Time for an Addition to the Family?


No, not a baby—although that may be one reason you might want a home addition. We’re talking, of course, about adding on to your house – a major remodeling job and one that needs to be carefully thought out and executed with design/build professionals. Why might you want to add on to your current home?

  • You’ve outgrown it and love the neighborhood: you may have more children or older children who need their own room. Young adults may “boomerang” back home. Or you may have parents moving in with you.
  • The style and features are very outdated and need a major refresh.
  • Your business has moved into or expanded in your home and you need a dedicated office or workspace. Or maybe a hobby has taken over your dining room.
  • You plan on “aging in place,” that is, living independently in your own home as long as you can, but would like a master suite on the first floor featuring universal design.
  • You’re considering selling farther down the line and want to get the most resale value from the real estate.

Picture an old New England farmhouse with its add-ons from over the decades or centuries – connecting to the kitchen to the barn work sheds and other shelters, maybe with a wrap-around porch. Home additions were very common and functional in historic times and they still make sense for a lot of people.

Do the bump!

kitchen-expansionThe most conservative way to get a little more room is to “bump out” a window or side of a room. Sometimes called a micro or mini addition, the new space is cantilevered out and supported as a bay window would be from underneath. No new foundation or slab is necessary. Besides costing much less than a typical addition, because you are not changing the actual footprint or adding more foundation, you don’t have to worry about zoning, setbacks, etc.

Things are looking up!

Certain styles of architecture lend themselves to building up. Capes, for example, can usually be expanded by building out the dormer and eaves, changing the roofline somewhat but making the most of every space. Again, you don’t have to worry about adding on a foundation, but supporting a new level or enlarged level and changing the roofline are major engineering considerations. Other things to think about are plumbing and electrical wiring. If you expand or add bedrooms or make a third-floor playroom, you may want to add a bathroom. Can you “stack” it on top of the second-floor bathroom? Raising the roof may require another staircase, in which instance you’ll need to allow for at least 80 to 120 square feet in the plans.

Zoning and legal issues

Additions to the back (kitchen, great room, porch or mudroom), front (porch or entryway) or sides of the house (master suite or office) need their own slab and foundation for support and keep them level to the rest of the house. An addition is a major investment, so you can’t afford to make a mistake. This is not the time to call on that brother-in-law from out of town. You need to work with professionals in construction, building and design who know the lay of the land—and local zoning laws. Considerations include:

  • Regulations regarding setback from property lines
  • Amount of “impermeable” (that is, solid) surface allowed, from pavement to house footprint/slab
  • Height restrictions and number of levels allowed
  • Any wetland areas to be aware of
  • Specific community, association or cooperative rules and regulations.

Reframe the view. From the beginning of a project through completion, the design is crucial. Think of a neighbor’s point of view and curb appeal in terms of resale. Appearance is paramount. An addition can’t just look tacked on. It should integrate seamlessly into the original architecture—or be a complementary annex. Whether more bedrooms, a great room for entertaining, master or in-law suite, gourmet kitchen, or all-season porch, the professionals at 3W Design can design, engineer and build any size addition to enhance your dream home.

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Plan to Enjoy Your Outdoor Space!


With summer so short-lived in the Northeast, it’s no wonder that we New Englanders make the most of it. A beautiful porch, deck, patio and garden is an extension of your home’s total living space, if only for a season. So why take any less care when planning and designing your outdoor oasis?

The key to an outdoor living space that looks like it naturally belongs there is plenty of careful preparation. Let’s look at it from a few important perspectives.

Safety First for More Enjoyment

  • Don’t have a water feature without a filter and pump. You may as well put out a flashing “Mosquito Spa” sign. Standing water is breeding grounds for mosquitos. Whether a simple waterfall fountain or complicated koi pond, get professional advice.
  • Don’t know much about biology, and even less about chemistry? If you’re installing a swimming pool, hire a professional to maintain it, at least the first season. Pools can turn into the black lagoon virtually overnight.
  • To avoid a truly shocking disaster, work with a licensed electrician when planning outdoor lighting and outlets, especially if they’re anywhere near water features. That goes for pool pumps and filters too. Water and electricity are a deadly combination.

The Birds and the Bees

A common mistake is swooping by the garden center the first warm weekend in April and scooping up dozens of annuals and perennials, then planting them too close together. Plants need room to grow! And in New Hampshire, it really isn’t safe to plant tender backyard-living-spaceannuals and vegetables until middle to late May. Frost and even snow can wreck a garden planted too early.

