5 Essential Guidelines to Designing With Purpose

by | Jul 1, 2019 | Holistic Design (Universal Design)

A Build vs. Design Approach

Why approach the design with purpose? Often a remodel starts when something breaks, doesn’t work quite right, or you just want to improve something (whether it’s functional or aesthetics). If you were looking to remodel a kitchen, for instance, from what I refer to as a “build” approach it may sound a little like this; “Our kitchen is here, our sink is there, our window is over there, and we want to bring our kitchen into this century.”. When you start from a “build” approach, you’re starting the design from the mindset of where things are in their current state and configuration.

The shift to a “design” approach (more specifically a holistic approach) would be let’s look at all the inputs on that level of the home that affect the flow, the function, and the impact of the kitchen. Perhaps a house designed in 1970 is not the best use of space for how we live today. Think about taking a more impactful approach that really brings you value. That could improve connectivity amongst family and friends.

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 5 Guidelines to a Design Approach

1. How do we start re-thinking the use of the space? How do we keep the rooms that are important to you, yet the rooms you use the most, make the most impact for the most value? How do you enter the house and how do your guests enter the house? Where are the bottle necks? If your house was built before 1980, typically you have a large living room, often underutilized; a formal dining room, sometimes only used a couple times a year, and the smallest room; the kitchen – which is typically the most used room!



2. Curb the “What would a buyer want if we sold the house?”. Although this is a valid, logical, question, it may prevent you from getting the best design for you and your family. Years ago, I would hear too often; “My realtor said I need a formal living room or maintain my whirlpool tub in the master”, or some version of that. Although we see our clients are much more casual and want larger showers, less oversized tubs, less separate formal rooms, and more gathering rooms with some separation for multi-purpose rooms. Designing a house that works well for your family will usually translate to a buyer for the house.

3. Think beyond the room you are designing. If you are designing the kitchen, think about how it flows or the line of site to the outdoors, to the family room and other adjacent rooms. Sometimes just a visual connection to others in adjacent rooms allows for better flow and function of your spaces.


Kitchen renovation in Great Falls, VA.

4. Look at the connection to the lot, the yard, and outdoor features. The DMV (DC, MD, VA) has so many lots with unique features, yet typically the house does not take advantage of these views because a “design” approach (more specifically a holistic approach) was not taken into consideration. When remodeling the kitchen, could you open up views to the yard with larger windows and less cabinets on the exterior walls? When designing outdoor structures, such as patios, porches, fireplaces, how will it communicate with the kitchen? If you have an outdoor kitchen on a lower level, think about terracing decks/porches/patios to tier the transition rather than being separated by that level.


Multi-tiered deck that transitions from the interior kitchen, to an exterior kitchen and down to the open patio with access to the basement entertainment zone.

5. Don’t jump to solutions too quickly. Write down the challenges you want to fix and outcomes, or the vision of the space you want to improve. Dream a little. Sometimes, dreaming of things you would do if budget was not an issue allows the creative process to flow a little better and sometimes you may be able to incorporate some of the ideas into your final plan.

For over 30 years Sun Design Remodeling has been transforming homes in the Washington Metropolitan Area, building great relationships along the way. Visit our Events page to see the next time you can take a Remodeled Home Tour of a clients’ home we have transformed to get a better understanding of what modifications your neighbors are making to their homes or join us for Remodeling + Design Seminars in our office to share what designers are seeing as trends. You can also plan for a Design Consultant to come out to your home and get a personalized free consultation.

About the Author:

Craig Durosko founded Sun Design Remodeling in 1988 with one simple philosophy- helping people with their homes. He has been instrumental in growing a one person sunroom repair and deck building shop into a successful architectural design-build firm with more than 50 employees.

Over the years, Craig has worn almost every hat in the organization. His true passion has always been the role of building and maintaining Sun Design’s culture that is based on providing a great experience for clients as well as employees, vendors and trades people.

“After 30 years I still look forward to going into work each day. I enjoy the culture we have built here at Sun Design and the people I work with. I enjoy our clients and love to see them light up when their vision comes to life. They can see how our work has improved the way their homes function for their families. I enjoy seeing the awards our designers get for their creativity and the awards our entire staff gets for growing a successful business based on serving our clients,” says Craig.

Craig’s certifications include: CR, Certified Remodeler, and CAPS, Certified Aging in Place Specialist, from the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI); and CGP, Certified Green Professional from the National Association of Home Builders. He has been on the NARI’s Metro DC chapter board and has served as its education chairperson for a number of years. Craig has received two Image Awards and the President’s Award from NARI.

Craig enjoys spending time with his wife and two daughters, keeping a healthy mind and body, and mountain biking.

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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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