Natelli Homes Blog

Arguably the most important rooms in a home are the kitchen and family room.  Families tend to congregate, eat, play, laugh, argue, watch TV and use computers in these rooms.  Dining Rooms are used a couple of times a year and Living Rooms almost have no purpose at all.

altFor this property owner in Bethesda, like the vast majority in the Washington, D.C. metro area, they needed an affordable expansion of the kitchen, family room and breakfast room.  This project included a family room addition about 20 feet square that adjoined the kitchen and breakfast room.  altThe family room connects to the kitchen through an open counter-top and two cased openings as you can see in the adjacent photo.  The breakfast room is large enough to house a generous table and will include a wall-mounted TV and wireless computer connections.

altThis project is ready for the finishes.  The drywall has been installed and primed, the sub-floor has been screwed and prepped to receive the wood flooring and equally important, the home is clean and safe.  A clean project is a safe project.  The windows are ready to be trimmed with casing and stool - this project is ready to continue on its speedy schedule.  Check our posts in a week or two - I will be sure to include some photos of the completed cabinets and trim.

Feel free to e-mail me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit our website at www.natellihomes.com.  We have valuable on-line coupons for kitchens, bathrooms and windows that will not be available for much longer.

Lots of people pause about renovating a home because they worry about how long it might take, interruptions to their family and perhaps the cost.  One of the easiest additions is over an existing garage.  If the existing home was constructed properly it should support the new living space.  There is a lot of foot-print to work with and the demolition is minimal.

altIn this project located in Potomac, MD, we removed the existing roof and had the new room built in a manner of a few weeks.  The Owners were concerned about disturbance during the forthcoming holidays, but good planning and project management got the job under roof well before the deadlines.

altThere is a lot of room over a garage.  A Master Suite with closets and a large bathroom will easily fit in the space.  Alternatively two bedrooms and a shared bath would work as well.  The living spaces can easily be enhanced with dormers and vaulted ceilings.  This is truly one of the most logical additions one can make if added bedroom space is a necessity.

The bottom line here is simple.  Don't overlook the obvious.  There is easy inexpensive space over a garage.  I'll talk about the inside improvements in a future post. 

Feel free to contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit our website at www.NatelliHomes.com

 Most people enter their homes through the garage; simply press a button in the car and quickly get into the home. It’s simple, effective and we hardly give it a second thought. But the vast majority of the people, even our good friends, usually come to the front door when they visit.   The front door and a covering / portico can be the first impression for a visitor.  Not only are they a measure of the appeal of the home but they provide a needed function by giving shelter from rain and snow.  The covered area lends itself to kicking the elements off our boots and catching our breath after running through a downpour.  Although I don't have a photo included in this post, one of my favorite views of homes is in the evening when the cone of a downlight or the reflection from a well placed sconce accentuates the architecture of a portico.

altTransforming the entrance to a home is not easy.  One needs to consider the existing architecture, overall mass of the home, the owner's preferences and the materials to be used.   In the example on the left located in Potomac, Md., the home did not have an apparent entrance.  The front door is almost hidden in the fascade and the shrubs block the entrance.  The walkway is not even visible.  Visitors might actually have been confused as to where and how to approach the home.  We all want to feel invited, but in this case a visitor does not know where to start.

altConstruction on this project was significant but the results speak for themselves.  The driveway was changed from asphalt to pavers, new landscaping was installed, stone knee walls frame the walkway and a new concrete foundation with local flagstone paving was built to support the covered portico with stained rough-sawn cedar posts.alt

altWhat results is an architectural invitation and an obvious arrival court.  The materials all complement one other.  The textures of the stone paving lead to a natural expectation of the look and feel of the cedar posts and the copper roof will fade to an earthy patina.  Finally there is a single focus, an obvious arrival point;  the invitation to the home we were always looking for.

Feel free to e-mail me with your questions and comments.  I can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit our website www.natellihomes.com


Natelli Homes recently completed a kitchen renovation to a home in Potomac, MD.  We used custom WoodMode cabinets, Kashmere Gold perimeter granite countertops with antique honed finishes and professional grade Wolf, Subzero and Dacor appliances - all high-end components that would make any kitchen stand out.  The Woodmode cabinets with a distressed Cottage White finish on the surrounding wall and base cabinets make the rich wood-tones of the island stand out.

