Invest in home

5 Reasons to Invest in Your Northern Virginia Home Right Now

Invest in homeCertainly, the past two years have been strange and unpredictable to say the least. As we start to see the tides change, new uncertainties loom for Fairfax County homeowners now grappling with rising inflation caused by higher demand, rising interest rates, and a looming recession. 

The good news is that, despite all these concerns, remodeling your Northern Virginia home is a smart investment. Several factors come into play, including a unique housing market, less stretched remodeling firms, better lifestyle value, and improved home equity. 

Let’s take a look at each of these surprising reasons, and show how what seems like the worst time to renovate your home is actually the best time to design and build a new room addition, kitchen, bathroom, home office, home gym, outdoor living space, or other upgrade that you’ve always dreamed of. 

Reason #1: The Housing Market is Stable

So many factors are impacting the housing market that it’s easy to get confused. Part of the reason is that home prices and sales have skyrocketed since the pandemic began, and are at long last stabilizing. That makes it seem like the market is in far worse shape than it actually is. 

Here are some numbers to prove that: According to the Federal Reserve Bank, median home prices have shot up nearly 36% over the past couple years, and have come down only 2.4% over the past month. So the “downturn” is the housing market returning to ‘more normalized conditions.’

In terms of what’s around the bend, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) predicts that home prices will go up 11% the rest of 2022, and level off at 2% for 2023. So much for a looming “recession”–your home’s value is set to remain 30% higher than what it was in 2020.

Reasons #2: The Remodeling Market is Calming Down

If you think inflation is bad now, spending on remodeling throughout the pandemic was nearly triple that rate. That meant consumer demand was through the roof, and remodeling firm supply couldn’t keep up. The results were long wait times, high costs, and low homeowner satisfaction. 

Another ongoing challenge has been global supply chain issues, which also boosted wait times and costs for critical materials and appliances. But the National Association of Home Builders reported a record 4.1% decline in material costs in one month, signaling a turning of the tide. 

And yet another pandemic silver lining is interest rates. The Job Center for Housing Studies at Harvard predicts they’ll calm the overall market down, enabling your favorite remodeling contractors in Northern Virginia to dedicate themselves to your business, and do it more affordably than ever.

Reason #3: Live Better in the Home You Love

Home prices, sales, and materials costs are a numbers game, while you and your family’s happiness is difficult – if not impossible – to quantify. That’s especially true when you consider all the feelings associated with living in a home that’s beautiful, efficient, and comfortable. 

Since much has been made about “lifestyle value” related to home ownership and renovation, the NAR decided to give its measurement a shot. In 2017 they created a mathematical algorithm to capture homeowner sentiment regarding their houses, and called it a “Joy Score.” 

Turns out that the Joy Score for homeowners who remodeled their houses, and did it with the help of experienced contractors, was substantially higher than those who didn’t remodel at all, or insisted on doing it themselves. The takeaway: Dream homes are a dream come true!

Reason #4: Get a Home Loan While Your Equity is Hot

Getting a HELOC, or Home Equity Line of Credit is a good idea now, thanks to the value of your home being so high. Since HELOCs have variable rates directly tied to the Fed’s interest rate, it’s a classic “use it or lose it” scenario to get the most value while your home equity is highest.  

All HELOCs have what’s called a draw period, and a repayment period. During the former you are able to borrow money, and may only be responsible for paying the interest. After that period is over, you’ll have to start repaying the loan and the interest charged by your bank.

Essential pros: interest rates are usually lower than for other lines of credit; you can borrow exactly as much as you need when you need it; you get great tax benefits. The cons: annual fees; over-borrowing; unexpectedly variable and high interest rates; unstable housing market. 

Summary: Now’s Actually a Great Time to Renovate!

Although we’re all reluctant to read the newspaper each morning, the headline is surprisingly good for Fairfax County residents who want to improve their homes, financial standing, and quality of life. Despite all the doom and gloom, the future is bright, especially for remodels. 

As we’ve seen, that’s because many of the factors that make consumers jittery have become incentives to invest in the renovation you’ve been putting off. You have a chance to do it efficiently, affordably, and spectacularly this chaotic year. The time is now to make it happen. 

