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by RestonNow.com Sponsor April 13, 2018 at 3:30 pm 1 Comment

This is a sponsored post by Anna Gibson, owner of AKG Design Studio and an award-winning, certified kitchen and bathroom designer. AKG Design Studio is a boutique design firm specializing in kitchen, bathroom designs and cabinetry sales. Contact Anna at 571-989-2541 or [email protected], and follow her work on HouzzPinterestFacebook and Twitter.

As we get into warmer weather and we switch from heat to air conditioning, finding ways to be more energy efficient in our kitchens can help the environment and our utility bills. Here is our short list of how to have a more energy efficient kitchen.

LED Lights — Recessed, under cabinet and such not only save money on energy costs, but it also produces less heat which is essential in the kitchen.

One thing to remember is kitchens heat up naturally from cooking. So, to have the ability to make sure to put LED lights on dimmers will help keep your kitchen cooler, since we do not need light at 100% output all the time.  

Energy Efficient Appliances — According to website Alliance, Energy Star appliance can help households save up to 30% on their electric bills. Another benefit of energy-efficient appliances is they help you cook faster and healthier light meals. The Steam Combi Ovens allows you to cook all your meal at once in less than 30 minutes.  

Dishwashers — Many homeowners feel that they use the same money/water by hand washing. That is wrong. Dishwasher requires less than one-third the water it would take to do those same dishes in the sink.

A tip to save even more is don’t use the heated dry cycle. A heated dry period can add 15% to 50% to the appliance’s operating cost. Run the dishwasher only when full or if you have the option utilize the dishwasher’s short cycle.

Refrigerators — Did you know your fridge is one of the biggest energy consumers in your home?

Check the temperature inside to be sure you are utilizing the temperature control that is the most energy efficient. Your fridge should be between 37 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit (2.78 – 4.44 degrees Celsius), and 5 degrees Fahrenheit (-15 degrees Celsius) for the freezer. If your refrigerator is running colder than that, you are wasting energy. 

Also, avoid putting super hot food in the fridge, keep the leftover to cool outside and only when in room temp, place in the refrigerator. Allowing your hot dishes outside of the fridge will help the refrigerator with keeping the temp leveled and not work extra hard to make up for the heat source inside it.

Vampire Energy — Vampire energy, also known as standby power, is the electric power consumed by many consumer electronic devices when they are switched off but still plugged in, and that wasted electricity is costing you consumer’s money. We have lots of those in the kitchen.

Most households leave their toasters, coffee machines and cell phone chargers plugged in a while, not in use. An easy solution comes from Lutron with the Lutron Maestro Wireless Plug-In Appliance Modules. You can plug in your appliances to the system and set them to go off the grid while you are not home or asleep.

by RestonNow.com Sponsor April 9, 2018 at 3:30 pm 0

Written by Mina Fies, Synergy Design & Construction

Most homeowners avoid remodeling projects because they’re afraid of the disruption (and the mess) it will create in their home.

While it’s impossible to completely avoid dust and debris during the process a great contractor will go the extra mile to keep the disruption to a minimum. A few signs to look for in a well-organized job site include:

  • Temporary plastic walls and zippered doorways to separate construction areas from the rest of the home
  • Floor protection is installed to protect walkways to and from the outside
  • HEPA Air Scrubber or other high powered vacuum is in use
  • The dumpster is frequently emptied to minimize dangerous (and unsightly) conditions
  • Garage or staging area is organized with tools in place at the end of each day
  • The spaces being renovated are broom swept daily and left in an orderly fashion

Our featured renovation this month is a Reston townhouse kitchen and first floor. The original floor plan didn’t allow the spaces to interact well. We opened it up from the entry to the kitchen and main living area.

The home is now flooded with light and the updated space is great for entertaining. “What was especially nice was that everything was clean when I came home every night. They took time to clean every day and didn’t have boards and tools lying around everywhere,” commented another happy Synergy client.

