composting-at-home

The Composting Process: How to Use Your Unwanted Food Scraps to Feed the Planet

You may think composting is a daunting and messy task you may not want to get your hands in, but the benefits of composting simply outweigh the small amount of work required to put your food scraps to a better purpose than the trash. Composting can not only feed your household plants with essential nutrients, it can also greatly benefit the planet.

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The 3 Main Household Composting Materials

Composting keeps landfills cleaner while minimizing the release of methane into the atmosphere. According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) article on composting, three main types of compost come from your kitchen:

  • Vegetable waste
  • Fruit scraps
  • Coffee grounds

In addition to these, two other crucial elements generate a proper compost development: “browns” and the right amount of water. Examples of “browns” are twigs, dead leaves and branches. The combination of your kitchen waste, browns, and water encourages a healthy compost development.

The Composting Process

As recommended by the article “The Composting Process” from the University of Illinois, brown materials supply carbon, while green materials, such as fruit rinds and vegetable waste, release nitrogen. Water is the essential accelerant for those two elements to work with one another to create the perfect fertilizer for your plants.

How to Compost at Home

Not sure what to compost at home? Here is a helpful list from the EPA’s “What to Compost:”

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Eggshells
  • Coffee grounds and filters
  • Tea bags
  • Nut shells
  • Shredded newspaper
  • Cardboard
  • Paper
  • Yard trimmings
  • Grass clippings
  • Houseplants
  • Hay and straw
  • Leaves
  • Sawdust
  • Wood chips
  • Cotton and wool rags
  • Hair and fur
  • Fireplace ashes

Composting is great for your plants and the environment, though there are certain things you want to avoid composting from your kitchen. Do not compost the following foods. They not only produce odor issues, they can attract pests:

  • Dairy products
  • Fats, grease, lards and oils
  • Meat or fish bones

How You Can Impact the Planet: Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Greenhouse gases can be dangerous to the earth’s atmosphere, however, composting can help prevent the release of harmful CO2. According to the US Composting Council, although all organic discards contain carbon when they decompose “naturally under aerobic conditions,” the materials become part of a natural carbon cycle that is “removed from the atmosphere by plant photosynthesis, moved among organisms through the foodweb and released via composition.”

The Beauty of Composting

Composting brings beauty to your surroundings. Using it as fertilizer feeds your garden and can either help it flourish or bring it back to a healthy and lively state. The next time you think about throwing out your kitchen scraps, think again. You could have all the benefits of fertilizer without paying a cent!

We’re All About Green Living at Schroeder Design/Build

For more information on Green Living, read our blog post titled: “A Guide to Eco Friendly Home Design.”

If you’re thinking about remodeling, either indoors or outdoors, or are interested in eco-friendly ways to improve your home, contact us here at Schroeder Design/Build. Serving clients throughout Northern Virginia.

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remodeling roller coaster

The Remodeling Emotional Roller Coaster

At the beginning of your remodeling project, there is elation. You are excited to have made the decision to remodel, have chosen your remodeler, and the process is underway. Congratulations, you have just boarded the remodeling emotional roller coaster.

Strap yourself in because as with an amusement park ride there are going to be climbs and dips throughout the process. See the typical remodeling roller coaster graphic below.

remodeling roller coaster

There are moments of joy when you start to see the demolition, or when you make the design decisions, followed by periods of anticipation, fatigue and anxiety. Relax, it’s natural…and expected. The process can seem long and tedious, especially when your normal lifestyle is interrupted for extended period. Just remember, it’s worth it in the end.

The stages of construction you’ll experience include:
  1. Pre-construction where you and our team design the project and agree on pricing
  2. Demolition, where the existing structure is demolished and the new structure’s framing begins to take form
  3. Installation of systems like plumbing and electrical
  4. Drywall, where walls are erected and finished, along with inspections to ensure that your project is up to code
  5. Finishing, when items like cabinetry, flooring, lighting are installed and painting is completed
  6. Punch list, where you and we look for last-minute items to touch up
  7. Project completion!

