For information: 703.715.8006

Kitchen Remodeling in Northern Virginia

Custom Kitchen, New Foyer,  Reflect Empty-Nesters’ Emerging Requirements

While Staying Within The Existing Footprint Of 18-Year Old Home, Foster Remodeling Solutions Achieves a Sweeping First Level Upgrade.

By John Byrd

Kevin and Priscilla Kelleher have occupied their 5,200 square foot Springfield home since 1992 when they bought it new. At the time, the builder provided an array of finish work choices. The couple selected the Corian kitchen counter surfaces, a food preparation island of their preferred size and style. The flooring, cabinet-facings, window styles were all a testament to personal taste.

Situated on nearly an acre that backs into the woods, this is the spacious home where the couple raised two daughters who have subsequently fled the nest.

Great memories. But 18 years is a long time to be regularly inhabiting the same floor plan, staring down the same unyielding look.

“It was when the appliances started failing that we thought seriously about remodeling our kitchen,” says Kevin who retired from the Army several years ago and now works in government. “My wife eventually decided she really didn’t like the Corian countertops. There was a wasted space and dead corners; yet not enough storage. We also wanted more natural light, and better views of our pretty wooded setting.”

Of course, such observations typically describe the beginning of a process that entails much research and a regime of decisions. But, more importantly: where does one turn for ideas that will give definition and focus to a collage of unarticulated preferences, images and wish-lists?

Kelleher turned to David Foster, CR. Foster, president Foster Remodeling Solutions in Lorton, had finished the Kellehers 1,500 square foot basement in 2003. The positive experience had left the couple with the sense that they had found their “go to” guy for home improvements; better yet, Foster’s process had actually gotten easier to apply in the intervening years.

“Fifteen years ago, we were offered sketches of designs for the lower level,” Kelleher observes. “Today, Foster’s designers model three dimensional space on CADD system software. This allows you to instantly assess different views of the room you’re remodeling so you can clearly visualize how each perspective will effect the whole. It’s a great tool for space planning.”

Which– combined with a wholly new interior design scheme– was exactly kind of the improvement the Kellehers were seeking.

In fact, the foot print of the kitchen, breakfast nook, family room, foyer and, even, the grand stairs at the entrance retain their existing measurements down to the centimeter. It’s the only the positioning of key components, their design, their storage capacity and their aesthetics that have changed…and dramatically.

“Inches really count when your renovating a kitchen floorplan,” says Dory Clemens, the Foster architect who designed the project. “This was largely about making better use of existing space while introducing a whole new interior design style.”

For instance:

• Removing a mostly unused desk built-in an interior wall elevation and shortening the wall by 9” freed-up 32 sq feet of floor space, allowing designers to nearly double the size of the kitchen’s food prep island and dining counter.

• Space-wasting counter surfaces on two walls were replaced with a curvilinear design that emphasizes the new plan’s easy-flowing circulation. Wider, taller (42 inch) cabinets, in turn, increased storage capacity by 40 percent.

• A seldom-opened casement window was replaced with a 4.5’x4.5 divided light picture window that dramatically improves available light while offering spot-on views of the leafy backyard.

Gradually, the kitchen’s interior design evolved into a transitional-style scheme emphasizing contrasting lights and darks.


To create greater visual cohesion to first level living spaces, the wood flooring in the foyer and the white mosaic tiles in the kitchen were replaced with a wood grain porcelain tiling imported from Italy.

A comparatively new flooring material, the wood pattern is ink-jetted into the tile, offering the warmth of wood– but with much greater durability.

Meanwhile, ceilings and cabinet facings are bright white; the wall– a color that West Pointer Kelleher describes as “Cadet Grey”. Throughout, the play of lights and darks is further developed — like a three-dimensional checker board.

The island base is a resonant walnut-color; the quartz surfaces are vanilla-hued Cambria Berwin finished with an OGE edge.

To create visual rhythm, Clemens designed a quintessenza backsplash that combines gray (genesei) with white (bianco). The traditional raised-panel cabinet facings, in turn, lend a crisp linearity amid muted tones.

In the foyer, the game of contrasts continues. The staircase balustrade and all risers and treads are bright white, but there are now black iron spindles where there had wooden versions.

