Reno of the Month: A Beautiful Basement IS Within Reach!

By Nicola Caul Shelley, Synergy Design & Construction

There’s nothing like the holidays and a house full of guests to make you re-evaluate the space in your home.

And nothing brings more festive cheer than one of your teenagers having to give up their room and double up with their younger sibling so Grandma and Grandpa have a place to sleep. If you are dreaming of a separate guest bedroom, bathroom or just a place for the family to hang out during the holidays, then read on.

One of the most frequently neglected spaces in a home is the basement. The beauty of a basement (especially one that has a guest bedroom) is that it provides separation of space (and therefore privacy) for your family and your guests. But, all too often, basements feel dark, unwelcoming and become a dumping ground for everything you no longer need but just can’t bear to get rid of just yet (yes, I’m talking about that drum kit you bought 10 years ago to relive your college heydays that’s now just catching dust…)

Now’s the time to do something about it. With the New Year fast approaching, get your Marie Kondo on and start the clear out. Tackle it a little at a time: all too often it becomes too overwhelming to think about doing it all at once, so set small goals and start with one drawer, one cabinet, one closet and KEEP GOING! Schedule a pick up through Green Drop and they’ll come straight to your front door to pick everything up. No excuse now!

Basements also don’t have to be dark — or feel cold. You don’t have to undertake a large scale basement remodel if you have the right footprint already in place. Lighten up the color scheme and switch out the flooring so it becomes a more welcoming space. Dark wood will make a basement feel even darker, so think about white or neutral cabinets and paint colors to keep it feeling less, well, like a basement! Adding recessed light is another way to get a lot of bang for your buck and completely change the feeling of your basement.

If you have an unfinished basement, it’s a waste of square footage if all you are using it for is storage. Basements easily add value to your home when remodeled. Unfinished basements are like a blank canvas with lots of potential and, with the right creativity and vision, they can be turned into beautiful but functional spaces.

It might be hard to envision how an empty space can become a multi-room, multi-use level of your home, and that’s where the professionals come in. Any reputable design-build firm in the area like Synergy should be able to provide you with design options for your basement remodel and what will work in your space.

This month’s featured project is a basement remodel right here in Reston. We transformed the unfinished and under-used basement of this lovely home to provide the family of five with family-friendly spaces to enjoy time together as well as creating a private guest bedroom and bathroom when out-of-town visitors come to stay. The finishing touch? A built-in office with room for two when working from home or for the kids to use as homework/crafting space.

Looking for more inspiration? See some of our other Before & After transformations or give us a call. We’re always happy to chat about your remodeling needs.

Happy Holidays from the Synergy Team!

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Reno of the Month: When Bad Painting Happens to Good People

By Nicola Caul Shelley, Synergy Design & Construction

Nothing brings a home remodel or simple project to freshen up your home together more than beautiful paint. However, with the ever increasing number of gorgeous colors and types of paint available, it can be daunting knowing where to begin — or even knowing what to use. Here are some helpful tips to get you started.

  • Preparation is KEY. Clean your walls and repair any nail pops or other imperfections if at all possible
  • Primer helps even out the surfaces and prevents a blotchy appearance. Stain-killing primers both prime and seal surfaces
  • When it comes to the actual paint finish to use, it depends on what your project is. Our go-to is flat/matte paint. It wipes clean, tends to show less imperfections and can be more easily “touched-up” than other paint finishes

Download our FREE “Paint Finishes” Tip Sheet to help you get started on making the right choice of paint finish for your home.

Colors, Colors Everywhere…

You’ve prepped your walls and decided which paint finish you want. Now you’re standing in a local hardware store completely overwhelmed by the array of colors. How do you make a choice?

  • First, decide which tones you like. Do you like grey tones vs. brown? Green tones over blues? Even white paint comes in different tones, so if you want a warmer feeling, use white paint with a cream or brown tone rather than grey or blue.
  • Take lots of color swatches home and tape them on your walls. What looks one color in the store will look completely different depending on the lighting in your home. Narrow your choices down.
  • Got your shortlist? Then spend a few dollars on getting sample paint pots to bring home and try them on your walls. Color swatches and actual paint color are sometimes completely different, so it’s worth a little expense upfront to make the right choice rather than buying enough to paint a room and discovering it’s nothing like the sample once you put it on your walls.
  • If you like bold colors and are planning to stay in your home, we say go for it. Statement colors are visually impactful and just plain lovely to look at. Use sparingly — consider painting one or two walls or strategically use accent color. Too much bold color in a room can make it feel smaller than it really is.
  • If in doubt or you are thinking of selling your home in the near future, go with neutrals. You may love cobalt blue, but sometimes other people can’t see beyond bold colors to imagine their furniture in the space. Use throws, pillows and other accents in the room instead. These can be switched out as the mood strikes you rather than having to do another paint job.