Related: Effective Communication: Key to a Successful Remodeling Process

The Highs and Lows Along the Remodeling Roller Coaster

Decision Making

You’ll be expected to make lots of decisions throughout the remodeling process. For some this is easy, but others may struggle with the overwhelming number of choices. That’s why we have in-house architecture and design teams. You’ll collaborate closely with your designer who will help you make these decisions. This is one of the fun parts of your project!

Disturbances

It’s a hassle to clear out of the space you’re remodeling, and there will be workers in your space throughout the day and the noise of construction. But we’ll do everything we can to try to prevent too much disruption. To curtail dust and debris, we’ll hang temporary walls of plastic sheeting around the areas we’re working in. And we’ll clean up the jobsite daily.

Unforeseen Issues

We never know what lies behind the walls or beneath the floors until we open up the project. There are times we find code violations, health issues like mold, or structural deficiencies. These must be remedied before we can continue, and they may add to the cost of your job. If such a problem is discovered, you will be presented with the issue and the evidence. Then we’ll need to create a change order where all parties agree to add this new element of construction into your contract. This can be one of the low points in the remodeling emotional roller coaster.

Delays

Delays are inevitable, especially with delivery impacts due to the recent pandemic. Cabinets, appliances and other items have been delayed by several weeks. If the chosen items cannot be acquired, your production manager and design team will help you to make alternate selections that are more readily available. Open communication is key.

Project Completion

Once your project is complete, you get to move back in the enjoy your beautiful new space, and show it off to your family, friends and neighbors. We’ll schedule a formal walk-through to review the work to your satisfaction. If there are minor issues to be addressed, we’ll get right out there to fix them. Otherwise, we’ll check back in six months as a follow-up to tweak anything else you may have noticed.

Reviews

We hope that you’ll be SO excited about your project and your journey with Schroeder Design/Build that you’ll leave us a five-star review! Your review helps to encourage others to remodel their own home, and we always love hearing great feedback!

For Northern Virginia Remodeling, Contact Schroeder Design/Build

Let us help you enjoy the ride along the remodeling roller coaster. Considering remodeling with an addition, kitchen renovation, or a whole house makeover. Contact us for a no-cost, no-obligation initial consultation to get started.

Schroeder Design/Build is a family owned and operated remodeling company serving Northern Virginia since 1986.

chefs-tips-remodeled-kitchen

Chefs’ Tips for Cooking in Your Newly-Remodeled Kitchen

Now that you’ve remodeled your kitchen (or if you’re looking forward to remodeling it), you’re bound to be excited about cooking in it! Shiny new appliances, gleaming countertops and ample cabinet space make it a pleasure to be in the kitchen. And no matter where you are in your cooking prowess, there’s always something to learn. Here are some chefs’ tips to enjoying your newly-remodeled kitchen.

chefs-tips-remodeled-kitchen

Employ Mise en Place

Mise en place is a French term meaning “putting in place.” Gather your recipe, ingredients, cooking utensils in one place prior to cooking and prepare any items in advance, like chopping vegetables or measuring flour. Think about where you will be using each item and plan out accordingly. This is how chefs create a meal quickly.

You Only Need 5 Knives

Professional chefs usually purchase their own knives and take great care of them. Their knife packet includes a paring (2-4” blade), boning (5-7” firm blade), fillet (5-8” pliable blade), French chef’s (8-14” blade), and serrated (12-14” jagged blade) knife.

How to Cook with Oil

  1. Heat the pan before adding oil for charring, searing, stir-frying or sautéing. If the oil is put in too early, its chemical bonds break down and it loses its lubricating quality. Pan-frying and deep-frying are exceptions due to the greater oil volume.
  2. Add the right oil with the appropriate smoke point.
  3. If the oil smokes or changes color before adding the food, it’s too hot. Throw it out, wipe out the pan, and start over. If the oil gets too hot it releases carcinogens and can reach the flash point where it combusts into flames.
  4. Use dry, room-temperature food.
  5. Don’t crowd the pan.
  6. Don’t flip proteins (meats, eggs, fish) early. When it is properly seared, it will naturally release from the pan.
Oil Smoke Points

The oil smoke point is the temperature at which an oil begins to break down and burn. Going past its smoke point can ruin a dish. Different oils are appropriate for different types of cooking, and it’s important to know which type works best.

