Don’t Rush into Remodeling Solutions too Quickly

by | Jan 26, 2021 | Creative Design Solutions

Shelley and Ed lived in their North Arlington, VA home for 18 years before needing a change to how their home functions. Despite being “almost” empty nesters, they wanted to create a more open environment for those precious moments when their adult children came home to visit or if they had friends in town.

The appliances were on their last legs, which triggered Shelley and Ed to call Sun Design to see not only what the latest trends in kitchen remodeling were but to also discuss their goals for living in their home into the future.

Craig Durosko, founder of Sun Design, was able to see many of the home’s challenges at their first meeting.  While Shelley and Ed were looking for a better connection from the kitchen, Craig also made some observations that the clients hadn’t realized, even after living in the home for so long. 

Challenges + Solutions

Shelley and Ed park their cars in their garage, which has them entering the home from the basement most of the time. Previously, they had to travel up the stairs, through the foyer, and then through a very small and poorly functioning pocket door in the dining room to even get to the kitchen. Even when entering through the front door, they still had to travel through the dining room before entering the kitchen.

This was one factor that started to drive the new design. Easier access to the kitchen from the foyer made sense. As Craig says, “Don’t rush into the solutions too quickly, stick with the questions.” Shelley and Ed are glad they did just that. Simply relocating the kitchen access door closer to the foyer and widening foyer entrance allowed for a much better flow. In addition, it created a great centralized workstation for the chef to interact with guests whether they were in the family room or eating inside the screened porch on nice days. The orientation of the kitchen was completely reinvented to gain the most connection for the family. The peninsula was replaced with an open island. A dividing wall from the kitchen to the family room was removed as well as a 2-inch step to enter the leveling the entire main floor.

More Layers of Discovery

Other conveniences were discovered when Shelley and Ed met with their lead designer Maggie Wills. The previous floor plan had a bar tucked away in a far nook off the kitchen. The clients used it for storage but found its location was just not convenient. They liked the idea to be able to extend the kitchen space when entertaining guests, so guests could self-serve beverages and/or grab snacks, giving the chef plenty of working space in the kitchen. This is what drove Maggie to suggest a small serving bar between the kitchen and screened porch in which they so very much enjoy entertaining. The wetbar was relocated to include a waterfall granite edge, with veining that resembles a river. Being archeology/history buffs, the clients chose many other natural materials, including a stone travertine backsplash with Turkish fossils and a custom mantel made from 500-year-old virgin elm that was found in the bottom of a Kentucky river lost during the early 1800’s logging days.

It was within these conversations that Maggie understood how to best reflect the clients’ personalities and pull the design together to highlight the clients’ style. After getting the functionality and style of the kitchen pulled together, the screened porch no longer felt up to par. The structure itself was sound, so Maggie suggested just a few tweaks to blend the screened porch with the newly remodeled space. Previously the support columns were thin and there were many of them. Maggie suggested reframing thicker columns to be better scaled with the home, while eliminating unnecessary vertical supports to create open views. Replacing the railings and screen with black materials makes those elements almost disappear, drawing your eyes to the beautiful wooded garden.

Bright Ending

Previously the porch ceiling had been painted blue, and Maggie asked Shelley if she was going to keep it blue. Being the history buff that she is, Shelley replied, “In the South you always paint your porch ceiling blue. It’s what keeps away the ‘haints,’ the ghosts.” What started as superstition has since translated into a design trend. A blue sky is cheerful. It reminds us of daybreak and wards off gloomy weather, bringing in nature and the sky.

We asked Shelley to share her experience with Sun Design’s design process, she replied, “You know when you take on a project of this size you think there must be something that I should have done differently once it’s all complete. There’s not one thing that I would change.”

At Sun Design, we love making homeowners dreams come true. We can help you integrate your own must-have features into a kitchen that blends beautifully with the adjacent spaces of your home. 

Contact us to learn more about how we can help you turn your kitchen into the space you’ve always dreamed of. 

About the Author:

Beth Walters, Director of Communications, joined Sun Design in January 2011. As the Director of Communications she analyzes the local market and proposes and implements strategies through market research, advertising and sales promotion programs. This involves designing, implementing, and facilitating annual marketing plans for the firm, translating business objectives and strategies to develop brand portfolio objectives, developing strategies to facilitate business growth, and developing all promotional and marketing materials.

She brings to Sun Design and its clients over a decade of experience in land development, community associations management, new home construction, remodeling, interior design and marketing. Before joining Sun Design, Beth was Marketing and Designs Manager for a leading new home builder in Virginia Beach, VA. Prior to that, she was the Community Associations Manager for KETTLER in McLean, VA. She has earned certifications from a number of urban planning, real estate and development organizations.