Watch the video of our team in action in the field. You can see more of our remodeling transformations and behind-the-scenes videos at RenovateHappy.com.

by RestonNow.com Sponsor April 9, 2018 at 12:00 pm 0

This is a sponsored column by attorneys John Berry and Kimberly Berry of Berry & Berry, PLLC, an employment and labor law firm located in Northern Virginia that specializes in federal employee, security clearance, retirement and private sector employee matters.

When an individual with a security clearance is submitted for a security clearance upgrade, any previously existing security concerns are scrutinized again, but at a higher level.

For instance, if an individual has been previously approved for a Secret level clearance and is then submitted for a Top Secret (TS) level clearance by their employer, the individual could be denied based on the same concerns that existed when he or she was approved for a Secret level clearance.

This more often occurs when the individual holds a Top Secret (TS) clearance but is applying for Sensitive Compartmented Information (SCI) access, “TS/SCI.”

Clearance Upgrade Dilemma

One common problem with security clearance upgrades occurs when an employer submits a request to upgrade an individual’s security clearance (e.g., from Secret to Top Secret).

Sometimes the individual is made aware of the requested upgrade by the employer and sometimes he or she is not. It is possible that an individual can be approved for a lower level security clearance with existing security concerns, but that he or she can still be denied when submitting for a security clearance upgrade even if there are no new security concerns.

As an example, suppose an individual is approved for a Top Secret security clearance by the Department of Defense (DoD), after mitigating some security concerns about past due debts or bad credit, and is then submitted for SCI access at an intelligence agency.

The intelligence agency may consider those debts more serious than the DoD, and deny the person SCI access approval based on the same financial issues that were first resolved favorably when the individual applied for his or her Top Secret clearance.  This upgrade denial can potentially have significant consequences.

Result of Unfavorable Upgrade

The result of a clearance upgrade denial might be that the individual, at best, likely has to list the prior denial in future clearance applications, and at worst, could cause the individual to lose (or have to defend) his or her existing security clearance.

Depending on the employer and federal agency involved, there are appeals processes to challenge the clearance upgrade denial, but it is something to seriously consider if there are security concerns in one’s background and a clearance upgrade is proposed.

Conclusion

It is important to consider the impact of upgrading a security clearance or security access before applying when there are previous security concerns at issue. Individuals should consult with counsel if they have any security concerns at issue.

If you need assistance with a severance agreement or other employment matter, please contact our office at (703) 668-0070 or at www.berrylegal.com to schedule a consultation. Please also visit and like us on Facebook.

by RestonNow.com Sponsor March 16, 2018 at 3:30 pm 0

This is a sponsored post by Anna Gibson, owner of AKG Design Studio and an award-winning, certified kitchen and bathroom designer. AKG Design Studio is a boutique design firm specializing in kitchen, bathroom designs and cabinetry sales. Contact Anna at 571-989-2541 or [email protected], and follow her work on HouzzPinterestFacebook and Twitter.

As we adjust to losing an hour, many are enjoying mother nature’s extra hour of natural light outside.

Now if we could just capture the sun and bring that light inside somehow? Thankfully, the Romans in the 13th century BC figured out that if they placed unglazed openings in their roofs, it allowed the sun to come in during the daytime.

Through years of innovation and creativity adding the right type of windows can maximize the amount of natural light in your kitchen or bathroom. So, what are our top picks of windows that offer most natural light?

Picture Windows   If you want your home to have a large open feeling and a great view, we recommend picture windows with no grids.

Picture windows come in contemporary and modern designs. The one drawback is they do not open, so if you love views, sunlight, and fresh air from all your windows, keep reading some of the other options.

Double Hung Windows — The double hung window is considered the most classic. They are made to be easy to open, even while leaning over a counter to do it. They come in a variety of grid styles.

Garden Windows — Do you like to grow your fresh herbs? Alternatively, do you want to show off the work of your green thumb? The Garden Window may be for you. It bumps out so it can display your favorite greenery and gives you extra light from the roof of the window.