Keep flowering plants away from picnic tables, bars and barbeques that can attract stinging insects. Plants that attract bumble and honeybees such as bee balm, butterfly bush, black-eyed susans, poppies and lavender are also colorful and fragrant. But put them on the far side or periphery of the patio, so you can barbeque without a side of EpiPen.

Birdwatching is entertaining year-round, but place feeders over plantings or mulched areas, not a paved patio, and certainly away from seating areas. Bird feeders and bears: need we say more? Take them down by April 1 or you’re the April Fool. Do not feed the bears!

A canopy of trees provides shade, but overhanging limbs can be a hazard during storms. They also drop leaves, berries and insects, so, when designing a barbeque or fire pit, or an outdoor kitchen, keep away from trees. “Messy” trees or shrubs that shed dead blossoms should not be near a pool either because they complicate maintenance and cleaning.

But do plan for shade! Consider a pergola, arbor or awning where you need to block the sun.

Don’t plant shrubs with vining roots too close to patio stones or pavers. Mother Nature is powerful and cracks in the pavement can sprout weeds in one season. Speaking of hardscaping, pavement around pools needs to have a nonslip texture.

White tiles or pavers reflect light and will stay cooler than dark-colored tiles. But they get messy and may get stained by insect and bird droppings, or berries.

Alien Invasion

Not all plants make good neighbors. New Hampshire has dozens of invasive shrubs such as bittersweet and burning bush. These crowd out native species and can, in the case of bittersweet, even strangle trees. See https://extension.unh.edu/Forests-Trees/Invasive-Plants for ones to avoid.


Other unwanted guests are microscopic invaders: bacteria. Outdoor kitchens are great for entertaining but work with a professional to include cold and hot water for cleaning. You don’t want a food prep disaster to make your get-together memorable for the wrong reason.

Prevention is worth many bushels of cure, so work with designers to avoid pricey pitfalls when planning a patio, pool surround or outdoor kitchen and barbeque. Then enjoy your great outdoors for a few months! It won’t be long before the chill air and bright colors of October remind you of the stunning change of seasons here in New England.

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Window Treatments: Dressed to Impress!

You’re in an elegant opera house or theater. A hush falls over the audience as the orchestra strikes up the overture. Spotlights play on the massive folds of the heavy drapery as it slowly separates, revealing the stage set.


Draperies add drama, framing the view out the windows when open, and when drawn, creating intimacy and warmth. Since they began to replace wooden shutters in the 1600s, curtains and drapes have been fashioned in wool, silk, velvet, brocade, moiré, damask, chintz, linen, cotton, and more.

For maximum impact, drapes should go to the floor. (I know, being an inch or two shy of the floor keeps bottoms from getting dirty, but it’s like looking at something that doesn’t fit. And drapes that look like high-water pants make the ceiling look lower.)

Some lighter materials like sheers, silk or summer-weight draperies are meant to “puddle” at the bottom for dramatic effect, and look very elegant in high-ceilinged rooms. However, if you have pets that might like to adopt the “puddles” as a second bed or worse, like to climb drapes, these aren’t for you.

The peek-a-boo factor

Function comes first. Is the purpose of the window covering for privacy, decorative, or both? Window treatments have many functions, and can help insulate a room from cold or heat, and protect furniture and floor coverings from fading from direct sunlight.

When you have a beautiful view, large windows bring the outdoors into your living space, and window “dressing” acts as a picture frame. But there are things to consider beyond aesthetics, such as privacy and temperature.

Unless you’re on a mountaintop with no neighbors, you’ll have to factor privacy into your choice of bathroom and bedroom window treatments. (And in high-humidity areas like bathrooms, faux-wood blinds may be your best choice.)

full-window-coveringIn New Hampshire, if your bedroom faces east, you’ll want room darkening shades when the sun rises at 4:30 a.m. in the summer. In the winter, when the sun sinks at 3:45 p.m., west-facing rooms need windows that take advantage of every bit of light, and window treatments that can buffer drafts.


Crowning touch

Speaking of peek-a-boo, there are a number of different curtain or drape “toppers” that not only add style, they act to hide the hardware.

  • Valance: this adds softness and, ornamented with tassels, fringe or as a reversible fabric – color. Pleated valances add a more formal flair.
  • Cornice: Where valances are made of fabric, a cornice is stretched fabric over a box, or can even be just stained wood. They add architectural interest and elegance to a formal room.
  • Swag or scarf: not as popular as they once were, these are best for informal or casual, feminine, beach or lakeside décor when used by themselves. But they’re very easy to put up, and portable when it’s time to move—or for a seasonable changeover to, say, insulated panels in the winter.

bathroom-window-treatmentThose choices are nothing compared to the myriad of fabric treatment options: tab-top curtains hung on a simple rod (Colonial), café curtains (so sixties), velvet portieres with tassels and gold rope tiebacks (very Victorian/Baroque), balloon (cottage look), etc.

