If These Walls Could Talk: A Recently Completed Remodel

By Bruce Wentworth, AIA

When meeting with new and potential clients, I’m often asked about past remodeling projects, recent design challenges, and the Wentworth process of remodeling a home. I thought a blog would be a great place to walk readers through a project from start to finish and shine some light on the detail, craftsmanship, and creativity involved in a Wentworth remodel.

A Home Office and Row House:

Recently, the Wentworth team completed a sophisticated home office remodel in a charming neighborhood of Northwest DC. Every adult needs a home office; a place to work on a computer, pay bills, do a craft project, and perhaps find a little solitude. Our client, Karin Lohman, a scientist with N.I.H., wanted to remodel her circa 1923 row house to add a home office that included an area for a variety of projects. Like many row houses, the master bedroom was created by enclosing a sleeping porch, and was linked to another bedroom for more space. The bedroom was sunny with a wall of windows overlooking the garden, but the adjoining internal room was dark and windowless—a common problem in a row house.


After living in her home for seven years, she felt the windowless area of her master bedroom, with its limited storage, had deteriorated into a junk room, “a dark, messy cave” that she passed through to reach her bedroom. She had hoped to make improvements herself by adding bookcases and painting, but a busy work schedule, and a serious illness, prevented her from getting to it. While recuperating she decided it was time to invest in a home office with a project space that she could love and enjoy. She was tired of using her dining room table for projects. This is when she sought the Wentworth team of remodeling professionals to help her design and build it.

The first problem we needed to solve was getting more natural light into the interior space. This was accomplished with a new skylight and a new ceiling that sloped gently up to the skylight. The existing ceiling was cut out and reframed with a slope that increased the ceiling height by about 12” and admits more sun light because of its minimal skylight well. The office is now a bright transition from the second floor hall to the rear master bedroom.

After, Office Overview

The room had a large boxed-out chimney flue from a fireplace on the first floor. The flue divided the wall in half where we planned to build the new bookcase. The design called for concealing the flue within paneling, embellished with a wall sconce, and flanked by bookcases. Closed storage in the bottom of the built-in, and adjustable shelving above provides ample storage. Even the narrow columnar ends of the bookcase provide extra shelves to maximize storage. At the desk area a cork board was integrated and plenty of electrical outlets were provided. Crown molding, applied panel molding, and painted woodwork finish the custom details.

After, Desk Area

The former bulky old radiator was removed and a thin German designed, Runtal radiator unit was installed opposite the bookcase. An unnecessary second closet door was closed with drywall to free up wall space. Teal walls and white trim provide ample paint color contrast to the formerly dark space.

We even took care of an heirloom table built by the Ms. Lohman’s grandfather that she wanted to use for craft projects. A walnut table with turned walnut legs on casters had a worn out top and one of our exceptional carpenters fabricated a new walnut table top. Now it can be rolled out when needed for a project.

The client herself says it best when describing the project:

“My room has been transformed from an office/junk room to a gorgeous office with lots of light and plenty of storage space plus a project area (as in Martha Stewart crafty projects).”


Radiant Heat: A Supplementary Heating Option On the Rise

By Daniel Dahlman

Now that the heat and humidity of summer have given way to crisp fall air and cool temperatures, we are all reminded that winter is just around the corner. Homeowners are in the midst of transitioning from the summer preoccupation of how to get the most out of their cooling systems, to the winter concern of how to best keep their homes warm and inviting during the holiday season.

The topic of radiant heat floors is becoming an increasingly popular topic among our clients. As heated floor technology becomes more advanced and affordable, more homeowners are turning to radiant heat flooring systems to meet their supplementary heating needs. Not too long ago, heated flooring was a luxury only a few could afford. Today, most radiant heating floor systems are energy efficient, operate on just pennies a day, and with no moving parts or filters to change, require very little maintenance.

Client enjoying her new radiant heat floor

Underfloor radiant heat is an ideal supplementary heating option because heat is supplied directly to the floor and travels to the ceiling, evenly heating the entire room and eliminating air drafts and heat loss in the process. Radiant heating works like an electric blanket, a thin matt made of tough fiberglass mesh is installed on an insulated floor (above a sturdy floor base) and connects to a programmable thermostat mounted on a wall. In most cases, radiant heat can be installed in less than a day. The systems are easy to use (most have a low, medium, high settings), reach operating temperature in 20 minutes, and save energy by giving you the option of heating only the rooms you need, when you need them. Unlike bulky radiators, radiant heat is quiet, clean, and doesn’t take up any wall or floor space. The system is compatible with all flooring surfaces, from wood to tile to stone, and is most popularly used in kitchens and bathrooms.

Fiberglass matt installation

We recently installed a Warmly Yours heating system for a remodeling project in an historic district in Northwest DC .The homeowners were tired of their cramped galley kitchen and wanted to increase their kitchen space to more comfortably cook and entertain. To give the clients the space they needed without changing too much of the property’s historical structure, a protruding rear addition was added to the kitchen. Given that an extension leaves more walls exposed to the elements, and that there was no heated space underneath the new addition, a radiant floor heating system was the perfect solution to ensure that the larger kitchen stays warm and inviting throughout the frigid winter season.

Clean, quiet, and efficient, underfloor radiant heating will be a continuing trend this winter season and beyond.

Rear kitchen addition


Photographing Our Projects: A Recent Experience

By Chris Patrick, Allied Member ASID

As construction begins to wind down, the punch-list is reviewed and the finishing touches are added to a kitchen renovation in Chevy Chase, MD. It’s time for Wentworth, Inc to start planning to transform the space one last time. The homeowner may have moved in, and the construction may have wrapped up, but the work isn’t done. It’s time to photograph and document the completed project for our portfolio and publication.