Using a Paint or Home Remodeling Contractor

It’s important to have realistic expectations when either hiring a painting contractor or a home remodeler for a project that involves painting. For example, unless you are having new drywall or crown moulding installed, imperfections are going to show after the painting is complete. Remember that dent you put in your baseboards with the vacuum cleaner? Or that nick in the wall when you were moving a piece of furniture? Those aren’t going to magically disappear with a new paint job.

New recessed lighting or new lighting fixtures will also show up imperfections you just didn’t realize were there because brighter/better lighting will make them more obvious. Unless you point out the areas that just plain bug you beforehand, contractors can’t give you a smooth, blemish-free end result. Even with patching or repairs, it just isn’t possible to give you a “new drywall” finish. For this reason, some home remodelers no longer include paint in their scope of work. This is because it can be a hassle trying to manage expectations about the paint finish in your home.

This month’s featured remodel is a McLean Kitchen remodel. The original green and blonde wood color scheme had to go! Use of Benjamin Moore “Ballet White” in matte on the kitchen walls and refinishing the solarium structure in the same color (but in semi-gloss) keeps the look consistent and allows the rooms to flow from one to another. It also makes the space feel much larger without being cold.

At Synergy, we believe in providing a full service design/build experience. That’s why we include painting in the scope of every project we work on. We want you to have a turn-key experience, with nothing left to do after the dust settles except relax! Ready to renovate happy? Get in touch!

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Photos: Langston Hughes Middle School Renovation Targets 2021 Completion

The $39 million renovation of Langston Hughes Middle School (11401 Ridge Heights Road) could be completed as early as August 2021.

The project, which began earlier this year, is in the first phase of construction. So far, the parking lot and bus loop were partially completed of the summer.

Originally constructed in 1979, the expanded school is set to be 189,000 square feet and serve 1,250 students, according to Hughes Group Architects. Fairfax County Public Schools officials estimate the project will be mostly completed by August 2021. 

The first phase of the project, which runs through December 2020, will include a two-story addition with an administration office, library, science and technology classrooms, communications and electrical rooms, as well as parking and other site work.

The second phase, which runs from January 2020 through December 2020, will improve the north entry point, renovation classrooms, and create a lecture hall and collaborative space. Demolition of the existing library and the north entry area is planned.

The final phase of the project, which runs through January 2021 through August 2021, will include upgrades to the performing arts and drama area, the gym, and locker rooms.

The project includes a central court called the “Hall of Nations” — a collaborative and flexible space meant to serve as an auditorium, a classroom or a breakout space.

Photos via FCPS

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Reno of the Month: What You Should Know About Condo Remodeling in Reston

By Nicola Caul Shelley, Synergy Design & Construction

You might be under the impression condo remodeling can be approached in the same way as any home remodel. Not so!

When it comes to remodeling, a ‘one size fits all’ approach doesn’t work. Condo remodeling brings its own unique challenges and requirements. Luckily for you, we’re here to help you navigate the road to a successful condo renovation project!

Condo Association Rules & Regulations

Remember that Condo Owner Association (COA) binder you received when you bought your place? Dust it off, because it’s going to become your new best friend. Most (if not all) COAs have an approval process in place that must be followed if you are making significant changes to your space, even though it’s just the interior. We’ve seen most approval cycles take a minimum of 45 days, so plan in advance and don’t start work until you have the seal of approval.

Hire the Right Remodeling Partner

As with any home remodel, it’s important to understand exactly who you need to do the work. If it’s just a simple pull and replace of your condo powder room, that’s a much simpler project and completely different to a total redesign and renovation of your condo’s kitchen or master bath.

If you are simply looking to update your powder room or replace your kitchen countertops, there are plenty of General Contractors who could be the perfect match for you. A full service design/build approach is a better fit for a more complex, design thoughtful condominium remodel. If you aren’t sure what you need, read Best Remodelers in Reston & How to Find Them.