  • 400°F = Sesame oil; refined canola oil; extra virgin olive oil; vegetable shortening; regular butter
  • 450°F = Extra light (refined) olive oil; refined soybean, sunflower, corn or peanut oil; clarified butter
  • 500°F = Refined avocado oil; refined safflower oil

When to Add Salt

You may be tempted to pick up the salt shaker when you begin cooking, but professional chefs know that the optimal times to add salt can vary.

  • Tenderizing meat: salt 1-4 hours ahead of cooking
  • Boiling liquids in aluminum or cast iron: Add the salt after boiling begins to avoid pitting the pot. Salt the water when cooking vegetables or pasta.
  • Deep-frying: salt after frying
  • Making stock or reducing: don’t add salt during cooking or reduction, the result will be too salty
  • Baking: salt not only adds taste, it activates rising; add according to recipe directions
  • Finishing: salt that is added just before serving or consuming food; varieties include Fleur de Sel, Maldon, Himalayan Pink Salt, or Grinding Salt. See How to Use Finishing Salts.
types-of-salt
Types of Salt

There are generally four types of salt, and each can be used for different applications in the kitchen.

  • Table salt: fine granules generally used in a salt shaker; highly refined; easily measured for recipes; additives can lend a metallic taste
  • Kosher salt: varying-sized coarse granules; easy to pinch and sprinkle; no additives; a chef’s favorite for cooking
  • Sea salt: coarse or fine grains; evaporated from sea water; strongest flavor; most costly; comes in gray, pink, brown and black varieties
  • Rock salt: large unrefined crystals; not suitable for eating, normally used to presenting shellfish; grayish hue

Chefs Say: Remodel Your Kitchen for How You Will Use it

Remodeling your kitchen isn’t just about making selections of countertops or cabinet colors. It’s about HOW you will use your kitchen for a long time to come. Work with a design/build remodeling firm that will review your current and future needs, your lifestyle, and your dreams for your kitchen, and then design and build it to match your vision. Then enjoy it using these chefs’ tips.

For Kitchen Remodeling in NOVA, Contact Schroeder Design/Build

If you’d like to explore remodeling your residential or commercial kitchen in Northern Virginia, contact Schroeder Design/Build.

–excerpted from 101 Things I learned in Culinary School, by Louis Eguaras with Matthew Frederick

Six Adaptable Ways to Live in Your House During Your Remodel

There’s no doubt that remodeling can disrupt the household…no matter what size the remodel. If moving out isn’t a necessity or an option during your remodel, there are manageable ways to mitigate the impact the remodel can have on your family. Consider these six methods:

live-in-home-during-remodel

Plan Ahead

Work with your design/build remodeler to develop a strategic plan. There are lots of little details and decisions, so open and honest communication is definitely the key to making it all come together. Knowing what to expect is also part of the planning process. Since your remodeler has worked in clients’ homes hundreds (if not more) times, they have helpful hints to managing the coordination. Let them help you plan alternative strategies to using your family rooms, bedrooms, bathrooms and kitchen during the remodeling process.

Create New Storage/Access Areas

You will likely need to remove everything from spaces that are being remodeled, but you may still need the items stored in those rooms…like kitchen appliances, food, entertainment or bathroom supplies. Allocate temporary areas in your home where these items can be safely stored yet still accessible when needed. This can be a great time to get rid of or donate items you no longer need or use.