Since the staircase and living room rise two levels, the Kellehers wanted to reduce to monotonous crush of white walls disappearing up into a distant ceiling.

“We wanted more definition around the stairway, and in what one generally sees looking up in a big room.”

To this request, Clemens introduce a shadow box effect by adding white picture frame molding to walls that have been re-painted Grey. While it’s formality vaguely recalls 19th century decorum, it fundamentally provides a much better definition of the planes, angles and forms that tend to get washed-out in a solidly white wall treatment.

“The design draws your eyes up,” says Kelleher, which makes the space feel more proportional and balanced.”  He adds: “Foster’s lead carpenter– Brian– is really a master at this kind of detailing. It’s hard to see how anyone else could have done as well.”

Foster Remodeling Solutions, a full-service remodeler, maintains a 3,270 sq ft Design and Selection showroom at their headquarters in Lorton. For Information: 703550-1371.  On October 4, Dory Clemens will be leading a seminar on “Kitchen and Bath Design”. For Information:


John Byrd has been writing about residential architecture, building and remodeling for 30 years. His work has appeared in House Beautiful, Architectural Digest, Southern Living and many national and regional publications. He has also written and produced segments for HGTV and other cable outlets. His work has received numerous Press Association awards for excellence in journalism. He can be reached at or


Arlington Remodeled Home Tour
Set For December 3rd 

Sun Design Remodeling Project Demonstrates “Kitchen-centric”
Great Room Design Solution.


Sun Design Remodeling is hosting a tour of a recently remodeled home this Saturday Dec 3 which demonstrates space-use advantages a “kitchen-centric” open floor.

By John Byrd

A classic center hall Colonial enhanced by an open gourmet kitchen, a 14′ cathedral ceiling, and generous views will be featured in a “Remodeled Home Tour” sponsored by Sun Design Remodeling on Saturday December 3.

The house at 3600 25th Street N in Arlington is owned by Steve and Louise Brooks. The residence will be opened to the public from 12-pm to 4pm.

Purchased by the Brooks in the 2003, the original three bedroom production house was configured for a primary living area that consisted of a small kitchen with adjacent living room and dining room. The eight foot ceiling and small-scale windows were consistent with tradition. Despite qualms with the “builder grade” interior finishes and space-use problems, the couple occupied the house for eleven years before deciding to investigate remodeling options.

Regarding the Brooks’ project, Sun Design’s president Bob Gallagher noted that there’s been a real revolution in how homeowners are configuring living space: “Emergent interior design styles allow for well-articulated activity zones integrated into a visually distinctive spatial continuum. The end results feels generously-sized, yet unified.”



By eliminating walls separating the kitchen, dining room and foyer, the changes created an 800 square foot great room that features a marble-surfaced food preparation island and a hilltop view of the neighborhood. The floor plan is especially well-suited for holiday entertaining.


Louise Brooks says Sun Design’s enlarged and upgraded makeover to her 25-year- old kitchen and several contiguous rooms has made it much easier for her to host large gatherings and even provide a congenial environment for friends to hold meetings of their own.

“We are a host site for a lot of local activities, so we use the space often to meet with friends,” Brooks explains. “It’s a plan that makes everyone feel at home—which was our intention.”

“It also works extremely well when it’s just our family” Louise adds. “The open plan allows us to happily pursue different tasks within the same space.” To effectuate the changes Brooks sought, Sun Design concentrated on strategic improvements inside the envelope of the existing structure: a nearly 800 square foot great room was formed by eliminating walls separating the kitchen, dining room, living room and foyer; to create the 14-foot cathedral ceiling, the new interior incorporated a seldom-used attic.


A granite-surfaced food preparation island and dining counter now facilitates the easy circulation needed for gracious entertaining; the built-in was custom-designed to support a wide-range of storage, cooking and clean-up requirements.


The cathedral ceiling and larger windows have dramatically improved available light.


The plan also radically increased natural light. A south-facing trapezoidal-shaped window provides a hilltop view of the neighborhood. Skillfully distinctive finish work details delineate key activity zones within a warmly cohesive ambiance that features generous sight-lines in all directions.