Logistics Matter

There are a lot of nuances to consider and things you might find helpful to know before you meet with any remodeling contractor or company to discuss your condo remodel:

  • Elevation — Enjoying the beautiful view from the 10th floor? Gorgeous, yes, but if you don’t have a lot of storage space, the time it takes to go up and down from the ground floor with supplies and materials eats into the time the crew can work in your home so projects may take a little longer.
  • Visitor Access — Many luxury condo buildings have requirements for pre-approval of guests in the building. Your building management may require you to be the central point of contact for your contractor to ensure they can gain easy, daily access to the building.
  • Time Restrictions — Home remodelers tend to be early morning people. Most of our carpenters and crew are usually hard at work by 8 a.m. Many condo buildings, however, put time restrictions on when work can be undertaken in the building. Working around these restrictions is a necessity, but it also means your remodeling partner may have to adjust their schedule accordingly which may add extra time to your project.
  • Parking — This can be one of the biggest challenges, especially now in Reston Town Center since — dare we even mention it — paid parking! Your contractor will need approved bay(s) in your building garage to use to keep the project flowing smoothly.
  • Dumpsters — It may not be the most glamorous thing to have to think about, but if you need a dumpster for demolition items, your contractor will need approval for a place to put it on condo property.

Ask your prospective condo remodeling company if they have undertaken a remodel in a condo building before. If they have, it’s a good sign they will take all of these things into consideration with the added benefit of having developed relationships with many of the building managers in the area.

Special Considerations

Although you may think of condo remodeling in the same way as residential remodeling, it brings with it special commercial building considerations. There are some things no remodeler may be able to change for you such as sprinkler locations, limitations on what can be done with concrete ceilings or even certain structural changes.

There are also specific requirements in many condo buildings with regards to use of specific flooring to reduce noise or other building materials. The more you plan for this in advance, the smoother the process will be once you begin your condo remodel.

Luxury Condominium Remodeling Right on Your Doorstep!

This month’s featured project is a Reston MidTown Condo remodel. This is a gorgeous condo, but the bathrooms were original to the unit and the owner’s were ready to completely remodel all three of them to reflect their personal taste and design aesthetic.

With many condos in the Reston area now well into their second decade, you might be thinking it’s time to remodel yours. We can help! With over 10 years of experience and based right here in Reston, we know a thing or two when it comes to luxury condominium remodeling. We apply our same proven Renovation Roadmap™ methodology to all of our remodels to ensure you renovate happy!

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Reston Home Remodeling: Your Questions Answered!

By Nicola Caul Shelley, Synergy Design & Construction

You’ve started to think about a home remodel and it’s suddenly taking up a LOT of your time and is quickly becoming overwhelming. We get it. This isn’t (and shouldn’t be) your full time job!

So this month, we’re providing answers to some of the most commonly asked questions and concerns we hear from homeowners just like you.

Where do I start? 

Figuring out the different approaches to home remodeling is key to helping you understand what type of contractor you need. Added bonus? If you’ve already started getting estimates it’ll give you insights into why they may be all over the place. A general rule of thumb:

  • A general contractor (GC) will usually focus on the install and execution of your vision, meaning you take on more of the legwork in making design and materials decisions, ordering/buying materials and managing the project yourself.
  • A design-build approach means you are guided through your remodel all the way from design to construction with project management along the way. Design-build firms do the heavy lifting so you don’t have to. They do, however, tend to focus on medium to large scale home remodels.

What is the cost per square foot for a home remodel?

This is a great question! Like most things in life, there is no simple answer. It depends on the level of service you are being provided (for example, full service design-build vs. general contractor), the level of finishes you want (from cabinetry to countertops to fixtures and everything in between) and the complexity and size of the space or spaces you want to remodel (is that a “load bearing wall” I hear you say?).

Read more in Square Foot Pricing for a Home Remodel: What You Should Know.

How long does a home remodel take?

Ah, yes, queue HGTV. Three weeks and a few thousand dollars, right? Not so fast! If someone tells you a few weeks, run! Designing thoughtful remodels take time. The design phase comes first, then construction. Most of our remodels take somewhere between 8 to 14 weeks depending on the size and scope (and that’s just the construction phase)!

Having realistic expectations about how long your home will be under construction will set you up for success and avoid those “renovation nightmares” you hear so much about. Don’t let anyone start your remodel until you’ve finalized the design and selected all your materials (materials should be waiting on construction and not the other way around). Once everything is ordered and/or delivered and ready to go, then, and only then, can the sledge hammers start swinging!

Do I need a permit for my home remodel?

Permits are like insurance policies; if you don’t have them and something goes wrong, you’ve got no coverage and no recourse. Some remodeling companies or general contractors will tell you that you don’t need a permit. It saves them time and money and allows them to skirt around limitations set by the state as to the size of projects they’re authorized to do.