The existing kitchen was limited in width so the client made some creative decisions to make the island the most notable feature in the project without harming valuable space.alt  The cherry cabinets in the island are a rich Burnished Tuscan Sun finish from WoodMode's array of custom options and finishes.  At the end of the island is a maple butcher block that the client found in an antique shop.  We studied the butcher block with our WoodMode kitchen designer and made a custom base that would look as if they were both designed with the original cabinets. 

The most challenging part of the project was the custom zinc top.  Knowing that zinc is a soft metal that can scratch and stain unless properly cared for, we debated for several weeks with the client about that choice of material.  Finally after much discussion on the pros and cons, we carefully measured for the top and made a template for the zinc manufacturer.  Even in the Washington, DC metropolitan area, not many firms are experienced or qualified to make a zinc top, so we ended up using a firm in Texas.alt  The separation from DC to Texas was not very comforting as all dimensions and details had to be confirmed over e-mail or the phone. Obviously the top came out great.  It is a beautiful, completely unique feature in what could have been an outstanding but somewhat typical kitchen renovation. 

Credit goes to the client for knowing what they wanted, researching the issues and sticking to their instincts.  We are pleased to have been a part of another beautiful kitchen renovation with different challenges and such notable differences in the finished product.

Feel free to contact me with any questions or comments.  I can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit our website at www.natellihomes.com


Next in our series of possible bathroom design options we look at adding a couple of feet to the back of the room and creating a shed dormer.  altWe want to manage costs so the expansion will be minimal but still develop the necessary space.  The sketch on the right is the same starting point we have for our other design options.  Now let's see what happens with a few extra square feet positioned in the right place.

We will incorporate a tub, full shower, two vanities and a toilet compartment in this expansion.  altThe tub is generously sized with ample room on the deck for towel storage and decorations.  The shower has a large seat and potential for multiple heads and there is room for a private area for the water closet. Having his and her vanities makes sense for many couples.  The complement of quality cabinets on either side of the room, such as the WoodMode cabinets we feature, not only allows symmetry in the space but creates a focal point to the tub and window above.  The added window could be the most valuable component.  Large amounts of natural light flowing in the bathroom through a round or elliptical transom makes the room feel more connected to the outside.  The ambient light in a room often negates the need for illuminated lights.  Finally, look at the closets.  They have more than doubled - something every family could use!

So now you have three functional options to the standard bathroom in the Washington, DC, metropolitan area.  Each one has different priorities but none come at significant expense because they are designed and constructed in a logical and practical manner.  With these designs you can bring your home from the 1940's quickly into optimum design standards for your lifestyle today.

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In our first bathroom design evaluation, we looked at the design potential of a typical bathroom in the metropolitan Washington, D.C. area assuming we wanted the primary components to include a vanity, shower, toilet and tub.  altIf you look back at that post, you will see that we actually increased the usable and functional space within the confines of the existing room.  The original bathroom is shown in the image to the right.

For the current option, we are going to be honest with ourselves about the need for a tub.  Natelli Homes has installed hundreds of tubs in Master Suites over the years.  Upon reflection the vast majority of our clients admit that they might use a tub a few times a year.  So let's see what one gains if we allocate the space taken up by the tub for more vital funtions in a bathroom. 

altThe first thing that strikes me is an expansive double bowl vanity with lots of surface area and potential for ample storage below.  One can image a wood framed mirror over the vanity with attractive sconces complimented by some recessed pin lights in the ceiling.  The toilet is within a room with a door for complete privacy.  The shower is still ample allowing for a bench, multiple spray heads and a rain-shower above.

A small recess into the sloped roof area behind the vanity expands the room slightly, but this comes at a minimal cost with huge benefits.  The hallway is aligned with the entrance so the closets have expanded nearly 150% of their prior size.  All these benefits come within the boundaries of the existing space with the exception of the small expansion behind the vanities.

Good design supported by practical evaluation makes for a successul bathroom renovation.  In our next evaluation we will see how the potential grows when a small dormer is set into the rear roof. 

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Homes and designs constructed in the 50's and 60's often don't work very well for our current needs.  In particular, bathrooms were seemingly tertiary spaces, whereas they are vital and one of the primary priorities for homeowners today.  People expect more in a bathroom now, especially when it comes to the master bathroom.  The challenge comes when the client does not want to expand the room due to structural issues, the effects on other rooms or simply budget limitations.