The Benefit of Photo Shoots

At Wentworth, Inc we take pride in our projects at every step of the way; from the time it’s in the design studio to the last finishing touches by our lead carpenters. Each project challenges our design team to be more creative, and give our carpenters a chance for their skills to shine through. It’s because we are so invested and proud of our projects that we want to photograph each one. We aren’t just concerned about the projects that cost the most money, or used the best appliances, or had the best before and after shots. We want to show off our work; all of it, and give potential clients the ability to understand the amount of craftsmanship and detail that goes into each project.

Our pride and love for the projects we work on takes a backseat to the homeowner’s pride of living in, and helping design, a home that is award worthy. The photographs we take help facilitate our goal of entering our projects into local and national competitions and publications. With the Contractor of the Year: National Association of the Remodeling Industry Awards deadline around the corner, our marketing team has been busy pulling together our most recent projects to showcase. In many cases, we offer those same project photos up to publications such as The Washington Post, Home and Design, and Remodel (a Better Homes and Gardens Special Interest Publication) for consideration in upcoming articles. The sense of pride our homeowner’s feel when their home wins a national award or is featured in the newest issue of Home and Design is another important benefit of our photo shoots.

It is important to note that the benefit of these photo shoots for the client goes beyond pride. Aside from bragging rights with their friends, professional photos and awards make for great marketing material when a client plans to sell their home. We’ve often had real estate agents use the professional photographs we’ve taken, along with any awards or publications, in the promotional material for a sale. Potential buyers not only get a glimpse into the amazing interior (or exterior) shots of the home, but there is added value with a home that has been published or is award winning.

Choosing a Photographer

When we plan our photo shoots it is imperative that we have the right photographer for the job. For the kitchen remodel in Chevy Chase, we went with Ron Blunt. His experience as a professional photographer and the relationship we have developed with him over the years, make him a perfect candidate for this shoot. We trust his eye and aesthetic and value his skill in beautifully capturing our work. We trust our photographers to produce high quality and high impact photos that best represent the space.


Whenever possible, we try and photograph our projects shortly after they’ve been completed. We find that it’s less disruptive to our clients; they’re still used to having our team coming in and out of their home. Typically, there is less rearranging involved on our part to achieve the right design aesthetic if the client hasn’t fully moved in (in this case the client also welcomed some of our design ideas for furniture placement). The less time our clients have to live in the space before we photograph it, the less the new finishes are affected, and there is a better chance that everything will comes out looking brand new.

Our planning is not limited to picking the right photographer; the “behind the scenes” preparation starts a few weeks prior. After we’ve chosen which photographer we think would be best suited for the photo shoot, we begin to think about set-up, lighting, and staging. A few weeks before the kitchen remodel photo shoot, we stopped by the job site to take “pre-photo shoot photos.” This allows us to get an idea of what shots we want to accomplish with our photo shoots, what areas need to be stylized, and what existing client owned furniture and accessories we can work with. We print these photos out and look at them with the new floor plan to finalize the number of shots we want and the areas we want to highlight. A full day shoot is anywhere between 5-8 photos. After we reviewed the plans, it was agreed that we would need at least 6 shots to capture the space and highlight all the focal points. We wanted two shots of the kitchen, two shots of the family room, one shot of the laundry/mud room and one shot of the foyer.


Once we’ve established a direction to help guide the photo shoot, it becomes clear what areas need the most work. Since we wanted to highlight the custom built-ins in the family room of the Chevy Chase kitchen remodel, we needed to make sure that the area was staged well with books and decorative objects. We had decided that this photo shoot was going to have a less is more approach; we wanted less clutter and more pieces that made a statement. This was true in the kitchen as well; we kept the counters free of clutter and opted for a simple arrangement of avocados, dried pasta, oils, and greenery placed strategically around the kitchen.


After we’ve established a design direction and made a list of the objects that we needed it’s time to shop! We work with as many of the homeowner’s existing pieces as possible and we often bring in personal items from our own homes as well to stage the photos, but inevitably, we’ll need to shop for more accessories. And when it comes to shopping, more is more! To style a photo shoot correctly you must make sure that you have the right amount of accessories as well as the right pieces. Subtle things such as color, shape and size can all make a difference when one is styling a photo shoot. We have had a few photo shoots where we ran out of accessories and its shows in the finished product. But with the Chevy Chase kitchen remodel we were sure to have enough; two days worth of shopping produce a truck load worth of material to use. Plus, we had the owners existing pieces and other odds and ends brought in by the Wentworth team.


Despite having the most accessories and areas to style of any photo shoot in Wentworth history, we pulled the Chevy Chase shoot off without a hitch. The pre-planning helped us stay organized and focused. Once we arrived at the jobsite with a truck load of props (including a working under counter refrigerator), our group of 5 Wentworth team members unloaded the truck and began to prep the site. The first thing we always do once we get to the house, is take quick photos of the areas we are going to alter so we can be sure we return everything to its original place at the end of the day. We began cleaning and staging at 8AM, by 9:30 we had all 6 of our shots ready for the photographer, and the photographer began shooting by 10AM. We worked like a well oiled machine, once one shot was finished, we packed up all the borrowed accessories, put that section of the home back in order, and moved on to the next shot.

In the span of 11 hours, we had managed to get 8 shots, pack up all bought or borrowed accessories, and return the client’s house to its original condition. It was an exhausting day, but we never lost sight of the fact that photo shoots are valuable to everyone involved: from the homeowner, to the contractor and photographer. I’m proud to say that the photo shoot was a complete success and that we plan on winning awards with this amazing project