Related: Live In or Move Out: The Remodeling Dilemma

Designate Living Spaces

Clearly identify the spaces where you will be functioning during your remodel. Set up a family and entertainment area away from the remodeling area and don’t be afraid to use rooms not traditionally set up for these purposes. Make a spare bedroom a kitchen/dining space with a microwave oven and table, for example. Remember, it’s temporary—and it can be fun to try something new.

Think about noise and dust. You may want to relocate beds to quieter walls or other rooms, or have kids bunk in together to save space.

Consider Pets, Kids and Older Family Members

While the change in your lifestyle may be easier for you, it may be stressful for your family pets, children or older members of your family. Set up access points for remodeling workers that isolate them from the rest of the home. Create play areas for kids and stock them with toys, games and electronics. Have a quiet sitting area for elderly members. Erect barriers to protect pets.

Kitchen Renovation Strategies

Since your home has only one kitchen, remodeling this area may be the biggest disruption to your family’s lifestyle. Plan ahead by filling the temporary pantry with items that don’t require extensive cooking, or with nonperishable foods. Stock up on disposable plates, utensils and cups. Purchase or borrow cooking equipment like a mini fridge, hot plate, microwave, or electric skillet to help prepare meals. Or indulge yourself with take-out meals as part of the adventure. If the weather’s nice enough, use the outdoor areas as your grilling and eating areas.

Bathroom Renovation Strategies

Other than the kitchen, temporarily losing one or more bathrooms to remodeling can create the most disruption. Address this by scheduling one bathroom renovation at a time if possible. Create areas outside the bathroom where functions like hair drying and styling or makeup application can be done. Give each family member a tote or caddy where their personal items can be consolidated and transported easily. Set up shower schedules to help everyone get ready in the morning. Shower at the gym.

Minimal Disruption During Your Remodel

Your design/build remodeler understands that your lifestyle will not be the same during your remodel and will do their part by trying to contain the noise, dust and disruption as much as possible. Expect vinyl barriers and safety protocols that help protect both you and the workers.

It’s Worth It

Remember that all throughout the noise, dust, endless stream of workers and decisions of your remodel that the end product is worth it. It’s merely an uncomfortable and inconvenient process to the desired result that does have a thrilling conclusion. Kind of like childbirth! Use this time to make the transitional changes fun.

Northern Virginia Remodeling by Schroeder Design/Build

In 2021, Schroeder Design/Build reached the milestone of serving our 1000th client and would love to work with you to remodel the home of your dreams. We thrive on open and honest communication and will do our best to help you maneuver through your remodeling project as easily as possible. Talk to us about remodeling your home. We promise you’ll love the result.

 

remodeling-project-trends-2022

5 Remodeling Project Trends Expected in 2022

People are always curious about what’s coming next. And in remodeling, we like to look at what consumers are asking for. What the industry is seeing are five remodeling project trends expected to boom in 2022.

Remodeling Project Trends for 2022

Trend 1: Better mudroom functionality

Families are well familiar with the frantic searches for keys, backpacks, gloves, hats, and other essentials, especially during the morning rush to get out the door. Remodelers can help alleviate the confusion with a mudroom constructed to a family’s individual needs.

Those designing a mudroom, or an “all-purpose drop zone,” can build from scratch or convert an underutilized space such as an area in or near the garage or laundry room. Other areas that function well include drop-off areas for package and grocery deliveries; pet washing stations with an oversized sink or shower pan; specified storage for each family member; laundry equipment area with shelving, a folding counter and a sink; a central charging station; and even something fun like a boot dryer. A waterproof, easy-to-clean luxury vinyl tile floor helps.

outdoor-fire-pit-remodeling-trends-2022

Trend 2: Specialized Outdoor Rooms

Homeowners are asking remodelers to build spaces to suit their favorite interests. Landscape architect Ryan Kettelkamp of the Chicago-based Kettelkamp & Kettelkamp found that “more clients wanted an outdoor kitchen this past season.” This included a grill, water source and a pizza oven!