Another vital consideration is your choice of Northern Virginia contractor. Make sure you’re partnering with a true “Design-Build” firm, one where the up front planning, design and project management is seamlessly connected to the actual construction work. Great communication is key!

Reason #5: Partner with the Best Design-Build Firm in Northern Virginia

Award-Winning Historic Home Renovation and Two-Story Residential Addition in Burke, VASchroeder Design Build is a multi-generational, family owned and operated remodeling firm located in Fairfax, Virginia. Since 1986, we’ve been providing 1,000+ clients throughout Northern Virginia with comprehensive design and construction services. 

We take our proprietary Design-Build process very seriously to ensure our projects are completed on time, on budget, and to client expectations. The first and most vital step is listening to our clients needs and interpreting their vision of a dream home. The design and build phases are seamlessly integrated to ensure continuous communication and a smooth project to completion. 

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Home Gym

8 Design Ideas for Creating Dedicated Spaces in Your Home

Due in part to the pandemic, the idea of creating dedicated spaces in your home has flourished. Families not only want separate areas in the home for privacy, they are desiring areas designed for one unique purpose, like a home office or gym. Now is your time to get creative! To get you started, here are eight of the most popular dedicated spaces design trends.

1) Home Fitness or CrossFit Gym

Home Gym
Staying in shape has always been a priority, and having a dedicated space for a home gym makes it all-so-more convenient to work out.

The first decision is where to place your home gym. Homeowners are finding creative ways to incorporate a home gym, using a spare bedroom, attic or basement areas, a garage, or even an outbuilding to house their equipment and workout space. 

Some of the requirements for a home gym can include electrical outlets (for electronic machines like a treadmill or Peleton bike), floor space for mats and stretching, durable flooring, cushioned floor mats for weights or noise dampening, wall mirrors, fans, mounted TV sets, and lighting (bright or mood lighting). Create areas for equipment storage, like cubbies or cabinets, and perhaps even install a small refrigerator for cooled drinks.

Read more in our blog post: How to Create a Fitness Garage Gym in Your Home.

2) Home Office

Woman working in Home office

Two years after the pandemic began, six out of ten workers state that their jobs can be done from home, and that when the coronavirus outbreak is over, 60% of workers would like to continue to work from home if they had a choice, according to a PEW Research Center study.  Another study by Global Workplace Analytics indicates that 22% of the US workforce will work remotely by 2025. This leads to a higher demand than ever for a home office. 

Begin by defining your needs. What size, atmosphere and utilization are needed? How many people will be working there? What electrical, furniture, and technology needs do you have? What location is best?  Having a dedicated space in your home allows you the privacy and controlled environment you need in a home office for concentration and online meetings, although temporary quarters can be arranged through room dividers, screens or hideaway storage options.

Things to consider include task and natural lighting, video conferencing technology, furniture placement, shelving and storage, and personal decorations. Don’t hesitate to make your home office a cozy area with a couch or comfortable chairs. After all, you’ll be spending a good part of your day there.

3) Art Studio

Children and adults alike get great pleasure from artistic endeavors, so why not create a dedicated space in your home for an art studio! For professional artists, it’s a must! Instead of working at the dining room table and having to clean up the mess every evening, plan a room where your inner artist can express itself freely. Most commonly, homeowners choose a spare bedroom, attic, basement, or shed for their art studio, but creative spaces can be found under stairs, in a corner, or even on the screened-in porch or patio.

Your workspace should be able to incorporate a drawing table, desk or easel, chairs, storage for art supplies, and plenty of natural light. Add task or bright lighting for evening sessions. Ventilation is also crucial, especially if you are working with chemicals, paints, glues or other potentially harmful mediums. Open windows and use a fan or vent to provide fresh air. Easy-to-clean flooring and a utility sink are also helpful.

4) Media/Game Room

Basement for entertaining

Having a dedicated media or game room space for the family to gather and entertain is a great design idea. Depending upon the size of your space, your options can range from a full in-home theatre or pool room and bar to a cozy area with comfortable couches, large screen TV, WiFi and surround sound. Tie in an entertainment system with your game room to create a dual-use room. Add a mini fridge or a mini kitchen for snacks and drinks, and incorporate fun, themed décor. Install dimmable, task or perimeter lighting, and shades for blacking out windows in a theatre space. For a media room, avoid glossy walls that can reflect light.

