All posts by Alicia Smith

Your deck should be an expansion of your living space- not just an empty porch that is rarely used.  Before you decide to update your new deck it’s important to consider the uses it will serve – will you use it for outdoor dining?  A cocktail party on a breezy summer evening?  Or just your own private refuge for rest and relaxation?  You also want to maximize your backyard view from the deck especially if you’re lucky enough to have a direct line of sight to the local mountains or Smith Mountain Lake.   

The railing options are endless.  You can get great vinyl rails that will be low maintenance and give you a clean look.  You can do custom decorative wrought iron balusters, composite balusters… and the railings can be standard curved, flat cocktail rail or even an iron custom rail. Take a risk and make a statement or keep it standard and still look great.

We all love the natural look of a wood deck but who wants to pressure wash, paint, stain, or seal it every spring?  Upkeep can be exhausting.   If this is you- consider composite products like TREX.  These high-performance products withstand years and years of sun and weather while maintaining their color (and did we mention the color choices are extensive).  And if you’re eco-minded, you’ll love the TREX commitment to never cutting a single tree for use in their product.

front deck

To give your space a completely finished look go ahead and finish the underside of the deck.  Not only does this give you even more ‘dry’ space for outdoor living but it also looks fabulous.  You’ll have another cozy spot to add some rocking chairs and watch the sunset.

front porch

If you’ve got that cherished spot on Smith Mountain Lake and don’t want to miss an inch of that view-  add glass rails!  They look modern and sophisticated while also opening up that view from top to bottom. 

wood deck

When updating a deck with new railings – why not light up the night?  This is a simple way to light walkways for safety at night- especially if you have a walkway leading to a garage or dock.   But aside from the safety- they look amazing!

lit staircase

If you’re not sure where to start- call a Class A General Contractor that can build your deck according to local building codes but also give it that wow-factor you’re looking for!






Is your master bedroom a private sanctuary -a place that is entirely your own? Aside from maybe the kitchen which tends to be the heart of the home, your master bedroom, more than any other place, is your personal retreat where you go to rest, relax and recharge. If you have decided that it’s time to remodel your master bedroom – and if you have the budget available – here are some ideas to make it comfortable, beautiful and even luxurious.

A great way to add luxury and resale value is to add or expand a master bathroom. Master baths take many forms and you have the freedom to experiment. Consider putting the sinks outside the bathroom proper- giving you more room to wash and put on makeup- this can give you a spa-like feel.   You might want to have both a shower and a bathtub instead of choosing one or the other. Why limit yourself?

Bathroom Renovations

If you have the room- build a walk-in closet. Why should you have to rummage about in a cramped, dark closet? Why should your beautiful clothes have to be pressed up against each other, risking wrinkles?  Dream a little, doodle your plans on the nearest piece of paper, and go to town!  Don’t be afraid to insert a little drama- chandeliers in the closet are fun! Soon you will have a roomy, pleasant walk-in closet that will be a dream to organize and use.

Make your own personalized headboard. While your contractor is busy with the bigger stuff, you can enjoy this simple carpentry project on your own or with a loved one. You can make your design simple or complex; you can keep the wood bare or pad it for extra comfort. If you’re looking for something more sophisticated then you may need to employ the help of your carpenter. Not only will it look fabulous but you can enjoy your new headboard whether you’re reading a good book or enjoying your favorite film.


Redo the décor. Update the color scheme of your master bedroom with new colors and patterns, pillows, bedding, bedspreads and blankets. Surround yourself with your favorite colors and textures so that you can feel the effects of your comfortable, private sanctuary even while you sleep.

If you’re really feeling adventurous – add a balcony.  Does your bedroom face the water, overlook the mountains, or look out over a rolling farm view that just plain touches your soul? Consider adding a balcony with sliding glass doors and floor-to-ceiling curtains that fit your chosen color scheme. If you’re fortunate enough to have your home facing in the right direction you may view the gorgeous sunrise or colors of sunset from the privacy and comfort of your luxurious master bedroom.

two story window

To update your master suite contact F&S Building Innovations – a team that can walk you through the process from beginning to end.

Ready to turn your basement inside out and make it a functional living space?   Finished basements have become more popular over the past few decades. No longer are basements viewed as dark caves where mechanical systems clank away and spiders abound. Instead, they offer additional space and can increase the value of your home – as long as you keep a few simple things in mind. It’s a great way to make way for aging parents that need you close but still need their own space, a man-cave for the hubby, or a nice tucked-away space for boomerang college grads until they get their feet underneath them. 