Remodeling project trends indicated that other families may want a firepit or outdoor fireplace; a lawn or terrace area where a large screen can be put up to watch movies; an edible garden; and raised wood planters and trellises.

Trend 3: Larger Windows

Homeowners want to feel like they’re connecting with the outdoors even when they’re stuck inside and are changing out windows and doors to fit larger glass options. Windows installed higher, as in a clerestory; garage-style glass doors that roll up; and smaller framework for a thinner window profile are being requested. Durability and energy efficiency remain at the top of the list.

remodeling-project-trends-2022

Trend 4: Flexible Home Offices

Having a place to work or study from home became a need during the pandemic. According to the 2021 Houzz Emerging Home Design Trends Report, searches for home offices were up 108%. Designing a room or area with privacy, light and quiet was important.

Connecticut-based designer Sharon McCormick suggests asking yourself these questions:

  • Do you need a door?
  • Do you want natural light?
  • Do you need or want to share space?
  • Do you have an extra room or space, like a large walk-in closet, landing, attic or basement?
  • What furnishings and accessories do you need?

Trend 5: Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs)

Those with space on their property may opt for the remodeling project trend of building an accessory dwelling unit, or ADU. Similar to a tiny house, these structures are “generally detached from the main house and range in size between 500 and 800 square feet, but as large as 1,200 square feet,” said Caitlin Bigelow, an ADU advocate who runs Maxable, an educational resource on ADUs.

Increased approval from planning and building departments has boosted the popularity of ADUs, which can be used as a housing solution for returning grown children, renters, or older parents (granny flat).

Bigelow recommends installing doorways that accommodate a wheelchair, and removing thresholds between areas when designing your ADU, and including natural light, insulation, key appliances and universal design features overall.

Related: Did you miss our July 2021 design seminar on ADUS? Watch it here!

For Expert Remodeling, Contact Schroeder Design/Build

You too, can add function, value and joy to your home, both inside and out with these remodeling project trends. Contact Schroeder Design/Build to talk about your remodeling dreams in Northern Virginia.

 

–Excerpted from “5 Remodeling Projects Expected to Boom in 2022” by Barbara Ballinger, published in Pro Remodeler, September 20, 2021.

what-could-go-wrong-handshake

So You’re Remodeling…What Could Go Wrong?

Congratulations. You’ve chosen to remodel your home or business. You’ve vetted the company, collected your funds, and you’re ready to begin. What could go wrong? Plenty.

We’ll be honest, right from the start. Although remodeling companies make every effort to flawlessly execute each client’s job, there are things that could possibly go wrong. Here are some potential areas where that can happen.

What Could Cause Things to Go Wrong on your Remodeling Job?

what-could-go-wrong-handshake

Pre-Conceived Perceptions

When you started talking to your friends and family about wanting to remodel, you probably heard a number of horror stories–contractors walking off the job, prices escalating, or shoddy work. So you’re already going into the process with apprehension. We liken it to buying an automobile. Before you even step inside the dealership, you may already be suspicious of their sales techniques and pricing. We try to make you feel comfortable from our first meeting on, with open and honest communication. We have nothing to hide. Feel free to ask us anything! We’ll be glad to answer your questions.

Many Moving Parts

There are hundreds of pieces to the puzzle of your remodel, and although we do our best to coordinate them all, things happen. Items may be mis-ordered by accident, or something could get inadvertently left off your order. We have a structured process, with dedicated project developers and project managers, and an online system through CoConstruct to aid in communication and to help prevent errors from happening. If an error does occur, rest assured, we will make every effort to fix it as soon as possible. We want to earn your five-star review at the end of our job.

Dealing with Outside Vendors

We can’t control everything. When we order from outside vendors, we trust that what we order is what we’ll receive. It sometimes happens that they mix up an order, or an item comes in damaged or is delivered to the wrong job site. At other times, items are backordered or discontinued. This might mean that an order can be delayed, which could delay part of your job, depending on what the product is. When a problem is discovered, we get on the phone immediately to remediate the issue. We will communicate with you all issues that arise and reconfigure schedules to incorporate the order issue and keep your job moving along.