Casement Windows — If you love fresh air and can not get enough of it, these windows are for you. The best part about casement windows you can open them as wide as you want because they open outwards, which allows you not to lose any space in your kitchen.

Bay Windows — If you love a bit of sunlight while you are enjoying your morning coffee, the bay window is for you. It brings in lots of light into a kitchen or breakfast area. If they are placed low enough, they can have bench seating below it.

Built-in Window Treatments — Not all of us have the best views, but still want to enjoy sunlight, while having privacy at the end of the day. The best options are to use windows that have built-in window shades.

You can lower these from the top to give you the privacy you want while keeping the sunlight from the top. Having the shade built into the window will eliminate the shade from getting dirty and worn out.

***Please note your window selection may not comply with your HOA regulations, so always check with them first before deciding on the right window for your home.

by RestonNow.com Sponsor March 13, 2018 at 3:45 pm 3 Comments

This is a sponsored post from Eve Thompson of Reston Real Estate. For a more complete picture of home sales in your neighborhood, contact her on Reston Real Estate.

Urban planning and architectural students study Reston, VA for a reason — some of Reston’s early designs were groundbreaking.

Hickory Cluster, the first development in Reston, is one. Designed by the famous architect Charles Goodman, they represent why Goodman’s early designs changed the way developments were planned.

Architectural historian Elizabeth Jo Lample noted in Housing Washington, “The appeal of living in a Goodman house is enormous to those who share his avant-garde spirit, plus his ideals for openness, engagement with nature and liberal social values… To those who are fortunate enough to obtain them, his dwellings feel like highly livable works of art, glazed conduits to the natural world.”

One of Goodman’s trademarks is the way he used the land.

In Hickory Cluster, he arranged groups of townhouses around intricately paved terraces, which in turn are leveled into a wooded hilltop. Overlooking Lake Anne Village Center, the Hickory Cluster townhomes features sharp changes in the rooflines, varying sizes and contrasting textures.

The homes come in a variety of designs with 2, 3 or 4 bedrooms, rooftop terraces, balconies, playrooms, private studies, family rooms and recreation rooms.

The cluster backs up to Reston Association path and is just a short walk to Lake Anne, Reston Town Center and Lake Anne Elementary School. The Reston Station, Silver Line Metrorail, is a five minute drive and Dulles International Airport is within 15 minutes by car.

Charles Goodman also designed Hollin Hills, a single family home development in Alexandria VA. For an up close look at Hollin Hills be sure to check out the Hollin Hills House and Garden Tour this April 28th.

Like Hickory Cluster these homes have stood the test of time with spaces that feel just as relevant today as they did more than 50 years ago.

Visit the Hickory Cluster website to learn more about this historic, and beautiful, Reston community.

by RestonNow.com Sponsor March 12, 2018 at 1:30 pm 0

Written by Mina Fies, Synergy Design & Construction

The #1 complaint I hear from homeowners is that their previous project took much longer than expected.

Working in the design and construction industry for years, I believe one of the biggest mistakes renovation companies make is not providing a clear timeline and plan to homeowners before construction begins.

Here’s a few questions to ask potential remodeling companies to ensure they’ve got the ability (and capacity) to get your project completed on-time:

  • What is a “typical” project size for your company?
  • How often do you take on projects like mine?
  • How many projects do you have going on at one time?
  • Do you provide a timeline for completion of my project?
  • How will you ensure my project will come in on time and on budget?

Our featured renovation this month is a clean-lined, modern Reston kitchen. Our clients had exacting standards and an eye for details and they chose us because we provided them a clear pathway to the finish line (which we call our Renovation Roadmap™).

We use it to help make all design selections and provide the exact costs and construction timeline and — the best bit — this eliminates unexpected costs, delays and frustration!