Basement Renovations

Bedroom addition –Incorporating a bedroom in the basement is a great way to make room for guest and create extra storage space. So that means making sure there’s a legal egress in case of fire – typically a window with an opening big enough to allow escape, as well as a window well deep enough to facilitate that hasty exit. And yes, you’ll need permits.

Wall insulation-A basement’s outside walls often aren’t well insulated, so you may have to fur out the concrete walls by framing a narrow wall inside which can be insulated with spray foam, rigid insulation or traditional batts. You’ll spend a few extra dollars but it will pay off in the long run.  Depending on how your heating and cooling was designed originally- you may need to have your contractor analyze the HVAC needs as well.

Floor solution-The days of damp floors and cold feet are over. As long as you don’t have any current water issues in your basement floor there are great products  currently available such as LVP/LVT (Luxury Vinyl Plank or Luxury Vinyl Tile) and ceramic tile. If you want the hardwood flooring look you can go with one of these options without worry about water or damage- especially if you live on the lake and have heavy lake traffic into your basement areas.


Bathroom addition-Building a bathroom in the basement will add value to your home, as long as it’s well planned. The good news is most new homes have bathroom rough-ins already installed. Have you ever wondered what those random capped pipes are that stick out from the concrete? Now you know! If yours doesn’t, a plumber will need to open up a channel from the bathroom area all the way to the main stack or sewer line which can add cost but is certainly feasible when adding an additional bathroom.

If your basement is ready for a facelift- contact F&S Building today. With our Interior Designer we can walk you through creating your perfect space!

Ever come home and think ‘ this place needs an update’?   If so- you are among about 1 million other people who spend all day working in vibrant new offices but come home to neutral, plain-jane surroundings. 

Take a risk- don’t be afraid to put in color and excitement.  You don’t necessarily have to dive into the deep end of the pool but you can at least stick your toe in the shallow end.  

On your next trip out grab some new colorful pillows.  Add a bright new rug.  Hang a piece of art that is just a little edgy.  Be bold!

When making a significant investment in transforming your perfect-home-in-the-perfect-location by making it your own, keep these design tips in mind.

Open up.  You can almost never go wrong by opening up your living space.  When you have an open floor plan that easily flows from one area to another you increase function but also bring friends and family together.  It is possible that we are so self-sufficient and isolated with everything at our fingertips by cell phone, we lose the beauty of togetherness.   By opening up your space, you may just open up the lines of communication and encourage some good ‘ole fashion quality time with the ones you love.

Color your world.  Color- whether bold or subtle- reflects the mood of a space.  Bold colors can be exciting and stimulating, especially when introduced in unpredictable ways.  Common ways of splashing a space with color are through bright throw pillows, plush rugs or bold window dressings. More courageous ways of ensuring your guests enter your world with Oohs-and-Ahhs may be painting an entire wall a vibrant shade of fuchsia.  Or, perhaps, dramatizing your room with a complete white or neutral palette with a single vivacious focal point.  Whether we’re talking about your house or, more aptly, your home- don’t ever settle for run of the mill. Add your own dash of color to everything and everyone you come into contact with.

Light it up.  Have you ever walked into a dark room and just felt downright depressed?  Light plays a significant role in our lives.  It’s important to take this into account when considering a design.  You can really add drama with a you-can’t-miss-me chandelier in a main entry.  You can also make the heart of your home- your kitchen- cozy, warm and inviting for your family to sit down and stay a while by adding under cabinet lighting for late night snacks and pendant lighting over bar or counter areas for task lighting.  Don’t be afraid to consider lighting not only as a basic need but as a design element.  The same is key in our lives- be known for lighting up any room you walk in to!

Out is the new In.  There are many ways to love and appreciate the outdoors without actually having to leave your home.  Incorporating live plants and other natural elements like wood accents bring a little bit of the outside in.  If you’re really adventurous, add a four-season sunroom or patio room that lets the sunshine in each day without having to worry about weather or pests.  You can also incorporate outdoor living spaces by adding an outdoor kitchen, a firepit, or, perhaps, a vintage swing on your front porch. As a child, coloring outside the lines was erroneous- as an adult, being on the inside may not always let you experience the freedom of branching out.

Don’t blend in.  A key component in any design is to give a room a focal point- whether it is beautifully farmed artwork, an ornate piece of furniture or a large picture window.  It’s okay to experiment and do something out of the ordinary.  Don’t let HGTV dictate your style- create your own!  Dr. Seuss may have said it best when he said ‘Why fit in when you were born to stand out’.