Other window coverings are blinds, shades and that oldie but goodie: shutters. (The first roller shade, by the way, appeared in the early 1700s.) Even here the selections are dizzying. There are shades and blinds with honeycomb for insulation and room darkening; slatted blinds in all sizes of wood, plastic or faux wood; cordless and with wands or remote controls.

Hang ’em high!

Well-made, quality window treatments should last a long time, making draperies an investment in your home. Here’s where working with a professional designer can make a beautiful difference.

Besides function and style, you need to consider room proportions, height and width of room and windows, and how you’ll hang them. How many panels will you need for fullness? How many inches to allow on either side of the window when curtains are pulled back?


Did you know you can make low ceilings look higher with window coverings? (Hang the rods high—which means you’ll need enough length so the drapes “kiss” the floor.)

Lined, unlined, or interlined panels?

What materials are best to prevent fading?

Okay, enough questions! Working with a 3W Design team ensures you won’t make any inexperienced—or expensive—mistakes. We can make sure your window treatments set the stage for a stunning room.

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Choosing windows so you can see clearly (now)


Imagine living in a house without a window. You can’t, can you? Windows are your view of the world from inside your home. Light from windows lifts our spirits and keeps us connected to the view and perpetual drama of the weather outside, from the cozy warmth of our homes.

They’re also an important design element when viewed from the outside, contributing to—or detracting from—“curb appeal.” But beyond aesthetics, windows are one of the big drivers of energy use in your home. Old single-pane windows or windows with broken seals between double glass panes leak heat in the winter and boost air conditioning costs by letting in too much heat in the summer.

If you feel drafts, see signs of moisture such as fogging or ice crystals on your windows, or if curtains blow while windows are tightly shut, it’s time for a window upgrade. Let’s look at it in perspective.

Though a complete re-do, installing energy efficient double-paned windows can result in significant savings, lowering energy bills by as much as 10% or more. The economic benefits don’t stop there. Replacing windows also pays off when it’s time to sell your house. Buyers love to see that this major change has been made and it results in excellent resale value for sellers.

What to look for

First, look for the Energy Star rating, a government program that indicates that the product is energy efficient.

replacement-windowsWhen New Englanders buy new windows, they make it a double; double glazed, that is. A double-glazed window consists of two panes of glass with very little space in between for insulation. The space is filled with either argon or krypton gas. The gas is non-toxic, has no odor or color so you don’t see anything, but it provides the extra insulation value. Gas is better than just air in the space because it lessens heat transfer.

When you are replacing windows in an existing home, new window panes are fitted into the present framing and millwork. With an addition or new construction, you’ll buy an entirely new window. The frames around the glass may be made of vinyl (most prevalent), wood (traditional but more expensive and looks weathered sooner), aluminum (not ideal, can be too flimsy for larger windows and is not as energy efficient), and fiberglass (glass-reinforced plastic, a newer material that’s durable).

Aesthetics and energy value are only part of what you need to consider. What about building codes? In historic areas, you’ll be limited to wood frames, probably with muntins (vertical strips that make glass look like smaller individual panes), to coordinate with the colonial, Victorian, arts & crafts or federal style of the antique home.

Other code issues that come up on older houses are window size and placement in terms of emergency exit. Although she was hoping to put off replacing windows for another year, one homeowner who was renovating a hundred-year-old camp to make it comfortable year-round discovered that the building code had changed. To proceed with the remodeling, she had to put in different sized windows upstairs.

See a design/build professional

Another cost factor comes into play when you need custom designed windows versus standard replacement windows. If your federal style home has the old rope sash and pulleys inside the frame, you’ll need someone experienced working with them and will most likely have to have windows built to size, for example.

Condominiums, co-ops and association properties have their own standards and guidelines, and will most likely require you to use a specific window manufacturer.

kitchen-window-viewWhen the contractor pulls out the old window, take a good look. Is there any wood rot or insect damage in the wood framing? What about insulation? You may find there is no or little insulation around the window, or that it has settled to the bottom. Remedy this situation as soon as possible.

Because there are so many considerations when changing out windows, or selecting windows and sliders for a new home, remodel, or addition, it pays to ask questions, especially to experienced design/build professionals like the 3W Design team. Adding or replacing windows—whether fully functional like double hung or sliding glass doors, or static ones such as sidelights to a door or decorative arched styles—is a major investment and must be done right.