“It works …because it’s so well integrated into the rest of the house,” Louise Brooks says.

Sun Design Remodeling frequently sponsors tours of recently remodeled homes as well as workshops on home remodeling topics. Headquartered in Burke, the firm recently opened a second office in McLean. FOR INFORMATION: 703.425.5588 or


John Byrd has been writing about residential architecture, building and remodeling for 30 years. His work has appeared in House Beautiful, Architectural Digest, Southern Living and many national and regional publications. He has also written and produced segments for HGTV and other cable outlets. His work has received numerous Press Association awards for excellence in journalism. He can be reached at or


When it comes to Improving the Kitchen and its Satellites, a Well-conceived Space Plan Makes All the Difference. 


The cook’s work station in the Del Pizzo’s new kitchen features a six-burner gas range. As a space-saver,
Glickman Design Build proposed the Tuscan cooktop hood with decorative pillars that conceal pull-out spice racks.

By John Byrd

Yes, the kitchen is the heart of the family home. But its not simply the association of meals and nourishment that makes it so. In any home where the first level is 1,000 square feet or more, the kitchen is most likely the hub around which a whole series of activity zones must orbit.

There’s the link between the kitchen and the muddy outdoors; access to the garage, laundry, decking; the adjacent family entertainment area; the quiet spots for homework and managing accounts; the segue to the dining room.

Seen as a system, the kitchen commands a vital suite of interconnected spaces. It’s the vibrating center for emotional warmth and replenishment; it’s also a hive buzzing with life that only functions to capacity when there’s an orderly infrastructure guiding everyday behavior.

Thus, for many homeowners: formulating a plan for the kitchen and environs that is truly tailored to family needs can be a journey of self-discovery.

Case in point: Alex and Michelle Del Pizzo

When the couple and their young children moved into their nearly 5,000 sq ft Colonial house in Vienna five years ago, all were pleased with the home’s spaciousness, location and local schools. One of Alex’s first thoughts, though, was that the 20 year old kitchen would have to be remodeled some time soon.

With three growing children and busy careers, the Del Pizzos wanted a hub that not only reflected their tastes, but also supported daily lifestyle requirements. Instead, they were contending with a circa-1990s builder-grade kitchen, which (as Alex describes it) “had a lot of dead space, out-of-date appliances and didn’t circulate well.”

kitchen-before “There was much about this kitchen’s design that just didn’t work for us,” Del Pizzo recalls.

For starters, he 4’x9′ crescent-shaped cooktop island tended to be more of an obstruction to traffic than a useful serving station– a far cry from the professional caliber gas range the family wanted.

The stacked ovens in the corner didn’t figure into regular cooking needs either. The refrigerator was too small. Ditto, the dishwasher.

At nearly 500 square feet, the footprint should have been large enough by any standards– yet work triangles were constricted. Worse, there was no in-kitchen dining spot for the kids. No place to re-charge your cell phone.

Meanwhile down the hall, the laundry room offered a similar travesty. It wasn’t so much space-constricted as inadequately designed, a shortcoming that had made it a “catch-all” for kids’ jackets, athletic equipment and missing shoes.

Even the butler’s pantry between kitchen and formal dining room lacked the means to a cool beverage. With so much dysfunction all around, the unspoken question was: where will we find the space for all the needed upgrades without adding on?


Kitchen/ Great Room:  Alex and Michelle Del Pizzo wanted a spacious “family kitchen” in the circa-1990s Colonial they had purchased in Vienna five years ago. Among changes, Glickman Design Build deleted a row of cabinets separating the original kitchen from the family room and added a 60 square foot prep island and dining counter. The tray ceiling reinforces visual unity in an otherwise “open” plan with many designated activity zones.

“It was clear that our 1990’s floor plan wasn’t configured for our requirements,” Del Pizzo says, “and that’s about when our research phase began in earnest.”

Of course, the exercise of due diligence can be time-consuming.

It was nearly four years later, in fact, that Del Pizzo found the change-agent he had been looking for in the form of Glickman Design Build, a thirty year old home remodeling firm with a reputation for executing precise solutions.