5) Wine Cellar

If you’re a wine connoisseur, your home probably has an area you can use as a dedicated space for a wine cellar. In just 30 square feet, you can store a collection of up to 250 bottles!

Basements are perfect, since they are cooler and away from light. However, you’ll need to create a controlled environment. Your wine cellar should maintain a constant temperature of around 55 degrees F, and humidity control is crucial. The ideal humidity level is 57%. Go higher and mold can grow in the cork; go lower and the cork can dry out. A 6-millimeter poly moisture barrier should be installed outside the framed walls, with insulation to the inside, finished with a mold- and mildew-resistant drywall.

6) Home Library

Home Library

Love to read? Designing a home library doesn’t mean you need an entire room. You can easily create a library area that goes beyond just book storage in any room. Install beautifully-milled bookcases along a blank wall, with comfortable seating either built in or nearby. But don’t just load the shelves with books; break up the monotony by leaving space for mementos from your travels, artwork and decorative pieces. Natural light adds to the ambiance of a home library and makes it easy to read for both work and pleasure.

Most often, homeowners create their home library in the living room or family room. We’ve also seen them in the kitchen, bedrooms, and even a bathroom! Showcase your books by color, subject matter, or a filing system.

7) Play Room

Give the kids a dedicated space of their own with a perfect playroom. This is an area where your imagination can go wild! For younger children, design a castle setting for make-believe or a play kitchen for budding chefs, for example. For older children, create zones for entertainment, relaxing and play, like a quiet reading nook or an art table. Choose a focal point to the room and don’t be afraid to use color.

Safety is a concern in a home play room. Plan built-in furniture, and securely attach bookcases and shelving to the walls to avoid accidents with active children. Add appropriate lighting for reading, play and gaming. Be clever with storage, going back to the zones where activities will take place.

8) Flex Room

If you have a number of interests, consider creating a space in your home that can accommodate multiple uses—a bonus room or flex room. This way you can use it for whatever you want! 

A flex room can be adapted into your existing home, or added on with an addition or outbuilding, and can quickly convert from a playroom to a home office to a guest room for visiting relatives in a flash. Turn a spare bedroom into a multipurpose room with the addition of a desk and Murphy bed. Transform an unused dining room into a multi-media/entertainment room. You can even re-imagine small space like a nook into a study area or mini bar—adding multiple uses to a single room.


When it Comes to Creating Dedicated Spaces in Your Northern Virginia Home, Trust the Creative Expertise at Schroeder Design/Build

At Schroeder Design/Build, we’re a true design-build remodeling firm and employ in-house creative designers and architects who can bring your vision to life. You’ll conveniently work with one firm from design through construction—and love the result and the experience along the way.

We’re not afraid to be creative! What do you have in mind for your new dedicated space? Contact us for a free initial consultation to learn how you can transform your house into a home you love.

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CrossFit Garage Gym

How to Create a Fitness Garage Gym in Your Home

CrossFit Garage Gym

Every fitness garage gym is going to look a little different—that’s the beauty of the concept! By incorporating your gym into your home, you can completely customize it to your individual wants and needs. Still, there are a few essentials that most fitness experts agree that everyone should have in their home gym. Here are a few tips as offered by Andrew Schroeder, Schroeder Design/Build’s CEO and a CrossFit enthusiast.

Home Garage Gym Essentials

How to Get Started

First, determine how big you want your fitness garage gym to be, and how much space you can dedicate to it. If you have a 1.5-car garage or an extended garage, you might easily be able to adjust the space to fit all the equipment you need. (We can also build you a garage addition!)

Your home garage gym should require a minimum 10’ x 10’ space. This will allow enough room for the pull-up bar and other essential equipment, with breathing room to really get into your workout. You don’t want a tight space that will restrict your movement or make you uncomfortable, otherwise, you might not end up using your home gym as often as intended.