Variety of views

Additional options to consider are tilt-in windows for easy cleaning and buying single sash windows instead of double hung. The difference with a single sash variety is that the upper sash doesn’t move. Double hung where both can move are more expensive but good for households with small children (you can open just the upper part), and they’re easier to clean, especially for upstairs windows. You can get away with only one bottom screen with single hung windows.

New windows make your home sparkle! Rooms feel more comfortable, are quieter, and you’ll see the savings on your energy bills. What a nice reflection on you and your home!

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Out with the Cold, In with the New


In New England, you’re as likely to have a blizzard as to have 70 degrees in March, so it’s hard to tell when to start spring cleaning and shedding the vestiges of winter. While spring is official March 20, we all have our own signals that give us hope. When do you call it spring?

  • By the calendar?
  • Daylight Saving Time?
  • Red Sox Spring Training?
  • When you see bear tracks circling the bird feeder?

Whenever, that first sunny warm day—even if after a snowstorm—can spark a case of spring fever and motivate you to tackle the seasonal changeover.

First things first: out with the old (months of magazines, leftover holiday décor, clutter) and in with a fresh, cleaner look. Send snowman décor, heavily scented candles and warm throws back to the attic or basement. (Don’t store anything without cleaning it first, and get rid of things that are too worn.)

Lighten up!

You’ll be amazed at how much neater table and shelf surfaces look when you put away—or give away—those knickknacks and dust collectors. Polish the sleeker tabletops and you’ve already made progress.

Straighten out those bookshelves. Can you share some of your collection or donate some books? Eliminate a few accessories to let a little “air” into the shelves. How about a makeover: paint the inside a contrasting color or add wallpaper.

Clearing out things to make room for new, positive energy to enter is a principle of feng shui. To change winter’s stagnant, stuffy energy, move! Your furniture, that is. Experiment with new placement. If you’re having hardwood floors polished and rugs or carpets cleaned, consider this an opportunity to minimize the number of pieces in the room. Or pretend you’re “staging” the room to sell your home. Most of us have too many articles of furniture taking up space literally and figuratively. All that “stuff” can hold us back from more creative seasonal expressions.

Positive energy, practically speaking

In feng shui, entrances are important. An objective consultation with an experienced designer will help you streamline and give your home a fresh new perspective. This helps clear the way for more abundant “life force” (chi in Chinese) to flow and, according to ancient thought, blessings are sure to follow. To encourage positive energy flow, clear the decks and make the entranceway welcoming.

Winter in New England means lots of warm clothing clutter: hats, gloves, mittens, people and dog sweaters, boots, etc. So set aside some time to tackle the front hall or “mudroom.” Don’t have one? Click to our last article about mudrooms in NH.

Remember to keep a jacket and rain boots handy for that inevitable squall and mud season. Tired of wrestling with that top-heavy coat tree? Can’t squeeze another thing in that hall closet? A re-do may be in order. You’ll be amazed at how much more room a closet installation can you give you, while letting you see everything at the same time.

Speaking of closets, it’s a sure bet your pantry could use a purge.

Let the sun shine in by taking down heavy insulated drapes, replacing them with something lighter and brighter, maybe with sheers. To improve the outside view, wash those windows and screens.

Get the fireplace ready… for next fall!

Clean out the fireplace one last time and consider if this will be the year that you convert to gas. Schedule a chimney cleaning so you don’t have to worry about it next November when temps take a nose dive. Are the bricks in good shape? How happy are you with the surround and mantel? A fireplace is a focal point. Give it a facelift by adding marble, tile or molding.

Did you hatch any remodeling plans over the winter? Think inside out. If you’re replacing drafty old windows with broken seals, for example, add insulation too.

The vernal finishing touch

In the bedroom, clean and store those heavy blankets, reverse that comforter or duvet cover, or replace it with something spring-like and colorful.

Any home could use a breath of fresh air—literally. On the first warm, spring-like day, open all the windows and air your home out.

Florals are traditional expressions of spring, so if your daffodils haven’t bloomed yet, bring flowers in along with green plants. If your sofa is slipcovered, it’s time to wash and switch it out to a lighter, brighter one.

Put a spring wreath on the door—after a wash, fresh paint and/or new hardware—and you’re ready!

Whether your home needs a head to toe remodel or you just want to refresh a room or two, the designers at 3W Design Inc. can help, from new window treatments all the way to an outdoors entertaining space. So think spring. After all, when the Red Sox are in Fort Myers, can summer be that far behind?

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Modern Flooring Options

Something’s up underfoot!