“We had done a lot of research into our choices for larger built-ins and appliances, and had stockpiled interior design ideas for years” Del Pizzo says. “What we needed was someone who got our vision and could put it all together into a coherent whole.”

After interviewing four contractors, the couple chose Glickman who started sketching out interior design concepts the following day.

“Our collaboration with the design team really worked well from the start,” Del Pizzo says. “They were very focused on delivering the outcome we wanted, which kept the whole process within our budget.”

The design process lasted seven months. Early meetings explored options for optimally allocating square footage needed for key activity zones.

Several goals emerged early on, to wit:

• Introduce a larger (60 square foot) island with a dining counter– a place where the kids can do homework while dinner is underway;

• Accommodate a 6-burner Wolf range oven; a second dishwasher; a 36” sub zero refrigerator; a wine refrigerator; a cell phone charging station;

• Create personalized closets with bench space for children’s outer wear, provide personal cubbies and other containers;

Moreover, while pursuing a fundamentally “open” floorplan, the interior elevations to kitchen/ great room had to be distinctive; handsomely articulated; soft, yet balanced.

mudroom-northern-virginia“The interior design goals pointed towards transitional-style,” Russ Glickman, founder of Glickman Design Build, explains. “It’s a design language that calls for finely elaborated formal elements within an appreciably open space. The details help to delineate the primary activity zones– which are independent from one another yet interact fluidly.”

Mudroom: Glickman incorporated the foyer between garage and laundry room into the footprint for the new mudroom. The personalized cabinets– each with bench-seating, a pull-out drawer and overhead basket– provide a way for the children to clean-up before entering the kitchen from the outside.

“Cabinet facings, counter surfaces, back splashes are critical in executing this design style successfully,” he adds, “In effect, you are creating compositional surfaces much as a photographer or painter might.”

To begin again with a blank canvas, designers deleted a row of cabinets separating the kitchen from the family room, creating the floor space needed for the new 5′ x 12′ food prep island and three stool dining counter.


Appliances on the inside interior wall were, likewise, eliminated to make room for a six burner Wolf range oven complete with a Tuscan cooktop hood. As a space-saver, the hood’s two decorative pillars conceal “pull-out” spice racks. To facilitate cooking activity, the range forms one leg of a work triangle that includes a prep sink on the island immediately parallel to the burners and 36” sub zero refrigerator now on an interior wall to left.

Kitchen work station: A 36” refrigerator/freezer is positioned to support the cook’s work triangle which include the gas range and the food prep island. The work station is for household accounts.

The “clean-up” triangle (which is independent of food prep) incorporates the primary sink on the home’s south elevation. There is now a second dishwasher embedded in the food prep island, which is surfaced in a bright white Quartz Cashmere Carrara.

Meanwhile, the island’s three dining stools are a perfect spot for the children to tackle homework while meals are being prepared, or clean up is underway.

To configure the new mudroom, Glickman incorporated the 5’x5′ foyer between garage and laundry room into an enclosed space that would serve/ multiple purposes.   Washer and dryer were re-located to a back wall, creating the square footage needed for a counter with sink.

On the opposite wall, a floor to ceiling console comprised of four cubicles– one for each child plus a “bonus” unit to be shared by adults.

Each cubicle features bench-seating, a pull-out drawer for shoes, overhead basket for miscellaneous personal items.

There’s also a cell phone charging-station just inside the mudroom as one enters from the garage.

Finally, the butler’s pantry now includes an under-counter wine refrigerator, and back splashes and cabinet facings that match the kitchen’s new interior décor.

“This is a very specific execution,” Del Pizzo says, “and we’re very pleased with it.”

FOR INFORMATION: see, or call 301/444-4663.


John Byrd has been writing about residential architecture, building and remodeling for 30 years. His work has appeared in House Beautiful, Architectural Digest, Southern Living and many national and regional publications. He has also written and produced segments for HGTV and other cable outlets. His work has received numerous Press Association awards for excellence in journalism. He can be reached at or


Oak Hill Remodeled Home Tour Set for November 5. 