Bottom line: Don’t let others put the responsibility on you to pull your own permits (again, not a good idea), so ask your prospective remodeling partner this question at the outset.

In Reston, if you are part of Reston Association you will also need approval from the Design Review Board (DRB) for any exterior changes to your home. You do not need approval for interior changes.

What red flags should I look out for?

There are a few:

  • The contractor hasn’t worked on a project of similar size and scope to your project before
  • They tell you they can get started on construction right away
  • They don’t have a well-rounded website with project examples and client testimonials (and/or won’t give you any references to talk to)
  • They outsource all of their work to subcontractors and have no in-house team for any aspect of your remodel. Read more in Life Under Construction: Who’s in Your Home?
  • The contractor isn’t licensed and insured

Read more frequently asked questions and get the answers you’re looking for! Still not sure what you need? Here are resources to help you figure out what type of approach is right for your remodel and how to find the best remodelers in Reston.

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As School Year Begins, First Phase of Herndon High School Renovation is Nearly Complete

Students who poured through the halls of Herndon High School on the first day of school yesterday were the first to take advantage of the school’s newest renovation features.

So far, phase one of the major renovation project is nearly complete. Improvements include a new entrance that requires entrances to pass through security and the main office, 65 classrooms, a new gourmet foods room, new science labs and additional classroom spaces.

The new library, which is part of phase one, is behind construction and is expected to open in the coming weeks. For now, students will use the old library, but services will be limited.

Phase two will include new locker rooms, art rooms, an expanded main gym, and a renovated auxiliary gym. Phase three will include a new wrestling and gymnastic rooms, renovated musics rooms and an auditorium, and upgraded baseball and softball structures. The final phase will feature updates to the cafeteria, a new food court design, and updates to the tennis courts and stadium press box.

More than 60 outdoor trailers are expected to remain until next year. School officials said only one trailer was removed over the summer in order to allow construction to take place. Because trailers are in place, a parking lottery will continue, with seniors given priority. The school is working with Herndon United Methodist Church to expand student parking opportunities.

The school’s special education office is now in the new wing of the building. A temporary boys locker room and school clinic is also in place as construction continues.

Photos via Herndon High School

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Reno of the Month: Our Team’s Favorite Local Home Remodels!

By Nicola Caul Shelley, Synergy Design & Construction

Every project we work on has its own story, unique to each homeowner’s needs and personality. Whether it’s a family just about to have their first child or the kids are grown and getting ready to head off to college, every person’s “why” is different. This is one of the reasons we love what we do!

It’s impossible to single out just one as our favorite, so this month we decided to share some of our team’s top picks for our local remodels.

1. Liz, Office & Client Relations Manager

“This Reston kitchen and first floor remodel was one of my favorites because of how special it was for this couple to have their first permanent home given all of their military relocations. They put their trust us in even though they were not currently living in the area and we provided a beautifully finished home for them to move into to grow their family and settle down.”
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2. Matt, Lead Carpenter

“So many projects have had a real effect on me! If I had to pick one, I will go with this kitchen and family room remodel. Just seeing how much my work meant to the family and their way of embracing how Synergy did things, still resonates. The tears of joy and the hugs were amazing!”
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3. Mina, CEO

“I have too many favorites to choose from, however, I’m currently obsessed with a home we’re just finishing up here in Reston. Our clients fully embraced creating an “Intention Painting” (which is writing an “intention” on the walls in order to energetically connect with the purpose of their remodel). The thought and care they put into it and their focus on creating a positive vibe for all who enter their home really resonated with me.”
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4. Nicola, Director of Sales & Marketing

“As a past client myself, I love how Synergy focuses on how each client uses their space and how it can flow better. Every project is unique — there’s nothing cookie-cutter about any of the projects!

This kitchen remodel resonated with me because the homeowner had a beautiful contemporary design aesthetic, but, with 2 young children, the finished spaces were also family-friendly with lots of storage in a mudroom hidden away from the Kitchen.”
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5. Camille, Interior Designer

One of the projects I loved the most was this recent whole home remodel. It’s rare that you get to do an entire home remodel from major construction down to all new furnishings. It’s a designer’s dream to have a project like this! Watching the client’s vision come to life was the best part!”
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6. Mark, COO

“Within weeks of finishing the remodel of their master bathroom and kitchen, tragedy stuck when our client’s outdoor grill caught the house on fire. With the interior a total loss from fire and water damage, it gave us the opportunity to take a terrible situation and make it the home they always wanted — from gutting all three levels, to moving the kitchen from one side of the house to the other, to new decks off the kitchen and master suite — we gave them a completely new home.