Any major renovation, remodel or new construction starts from the bottom up. So a firm interior design foundation – wood, tile, stone or carpet – comes first. Let’s look below the surface of the many options of flooring available today.

Flooring can be flamboyant, like a black-and-white harlequin pattern of tiles reminiscent of a Venetian palace, to something that fades into the background, such as a neutral no-pile carpet, that just serves as a blank canvas to showcase your furniture and walls.

But your flooring’s appearance is only part of what you need to consider. Think about:

  • What happens in the room
  • How much traffic and what kind of traffic it will get
  • Character and style of the room, e.g., formal or informal
  • How long it will last (how durable is the material)
  • How comfortable it feels underfoot
  • What kind of care it requires
  • Your budget

There are so many choices today, even within one material like wood, for example. Pine wood alone has variations, from heart of pine (the absolute hardest) to yellow or white pine (only half as hard, and can be subject to dents and dings).

Hardwood can be finished in different stains, and to a high-gloss sheen, a satin finish (popular now) or a matte finish. Boards can be laid horizontally or diagonally for a more contemporary look, or in a herringbone or chevron pattern like old parquet.


Hardwood floors are timeless but there are a lot more choices now in terms of color (from expresso to white and the new neutral, gray) and styles.

Lighter color (blond) wood expands a room visually, while darker wood looks elegant and old world. In a high-ceilinged Victorian, a dark floor adds a rich look. But dark wood shows dust and dirt more than lighter woods.

Trending now are wood planks that are longer and wider (8 to 10 inches). Reclaimed wood—“recycled” from old barns and underneath carpets in old houses. These give a unique look but the supply is limited. For a similar look, you can get distressed wood, made to look old.

Another kind of wood floor is engineered wood, which is a hardwood veneer over plywood or fiberboard base. The thicker the veneer the more expensive it is, but it’s still less than solid hardwood.

Laminates have been around long enough they no longer “sound” plastic-y like some used to (like when your dog’s nails “click” across the room). Plus they can be virtually undetectable from the real thing. Laminate is a very thin layer of plastic or wood glued to a core. Besides being less expensive, these floors are scratch resistant and come in almost as many varieties as hardwood.

If using sustainable materials matters to you, bamboo (very strong) or cork might fit the bill. Both are environmentally friendly. Cork is becoming a favorite in kitchens because its softness and resiliency are easier on backs, feet and legs. It also soaks up sound.

Other flooring materials to tickle your tootsies include ceramic and porcelain tile, including some in styles that are made to look like wood. Slate and stone are popular for smaller inside floors, such as bathrooms and indoor/outdoor transition areas like mudrooms. Though easy to clean, some materials require annual sealing or treatment.


Carpet is a warm, cozy perennial favorite for New England bedrooms or, if your floors are hardwood, add rugs. There are hundreds of choices in carpet, from differences in pile to carved patterns, nylon versus wool, and of course colors.

Sisal is a natural plant material that is used in carpets, and especially on stairs as runners or treads. (Hardwood stairs can be slippery for pets to climb.) It’s durable, doesn’t show dirt, but is not very soft.

What lies just beneath the surface…

Remodelling with new flooring is the perfect opportunity to fix those squeaky floorboards, and even out sloping or uneven floors. That’s a must, actually—tile or stone or vinyl will crack if the base is not level.

hardwood-kitchen-flooringWhether you go with engineered wood, laminate, ceramic tile or, stone or carpet, what’s underneath matters too. Whether sub flooring or underlayment (plywood, foam or particleboard), the foundation of the flooring is important to get right. A good carpet deserves good padding, for example.

For a treat for your feet, think about radiant heating beneath your flooring. It warms the room from the floor up and is an efficient way to heat. It’s appropriate for underneath most flooring materials except for carpeting, which blocks the heat.

Floored by all the choices? Your 3W Design team will help you select and install the perfect material for your home and lifestyle, to keep you on firm footing for a very long time.

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Home Sweet Home… Office!


According to Entrepreneur.com, the residence is the primary workplace for 2.8 million Americans. With flexible schedules, telecommuting, virtual teams and freelancing, more people are joining the work-at-home crowd every day. Just about every home needs an office these days, whether a separate room, a dual-purpose guestroom, or at minimum, a niche in the kitchen or off the living room.

If nothing else, you need a spot for the home computer or laptop, to pay bills, and keep track of kids’ school and sports papers and schedules.

A home office can and should be as stylish, efficient and functional as the rest of your house. So get ready to clear off the foyer table or kitchen counter and get organized once and for all!