To make kitchen dining more inviting to guests, seats at the counter are slightly lower than standard height.
Owner Dave Mulligan calls this a great spot to sample his holiday dishes.
The design solution by Sun Design Remodeling will be open to the public November 5, from noon to 4 pm

Gourmet Kitchen, Spa Master Bath Among
Spotlight Features 
In Extensive Makeover

By John Byrd

A circa 1980’s center hall Colonial enhanced by a gourmet kitchen, a spacious spa bath and a lower-level guest suite will be featured in a “Remodeled Home Tour” sponsored by Sun Design Remodeling on Saturday November 5.

The house at 3295 Willow Glen Drive in Oak Hill is owned by David and Linda Mulligan.. The residence will open to the public from 12-pm to 4pm.

Purchased by the Mulligans in the early 1990s, the original four bedroom production house included a 500 sq foot kitchen and breakfast room, a large family room, and a 1,500 square foot lower level. Despite qualms with the “builder grade” interior finishes and space-use problems, the couple occupied the house for nearly twenty years before deciding a makeover of several targeted rooms would better accommodate personal interests.

The project’s scope partly reflects the couple’s different priorities.

northern-virgina-kitchen-remodel-1-beforeNancy Mulligan’s first goal was a large spa bath adjacent to the master bedroom. To this end, Sun Design Remodeling– the firm that had executed a whole house remodel for Mulligan’s brother several years ago– was summoned to explore ideas.


BEFORE: The original circa 1980s kitchen was classified as a “traditional” design, but the 30 inch cooktop range, small food prep island and limited cabinet storage were among many features the owners found restrictive.


“As we talked about the new master bath,” Dave Mulligan recalls, “I realized that Nancy and I had many plans for improving the house that we’d just been putting off.”

In the days that followed, Nancy– collaborating with Sun Design’s interior design team– completely renovated the master bathroom, then the guest bath, then added a full bath to the lower level.

For Dave, a passionate amateur chef, the remodeling proposal didn’t become personally engaging until conversation shifted to the kitchen.

“ I saw that our kitchen was stuck in the 1980s,” Mulligan says. “It just wasn’t a place where guests can gather in the same way they do in the living room or dining room.”

cooks-command-center With its U-shaped counter surfaces, 30 inch cooktop range, limited storage and dim lighting, the existing kitchen was (in Mulligan’s words) “backstage”– a cockpit where the cook toiled away out of view.

As if to stress the point, one leg of the counter top sequestered the cook’s zone from the breakfast table and family room.

“I understood how an open plan is supposed to function,,” Mulligan says.” But it’s the details that make it work, and that’s where design expertise really counts”

To this, Sun Design founder Craig Durosko adds:

“The kitchen’s work zones were pretty well rationalized. The real issue was: how well does the space satisfy the Mulligan’s– functionally and aesthetically.”

To create a more fluid relationship between the kitchen and the front to the house, Durosko and team relocated an obtrusive hall closet, widening an archway so that the revised space would be in view from the front foyer.

Sight lines being critical, ceiling-flush HVAC bulkheads were re-routed to make way for tall cabinets trimmed in crown molding.

Other finish work details—Cherrywood cabinet facings, stainless steel appliances, textured marble back splashes– converge to present a warmly textured, yet visually neutral surface.

All of which introduced the option for a still more differentiating effect: a custom-designed coffered ceiling.

“The ceiling is one of the best features,” Mulligan says. “The process of creating it was fascinating.”

northern-virgina-kitchen-remodel-bath-showerOn the other hand, there’s much to be said for the custom-designed food preparation island and dining counter.


MASTER BATHROOM. A glass enclosed walk-in shower accessible from two sides is neatly tucked under a skylight.


With it’s 6′ x 6′ x 8′ triangular surface, the configuration perfectly supports food preparation and clean-up tasks while accommodating place settings for three.

To make the island still more inviting, seats at the counter are slightly lower than standard height, a psychological invitation to join the party reinforced by the soft-leather chairs.

“As I see it, you’re dining at the chef’s table now, “Mulligan says. “A great spot to sample dishes, sip wine…and enjoy.”

On the more practical side, the new kitchen is equipped with two microwave ovens, two refrigerators, a convection steam oven and a 48 inch gas range with six burners. With the addition of a walk-in pantry, storage capacity has been increased by 50%.

