It’s in the Process: Collaboration Takes a Vision Further

by | Sep 23, 2020 | Creative Design Solutions, Design, Holistic Design (Universal Design), kitchen, main level

Entering a New Stage in Life

Rex and Patti had been living in their Fairfax County home for the past sixteen years before it became time to acknowledge the lifestyle changes that their family was both experiencing and predicting.  Both are working professionals with three children, some of whom were off to college, while one was married.  They were looking forward to the prospect of a growing family and anticipating the blessing of grandchildren down the road.  These exciting new realities are what finally provoked them to ask more from the home that they loved but would not be able to live up to their vision.  They desired their home to be a place where family could all gather together without feeling cramped or inconvenient.

Gain Understanding

The Lead Designer on Rex and Patti’s project was Ericka Williams, confirming that, “Patti and Rex wanted to bring the family together by opening their space to allow for more gathering opportunities.” 

There were multiple factors to consider in order to achieve this goal.  The main one being that Patti and Rex no longer liked the way the house functioned.  For example, both the laundry room and family room were narrow and dark.  This made doing housework more tedious and limited their family connectivity.  Further, though the kitchen did serve its purpose, it did nothing to cultivate the environment that Patti and Rex desired.  They wanted it to be the “heart of the home” and needed these central spaces to be connected.

Another issue that Patti and Rex needed to address was their stressful morning routine, particularly their master closet.  There was an idea to use one of the vacant bedrooms for a closet, but this ultimately didn’t make sense for property value. So, alternatively their existing closets were reconfigured to fit their individual needs and provide organized storage space to allow their morning routine to be enjoyable.

Developing the Plan

One particularly tricky area of the remodel centered around a beam that ran across the center of the home.  Ericka wanted to create a flushed ceiling, and install floor to ceiling cabinets, to create alternative storage spaces.  This part was a challenge because of the effect on the pipes, but ultimately the piping and structure was reworked to allow for the flush beam.

When asked how we were able to design spaces that addressed each of these issues, Lead Designer, Ericka Williams said, “In the kitchen we created an unorthodox pantry, that was open and used cabinets. It gave Rex his coffee bar and incorporated a built-in blender for the ultimate morning beverage center!”  Further, when discussing the changes to the kitchen and laundry areas she commented, “In order to reinvent the kitchen to cultivate the environment, the small office space had to be designated elsewhere – aka the laundry room. We also made sure to provide plenty of natural light for the new laundry room, thereby, making tasks more enjoyable.”


Bob Gallagher, Sun Design President & Co-Owner and consultant on this project said that, “They (Patti and Rex) had particular things, inefficiencies in their house, that we took from okay to awesome. We hit each pain point, family room, kitchen, laundry room, closet, bar, and Rex’s office by designing one room at a time. Everything we designed, Patti and Rex collaborated with, and together we took each idea further.”

Ericka and Bob were able to work with Rex and Patti to pull a string through their vision, our designs, and the true goal of the remodel.  At Sun Design, we are able to provide these life-changing designs because of our unique process.  Our process is broken down into phases, and each phase centers around really getting to know our client. So, that after the completion of each phase, and finding out what the client’s true needs and desires are, we have a full and holistic understanding of what is ultimately driving each project.  Bob continued to say, “I think they really wanted someone they could trust and would take care of their home and their family. They wanted a high-level design that was done responsibly, to transform their home to enhance family connectivity. We made changes that were of value to them – and I believe that this is key to what we supply for anyone. 

The result was a more connected home that Patti and Rex are able to thrive in as they enter a new and exciting chapter of their lives!

About the Author:

Helen began working at Sun Design in January of 2019, as our Sales and Marketing Assistant.  She assists both the Sales and Marketing departments in everyday tasks and strives to support both teams to be successful.  She coordinates our events and executes them to meet Sun’s standards and vision, creates marketing materials, and generates content through blogs and articles in collaboration with the Marketing team.  Helen also assists our Director of First Impressions in her work, by keeping in touch with interested clients and helping our Design Consultants prepare for their meetings, as well as speaking with clients in order to understand how we can best help them achieve their remodeling goals.

Helen previously worked as a teaching assistant at a Montessori school, assisting with school events and administration. As well, she was a tutor at Virginia International Academy, and taught English to boarding school students.  Helen’s experience teaching has prepared her to work well with other’s and helped to develop communication skills that she utilizes everyday with our clients.

Helen said, “I truly value honesty, thoughtfulness, and charity – without these I don’t know how any group or company can thrive, and fortunately these are the values that Sun Design shares!”  In her spare time, Helen enjoys going to breweries with her friends and family, meeting new people, and writing.

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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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