As with any design/build project, first things first: what do you need a home office space to do? That is, how does it need to function? Will it be a solo spot, or a shared or collaborative workspace? Do you need quiet for conference calls?

Get strategic and be specific!

To be more work focused, consider these choices:

  • Drawers or file cabinets (or deep drawers for files)
  • Built-in or floating shelves, or cabinets
  • Open shelving or closed, or open with bins or baskets
  • Counter space to spread out blueprints or textiles
  • Desktop for computer, laptop
  • Couch or sleep sofa for guests or inspirational naps
  • Flooring: will you roll around on a chair? Do you need carpet to soak up sound?
  • Natural light, task lighting or a combination?

Be flexible but keep your style.

Will you see clients or co-workers? Or does the office double as a guest room?

An office in its own room gives you the opportunity for mixed-use flexibility and furniture. A loveseat can turn into a bed, a Murphy bed can pull down from the wall. A file cabinet on wheels can roll away into a closet when not needed, or you can tuck files (or linens for the day bed) into a storage ottoman.

home-library-officeIf you opt for cabinetry and a built-in look, coordinate with the rest of your home. If traditional, your designer will help you select pieces that look like fine furniture. For a contemporary vibe, look at sleek modular designs with chrome, metal or acrylic hardware or shelving.

The library look, with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, is classic. Old Victorian homes with high ceilings lend themselves to this; sliding ladders are an authentic touch. Or, you could even go full-on faux using wallpaper for the same effect.

How much time will you spend there? If you’re self-employed and/or this is basically a full-time office, you need to consider ergonomics, that is, human engineering, how to move efficiently, comfortably and safely within the space.

If you sit at a desk, your chair is important. Can you see a screen or monitor without squinting or craning your neck? Adjustable stand-up desks give you an option.  In terms of idea generation and organization, what’s helpful: a bulletin board, white board? You could go really big by covering a wall in chalkboard paint.

Power up! 

office-at-homeToday’s electronic and media-rich lifestyles require lots of electricity. Especially if your home is older, you may need more electrical outlets.

Not everything is worthy of display. If you run a messy office in a nook or off a living space, or are in the midst of a big project and don’t have a door to close, a panelled screen or simple curtain can work. Baskets or bins on open shelves can hide a multitude of sins (and papers and office supplies). Little things matter: corral that cord clutter with a sleeve or wrap for a sleeker, organized appearance.

When you work full-time at home, it’s good to have some separation for that all-important transition from office hours to at-home downtime. If you don’t have a door to close, leaving your computer or spreadsheets behind, how about a curtain, or a pull-down desk surface that goes back up.

Beyond the practical, how do you want your office to feel? Design can play a big part in creating the home workspace of your dreams, from color that inspires, calms or invigorates, to focal points or window treatments framing a view that gives you joy.

Whether your work surface is an old farm table, a parsons table, classic roll-top desk or a write-on wall, with 3W design, inc. as a partner, you can have a stylish, efficient workspace with all the comforts of home—including a dog or cat bed for your best friend and co-worker.

Ready to get down to business? We can help you design your world headquarters – with the easiest possible commute! Feel free to call us for assistance at (603) 226-3399.

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Dress Up Your Dining Room

During the holidays, the dining room takes the spotlight. Could yours use an update?


Formal or informal, elegant or cottage cozy, dining rooms get dressed up for the holidays as family feasts take center stage. But here are some ideas that could make your dining room even more welcoming.

The Appetizer

At this time of year in New England, good lighting is vital. Ceiling lighting such as a chandelier puts the spotlight on your table, whether one spectacular brass or crystal chandelier, blown-glass pendants, or metal track lighting for that industrial vibe. Overhead lighting can really highlight the table, which is the focal point of the room.  A chandelier with arms is perfect for a garland or for hanging crystal glass ornaments for the holidays.

Be sure to include a rheostat switch to dining room lighting. Being able to raise or lower the lights adds an extra touch of ambience. A chandelier with candle-style bulbs that can be dimmed for evening meals won’t overwhelm table candles and lets them twinkle.

If your dining room has high, tray or cove ceilings, you have additional opportunities to light up the room and add atmosphere. Wall sconces add a formal, classic touch with candle bulbs. And crown moulding is literally the crowning touch for traditional rooms.

The Main Course

What’s your style of dining room table: classic cherry, walnut or oak, or contemporary/industrial acrylic, glass or metal? A beautiful table—preferably one that can glass-table-topbe extended with leaves for special occasions—is a blank canvas.

Contemporary or classic, rectangular or round, the table is the gathering place. If yours is looking the worse for wear or perhaps a “well-loved” family heirloom, you may want to refinish it. Luckily, a tablecloth—or a couple of them of different lengths draped over each other—is a quick fix.