Upstairs, the spacious master bathroom is also a distinct departure from tradition.

northern-virgina-kitchen-remodel-bath-tubA glass enclosed walk-in shower accessible from two sides is neatly tucked under a skylight.

Equidistant between custom-designed “his” and “her” vanities, the space is light-filled and luxuriant; tailored to personal convenience, yet scrupulously useful.


For deeper relaxation, the Victorian-era tub snugly occupies a bay window that features garden views.


A pair of custom-designed linen closets flanking a granite-topped cadenza is both practical and a stand-out interior design element.

The cleverly-executed guest room and lower-level full bath are worth the visit, too.

In all, a perfect exampled of how today’s empty-nesters are getting renewed satisfaction from a home they have occupied for decades.

Sun Design Remodeling frequently sponsors tours of recently remodeled homes as well as workshops on home remodeling topics. Headquartered in Burke, the firm recently opened a second office in McLean.

FOR INFORMATION: 703.425.5588 or


John Byrd has been writing about residential architecture, building and remodeling for 30 years. His work has appeared in House Beautiful, Architectural Digest, Southern Living and many national and regional publications. He has also written and produced segments for HGTV and other cable outlets. His work has received numerous Press Association awards for excellence in journalism. He can be reached at or



Kitchen Remodeling

Gourmet Kitchen Satisfies Passionate Amateur Chef … and his Friends and Family

By John Byrd

A kitchen enlargement and makeover to a 12 year old Loudoun County residence explores several interior design trends now shaping how owners think about both the functioning and presentation and a classic family home.

Situated high on a hill, the three-level house in Paeonian Springs, VA offers views in all directions. Still, looking inwardly, new owners found the kitchen dated and cramped; the adjacent formal dining room unnecessary; in all, a space completely lacking the resources needed to prepare fine gourmet food, and celebrate while its being created.

Pursuing big goals, the comprehensive remodeling entailed converting the kitchen, dining room and breakfast room into a nearly 600 square foot gourmet cooking and dining suite that boasts three tray ceilings, a refined textured interior, integrated art display spaces and professional caliber cooking amenities.

For owner Bryan Ware, however, it’s also the fulfillment of a vision that began when he realized that the home he had purchased in 2014 didn’t adequately support his one of his favorite activities.

“I’m passionate about cooking,” Ware says. “When I took a good look at our kitchen, I saw that the restricted space would be a problem for the kind of cooking I want to do. Also, I didn’t really want a traditional dining room– so we were researching ideas for possible changes, looking for an inspiration.”

A meeting with design consultant Roger Lataille of Sun Design Remodeling proved to be just such an inspiration, quickly giving voice to Ware’s still formulating remodeling plans.

As Ware tells it, Lataille established his bona fides as a space planner shortly after seeing the house for the first time.

“Roger understood what we were looking for — which was certainly a departure of a conventional kitchen,” Ware says. “I liked what I’d seen in some chef-owned restaurants where the room is dominated by one long counter. I basically wanted a plan in which I could cook and interact with guests — but within an open space with well-articulated activity zones.”

Adds Roger Lataille:

“Once we saw that the stove and hood would have to be a spotlight component in a large food preparation island and dining counter with seats, we began sketching out ideas for a completely revised floorplan.”

To create the necessary square footage, the designer proposed expanding the existing footprint in two directions. First, he would absorb the dining room into a vastly enlarged kitchen great room. The former dining room window would be converted to a pair of glass-facing French doors with transoms, providing easy access to a future back deck.

Secondly, the breakfast room at the opposite end would be assigned a new role — “keeping room” — and used to facilitate traffic between the adjacent front foyer and the kitchen. Again, a small rear door and window have been replaced with a symmetrical and architecturally-sympathetic French door.

To accommodate a significant increase in refrigeration appliances, the remodeling team re-designed the interior wall elevation on the west-facing rear of the house. The window above the sink remains unchanged, but the new elevation is now augmented by a pair of glass-facing display cabinets on either side. The built-ins are, in turn, flanked — respectively — by a freezer/wine column to the left and a double refrigerator to the right.