We love helping homeowners like you, even if you don’t pick us as your remodeling partner. Download your free Renovation Roadmap brochure and receive monthly tools and tips on everything design and renovation.

by RestonNow.com Sponsor March 12, 2018 at 12:00 pm 0

This is a sponsored column by attorneys John V. Berry and Kimberly H. Berry of Berry & Berry, PLLC, an employment and labor law firm located in Plaza America in Reston that specializes in federal employee, security clearance, retirement and private sector employee matters.

By John V. Berry, Esq.

While it is not always possible to avoid litigation in employment cases, resolving an employment dispute without litigation, if possible, is strongly recommended and should be considered by both employees and employers.

We have represented both employees and employers and the benefits of resolution usually far outweigh the lengthy litigation process. Some benefits to consider include:

1. Avoid Extended Litigation: We have had employment cases in extended litigation that take between three to six years in the court process.

When going into an employment case, an employee and employer should consider whether it makes sense to litigate these types of cases over such a potentially long period of time.

Usually, employees do not want to have such a long period of uncertainty to their career, and an employer does not want to spend $50,000 to $100,000 (or more) litigating an employment case. Employers can also have similar uncertainties about staffing while a case is pending.

2. Limiting Costs: Extended litigation can cost a lot of money for both employees and employers.

Employees usually pay for these fees out of pocket and employers either pay these fees out of pocket or through increased premiums in their use of insurance defense policies.

Some of our most satisfied clients are those who have decided to resolve their disputes early in the process and save themselves money. They may reach a compromise that is not perfect, but sometimes it is far better than the result of the litigation.

3. No Stress from Discovery: Because we have taken a number of depositions over the years of managers, witnesses and employees, we can tell you that going through the discovery process can take a stressful toll on both employers and employees.

The former employee often undergoes a high level of stress in telling his or her story to an opposing attorney who is looking to disprove their account through questioning.

For employers, it is no better because managers also get stressed about telling the truth while being loyal to the company. Managers also tend to be far less productive at work when they’re under this type of stress.

For both sides, discovery also means going back through emails (sometime work, sometimes personal emails) and other documents and producing them to the other side. (more…)

by RestonNow.com Sponsor March 2, 2018 at 3:30 pm 1 Comment

This is a sponsored post by Anna Gibson, owner of AKG Design Studio and an award-winning, certified kitchen and bathroom designer. AKG Design Studio is a boutique design firm specializing in kitchen, bathroom designs and cabinetry sales. Contact Anna at 571-989-2541 or [email protected], and follow her work on HouzzPinterestFacebook and Twitter.

What is it about spring that we are ready to shed the old and have a bit more space, a clean slate if you would?

Most start to think about their “big” spring cleaning as we dream of warmer weather with light breezes and sunny days. As a kitchen designer, I am often brought in this time of year to help create spaces that allow me to help homeowners to declutter and minimize their small kitchen spaces into something that can stay cleaned out year round.

Unlike a home organizer, I look at a home and help homeowners “declutter” or “spring clean” with the types of cabinet choices there are out there. Adding cabinet spaces that have built-in organization capabilities help keep from “disorganization” happening throughout the year, allowing you to more time to go out and enjoy the spring weather.

They are four main ways that help your kitchen clutter-free.

1. Pull-out storage — Did you know you can add 50% more storage from adding pull-out cabinetry? Other benefits of pull-out cabinetry are they are a great way to keep clutter off your counters because they help organize your small items. Another bonus, they are better on your body as you age, because they put everything at your fingertips.

2. Cleaning Caddy — We all keep our cleaning things under our sinks, but running back and forth, because you could only hold the paper towels and Windex, but forgot the toilet cleaner? Can take the extra time you would instead be doing something else. Adding a cleaning cabinet caddy that rolls out and you can carry with everything you need to clean the perfect answer to cut down the trips for missing cleaning items.