Every great dining room deserves a firm foundation. Hardwood? Laminate? Carpeting? Chances are your dining room isn’t an island unto itself; other rooms flow in and out through doorways. So you probably have coordinating flooring. But you can differentiate your dining room and warm it up with a beautiful area rug beneath the table. Rugs or carpet also soften sound.

A Choice of Sides

Along the walls, chair rails complement crown moulding, or if your style of home décor warrants it, consider wainscoting.

Draperies are classic window treatments. Go big with long panels that “puddle” on the hardwood floor, and rods just below the ceiling to lengthen and expand the appearance of any size window.

If you have a view, of course you should showcase it. Just realize that for several months each year, if you dine after 5:00 p.m., it will be pitch black outside.

Or swap window dressings out according to the season: heavy, insulating drapes in the winter, and light billowy sheers in the summer. For a different but still stylish look, especially if the view isn’t great, consider shutters.

Furnishings that act as “sides” to the dining table can include a hutch or china cabinet, sideboard/buffet table, and/or an attractive wine rack or bar table combination.

Artwork on the walls shouldn’t be hung too high since you and your guests will most often view it while seated.

Pull Up a Chair

Comfortable seating and atmospheric lighting encourage guests to linger after dinner. When it comes to chairs, no matter what your style, they don’t all have to match. But they country-dining-roomshould be at the same seating height, so no one’s at chest level to the table.

If there’s room, upholstered chairs with arms at the head and foot of the table (master and mistress chairs) are a nice touch. A bench is great to pull up for kids or extra guests, but unless it has a back it’s not comfortable for everyday use.

For the holidays, elegant slipcovers dress up plain chairs, and you can toss them in the washer when wine or gravy gets spilled.

Room for Dessert

Music adds to every occasion, but if your sound system is in another room, pipe in the music with remote or wireless speakers. And, every celebration deserves a festive centerpiece. Natural materials suitable for the season are traditional but the Internet and decorating magazines have endless ideas.

If your dining room needs a makeover, talk to the space planning experts at 3W Design. Then get ready to entertain in style.

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Your Laundry Room: No Longer a Dirty Secret

Shades of Gray


Imagine feeling delighted, excited even, to enter your laundry room! It could happen with a thoughtful, well-planned, redesigned room from 3W Design.

Laundry rooms are often neglected parts of the home. But laundry won’t feel like such a chore if you create a welcoming, efficient, functioning environment. Here are some ideas for “destination” laundry rooms that will leave you feeling anything but wishy-washy about washing day.

Why remodel your laundry area? Maybe your old washer drained all over the floor, leaving pounds of unspun towels sopping wet at the bottom. Your dryer died. If these major appliances are old, they can be a real energy drain. If you’re replacing these appliances for more efficient Energy Star-rated ones, it may be the perfect time to reconfigure your utility room, mud room or laundry closet.

What do you want this space to be? Will it be a multi-purpose room with a sink, counter space, recycling center, mud room for coats and boots, or pet area? Is there room to include a desk for bill paying and/or homework, or for a table to fold out for crafting?

At Home


Is your laundry area in a bathroom, or is there room to incorporate a powder room into or next to the laundry? Flooring should be practical and easy to clean (a laundry area is not the place for carpet) but that doesn’t mean it can’t be attractive and there are lots of nice-looking, durable flooring materials and finishes to choose from.

An ironing board can be folded away in a slotted closet. A seat on a bench above a cubby or bin can be used for pulling boots on and off. Tired of unfolding a drying rack in the middle of the floor? Consider rods for hanging, perhaps above the counter or sink.

Dress it up

For a utility room that looks anything but utilitarian, when it comes to decorating, have fun! Large white or neutral appliances don’t leave a lot of wall space, depending on the size of the room. So you can go a little wild to make a big impact with a beautiful glass tile backsplash or funky wallpaper—whatever makes you smile when you enter. Especially if there are no windows, choose bright colors or classic white with bright accents.

For storage of cleaning supplies, incorporate custom built-in cabinets to complement a contemporary style home, or do open shelves with rustic baskets for a cottage or farmhouse feel. Simple touches can make any space special, like using a single color for all hangers, and coordinating bins for storage and supplies.

Nashville Farmhouse


Hide and seek

If your laundry room is near the main living space, there are other considerations. How quiet and vibration-free are the appliances?

If off the kitchen, in a pantry, or in a mudroom, front-loading machines can be tucked into elegant cabinetry. Consider a pocket door or one with glass panes if in keeping with the house style. Louvred doors can let some of the warm air from the dryer through–but the noise comes with it.