Meanwhile, the floor space formed by deleting a coat closet, several base cabinets and the existing pantry would be reconfigured to support two large pantries and a coffee station fitted with a pot-filler.

The kitchen’s showpiece is the 16′ x 6′ food preparation island and dining counter which is surfaced with three slabs of cararra marble. Weighing 2,500 pounds, the built-in is supported by a wall truss system.

With bow cabinets at either end and seating for five, the island is center stage (“the command center”) for Bryan Ware’s gastronomical inventions. At 42” high, the cabinets are both a gathering spot for guests and convenient storage for such unexpected conveniences as a “charging station” for cellphones and laptops.

Now in plain view, the formal dining area is substantially more elegant than its predecessor, yet more accessible. Graced by a buffet created by lead designer Ericka Williams, the piece provides illuminated display space for paintings from the Ware’s private collection.

“The family can change the featured painting as the mood strikes,” Williams notes.

The built-in includes puck lights above and below a surface allocated for art display — its an effect that is elaborated throughout the kitchen. In other parts of the room, backlit glass-facing cabinets present collectibles from wide-ranging travels. Peruvian wine bottles. Ceramic tea pots. An old silver cocktail shaker.

“I like blending the old and the new,” Ware says. “There are darker, almost industrial textures in the wall elevations, which are offset by delicate soffits and crown molding.”

The three tray ceilings overhead quietly instill a sense of how the great room is zoned, yet they are also a reference to a more tradition-bound architecture made contemporary by the inclusion of warm LED cove lights emitting a distinctive tawny glow.

Textured metallic wallpaper inside each tray — something you might more typically find in a New York hotel — is another playful motif in an interior that consistently presents contrasting colors and textures.

Overall, the new space unfolds “generously” in every direction, Ware says.

“It’s a place where we can easily entertain fifteen friends or more,” he adds, “and it works beautifully for that purpose. But it’s also an every day gathering spot where the kids do homework while meals are being prepared.”

Ware is also pleased with the kitchen’s well-defined work triangles.

“I have a slide-out cutting board right next to the stove, A spice drawer, a knife block, pull-out trash cans. Everything is where it needs to be– at my fingertips. I call that good planning.”

Sun Design Remodeling will be sponsoring tour of this remodeled home on August 13, 2016. Headquartered in Burke, the firm has a second office in McLean. FOR INFORMATION: 703.425.5588 or


John Byrd has been writing about residential architecture, building and remodeling for 30 years. His work has appeared in House Beautiful, Architectural Digest, Southern Living and many national and regional publications. He has also written and produced segments for HGTV and other cable outlets. His work has received numerous Press Association awards for excellence in journalism. He can be reached at or


Space Plan For a Winning Gourmet Kitchen
Emerges from Living Room Conversion

northern-va-gourmet-kitchen-7570 Gourmet kitchen — Marcelo Dobrauchi of Terranova Construction K&B combined a former family room and tiny kitchen to create a gourmet kitchen nearly three times the size of the original for seniors Helmut and Joy Green. The former living room was converted to an adjacent formal dining room.Walnut flooring and crown molding complete a unifying “transitional” style interior design statement.

By John Byrd

The family kitchen has been radically altered in the past few decades. Homeowners are comfortable with fewer walls; more visual continuum. They’re also exploring zoning ideas that make it easier for a hostess to shift between entertaining guests and feeding them.

But what if the only way to gain more kitchen space is to “lose the living room”?

“Unthinkable” at first; but then — “really innovative — a huge breakthrough.”

Such were the revelations of Joy Green, owner of a 3,000 sq ft Hill colonial, as she contemplated ways to introduce a large gourmet kitchen into the rear of her three level home.

Joy and husband Helmut, both in their mid-sixties, had purchased the house new in 1983; raised three boys and, like most homeowners of the period, had happily adapted to available space.

What the home offered was a 1,000 sq foot first level template consisting of a front foyer with a living room to the left; a family room, kitchen and dining room (moving from right to left) on the rear of the house.

tysons-corner-glass-facing-cabinetsOne could walk from the foyer to the family room directly, but each room was less than 150 sq feet. ”And,” Joy adds, “there was an excess of doors.” (Five in the family room alone, in fact).