3. Drawer Dividers — People love drawers, yet when it’s an empty drawer with no additional organization tools, it can be hard to place things in them without everything moving every time you open or close it. We suggest drawers with dividers, so its easier to keep the dishes in lower cabinets. These are great for kids and people with different abilities to be able to reach what they need.

(more…)

by RestonNow.com Sponsor February 26, 2018 at 12:30 pm 2 Comments

This is a sponsored column by attorneys John V. Berry and Kimberly H. Berry of Berry & Berry, PLLC, an employment and labor law firm located in Plaza America in Reston that specializes in federal employee, security clearance, retirement and private sector employee matters.

By John V. Berry, Esq.

The U.S. Women’s Hockey Team not only just won Olympic Gold, but significantly advanced the equal pay argument for all women.

Their victory and Gold Medal ended a difficult year on and off the ice for the team. They worked together despite almost losing their positions on the team in a hard fight for equal pay before the most recent Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

In March 2017, about twelve months before the Olympics, the U.S. Women’s Hockey Team threatened to sit out of the Ice Hockey Federation World Championship unless USA Hockey agreed to treat them the same as the U.S. Men’s Hockey Team. The female hockey players sought equal treatment in comparison to the men’s team. Specifically, the U.S. Women’s Hockey Team sought the same salary, equipment, staff, travel, per diems and media publicity as the U.S. Men’s Hockey Team.

It is hard to believe that the dispute lasted nearly a year, but the U.S. Women’s Team won. They were awarded up to $70,000 a year in salary (up from $6,000). USA Hockey also agreed that the women’s hockey team would receive the same travel stipends and accommodations as the men’s hockey team, along with better marketing and media efforts.

In our practice involving equal pay, we are seeing more women employees challenging and demanding equal pay for equal work.

In April of 2016, we wrote about a similar challenge that was advanced by the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team, despite the fact that they had already won the World Cup in 2015.

The combined efforts of the U.S. Women’s Hockey Team and U.S. Women’s Soccer Team illustrate the fact that collective action and success by women can be key to eliminating egregious pay disparities for the same work. Their efforts also have a direct and positive impact on all other types of employment and equal pay disputes.

We represent employees in Equal Pay matters. If you need assistance, please contact our office at (703) 668-0070 or at www.berrylegal.com to schedule a consultation. Please also visit and like us on Facebook.

by RestonNow.com Sponsor February 20, 2018 at 3:45 pm 4 Comments

This is a sponsored post from Eve Thompson of Reston Real Estate. For a more complete picture of home sales in your neighborhood, contact her on Reston Real Estate.

Reston is one of those places where people buy a home and then live in it for 50 years.

While many houses on the market in Reston have been renovated, at least in the last 15 years, chances are you’ll fall in love with a home that needs some work. Since fixer uppers tend to sell for less than a renovated home, the thought of buying one is attractive.

I help clients work through the pros and cons of buying a fixer upper every day, and here’s what I tell them.

Buying a fixer upper

First, you need to be honest about how much of a project you can take on. If you really don’t have the time or desire to do the work yourself, don’t buy a house based on doing the work yourself. That’s a good way to end up living another 15 years with a kitchen from 1970.

Before you buy, try to get an estimate of how much the renovations will cost you. Talk to friends who have done similar renovations. Or try this free estimator (it’s basic, but it’s a place to start). You may find that they add up to the difference between the fixer upper and a renovated home. Of course, for someone who’d like to have work done exactly how they’d like it, that might not matter.

When to consider a fixer upper

  • You’ve always wanted a specific type of kitchen, bathroom, deck, etc. (maybe you dream of Viking appliances and granite counters). This is a great opportunity to spend a little less on the purchase of your home and funnel that extra money into getting what you really want.
  • When the repairs are actually very superficial. It can be hard to imagine how wonderful your living room is if it’s painted a color you hate or has unappealing wall paper. But paint is a simple fix and it will change the look of your whole house.
  • When the structure is good, and things just need an overhaul. If the kitchen layout works for you and the cabinets are in good condition, getting new appliances, counters and painting is easy… and well worth the effort to freshen the house.
  • If this is your dream house in your dream neighborhood. If you really love this house, then you should live in it!

