Budget Kitchen Remodel

March 17, 2014

A kitchen remodel does not have to break the bank. The kitchen pictured below was renovated just prior to putting the home up for sale. We stayed well within the client’s very tight budget, and the result is a clean, fresh, functional kitchen space! Here’s what we used:

– New sheet vinyl flooring

-Installed stock cabinets

– Laminate countertops

– Removed wallpaper, tile and paneling; repaired wallboard as needed.

-Applied wipeable semigloss wall paint with gloss trim paint

-Self-rimming drop-in stainless steel sink and standard kitchen faucet

-Replaced cooktop and separate wall oven with slide-in range

– New pendant style light in nook area

Here are the before and after photos. Ready for a remodel in your home? Call us at 757 407-2653!

Kitchen Before

Kitchen Before


Kitchen After

Kitchen Nook Before

Kitchen Nook Before

Kitchen Nook After

Kitchen Nook After


November 29, 2013

Ben Moore4

Goodbye drab, cold grey undertones!  Benjamin Moore announces that the color trends for 2014 feature tints of blues, greens, lavenders and pink – just the right tonal value to create a sophisticated backdrop for your fabrics and furnishings.

Ben Moore1

Ready to freshen your home styling? Call me at 757 407-2653 for a color consultation.

Enjoy some more color ideas below.

Wishing you a warm and joyful holiday season,

Alexandra Whiteside, Interior Designer, Chelsea Custom Contracting

Ben Moore2


Ben Moore3



When photography and antiques collide…

June 11, 2013

My best friend Lisa is visiting from Kentucky, and today we embarked upon one of our favorite past-times: perusing the antique mall! I brought my camera along and scoured the displays for hidden treasures. Enjoy!!!

pay phone sm

Phone sm

Vintage fabric sm

Singer sm

Game box sm

Red lawn chairs sm

Coffee label Detail sm

Girl label sm

record player sm

Antique books sm

Dog toy sm

Roulette wheel sm

A Lovely Kitchen Remodel

January 25, 2013

The Lady Contractor recently completed this kitchen remodel for a Virginia Beach client. At only 10 feet wide, this kitchen had no pantry area and seemed dark and claustrophobic. The appliances also were not arranged in an optimally functional manner.

We kept most of the existing cabinetry in place but I completely rearranged the layout of the appliances and even managed to design a pantry closet. A generous six-foot wide pass-through window really opens up the whole room and allows natural light to flow through.

The end result is a kitchen that feels bright and spacious  with plenty of storage and way more functional location of the appliances!

Here are the “Befores,” followed by my design concept drawings, and then – drum roll, please – the “Afters!”


Kitchen before pass through Kitchen before 3 Kitchen before 1 Pass through wall before



Design work includes laying out a floor plan and creating three-dimensional views as well as helping client select all the materials.


FinalView Floor Planfinalview4passthrough revisedfinalview8finalview5finalview6



A typical kitchen remodel takes 6 to 8 weeks to complete. It’s never easy. There are always surprises, like electrical wiring hidden in the walls or a load bearing beam right where you want your light fixture to go. When you remodel, be ready to roll with the punches. The end result is soooo worth it!


Kitchen after 2a 010PassthroughAfterStove after 2Stove After


Are you ready to remodel? If you live in the Hampton Roads, VA, area, give us a call for a free consultation.

Alexandra Whiteside, “The Lady Contractor” (Accessibility Design Specialist)

Jerry Coffey, Our TOTALLY Awesome Carpenter

James Whiteside, Really, Really, Ridiculously Talented Painter (and incidentally The Lady Contractor’s Husband, but I don’t cut him any slack!)

Chelsea Custom Contracting 757 407-2653

How To Avoid Bad Contractors

January 7, 2013

This is a revised, updated article based on one I originally posted about a year ago.  The information bears repeating, especially since this past week I received a call from a realty agent who had a very bad experience with another “contractor.”  The agent hired an unlicensed, uninsured person who claimed to be a remodeler and who had underbid us by $300 on some important restoration work. This person then proceeded to create further damage to the home with his unskilled repair attempts.  

Proceed With Caution

PLEASE be careful about whom you hire to do repairs and remodeling in your home. Virginia state law requires contractors to hold a minimum of a Class C license when doing a job valued at $1000 or more.   There are a lot of unlicensed and/or uninsured “contractors” in Hampton Roads who have no regard for the law, much less the safety and well-being of your family and your property.

  • They will ask for a large deposit up front – a sure sign they are about to take your money, do a half-baked job and disappear.
  • They will show you a city license but not a contractor’s license, or they will show you someone else’s contractor’s license that’s not theirs.
  • They will do structural work such as roofing, which is forbidden without the BLD (Builder) classification on a Virginia contractor license.
  • They will show you photos of just one job. Question them about it and it turns out it’s their own bathroom or kitchen, not an actual client’s. Scrutinize the photos and you will see unfinished work, crooked tiles, drips and blobs of paint and grout.
  • A lot of these guys are simply unemployed former construction laborers; they are not true businessmen, they do not have the knowledge, experience or ethics to run a business, and yet they are being let into thousands of peoples’ homes all over Hampton Roads!

What’s The Worst That Could Happen?