Take things UP a notch 

The days of hauling heavy baskets up and down the stairs from a dark basement are over. For convenience, nothing beats an upstairs laundry space. Since the bulk of the laundry—and the bulkiest laundry—is bed and bath linens and towels, this makes a lot of sense.

Of course, you probably can’t add on upstairs, so where to put it? A linen closet could work, especially if it’s adjacent to upstairs bathrooms and plumbing. You can stack things in your favor by putting a front-loading washer and dryer on top of each other.

Things you’ll need to consider with your design/builder for an upstairs laundry include:

  • Where will the dryer vent?
  • What will the noise level be like? (Select appliances that don’t have a lot of vibration.)
  • Will extra precautions have to be taken due to moisture being produced?
  • How deep are the appliances? Front loaders tend to be deeper than top-loading machines (which may be wider). Don’t forget to account for hoses, faucets and pipes at the rear or on the side.)
  • Is there enough vertical space to consider putting the machines on a pedestal for storage drawers underneath?

Some “destination” laundry rooms even include a dog washing and grooming station. After all, it kind of makes sense to keep those furry coats clean in the same place you wash all of your outer wear.

You still may not want to air your dirty laundry when guests come over…but if you work with a designer like 3W design, you’ll certainly want to show them your beautiful, functional spaces including your very livable laundry room!

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Make Your Kitchen Work for You – Beautifully!


A kitchen remodeling project can be fun, especially when you work with experienced design/builders. But it’s also daunting: so many details! Before you get to the fun part such as style and décor and choosing new appliances, consider function first.

Of course, the function will be a beautiful, well-planned, efficient place to cook. But what else do you require from a kitchen space? Since remodels are costly investments meant to last from a couple of decades or until you move to another home, you want to make the most of this opportunity.

Try this exercise: take out your favorite note-taking device and try to make a list of everything that happened in your kitchen in the last 24 hours. That list is likely to be pretty long. Now put a check mark next to the functions your kitchen currently serves pretty well, and a minus sign next to the functions it struggles to support. The negative functions are the ones you’ll want to address in your remodel. If you’re not sure how, ask a professional.

Kitchen remodels need to last a long time, so consider how your life will evolve over time. If you have children, will they still be living at home in 15 years? A wall with chalkboard paint for kids’ masterpieces, menus and lists can easily be painted over when your style has changed from easy-to-clean and child-proof to sleek stainless or French country.

kitchen-islandBut more permanent fixtures and surfaces—countertops, cabinets—must stand the test of time, not only for function but for attractiveness. This is not the place to go retro with a boomerang-patterned red-and-black sparkle counter a la 1960s diner, no matter how fun it seems today – unless of course that is what you really want! Just be aware that come time to sell, it could be a turn-off to an otherwise interested buyer.

Centuries ago, the kitchen was the hub of the home because of the hearth, which provided warmth. More than that, it was the cooking, drying and even bathing area. We don’t bathe in washtubs anymore, but we do practically everything else in today’s larger kitchens. A few examples…

  • Besides cooking and food preparation, there’s food storage
  • Children may do homework there
  • A desk may serve for meal planning, bill-paying
  • You could have a mini office with a computer
  • There could be an adjacent laundry room
  • You may have a collection of cookbooks or glassware to display
  • An island may serve as a buffet table for entertaining
  • The kitchen may be open to adjoining spaces so you can keep an eye on children and guests.

Speaking of guests, because it’s impossible to keep them out of your kitchen, the heart of the home needs to be beautiful enough to show off, but also allow you to entertain the way entertaining-in-kitchenyou want to. One key design element is a clear delineation between guests and host, typically an island or peninsula that can serve as a buffet and/or bar. This way you can engage with your guests while keeping them out of your way.

A kitchen remodel is, of course, a significant investment. It’s important that you design, plan and build a space that serves the needs of your entire household for the life of the kitchen. Once you’ve plotted how it needs to serve your functional needs, it’s easier to choose the layout and design elements to make it a beautifully functional space for years to come.

Engaging an interior designer doesn’t have to feel like a big commitment. We offer what we call a Design Agreement. For a minimal upfront cost, you get to tap into the knowledge, experience, and resources of our team. At the end, you will have a picture of the proposed design and a layout plan to keep. If you see the value in what we offer, we put the cost of the Design Agreement towards your project budget for the build out. It’s that simple—and the results will be simply stunning!

Feel free to call the pros at 3W design at (603) 226-3399 if you have kitchen design questions. It’s why we’re here!

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