are under the impression that this is not an option for them because that wall they want to take out is load bearing or it has plumbing, electrical or ventilation ducting in it. And they have also been told that this is cost-prohibitive. That is not necessarily the case, especially if you are working with a licensed, professional design-build contractor. And you may be able to actually get that wall taken out of the way and it may be a lot less expensive than you realize.

Brian Bielski

Partner at Finesse Design Remodeling

At times when we come into these older homes in D.C., we have a situation where we have to cut radiators out to make room for more cabinets. And the problem becomes then what do you do about creating enough heat after you take the radiator out. A lot of people don’t understand that they may get special toe kick heaters that fit under the cabinet and you can buy them in either 120 volt electric, 240 volt electric or you can either get water toe kick heater.

They fit under the cabinets where they are invisible. They have a blower on them, which you can control remotely from your phone. And you can put a track grill in the toe kick on the cabinet which you can paint the same color as the toe kick so it “disappears” and that will blow warm air out so it’s making up for the fact that we removed the radiator to create more cabinet space.

Another thing that I want to talk about with toe kick ventilation is sometimes we remove a wall and there will be an air duct that traveled up and then diffused out the face of the wall. So rather than move the diffuser out of into the kitchen floor where it will be visible in either the hardware or the tiles, what we do is we blow it up the bottom of the cabinet with a 90-degree boot and we defuse it out of the toe kick. It is hidden and you’re still getting the air into the kitchen that you had.

We hope you found these tips helpful!

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DC Bathroom Remodeling: 5 Quick Tips to Create a Kid-Friendly Bathroom

When planning a bathroom redesign, it is imperative that you address your current family needs, especially for your young children. You don’t want your kids feeling intimidated to use the bathroom. Nor do you want your children in an unsafe setting.

Below are five tips for you to consider when designing a bathroom to meet the needs of your little ones:

Tip #1 Select an Interesting and Customizable Theme


Kids will be kids, and the boring, plain white bathroom is not going to be appealing for these little tykes. Kids love to have a little color and designs that can spark their imaginations. Choose their favorite colors, cartoon characters or their “dream jobs” (future pilots or princesses, anyone?). You can add these small decorative elements inside the bathroom without compromising your choice of design. A bright paint color or whimsical cabinet hardware can make your younger kids feel more comfortable using the bathroom now and can be easily changed out as they grow older.

Tip #2 Add Ownership on Bathroom Storage


Planning the storage inside the bathroom should be on your agenda. You can personalize your kids’ storage by adding names to each bin, bag, towels or any other toiletries. These storage items will be your kid’s responsibility to keep themselves organized and can give your child a sense of ownership. Keeping the whole bathroom tidy will also be an easier task for you since you know exactly where you might want to look for items. You can also use baskets, robe hooks and even shatter proof jars in organizing the items of your little ones.

Tip #3 Consider the Materials that are Easy to Clean and Maintain

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Kids will surely get things dirty, broken or misplaced, so having items that are sturdy and easy to maintain is a plus. Any items that can break, tear or get easily smeared with dirt should either be out of your child’s reach or removed from the bathroom. You may also want to consider incorporating easy to maintain products and surfaces into the bathroom if you are planning a renovation. Items such as solid surface countertops or stain resistant epoxy based grout for tiled surfaces will stand up to the wear and tear of small kids.

Tip #4 Offer a Little Boost for Those Little Feet and Arms


When your children are small, they may have a hard time reaching for the sink. They may also have a hard time reaching the potty and the right towel to use. If you are remodeling your bathroom, it’s an excellent idea to incorporate lower sinks and even a lower height toilet to make it easier for them in the bathroom. However, if you are not remodeling your bathroom, you can invest in stools that are high and sturdy enough to support your kids. You can also place bathroom items they need in lower storage areas and racks.