There is very little legal recourse if you get ripped off.  Frankly, if you hire an unlicensed contractor, you and the contractor are BOTH breaking the law! So, the court will not be terribly sympathetic toward your plight. Even if you successfully sue, it will cost you thousands of dollars to do so, and the “contractor” will simply file bankruptcy and bail out, leaving you with nothing. Then they can open up shop under a new business name and start all over again!

Under Virginia’s statutory employee regulations, YOU are liable for injuries that occur to an unlicensed worker on your premises! Further, your homeowner’s insurance typically will not pay on claims involving improperly licensed contractors, and you may even lose your policy.

That is a lot of risk for you to take onto your own shoulders just to “save” a couple of hundred dollars.

Yet, we get calls all the time from desperate homeowners, asking us to fix a terrible situation that was caused by the rock-bottom “contractor” they previously used. Now they have to spend more money for us to do the job right.

How To Play It Safe

If you schedule a free consult with my company, Chelsea Custom Contracting,  I am sure you will see the value in hiring us!

Chelsea Custom Contracting is a Virginia Class A licensed construction company.   I have over 27 years experience in construction project management. I am also a professional interior designer  specializing in Residential Universal Design/Aging in Place Design and ADA compliance for commercial venues.   My crew and I do beautiful residential remodeling and new construction and commercial fit-outs throughout Hampton Roads, Virginia.

Class A is the highest class of license available in Virginia, and we have the BLD classification, meaning I passed all the state required exams, including Virginia  contracting law and the builder exam, proved my experience with project references, and proved my company’s required net worth, certified by a CPA.

  • You get excellent work at fair prices that accurately reflect the quality of materials and skilled labor that we provide.
  • We have REAL references (not fake references from family and friends).
  • I am frequently interviewed for radio, tv, and publications because of my sterling reputation in Hampton Roads.
  • Our contracts are fair and balanced, and comply with all aspects of Virginia contracting law, including the right to cancel notice.
  • We comply with EPA, OSHA and local permitting authorities.
  • Your family’s health, safety, and well-being are our top priorities.

You really do get what you pay for! Please call me to discuss your vision for your next project.

Alexandra Whiteside, CEO

“The Lady Contractor”

Chelsea Custom Contracting

Call us at  (757) 407-2653

Paint Colors to Inspire You!

October 30, 2012

There are many things I love about my combination profession of being an interior designer and a building contractor.  I’ve been involved in a lot of cool projects over the past two decades, from skyscrapers to pizza joints to single family homes. Out of all of it, I think my favorite thing to do is help my clients choose paint colors. It’s very challenging, narrowing the choices down from thousands of colors to find the perfect one for each unique client. I get a thrill every time I see a freshly painted wall and can say, “I helped choose that!”

Here’s a sampling of color ideas I created on the Sherwin Williams site. I hope these will inspire you to do something beautiful in your home!

(And if you’d like to receive personalized advice, I am available in the Hampton Roads, Virginia, area for color and design consultations. Call me at 757-407-2653!)

Dreamy: Sherwin Williams “Interactive Cream” is neutral but warm and inviting. This color makes a great backdrop for virtually any style and color scheme.


Timeless Tradition: “Roycroft Suede” provides a slightly muted and sophisticated foreground color while “Compatible Cream” brightens up the stairwell. This color combo is dramatic AND cheerful!


Sherwin Williams “Breezy” is the perfect color for coastal homes in the Hampton Roads area, or for anyone who wants that serene seaside sensation!


Be bold – I dare you! Go for dark and dramatic in the powder room with Sherwin Williams “Polished Mahogany”.

Did you know you can get these fabulous colors in low or no VOC (volatile organic compound) paint? Yup. You can make your home beautiful AND be kind to the planet.

And here’s a tip: Eggshell or satin sheen looks great in bedrooms, and semi-gloss is best on kitchen and bathroom walls. Flat paint absorbs light,  is difficult to clean, shows water spots, and I generally do not recommend it.

Which room is your favorite? Feel free to leave me a comment. 

All my best,

Alexandra Whiteside, The Lady Contractor


Don’t Get Burned! Important Safety Tips About Your Water Heater.

September 27, 2012

– Your hot water heater operates at a high temperature and a high pressure.

– All water heaters are equipped with a TPR valve (temperature pressure release) which lets pressure escape if it gets too high.

– The TPR valve should have a discharge pipe attached to it that ends about 6 inches from the floor. It is very important to have this discharge pipe attached to the TPR valve. If there is no pipe attached, and you are standing near the valve when it lets off excess pressure, you will be badly scalded by steam and burning water.

– A properly functioning water heater will occasionally let off water through the TPR valve.  If the pressure release valve is not functioning properly, it is possible for the water heater to become over-pressurized and actually explode.

Compare the diagram below with your water heater. If you do not see a discharge pipe, for your safety, you need to remedy the situation immediately. (Also if you see rust, corrosion, etc., it’s time to get your water heater inspected before a major failure and catastrophe occurs.)

If you are in the Hampton Roads area, feel free to call my company to make the necessary repairs:

Chelsea Custom Contracting at 757 407-2653.

A discharge pipe properly installed on the TPR valve is essential for your safety.


About me: I am Alexandra Whiteside, a Virginia Class A licensed building contractor and a member of the National Association of Certified Home Inspectors.  I own and operate a design-build firm, Chelsea Custom Contracting, and Thorough-Pro Home Inspection, LLC, with my business partners James Whiteside and Jerry Coffey. Call us at 757 407-2653.