Scheduling

After 35 years in business, we know how to schedule a job from beginning to end. But there are still things that can go wrong in the schedule. Our people get sick, clients are called away for business, or components’ delivery is delayed, for example. Working around scheduling issues is one of the biggest challenges all remodeling companies have. It is our desire to complete every job on time and on budget.

Related: Help Your Remodeling Projects Go Smoother

Costs

We work with dozens of vendors and have solid and long-term relationships that garner us excellent prices on their products, which we pass along to you. But again, although it happens rarely, things can go wrong. There might be a lumber shortage or a manufacturing issue that causes the vendor to raise their prices. If this happens, we have no choice other than to communicate this to you. Any changes are presented to you and approved via a change order.

Miscommunication

Although we encourage clear communication, sometimes information is misinterpreted by one or the other sides. Please, don’t get angry. Let us know if you feel that something is off, and we’ll do the same. The biggest problem with miscommunication is when the issue is not brought to light. That’s when bad feelings can build up. Even though it may be uncomfortable to bring up the subject we’d rather learn what the problem is and address and resolve it before it becomes a larger issue.

Like All Remodeling Companies, We’ve Had Things Go Wrong

You can read, in our clients’ own words, testimonials about what occasionally went wrong in various client jobs and how expediently our team resolved the issue to our clients’ satisfaction. Our goal is to have a happy client at the end of each and every job.

A Happy Client at the End is Our Goal

There is a likelihood that something may go wrong during your remodeling job. There are just too many moving parts involved, and each job and the people involved are so unique. Hopefully it’s just a little issue that can be quickly resolved and that 99.9% of your job goes right. As Tony Robbins said, “Stop being afraid of what could go wrong, and start being excited about what could go right.” Think ahead to the fabulous new space you’ll have to enjoy at the end of your remodeling job.

The Majority of Our Business Comes From Happy Clients

The majority of our business at Schroeder Design/Build comes from either repeat business from our happy clients or their referrals to people they know. If they weren’t happy with our work, our customer service, our processes and the end result, this wouldn’t happen. This is testimony of the commitment we have to creating happy and satisfied clients.

Looking to Remodel? Contact Schroeder Design/Build

We’d like to talk to you about your Northern Virginia remodeling project. Please contact us for a free consultation at 703-449-1700 or info@SchroederDesignBuild.com.

Checklist for Interviewing a Remodeling Contractor

Why is Our Being a PRO or NARI Member Important to You?

2021 UPDATE: The local NARI chapter has been restructured and is now called PRO Mid-Atlantic, the Professional Remodeling Organization.

Schroeder Design/Build is a long-standing member of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) and a member of the newly-formed Professional Remodeling Organization (PRO). In fact, joining the Washington D.C. Metro Region chapter of NARI was one of the first things we did when we started our company 35 years ago. This being said, you might wonder, “Why is a PRO or NARI membership important?” Let’s explore the many reasons why our being an association member is important to you.

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How To Create a Home Office

How To Create a Home Office

What is the “new normal?” According to some experts, it means that many more people will be working from home. Some people were well prepared when the shelter-in-place orders were enforced, and had dedicated spaces for their home office. Others were left working from their bedrooms or dining room. Overall, we’ve been getting a lot of questions about how to create a home office remodel and will offer our expertise in this post.

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Best Places to Live in Northern Virginia

Best Places to Live in Northern Virginia

Best Places to Live in Northern Virginia

Narrowing down the location for your next home just may be the hardest part of moving. Luckily, Northern Virginia offers plenty of towns and neighborhoods that just may be perfect for you, including these four spots.

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The Best Spring Getaways in Virginia

The Best Spring Getaways in Virginia

The Best Spring Getaways in VirginiaWhen you need a break from real life, a getaway offers the perfect way to decompress and recharge. These three Virginia vacation spots offer everything you need for a relaxing getaway.

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