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Remodeling In Northern Virginia



Best Whole House Makeover in 10 States. Sun Design Remodeling’s eye-catching conversion of a circa 1960’s split-level into a unique neoclassical style residence has been named a regional “Contractor of the Year” (COTY) winner by the National Association of the Remodeling Industry. The remodeler added 300 square feet on the left side of the house, introduced a front veranda and elaborated the exterior in a new architectural language

Sun Design Remodeling Wins Regional
“Contractor of the Year Award” for top solution
in $250,000-$500,000 range

By John Byrd

A circa 1960’s split-level home converted into spacious residence featuring neoclassical sensibilities has won Sun Design Remodeling of Burke a South Atlantic region “Contractor of the Year” award from the National Association of the Remodeling Industry. The residential makeover situated on a quarter acre lot in Fairfax was named the best whole house remodeling in the “$250,000.00 to $500,000” range in a 10-state area that extends from Maryland and Florida to as far west as Tennessee.

Owners Jack and Marie Torre, both retired, have been so pleased with the outcome that they’ve even held an open house to show curious neighbors how extensively a traditional design can be transformed.

BEFORE While owners Jack and Marie Torre wanted square footage for a larger kitchen and dining room, “set-back” rules prohibited building in the rear, and the front-facing roof overhang limited options for re-designing the facade.

“People have been amazed,” Marie says.

The makeover skillfully integrates engineering, infrastructure and grading solutions with well-articulated elevations and an interior scheme that is both highly functional and warmly inviting.

To accommodate new requirements, Sun Design added a 300 square foot addition, introduced a front veranda with a foyer, and elaborated the whole house in an entirely new architectural language.

The Torres originally purchased the brick and siding structure in 1984. At nearly, 3,000 square feet, the house was ideal for raising children. The nearby schools were excellent; there was an easy work commute. But some aspects of the property would need improvement, the Torres realized, should they decide stay in the residence long enough.

Skip ahead two decades and the whole house remodel now in place demonstrates the kind of sweeping architectural re-invention that can occur when owners set their sights on new priorities.

Living room to dining. The split-level’s former bow window was converted to a set of French doors which overlook the new veranda. Though the seamless execution makes the addition hard to detect, the dining room beyond the fireplace is actually in the home’s new wing.


In fact, according to the Torres, the former split-level is no longer merely a house – it’s their “long-term residence”, and one that is substantially larger and more functional than they had previously thought possible.

“ Long-term occupancy eventually invites owners to consider to creating a more personalized home, ” says Craig Durosko, founder and chairman of Sun Design Remodeling. “We’re finding this kind of goal much more frequently than in decades past.”

Meanwhile, the Torres are quick to acknowledge that Sun Design’s innovative solutions came as a revelation– especially since they had hired architects on two separate occasions to develop plans that soon proved infeasible.

“We couldn’t add-on to the rear because of set-back restrictions,” Jack Torre explains. “The bigger problem, though, was a six-foot roof overhang in front, and the seven steps required to walk from the ground level foyer to the primary living area. Because of these factors, we thought we were prohibited from enlarging the foyer, or expanding our living space around the kitchen.”

In fact, the Torres actively looking at relocating when a chance visit to a Sun Design remodeled split-level nearby convinced Marie to reconsider the remodeling question.

Shortly after the viewing the neighboring remodel, the Torres set up a meeting with Sun Design’s president Bob Gallagher, and several previously unconsidered options emerged.

Winner Gourmet Kitchen. Marie Torre says the new gourmet kitchen accommodates all her cooking utensils, even items that used to be stored in the basement.


At the top of the “wish list”, the couple wanted a larger, more functional kitchen – plus a larger dining room with distinctive formal elements, including a tray ceiling.

There should be a dedicated family room with a view of the tree-lined back yard, and a spacious powder room on the same floor as the kitchen.

The substantially enlarged gourmet kitchen would require a butler’s pantry, and a wine refrigerator.

Still more challenging: the Torres wanted to enter their home’s primary living area directly from the front door rather than ascending seven steps within a cramped ground-level foyer.

These goals in mind, the problem for the design team was how best to implement critical components within a well-integrated whole.

Since new enclosed space couldn’t be added on the rear, the east side of the house was designated for the new dining room/sitting room wing.

Still more problematic: under the current floor plan, one entered the house from a narrow front foyer – ascending to a main level hall that segued to the living room (left), a set of staircases heading in two directions (right), or the kitchen (straight ahead).

What was missing, Gallagher observed, was a “procession” in which rooms unfold in an orderly, inviting sequence, even as sight lines coax the eye with intriguing visual continuum.

“The structural issue entailed finding an optimal way to raise the front door to the main level of the house,” Gallagher recalls.

Winner Built-in banquette. The custom-designed banquette works as a breakfast nook, but also provides useful storage space.


“This would require extending the front foyer eight feet to get past the existing roof overhang. We also needed to re-design the front elevation to better rationalize the difference between the grade at ground-level and the home’s main living area – a distance of about seven feet.”

What evolved was not merely a larger foyer, but an improved and more appropriate architectural context in the form of a spacious, classically – apportioned front verandah that surrounds and presents the front entrance to the home.

“We were delighted as the plans for the front elevation began to shape up,” recalls Marie. “ It’s a completely new architectural style, yet perfectly accommodates the square footage we needed to reconfigure the interior of the main living area.”

The resulting interior revolves around two comparatively modest additions – albeit, enclosed spaces that substantially enlarge the home’s main level.

The 44 square foot foyer situated on a new front porch is perfectly aligned with a front door that opens directly into a center hall-setting up entry into the living room, or kitchen just a few feet beyond.

Meanwhile, the 300 square feet added on the home’s west side houses a formal dining room and an adjacent rear-of-the house sitting area.

The room includes a two-sided fireplace also visible in the living room. The enlarged kitchen accommodates a custom-designed banquette, and multiple storage pantries.

Marie says the gourmet kitchen now in place provides spaces for all her cooking utensils, even items that used to be stored in the basement. Moreover, replacing the roof over the main living area and raising the ceiling from eight feet to nine feet makes the room feel substantially larger.

Better yet, the remade rear elevation – which includes a “bump-out” with three divided light windows and relocated French doors – invites abundant natural light.

“This is really a completely different house,” says Marie, “And one much more satisfying to occupy.”


       Sun Design Remodeling frequently sponsors design and remodeling seminars as well as tours of recently remodeled homes. Headquartered in Burke, the Sun Design also maintains an office in McLean. FOR MORE INFORMATION: www.Sun

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