Know when to walk away (or at least consider it)

There are some fixer upper scenarios that you really shouldn’t take on.

  • A bad roof or ancient heating/air conditioning systems: Both of these are very expensive repairs. If the house you want needs a new ones, negotiate that into your price.
  • Foundation issues:If you’ve got a bad foundation, it is very time consuming to fix it. Your home inspection will turn up any problems and if it does, consider very carefully if you love the house enough to deal with the headache.
  • Old electrical systems: Older homes can have faulty wiring and electrical panels that could pose a risk of electrical fire. Your home inspection will reveal whether this is an issue to consider.

My advice: avoid structural issues that will cause you headaches for years — and may make it difficult to sell your house later. But other than that, if you really are handy or you have a great contractor, fixer uppers are a great investment.

See more at: http://allrestonrealestate.com/blog/#sthash.7Gi37GGz.dpuf

by RestonNow.com Sponsor February 16, 2018 at 3:45 pm 2 Comments

This is a sponsored post by Anna Gibson, owner of AKG Design Studio and an award-winning, certified kitchen and bathroom designer. AKG Design Studio is a boutique design firm specializing in kitchen, bathroom designs and cabinetry sales. Contact Anna at 571-989-2541 or [email protected], and follow her work on HouzzPinterestFacebook and Twitter.

Did you know that February is not only the month of love but National Family Baking Month? What a fun way to spend the last two of the coldest months of winter, in your house with the sweet aromas of cinnamon rolls in the air.

We have compiled a list of the top 3 essentials to help get you and your family baking together without breaking the bank. And we also found a fantastic recipe link to how to make your version of Cinnabon Cinnamon Rolls at the end of the article.

Mixing Bowls — An essential to baking is the correct mixing bowls. Mixing bowls come in a variety of materials, such as glass, ceramic, copper, plastic and stainless steel.

Glass and ceramic bowls can be pretty and double as serving dishes, but they are easily breakable. Copper is the most beautiful, but usually the most expensive. Plastic is durable but tends to absorb odors. Stainless steel is the most durable and cost-effective. We love Cuisinart and suggest Cuisinart CTG-00-SMB Stainless Steel Mixing Bowls with Lids, Set of 3.

Rolling Pins — What is it about a rolling pin, that brings back happy memories of someone baking during your childhood? Of course, like mixing bowls, there is more than one type.

The first rolling pin we think of is the traditional wood rolling pin, as it is the most commonly known. The second rolling pin is the marble rolling pin; these are great for thinning out doughs that usually break easily with a wood rolling pin.

The third type of well-known rolling pin is the french rolling pin. Unlike the traditional and marble rolling pin, they do not have the wood panels connected to them. These are great for your little ones as they do not have to grasp the sides of rolling pin, but can use the bottom of their hands to glide the rolling pin across the dough.

One of our favorites is Sugar Maple French Style Rolling Pin: Tapered Solid Wood Design. Hand Crafted in the USA. By Top Notch Kitchenware!

Hand Mixers — If your family is new to baking, starting out with a high-end top stand mixer may not be the best place to start on your mixing journey.

So, instead, we recommend starting with something that will get the job done, a hand mixer. Hand mixers like stand mixers can come in a variety of different styles for different types of mixing. For instance, hand mixers can come with beaters, whisks or dough hooks.

You can get hand mixers with just the beaters or with all three. We recommend the VonShef 250W 6 Speed Hand Mixer with Stand and 5 Accessories Includes 2 Dough Hooks, 2 Beaters & 1 Whisk plus Turbo Function and Handy Stand — stylish red design that has everything to start your baking journey.

Now for the best part of this article, how to make your own Cinnabon Cinnamon Rolls. It’s called the Clone of a Cinnabon and it’s from one of our favorite sites Allrecipes.com. Happy Baking!