Tip #5 Above All Else, Make the Bathroom SAFE

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We all want our children to be and feel safe in any part of our homes, and this is also true in the bathroom. Incorporate items, such as a grab bar or a slip resistant mat in the tub area to prevent your kids from slipping, bumping or encountering more dangerous accidents. If you have any medications or items that are potentially hazardous, make sure you have these inaccessible, or out of reach.

Bonus Tips:

Consider adding a hand shower

Hand showers are ideal for rinsing the shampoo off the heads of your little ones. They can also be less intimidating as young kid’s transition from baths to showers, and they make cleaning your bathtub a lot easier. You can replace your regular shower head with a hand shower, or you can have both installed and use a diverter to direct water from one head to the other.

Engage with an Expert before Re-designing and Remodeling:

Incorporating a bathroom that meets both your design and functional needs can be exciting and overwhelming. Rather than trying to do everything yourself, it is best to engage with an expert. These professionals know the industry, and safety guidelines. They also have the most up to date knowledge of building materials to use, and they have a keen eye to make recommendations to design and build a bathroom to meet your needs without compromising on style.

In a nutshell, a good bathroom design and build company will translate your vision and will help you recognize your needs not just now, but also in the future.

We have put together a free 5-point checklist to help you answer some common bathroom remodeling questions, such as cost, time to design and implement, hidden problems and more.

Send me my 5-point bathroom remodeling checklist

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DC Bathroom Remodeling: Video Tips Part 3 – Bathroom Ventilation and Galvanized Piping

We are thrilled to be sharing our home design and renovation tips with you each week. It is our intent to provide you with as many valuable tips as possible to help you better prepare for your next big home design and remodeling project. Think of us as your partners each step of the way!

For the next several weeks we will be sharing bathroom tips. Here is the link to last week’s tips. Without further ado, here are your tips for this week!

Elizabeth Mitchel
Partner at Finesse Design Remodeling

Another tip for planning your bathroom renovation is bathroom ventilation. This very important element of the bathroom is often overlooked in the hubbub of the picking out tiles and pretty faucets for the space. But what is very important about a functional and healthy bathroom is making sure that all of the warm, humid air from your shower is being taken out of the space to prevent mildew, musky smells and peeling paint later down the road.

Bath fans are sized according to the cubic feet in the room. And you want to make sure that you are selecting the appropriate size fan for your new space. Additionally, we have come across situations where the bath fan has not been vented to the exterior as it should per code. Instead, all the warm humid air is being dumped into an attic or a cold space. Definitely not good for the health of your home or for you.

Brian Bielski
Partner at Finesse Design Remodeling

Another problem that we run into in these older D.C. homes is galvanized piping. Over the years, galvanized plumbing will corrode in the inside and it restricts water flow.

We get a lot of complaints when we come do our program notes upon the initial meeting with the homeowner saying “Hey you know, I never had really good water pressure in here. While remodeling our bathroom, can you take care of that?” And we do! The plumbing contractor that we work with includes that automatically on his price. Once we get in on that bathroom to remodel it, we are going to take that galvanized piping out if we can and replace it with new copper or PVC to eliminate that poor water pressure.

We hope you found these tips helpful!

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D.C. Bathroom Remodeling: Tips to Consider When Remodeling Your Bathroom

Remodeling a bathroom can be overwhelming. This is especially true with homes in Washington, D.C. as interior space is extremely limited.

‘To ensure your bathroom renovation runs smoothly, we here at Finesse Design Remodeling have put together a quick checklist for you to use, which can help you avoid feeling overwhelmed throughout this project. For the full 5-point checklist with added tips (including a special bonus tip) click here.

Design Style and Functionality

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There are so many design and functional elements to consider with the bathroom you envision, which can cause overwhelming stress. What paint color do I choose? What tile choice(s) do I go with? How about the showers, tub (if wanting a tub), faucets and lighting? What options do I choose to set the right ambiance or mood within the bathroom?

You can do investigative research online, which can take hours, days, months, or even years during your spare time. And during this lengthy process (which may be when your first grandchild is born), you can piece together elements you like and hope for a cohesive design that functions well.