We have done a 4 part study of design options for a typical bathroom built in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area.  altThe existing bathroom is shown in a sketch on the right.  You can see a long dressing vanity, a compacted bathroom area and two modest closets.   As you can see, there is a lot of wasted space in the hallway and open area in front of the dressing vanity.

For the 1st option, below, we kept the bathroom to the same general limitations of the existing space.  We did not allow the design to expand into other rooms, except a small portion of an adjacent attic. altIn this version, we maintained a tub and a separate shower.  Clients often debate whether to incorporate a tub or not; some people use the tub, many do not - every client is different so we will show you alternatives without tubs in subsequent posts. We have one long vanity with two bowls, a compartment for the toilet and even a linen closet dedicated to the Master bath.  The closets have been expanded into the attic space.  The entrance incorporates a vestibule to delineate the privacy desired for the Master Suite.

This example shows the potential of working within the structure of the existing home.  The bathroom is vastly improved with a large shower, good counter space and expanded closets.  Next we will show you what we can do if we eliminate the tub.  After that, in Options 3 & 4, we will show you what happens when we add a window.  Stay tuned!

We appreciate your comments and questions.  Please e-mail me directly at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit our website at www.NatelliHomes.com.

Kitchens can be a lot of fun if you let your imagination go beyond traditional thinking.  Families spend the majority of their time in a kitchen so why not put the emphasis in that room?  We obviously eat our meals in the kitchen; but in addition, kids do their homework on the kitchen counter-top, parties invariably end up in kitchens, computers are in most kitchens, families watch TV in the kitchen not to mention the cooking and food preparation that goes on in a kitchen.

Kitchens are one of the most important rooms in our home.  They need to be significant, functional, comfortable and engaging. 

altA properly executed kitchen renovation needs to convert a basic kitchen into a multi-functional, useful and family oriented living space.  In this example we converted an ordinary kitchen into an eye opening, light filled space with a breakfast room, large open counter-tops, an expansive island, two dishwashers, accommodations for computers and TVs and comfortable sitting areas.  It is hard to believe that these photos are the before and after of the same kitchen, but they really are, which is a testament to the power of imagination and good design.

altNote the high ceilings in the open gable window of the breakfast room.  The room fills with the warm morning sun and makes for a inviting space for families and guests.  The back yard and patio are now extensions of the kitchen and breakfast room.  There is even a fireplace in the adjacent room that can be enjoyed from the kitchen and breakfast room.

When designing a kitchen or any space for that matter, "think outside the box".  Creative design, quality construction and understanding the needs of a client should be paramount in your selection of a kitchen contractor.  Don't be limited by the walls in front of you, look to a professional designer like Natelli Homes to guide you to to the right design and premier construction services.

We enjoy hearing from our readers.  Feel free to contact me, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit our website, www.natellihomes.com

Everyone seems to be spending lots of time at home working on their business, so more and more of our clients are looking for ways to accomplish this need.  In this case we converted a large hallway adjacent to an open 2nd floor foyer into a work area.  Working with WoodMode cabinets we created a very effective work area.

altThere is a pull out desk-top for additional work surface area, file storage, customized spaces for the hard drive, keyboard and computer display.  The pull out desk-top slides imperceptibly back into the cabinets when not in use.

The desk top is set lower to a table top height while the adjacent cabinets are slightly higher for more storage. Clever features and details make this space functional and attractive.  Note the large windows adjacent to the desk that bring ample natural light to the work areas.

We enjoy hearing from our readers so feel free to contact me ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ) with questions or comments or visit our website ( www.natellihomes.com )

Good architectural design blends an addition to a home seamlessly as if the improvement had been there all along.  altIn this example, Natelli Homes designed and constructed a screened porch on the rear of an existing home and blended it perfectly with the composition of the architecture.  Compare the before and after photos - one almost has to look twice to see that we added an entire room.

altThis comfortable addition includes a stained fir ceiling with dramatic beams and brackets, which we will describe in a post in the near future.  A floor-to-ceiling field stone fireplace anchors the plush seating and eating area.   This home owner enjoys the space, which overlooks a pool and patio, almost year-round.

Good architectural design for renovations is quite a skill.  We enjoy hearing our clients tell their friends that it looks and feels as if our new work was a part of the original architecture.

I appreciate hearing from readers about our posts.  Please contact me at Bob@NatelliHomes or visit our website at www.NatelliHomes.com