They bottom line is- make it your own.  If you’re unsure of where to start- find a local Class A Contractor with a Certified Interior Designer on staff that can walk you through the process from start to finish.  They can help you plan, as well as, produce your finished product so that you are completely in love with your home.

Summer is typically when most folks start thinking about home renovations. Qualified Class A contractors are actually capable of any type of remodeling year round- barring weather delays for outside work. So why not start planning your next project now?  Here are a few projects to consider during the winter months – they aren’t all glamorous but they are going to increase the value of your home and give you a great return on your investment.

Garage to kitchen conversion  One of the easiest ways to get the kitchen of your dreams with space for the family to spread out while staying together is to convert a garage to a functional kitchen. Many older homes tend to have small galley or u-shaped kitchens that can be cramped or dysfunctional for medium to larger families.  The kitchen is the heart of the home so if you have a garage that is filled with ‘stuff’ instead of cars – maybe a new kitchen is in order.

 Flooring- especially hardwood  Winter is a great time for installing hardwood products as they have to be installed in properly conditioned settings to avoid issues. The drier winter air and decreased humidity means there is less of a chance for water damage and also helps to prevent gaps in the newly laid flooring.

Weatherization When the cold winter temperatures begin to show themselves and the electric bill starts to rise- that’s when the importance of proper insulation tends to become a priority. You can have your home evaluated to determine where most of your energy is lost- then determine what the best type of insulation would be for that area.  From batt to sprayed-in foam to blown-in cellulose – all the different types of insulation have benefits.  If you feel drafts in your home that is a clear indication that you may need new, better, or additional insulation.  If you own an older home you may also need to consider upgrading to energy efficient doors and windows. Energy loss through windows and doors can be significant so an update may save you money on electric bills every month.  Talk about a return on investment!

Basement remodel  An unfinished basement can be a very cost effective way to add additional & functional living space to your home without having to spread out which is sometimes impossible due to lot size or zoning regulations. Basement remodels are indoor work which means weather will not affect it for the most part. If you have aging parents or recently graduated children briefly returning to the nest, a mini-apartment in the basement keeps them near without sacrificing their or YOUR independence.

If you’re not sure the best route to go then seek a qualified Class A Contractor that can provide the service in addition to certified interior design services.

What is the first thing you see when you walk into a room?  Colors?  Furniture?  Lighting?  Accessories are typically the key to good interior design.   Often they are the first thing someone’s eye focuses on when they walk in to the room- a focal point.

Where architects primarily design for form and function, Interior decorating can be just as vital in the overall flow, functionality and pleasing features of the space. Interior designers create spaces with signature features and finishing touches that are vital – the proverbial icing on the cake.  It’s the expertise in all the small things in interior design that culminate in a finished space that is pleasing to the eyes and the soul. There are a few things to consider when decorating a space:

STYLE –  The first step is to select a style for the new or re-invented space.  If you are updating multiple spaces you will want to promote the design principle of unity and harmony by thinking of all the spaces in a unifying theme.  It could be as simple as choosing a casual feel instead of formal or contemporary- or you can refine it to specific styles such as Victorian, Modern Vintage, French country, or Shabby Chic. 

COLOR – Choosing a color palette is an essential part.  You can absolutely have a different style and color scheme in each room you but will still want to tie it all together in a complementary way.  Also consider the size of the room when choosing colors.  Dark, heavy colors will make a small room feel even smaller – which may be your goal if you are seeking an intimate, cozy den for instance. 

BALANCE – You want to distribute the visual weight in a room whether that is symmetrically or with asymmetrical balance.  Maintaining a focal point –such as a fireplace or beautiful piece of art- creates visual interest in a room. Incorporate contrast and variety while repeating elements of the same color, texture or pattern. 

PATTERNS – Mixing patterns is one of the more advanced parts of interior decorating that can be a little tricky.  Although patterns don’t need to necessarily match they do need to coordinate with or complement each other.  You’ll want to consider the color , scale and size or the pattern when trying to mix and match them.

FURNISHINGS – Although furnishings are a key element of decorating, they also tend to be the largest investment and a very large part of the budget.  Since most of us do not have an unlimited budget and need to be frugal when updating a room, start with the pieces you have and evaluate them.  Is there one piece that stands out that you could make more prominent in your design?  Is there a piece that could be painted or re-purposed to incorporate it into your updated look?  Sometimes the answer is simply eliminating some furniture.  Too much can make the room feel cramped and crowded.


The most important thing is to have fun and make the space uniquely yours.  Decorating shouldn’t be a chore.  Take your time and enjoy the process.  And if you get stumped, call a Certified Interior Decorator (C.I.D.) to help!

