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Leveling Up

The Latest Trend in Home Renovation

Article by Melinda Gipson

Photography by Christy Kosnic

Originally published in Leesburg Lifestyle

Matt Bowe has seen it all in his decades of custom-building people’s dream homes. Now operating as Alair Homes Hunt Country (, he says the hot trend in home design and renovation is for families who have lived in and loved their neighborhoods for 15-20 years to double down on making their existing home what they’ve always wanted it to be, and staying put.

The home we chose to highlight in Purcellville was originally a “production build” home in Purcellville owned by a couple of empty nesters. They entertain a lot, hosting big family gatherings of 40-50 people, and have even hosted weddings and large holiday affairs. The wife loves to cook, and they both wanted to accommodate people who both visit and stay over.” Since aging happens, they also wanted to plan ahead for the day when having a large master bedroom on the first floor could grant them better accessibility and mobility in contrast to having to choose downsizing and potentially moving to an assisted living facility.

Before we get into the details of this extraordinary project, it’s worth noting that, beyond the personal lifestyle choices of these particular homeowners, what makes this a growing trend locally is that the population is becoming more stable. Matt says, “I've been here since the late 80’s, and for most of that time when you wanted something a little nicer, a little bigger, there was always a subdivision next door to which you could upgrade. Over time, as people settled in and raised their kids, they bumped up against Route 15, which marks the end of Loudoun County subdivision development. As land grew scarce and subdivisions more constrained, the inclination not to “overspend” on renovation that was bracketed by eventual resale was offset by a more fundamental lifestyle choice.

“Instead of saying, ‘can I get $1 out for every dollar I put in?’ what people want sounds more like, ‘We have the resources, we love where we live, so why shouldn’t we upgrade our home to make it all we want it to be?” Matt explains. Homeowners in this mindset will be there for at least another 15-20 years and they want to enjoy it. “What they’re looking at is not just a kitchen remodel but top-to-bottom upgrades like all the bathrooms and kitchen, new siding, new windows, new landscaping, taking it up a level to have the home reflect a more custom grade and appearance.”

There are plenty of challenges that come with doing a large-scale remodel that don’t exist with new home construction, Matt allows, but the result is a home that better reflects the desires of both the home owners and what future buyers in the area expect. That could mean an investment equivalent to what the homeowners invested more than a decade ago when buying their home, but, as in this case, can also increase their enjoyable living space by a third or more.

Way beyond a “bump-out,” that means integrating additions with the existing roof lines. As Matt describes it, “We opened up the kitchen and created large, informal eating areas, added a very large butler pantry to accommodate all of the kitchen appliances that would otherwise take up counter space, while adding additional food preparation counter space.” Adjacent, there’s a new washroom area with a washer dryer to make cleanup more convenient, and a brand-new side entrance that replaced entry to the kitchen through the garage (typical in many houses) with a more welcoming hallway where people can hang their coats.

The kitchen now expands into a more open plan family room and sunroom, a cozy screened-in room with a fireplace for cooler evenings, wrap-around deck and – on the opposite end of the new addition, a full master bedroom suite and bathroom with all the latest features. Now, wherever you look, large windows bring in great light and a more beautiful outside view, thanks to outside patio and landscaping by River’s Edge. Inside, one bright, open, comfortable setting flows on to the next making room for a house full of conversation and congeniality.

“The overall effect is not just to update a décor that was becoming a little worn and ragged, but to improve its maintenance and performance through better windows and doors throughout,” Matt says. “It provides way more functional space for them, and turns an older home into one that can compete with any newer construction homes on the market.” And it all happened with complete transparency on budget and execution for the homeowners. “We call it client control – a process that brings them on our side of the table so they can see what we see and participate in any phase of the decision making, which builds trust in us and satisfaction with the results: a fundamental change in the home’s personality – higher quality, better design, and better function,” a.k.a a great place to live.

  • Lavish Living in Place
  • "Before" the Renovation
  • A New Screened in Porch With Fireplace
  • A More Spacious Living Room Flows into the Larger Kitchen
  • Expanded, Upgraded Kitchen Leads Off into Pantry
  • A New, Large, First-Floor Master Bedroom
  • Brand New First Floor Master Bath
  • New Side Entrance Welcomes Guests (Who No Longer Have to Walk Through the Garage)
  • Butler's Pantry
  • Sunny Breakfast Nook