You can seek professional help from a reputable design and build firm that is partnered with you each step of the way through this process. This is the recommended approach as such companies are specialized in coordinating everything for you from start to finish – more on this later.

You will also want to consider the eventual resale of your home, and think of how the bathroom design will fit in with the rest of your home. For instance, it may not make sense to have an Arts and Crafts styled bathroom when the rest of your house is an Art Deco theme.

Ultimately, the design style of your bathroom should work hand in hand with the functionality you envision.

Here are some additional questions to have answered?

  • Are multiple design concepts presented, and are the floor plans and elevations discussed with you to determine the best possible layout?
  • Is there going to be a formal process for material selections? Will a professional designer assist you by providing samples or visiting showrooms with you? Will their selections process harmoniously bring together style, color, and texture of the fixtures and materials, and capture the design theme that you want?
  • Will the design flow well? Is there potential door and/or drawer interference? Is there adequate clearance in around the different bath fixtures?

Is the lighting thoughtfully addressed so that applying makeup or shaving is a breeze?

Cabinets, Storage, and Shelving

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As mentioned earlier, space in D.C. homes is limited. Therefore, you must think creatively about how you can have a beautifully designed bathroom to serve your functional needs while ensuring you have enough cabinet, storage and shelving space that is reachable.

This can be especially tricky if you are raising a family and you need ample space to store things like diapers, extra towels, and more.

Additional tips:

  • Well-planned shower niches are a great place to store bath products.
  • Ledges can be incorporated into the design which also provides a place to store bath products
  • Built in linen towers are good for storing towels, diapers, etc., and incorporating an outlet inside a cabinet is a great way to charge items such as toothbrushes and razors while keeping them out of sight.
  • Recessed medicine cabinets can be utilized for storing pharmaceuticals, personal hygiene products, etc.
  • Sometimes less is more. If there is plenty of storage adjacent to the space, or if space is limited, perhaps you want to consider a pedestal sink, corner sink, or drop in vessel style sink, which can be used to save space.

How Do I Find and Hire the Right General Contractor to Remodel My Bathroom?

More than likely you will need to hire a contractor. However, given that there are so many contractors out there, choosing one that will ultimately deliver the best value for your bathroom remodeling needs is the way to go. Of course, this requires some research on your part or seeking advice from friends and/or family who may have already shared with you who not to go with based on their horrific experience.

One rule of thumb is not to seek multiple contractors to handle different parts of your bathroom remodeling project – e.g. a flooring contractor, a plumbing contractor, an electrician, etc. This can lead to added stress and more headaches trying to coordinate all of this – this is what a general contractor is supposed to do.

Also, if you are going the value route for your bathroom needs, then hiring a general contractor that also specializes in design is your best bet. Essentially, these companies will be with you each step of the way – from the initial consultation, through the design concepts and the construction phases. Similar to a wedding coordinator, these firms will take almost all the stress off your shoulders so you can focus on other areas of your life, and not have to go to bed worried about whether or not the job will deliver the value you desire and be completed on-time.

Lastly, a reputable design and build contractor will ensure that any hidden problems are met with a solution – sometimes a creative one – to ensure your bathroom is delivered within the agreed budget.

Additional Tips:

  • Think about the entire process. Will your salesperson hand you off to a design person who hands you off to a production person? Or will you be working with the same people throughout the entire process?
  • Don’t hire the lowest price contractor (this isn’t the government), or someone who promises the job will be completed too quickly.
  • What is the contractor’s warranty policy?
  • Will the contractor take care of all drawings and documents needed for permitting, and handle the permitting process for you?

These are just a few considerations to have in mind for your next bathroom remodeling project. For our full 5-point checklist, which includes exclusive tips and questions you want to have answered simply provide your first name and email address below, and your free copy will be sent to you.

Send me my 5-point bathroom remodeling checklist

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