Tips for the Garage

To make your fitness garage gym a more comfortable workout space, and you are building your garage from the ground up, incorporate a mini-split (heated and cool area). Insulate both the room and the garage door.

Must-Haves for your Fitness Gym

CrossFit Equipment

An ideal fitness gym includes these three must-have pieces or sets of equipment:

    1. Dumbbells
      Dumbbells are a necessary building block and can be incorporated into any weightlifting exercise. They are available in both fixed and adjustable styles. Make your selections based on your budget, space, and preferences. Adjustable dumbbells provide the most flexibility and they come in a variety of options,” Andrew says. “The best tool to have if you are limited on space is the adjustable dumbbell set. If you have ample space, go for the full dumbbell set.”
    2. Mats
      Mats help to protect your concrete slab and your weight sets. Andrew prefers horse stall mats available from the Tractor Supply Company store.
    3. Bench
      Another mandatory item is an adjustable bench that will allow angled workouts, bench presses, curls, etc.

Optional Equipment for Your Fitness Gym

CrossFit Garage Gym

If you have the space and the budget, additionally incorporate these items into your fitness gym:

  • Pull-up Rig (free-standing or mounted)
    A pull-up bar is one of the most effective exercises for strengthening your back muscles. As a fitness or CrossFit enthusiast yourself, you may already have one. If not, you may be able to find a bar attachment that works with your other equipment in order to save money. Or choose a stand-alone option.
  • Rack (full x-rack or cage rack)
    For safety and stability, a full power rack is a good option, and for CrossFit athletes, a power rack can be adjusted to adapt to various exercises. A squat rack may also be preferred. Most power racks are created from heavy-duty steel tubes, with a weight capacity of more than 800 pounds. The power rack can include an overhead pull-up bar. For the cage structure, you stand inside while working out, and load your barbell onto a platform with height-adjustable safety bars. It is designed to keep weights from falling on you or damaging your floor in the case of a failed rep by using catcher arms that extend across the entire length of the cage. The platform also allows you to add accessories like resistance bands or an overhead cable pulley. It also offers the option of securing it to the home gym floor for additional stability.
  • Plates (bumper, metal, or rubber plates)
    Not all plates are created equally. You will want to consider the pros and cons of bumper plates vs. metal vs. rubber plates. Bumper plates are formed from a high-density rubber, and bounce if dropped during movements like snatches, clean and jerks, and overhead squats, which helps protect the weight, the barbells, and your floor from damage. This makes them a good choice for a fitness gym. Choose sets in 45, 25, 10, and 5-pound increments to allow for a full-range CrossFit workout. Metal plates are created from cast iron, steel, or chrome and increase in both diameter and thickness as their weight becomes higher. They are available in 5, 10, 25, and 45-pound sizes and cannot be dropped. Rubber plates are metal plates with a thin rubber coating and may have a hexagonal shape and holes for effective gripping. They also cannot be dropped.
  • Barbell
    You will need a barbell in order to use your plates. It is a straight, 7-foot metal bar onto which the plates are held by clamp collars (pressurized spring coils). Select any Olympic lifting-style multipurpose bar that works within your budget, or choose the typical CrossFit 20Kg bar as a splurge.

Nice To Have, But Not Required, Equipment

You’ll have a great workout with the equipment we’ve highlighted above. But if you want to go even further, here are some nice-to-have add-ons for your CrossFit garage gym:

  • Cardio equipment – ski rower or stationary bike; great for lung and heart conditioning
  • Box – box jumps and jump-overs are important elements of CrossFit training. Choose a box with soft edges to avoid slip-and-fall injuries.
  • Rings
  • Clock timer
  • TV with speakers
  • Mirrored wall
  • Ab wheel

Other home gym essentials can include a weight lifting belt or straps, elbow and knee sleeves, and extra shoes. You may want to also invest in solid warmup and cooldown equipment like a set of bands for stretching, and a slingshot to loosen up hips, quads, and hamstrings.