Think you’ve run out of time to get your outdoor living space done this year? It’s not too late – in fact, it’s actually a great time to turn your attention to your deck or patio in preparation for next spring. So while you add on the layers and begin your winter hibernation process- here are five great reasons to start your new outdoor space now.

WEATHER The weather could be your friend- almost all contractors are working at full capacity and, often times, longer lead times in the summer. This means as summer winds down quality contractors may be more readily available. As it starts to cool off lead times may decrease and you will also have less days that are interrupted by rain, wind, or severe weather.

MAKING THE MOST OF YOUR TIME You are more likely to utilize your deck in the spring & summer. Don’t wait until spring to start the process. Any type of construction project has stages: planning, pricing, and production. If you wait until the weather warms to start planning you may miss out on some prime time to enjoy your new deck or outdoor entertaining space. By getting your outdoor space completed in the fall and winter, you are ready and waiting for spring when the temps start to rise!

PROTECTING YOUR LANDSCAPE There are always things to think about when planning a construction project. Access to the site is a key consideration. If material deliveries require access through your yard, summer weather can contribute to dry grass or overly wet areas if there has been significant rain fall which could mean potential damage to your yard. In the fall or winter there is much less likelihood of damaging grass or plants and blooming flowers which have passed their peak.

EXTENSION OF LIVING SPACE If you’re like most of us you decorate for Spring, add some color for summer, break out the autumn leaf toned décor in fall and overload on Christmas deco in December. If we’re honest though, including entertaining space outdoors just enhances our ability to spend time with friends and family while enjoying the beauty of the seasons. Rundown decks with splinters, bugs and maintenance shouldn’t deter you from loving your outdoor space. Incorporate a screen room, composite deck design, or even a sunroom to ‘wow’ your friends!

UNENDING OPTIONS With more time indoors to browse the internet and read a magazine it’s the perfect time to really determine what your dream deck or patio would look like. You can keep it open with a gorgeous pergola, add screens for pest protection, upgrade to a composite low maintenance product that will make your neighbors oh-so-jealous…or keep it simple with a new custom wood deck. Take advantage of this time to get it just right.
So while you’re cruising through November with your thoughts toward thankfulness and breezing through December celebrating Christmas with those you love – do some advance planning to leap into spring with a fabulous new outdoor living space.

A complete overhaul isn’t necessarily needed to transform your home from a place you like- to a place you LOVE.  Sometimes, it’s not even about making major changes- instead, find ways to appreciate the small details and even imperfections.

Throw away visions of perfection. HGTV overload can sometimes create a false sense of how your home should look.  Most of us don’t have the luxury of building a brand new home that is completely customized to our every whim and need. We may look around and see glaring imperfections in the design, decorating or functionality of our home.  It’s ok.  Who wants to be perfect anyway? The goal is to make your home your own.

Declutter. Declutter. Declutter.  One of the easiest ways to calm our nerves and promote mental health while at home is to simply declutter. Remove the chaos from your home environment.  Find unexpected ways to utilize unconventional storage such as coffee tables that have pull out storage or cabinets & shelves built underneath your main staircase. Even organizing your existing storage areas such as cabinets and closets will greatly help in calming the chaos.

It’s personal.  Stay true to yourself in everything you do- including your home.  Whether your home is newly custom built, a family heirloom home, or just an older home that’s in the perfect location for where you live and work, there are many ways to showcase your tastes and style. Simply replacing the flooring in your main living area can transform the kitchen and living areas with a new look.  Paint your bedroom a fresh, cool color to make that room a peaceful retreat to end your day. Of course, updating the heart of the home- the kitchen- is a major way to make your home your own.

Grasp the intangible.  Stop worrying about getting it just right and enjoy the little things: the sunset view from your back deck or the way sunlight pours into your kitchen window early in the morning while the coffee is brewing. Delight in the small things and the items you can change will become more apparent and more easily addressed.   As you appreciate that gorgeous view, you may recognize that the deck would be a fantastic place to create an outdoor patio or entertaining deck.  You may realize that a small breakfast nook addition would be the perfect place to drink your coffee as the sunlight is streaming in each morning.

Let the Professionals handle it.  DIY looks great on TV- as long as you have all the trade skills needed to complete the changes.  Small changes may be something you can handle with ease, but larger renovation projects may require help from qualified, licensed contractors.  You can seek help with interior design and decorating from a registered C.I.D. professional.

Having a place to relax, refresh and rejuvenate at the end of each busy day is paramount to the mental and physical health of you and your family.  Take a look around your home and see if there are large or small ways you can transform your home into a calm place of solitude.