(This content uses referral links.)

by RestonNow.com Sponsor February 13, 2018 at 4:00 pm 1 Comment

This is a sponsored post from Eve Thompson of Reston Real Estate. For a more complete picture of home sales in your neighborhood, contact her on Reston Real Estate.

Most of the Reston condominiums built in the 1970’s look nondescript from the outside. There is no way around it — they are boxy and plain. But if you take the time to go inside, you will be pleasantly surprised. Vantage Hill is a wonderful example of this.

Vantage Hill sits on 15 beautifully wooded acres that have been designated a Backyard Wildlife Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation. That’s 15 acres for 152 units or, more than 4,000 square feet of open space per unit — hard to come by in Reston these days!

And then there are the spacious interiors. These may be condominiums, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up space. The units are generally 2 or 3 bedrooms with generous floor plans, ample closets and spacious kitchens.

One of the beautiful things about these older condominiums many of them have been updated — new kitchens, new bathrooms and new flooring. It’s the best of both worlds — the solid construction and beautiful landscape of the 70’s with the beautiful interiors and modern designs of today.

There are 5 Vantage Hill condo’s for sale ranging from 2 bedroom 1.5 bath for $169,000 to a 1 bedroom 1 bath unit for $249,000.

Utilities are included in the condo fees. Vantage Hill is located between Reston Town Center and Lake Anne Village Center, with an easy walk to either. It’s about a five-minute walk to Lake Anne Elementary School. Older children attend Langston Hughes Middle School and South Lake High School.

by RestonNow.com Sponsor February 12, 2018 at 12:30 pm 1 Comment

This is a sponsored column by attorneys John V. Berry and Kimberly H. Berry of Berry & Berry, PLLC, an employment and labor law firm located in Plaza America in Reston that specializes in federal employee, security clearance, retirement and private sector employee matters.

By John V. Berry, Esq.

Not too long ago, maybe 5 years or so, there were clearly two groups of individuals that would apply for security clearances.

There would be a group of individuals at the highest levels of our government that would be allowed to obtain security clearances despite having very significant security concerns, and then there was everyone else (federal employees and government contractors) that had to go through a often lengthy clearance appeals process to obtain a security clearance with nearly the same issues, sometimes going months without pay while they wait.

This disparity, in this author’s opinion, is starting to fade. In my interview last Thursday with Wolf Blitzer on Inside Politics about the emerging Rob Porter crisis, I spoke about the disparity that exists between highly placed employees (e.g. White House) and most of the rest of employees and contractors that attempt to obtain security clearances.

It occurred to me as I was speaking that we, as a society, may have reached critical mass on this issue. Perhaps it was inevitable due to increased use of social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) or just the society we live in today, but change is definitely on the horizon.

It was not too long ago that I would represent security clearance clients at both sides of the spectrum with nearly identical security concerns (e.g. prior drug use, assault allegations or financial issues), where they were treated differently.

Too often, the higher-level employees I represented (usually appointees) would be treated more preferentially than other federal employees or contractors. I always felt that, in that sense, the clearance process was unfair. It certainly doesn’t follow the principles in Executive Order 12968.

In any event, with the recent scrutiny involving the White House security clearance process for Robert Porter and Chief of Staff John Kelly, along with other recent issues and trends, I think that the tide has started to turn.

I believe that we are moving towards a future where employees seeking to obtain a security clearance, at all levels, will start to be treated more similarly. I think that the fear of not doing so, and then being called on it later in social media, may help enforce this; that is a good thing.

I enjoy representing all types of employees and appointees in security clearance matters, but feel that the process should be fairly applied across the board.