How Andrew Schroeder Stocks His CrossFit Garage Gym


Here is what’s in Andrew’s own CrossFit garage gym:

  • Hyper volt
  • SSB 65#
  • Pulling sled
  • Matador dip bar
  • Curl Bar
  • Monster light rack with pull-up bar (not a full cage)
  • Oly bar, 45# & 35#
  • Cowboy power bar 45#
  • Trap bar 60#
  • Axel bar—stubby, 1.9” 20#
  • Fatter brushing bar, 45#
  • Plates (metal and bumpers), 700#
  • Dumbbells, 5-20 lbs. in 2.5-lb. increments; 20-25 lbs. in 5-lb increments; 50-60 lbs. in 10-lb. increments
  • 2p KB
  • Fat Gripz
  • Erg
  • Ski erg
  • 13’ rope (he has 13’ ceilings in the garage)
  • Rings on rig and from ceiling
  • 20# and 12 wall ball
  • Adjustable bench
  • 20/24/30” box
  • 12/14/16” box
  • Weight vest (up to 30#)
  • 70# wreck bag
  • 150# sandbag
  • Weighted belt
  • Zercher harness
  • Play mats for lunches
  • AB mat and wheel
  • Forearm roll up
  • Bosu ½ ball
  • Parallettes
  • Chains, 4 x 20#
  • Mountain dog band set
  • Safety bars
  • Rig pulley system
  • Kettle bell grips
  • Battle rope

Schroeder Design/Build. Building More Than Just Homes in Northern Virginia

As you can see, we have expertise in more than just remodeling or building homes! We can also help you build your body, strength, and health. If you live in Northern Virginia and you’d like to build a garage addition to hold a fitness gym, or retrofit your existing garage, contact us for more information. We can be reached at 703-449-1700 or

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Woman doing yoga poses

Incorporating Wellness Design into Your Home

Woman doing yoga poses

People are interested in becoming healthier, and not just with their physical fitness and diets. They are looking to incorporate wellness features into their homes.

You may think that because your home is clean that it is healthy. Surprisingly, it may not be. For example, did you know that the air inside your home can be 5 times more polluted than the air outside? Wellness goes beyond clean. It incorporates features that promote, encourage and sustain a healthy lifestyle.

The holistic aspects of wellness in a home focus on air quality, water quality, lighting, pollutants, natural surroundings, healthy eating, physical fitness and habits.

Self Care and Wellness are Huge Industries

hand weights, sneakers, water

Results from a McKinsey & Company 2021 survey indicates that consumers “care deeply about wellness—and that their interest is growing.” Consumers in every market researched reported “a substantial increase in the prioritization of wellness over the past two to three years.” Estimates now put the global wellness market at more than $1.5 trillion, with an annual growth of five to 10 percent, the report states.

Dollars allocated for wellness are also increasing. According to Second Nature, Americans spend an average of $159 per month on self-care activities including gym memberships, leisure activities, massages, and talk therapy. Millennials spend the most, at approximately $265 a month, followed by Gen Z at around $169 a month.

Today’s wellness focuses on six areas: better health, fitness, nutrition, appearance, sleep and mindfulness.

  • Health. An increased focus on personal health includes medical devices, telemedicine, remote healthcare services, and personal healthcare trackers beyond medicines and supplements.
  • Fitness. Overall health and exercise, even when you can’t go to the gym. Online home workouts like Peloton saw huge growth in the past year.
  • Nutrition. More attention to the types and tastes of foods, with natural ingredients and locally-sourced foods becoming more important, along with things like juice cleanses, nutrition apps and subscription food services.
  • Appearance. Skincare, beauty products and non-surgical aesthetic procedures saw an increase, along with apparel dedicated to wellness.
  • Sleep. Sleep-enhancing products like blackout curtains and app-enabled sleep trackers are popular.
  • Mindfulness. This fastest-growing field includes meditation apps and offerings to help calm mental distress.

Building Wellness into Your Home Remodeling Project

When making decisions for your remodeling project, here are some ideas on how to build wellness features into your home.