“The traffic in the kitchen was often clogged,” she says.

Yet, curiously, the spacious front-facing living room was scarcely used.


Glass-Facing Cabinets — The natural stone herringbone pattern backsplash and backlit glass-facing stemware cabient give the new space an elegant touch nicely integrated with the detailing in the dining room.


“When the kids were small, the living room was a kind of containment area for games, “ Joy explains. “ “As the kids got older, we stopped using the living room. Which made our first floor plan odd — since the kitchen was too dark and cramped and lacked the kind of storage I really needed.”

Fast forward 15 years. The Greens have finally removed a wall between the family room and the kitchen. There’s more light. But the wall separating the kitchen from the south-facing dining room still blocks out the morning sun, and the space remains restricted.

“Storage remained a problem. I had to keep certain cooking implements in the basement. Just keeping track of what was where was really inconvenient.”

As the Greens became empty-nesters and then retirees, however, thoughts of retrofitting the first floor to better satisfy a new agenda prevailed. Joy began to research kitchen design ideas in magazines and online. Soon she came across an article about kitchen designer Marcelo Dobrauchi of Terranova Construction K& B and set up meeting in her home.

tysons-corner-food-prep-island“I had been playing around with new space plan ideas for months, and I was stumped ” Joy confesses. “Fortunately, Marcelo put everything into perspective almost immediately. In the end, he presented eight floorplan variations. He was thorough on every issue — and there were many.”


Food Prep Island — features two baking ovens positioned to help Joy Green enjoy one of her favorite culinary pursuits. The baked goods are a special diet supplement for Helmut.


“An open plan seemed better suited to what Joy and Helmut wanted,” Dobrauchi recalls, “so I sketched out a concept showing how they could covert the living room to a formal dining room while reconfiguring the adjacent kitchen/family room space as a large open kitchen revolving around a food prep island and dining counter.”

Since this would entail deleting three interior walls concealing much of the electrical wiring and plumbing, Dobrauchi devised a way to re-route much of the critical infrastructure into a specially-designed 12′ x 8′ passageway conjoining the kitchen to the relocated formal dining room.

Meanwhile, by rerouting HVAC vents, the designer eliminated the need for ceiling-flush bulk-heading, adding the vital inches needed for higher, more capacious cabinets. To accommodate an assortment of pots, pans, cooking utensils, the design team built an L-shaped system of floor cabinets fitted out with custom-designed slots and cubbies.

At 16′ x 3′, the handsome food prep island and five stool dining counter is the kitchen’s focal point. A pair of state-of -art baking ovens are within easy reach of the white quartz counter surface — which parallels a black quartz surface that includes a wine refrigerator and a glass-facing stemware cabinet.

tysons-corner-work-trianglesThe built-in works perfectly for the couple’s everyday dining requirements, but is also an ideal staging area for the buffet-style service they generally employ for larger parties.

Jana Neudel, a Terranova interior design expert, worked closely with Joy in developing the kitchen’s finish work elevations.


The kitchen’s well-conceived work triangles — include a farm sink and custom designed cabinetry supporting spacious work surfaces. The built-in parallels the food prep island facilitating both cooking and clean-up.


Nordic white mission-style cabinet facings present a pleasing shade contrast to the truffle-colored facings of the food prep island. Natural stone tiles with herringbone detail in a 3” x 6” brick pattern, meanwhile, present a softly neutral back splash that lends texture to an open sunny space.

Completing the “transitional”-style interior design statement, walnut flooring and crown molding create a unifying visual unity. Natural light floods in from all directions.

A perfect space for entertaining, and gourmet cooking pursuits.

Designers at Terranova Construction K&B periodically offer workshops on home remodeling topics at their Tysons Corner show room. FOR INFORMATION: 703/761-0604 or


John Byrd has been writing about residential architecture, building and remodeling for 30 years. His work has appeared in House Beautiful, Architectural Digest, Southern Living and many national and regional publications. He has also written and produced segments for HGTV and other cable outlets. His work has received numerous Press Association awards for excellence in journalism. He can be reached at or

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