Our law firm represents and advises employees on security clearance matters nationwide. If you need legal assistance, please contact our office at (703) 668-0070 or at www.berrylegal.com to schedule a consultation. Please also visit and like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/BerryBerryPllc.

by RestonNow.com Sponsor February 6, 2018 at 4:00 pm 3 Comments

This is a sponsored post from Eve Thompson of Reston Real Estate. For a more complete picture of home sales in your neighborhood, contact her on Reston Real Estate.

In Reston we have a number of apartments that were built in the 1970’s that converted to condominiums in the late 1980’s: Vantage Hill, Park Crest and Ivy Oak are just a few of them.

As a Realtor, I always find them interesting. They are mostly tan brick with the ever present Reston Brown trim. They tend to be a little on the boxy side, a little on the plain side; but most of them are set on really large land parcels. Some are set in the woods, others have open park like areas but they all have a lot of open space.

Vantage Hill sits on 15 beautifully wooded acres that has been designated a Backyard Wildlife Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation. That’s 15 acres for 152 units or more than 4,000 square feet per unit. I don’t know where else you’d find anything approaching that amount of open space in a more recently built condominium.

The other surprise of these 1970’s conversions is on the inside. By today’s standards these units are really large. Ivy Oak units range from 1,760-1,875 square feet. Ivy Oak is also unique because they are townhouse style condominiums; they are on 2 levels so you don’t have someone living above you. The floor plan on the main level is very open and many have wood burning fireplaces. When you look at the money for the space and the physical settings of these communities, they stack up pretty well against their more contemporary counterparts.

We all know the old adage of not judging a book by its cover — the same is true for property. You do yourself a disservice when you refuse to view a property based solely on your response to the outside. Take a look, and then decide.

Vantage Hill, Parkcrest and Ivy Oak owners, tell us what you love about your neighborhood.

by RestonNow.com Sponsor February 2, 2018 at 4:00 pm 0

This is a sponsored post by Anna Gibson, owner of AKG Design Studio and an award-winning, certified kitchen and bathroom designer. AKG Design Studio is a boutique design firm specializing in kitchen, bathroom designs and cabinetry sales. Contact Anna at 571-989-2541 or [email protected], and follow her work on HouzzPinterestFacebook and Twitter.

One of the best inventions second to the kitchen stove is the kitchen sink.

At one time, kitchen sinks were stand-alone features of a kitchen that looked like a trough.

Today, we call them farmhouse sinks and they connect to countertops and cabinets, not only are they no longer just sinks — they are a part of the cooking center.

Cooking Centers are fantastic for small and large kitchens. They add counter space for small kitchens because homeowners can turn their sink into a counter by placing a board over the sink.

Some of the smaller sinks come with counters that have strainers in them, so they can strain things directly into the sink, without touching the bottom of the sink.

In larger kitchens cooking spaces consolidate all the work to one area by adding a bar to create a super large area where two cooks can work at the same time. Those come with lots of accessories, from cutting boards to veggie wash bin to drain mats and even knife blocks.

So, what else has changed since kitchen sinks first came on the scene? First off colors! You no longer need to stick to stainless steel, black or white — this year color is everywhere.

Elkay and Kruea present sinks with colors from aqua to hot red!

You can’t change colors without changing materials. Companies are creating options for those who no longer want stainless steel- we are now looking at copper, cast iron, stone composite sinks, bamboo and fireclay — giving homeowners the ability to pick the one fits your style needs.

If you do love a stainless steel sink, but just want it to have a more modern design, Thompson Traders Hammered Stainless Steel. They are super beautiful! If a farm sink is not your idea of breathtaking, they have it in also in a farm sink style.

Another way sinks have changed, it’s cool not to have rims.

Since a lot of people love the look of a rimless integrated sink, Topzero is changing the rules, and those sinks are fab! The rim of the sink comes up to the edge of the counter, so it’s no longer under counter that needs to be sealed and collects germs and such.

Kohler, of course, is always living up to its tagline and takes the cake with their fantastic new farm sink! Created initially as a utility sink, it is making its crossover into the kitchen for the perfect farm style look.

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