Design Wellness into Your Kitchen


Manufacturers are jumping on the bandwagon to create wellness products and features for everyday living. Look for voice- and touch-activated devices, anti-bacterial surfaces, and ergonomically-efficient options when remodeling your kitchen. Here are some features that are growing in popularity:

  • Natural Materials. Tie in nature with your everyday living. Select materials normally found in nature, like stone and wood.
  • Hands-free faucet. Reduces bacteria buildup on the faucet. Incorporate a motion sensor or voice-activated faucet to conserve water.
  • Glass-door refrigerators. Enables you to see the healthy fruits and vegetables, and encourages you to choose them over other items. It also reduces food waste and energy consumption from constantly opening the refrigerator door.
  • Powerful range hood. Removes steam, odors and impurities from cooking.
  • Ergonomic features. Prevent unnecessary bending and lifting with ergonomic features like a ComfortLift dishwasher that swings the bottom rack up to the top rack’s level for loading and unloading, or slide-out cabinet shelving.

Design Wellness into Your Bathroom

Rainhead showerHomeowners are incorporating more “spa-like” features when remodeling their bathrooms, and not just for the luxury factor. The spa concept helps to enhance personal care programs leading to better health and wellness. Once thought of as simply a place to get clean and groom, today the focus is on hygiene, relaxation and safety. Wellness items to incorporate into a bathroom remodel today can include:

  • Improved lighting to more natural light and night lights
  • Anti-bacterial materials and fixtures
  • Exhaust systems
  • Safety bars
  • Sanctuary features such as a waterfall or fireplace
  • Hydrotherapy with color, sound and scent, directional and targeted jets
  • Comfort features like heated or self-lowering toilet seats
  • A separate water closet
  • Hands-free faucets and flushing
  • Health monitoring devices

Air Quality

air purifierDid you know that the average person spends 90% of their time indoors, with most of that time spent in the home? Improvement to your air quality can lead to improvements in your physical and mental health. Ways to increase your indoor air quality include:

  • Fresh air. Today’s homes are built more air-tight than ever, which can cause the same air to recirculate. Ensure there is proper ventilation to allow the house to breathe, and open the windows to allow fresh air to enter.
  • Air purification. Cleansing your home’s air helps to remove pollutants that can cause allergies and asthma, and enable better sleep, which can reduce stress. Both a whole-home air purification system and room air purifiers can have a positive effect on your air quality.
  • Humidity: Wellness also hinges on proper humidity levels. Your home should maintain a humidity level of between 30% and 60% year-round.

Water Quality

filtered waterMedical professionals claim that drinking water is the best way to hydration, it is natural, easily available, and free from sugars and additives found in many purchased beverages. And water makes up about 60% of our body composition, so it is an important element to overall wellness. While many people turn to bottled water, that choice can be expensive, and the bottled water industry is loosely regulated. You don’t know if the quality of the water you’re purchasing is the best. To improve your home’s water quality, look at these options:

  • Water pipes: Older water pipes can contain lead or corrosion. Testing water can determine your existing water quality.
  • Home water filtration: Consider adding water filtration systems to faucets, or filtering water through a portable system like a Brita pitcher. These devices can eliminate contaminants, minerals and heavy metals. Single-stage filtering systems, like those provided by Kohler in some faucet models, can remove even more containments. A reverse osmosis filtration system, like the GE Smart Water System, is the most effective and can filter out 99% of contaminants. Adding a filter to water-using appliances can also increase their longevity. 
  • Home water purification: Water is filtered through screens to catch larger particles and debris, then filtered through other filters like biological and sand filters to remove smaller contaminants, bacteria and algae. This system differs from a home water filtration system and is generally used in areas with high levels of water contaminants like radon or lead for safety reasons.

Improved Habits

shoe mattYour habits matter too. By removing your shoes at the door, you can help prevent from bringing dirt, pollen, toxins, pesticides, E. coli, and even feces into your home.


Ready to Add Wellness to Your Home?
Talk to Schroeder Design/Build.

As leaders in project management efficiency and design-build remodeling, Schroeder Design/Build can help you incorporate wellness elements throughout your home. You’ll work with our in-house architectural and design teams to effectively create a healthy environment that will sustain your family for years to come.

If you’re considering remodeling in Northern Virginia, contact Schroeder Design/Build for your free initial consultation.


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.


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!


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 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.


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 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.


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

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:


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.



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.


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.


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.


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?


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.


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


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.


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