“I’ve always had a passion for architecture and then developed a craze for generating buzz. When my husband and I decided to move back to our home town I interviewed at a couple places, but when I met with Sun Design, it was love at first sight. The atmosphere in the office is electric… very addicting to one that likes high energy.”

Beth is married and has three little ones at home to keep her on her toes 24-7.

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We were thrilled with the work performed by Sun Design. We had used a different contractor to build a porch and it was an awful experience with long delays, so we were cautious. The Sun Design team listened to all our needs, presented multiple options to meet those needs at different price points, and delivered on time and on budget for our first floor renovation. They are exceptional at communicating with their clients on what to expect during each stage of the journey and carry our strongest recommendation.

Brendan Mahon



10/10 would highly recommend Sun Design. We found our kitchen layout was too small and wasn't working for us. We told Sun Design what our issues were and what was important to us, and their amazing design team created the kitchen of our dreams. It turned into a whole first floor transformation, moving kitchen, dining room, and living room around to a configuration that worked best for us.

Ashley Norman



I am a HUGE fan of Sun Design! The first time that we worked with them was over 15 years ago. We were ready to have a deck built, but not just any deck, and of course, Jeremy was the designer at that time and I remember how he went about designing it so that it looked like "part of the house" - It is beautiful. We recently refurbished it, and it looks absolutely beautiful!

Josie Zamolyi Caldwell



Sun Design transformed our "cookie cutter" house into a spectacular, unique home. Working with Ericka was a delight - her confidence and fun personality made the process enjoyable. Ours was a complete remodel - kitchen, family room, powder room, upstairs bathrooms, and some primary bedroom work. We loved working with Sun Design so much that we will be working with them again in the future when we are ready for an addition that will add a garage and in-law suite. Highly recommend!

Patti Ahlstrom



SunDesign came up with a creative design for our screened-in porch that beautifully fits into our existing landscape. Project was executed on budget and their craftsmanship is superb. Their responsiveness to a warranty issue we had with the door was immediately addressed. We highly recommend SunDesign — their teams are awesome to work with.

Gisela Ulmschneider



We had a fairly big project to build out part of our house. Sun Design has done a phenomenal job so far. We are getting close to complete. The design process was very collaborative and the execution of the build has gone well so far. Every part of the experience has been top quality and the team we are working with is amazing. The team is expensive but they are able to walk you through where every cent goes and why and they will look at different options to try to help reduce cost. They are well worth every penny. I would want to use Sun Design for any future projects and I highly recommend them.

Jen Navarro



Maryam and Jeff from Sun Design home care department are great to work with. Maryam is very responsive and attentive to all my inquiries. Jeff is my to go guy whenever I need work or maintenance in my property, very professional and thorough with his work. I have been a satisfied customer for 2 years now.

Brigitte Siegall



Sun Design handled the renovation of our large basement several years ago. We finished our laundry room and added two walls of built in cabinets, reconfigured a storage room and run-down kitchen into a guest room and sitting area, and finished a large rec room. Everything was redone - the floors, walls, ceilings, electrical work, etc. Sun Design did a terrific job - the rooms look wonderful. Our house was built in 1962 and we had a number of glitches along the way. But Sun Design made sure that, at the end, everything looked and worked properly. I highly recommend them.

Susan Louis



I have been working with Sun Design for over 15 years. They are a great company to work with, very friendly and professional staff. They are very clean, responsive, respectful of your property and I have nothing but the great things to say about Sun Design.

Goran Zukic



This review is to introduce you to Sun Design services and to recommend them for your next project. We used Sun Design for a deck – sunroom redesign, and the end result exceeded our expectations. Sun Design is easy to work with, thinks creatively, and effectively communicates ideas to enhance projects, and thus Sun Design has my highest endorsement. The staff is knowledgeable, courteous, and friendly. They truly care about every aspect of the projects they do. They arrive on time and leave the place spotless when the work has been completed.

H. Milton Richardson

Our experience with Sun Design has been nothing short of wonderful. From our initial meeting with Craig to working closely with Morgan & Emily, every stage of the design process has been refreshingly easy despite the fact that our kitchen restructure was complex. With thoughtful consideration to our 124-year-old home, Sun Design presented plans that maintained the character of our farmhouse & resolved issues with functionality & form— all while respecting our desired budget & overall objective.

Sarah & Erkan Orman

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