In the end, we also gained two great friends with a standing annual celebratory dinner in sharing birthdays with husband, Terry.”
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7. Emily, Interior Designer

“This particular project resonated with me because it was probably the closest to the style I would have for my dream home! The house and property were beautiful and I loved the classic/Colonial style. Also, I love custom cabinetry, and we did a LOT of cabinetry in the kitchen and basement.

There were also so many special touches, like the sleeping nook in the basement game room, coffered ceiling in the kitchen, wainscoting in the powder room and the finishing touch: a cat cut-out in the laundry to conceal the litter box!”
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8. Tom, Architect

“A current home we are working on is one of my favorites because the clients are just such great people to work with! There are also lots of moving pieces in their extensive remodel, and I relish the challenge of making their space perfect for them.”
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9. Lisa, Director of Production

“Besides a major kitchen & living room transformation, the whole house look, feel and style was altered by opening up the stairs and creating a more modern look with the railings. I really enjoyed working with this local family from beginning to end!”
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We couldn’t fit in all of our favorites, so if you’d like to see a few more of our projects, read more about our team or learn about our approach, we’re always happy to help!

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Design Review Board Flags Green Paint and “Tacky” Elements in Proposed Hotel Renovation

Reston Association’s Design Review Board deferred a decision on the proposed renovation of Sheraton Reston Hotel last night (Tuesday).

Board members said that some proposed renovations to the 298-room hotel (11810 Sunrise Valley Drive) were tacky and departed significantly from conceptual plans that the DRB approved in mid-October.

As the direction of the project changed, hotel representatives said they dropped several natural wood tone elements and wood-printed screens on the facade of the building in favor of green paint on the fins. Darker gray tones to the building were also proposed.

The green paint is intended to bring in tones from the landscape into the building, according to project representatives. In October, the design had more wood-based elements and lacked a vertical strip of repeated chevron patterns where the sign of the hotel is currently situated.

W. Neal Roseberry, the DRB’s vice chair, said he had a “visceral reaction” to the proposed green color, which he said does a disservice to one of Reston’s most iconic buildings and departs significantly from the previously proposed wood elements that were “a wow.”

“I think its not what Reston needs to be doing to its older iconic buildings,” Roseberry said.

He also noted that the blue colors of the EXO apartment building — which is not within the DRB’s purview — often produces criticism from the community. If approved, the green paint would likely do the same.

Richard Newlon, the DRB’s chairman, also noted that the broader issue was very different from the original conceptual plan and could stand-alone as an entirely new project.

Wurzak Hotel Group, a Philadelphia-based company and DoveHill Capital Management acquired the property in March 2018. The DRB preliminary approved a conceptual renovation plan in October 2018

Photos via handout/Reston Association

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Reno of the Month: The Art of a Hassle-Free Home Remodel

By Nicola Caul Shelley, Synergy Design & Construction

We’ve all been there. We pin design and remodeling ideas like crazy on Pinterest, sit glued to our favorite HGTV show and watch with envy as another house is transformed into a dream home.

Or, we browse Houzz projects and wonder how such a dark, closed-in Kitchen became a light and airy space that looks twice the size, but… we are completely stuck when it comes to our own home!

There are a number of reasons why this happens:

  • Maybe you just don’t know where to start, and the different ways to remodel is making your head spin
  • The horror stories of renovation nightmares made you wary of taking on a remodeling project of your own
  • You just don’t want to deal with the disruption and stress and put up with a space even though it bothers you every time you walk into it

It doesn’t have to be like this! While remodeling can be tricky, it doesn’t need to be stressful. It is possible to have a more zen-like experience and keep your stress in check. While there are many ways to feel more in control, here’s a FREE download of the top ten: Ten Secrets to a Stress-Free Home Remodel.

This month’s featured remodel is a single family home in Reston. Our clients were ready to update the home to better reflect the contemporary architecture as well as open up the floor plan of the Main Level. As a busy and musical family of five (with their eldest child soon to be college-bound), they have A LOT going on!

It would have been easy to put it off indefinitely or wait until all the kids were in college before getting started, but the entire family were “all in” and ready to partner with us to keep stress to a minimum during their remodel. Our main goal was to create more open, light filled spaces to allow the family to gather together and enjoy their home for many years to come.

If you’ve been thinking about remodeling for a while, but just keep putting it off because it all seems too much of a hassle, now is a good time to take the first step on your stress-free remodeling journey!

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Reno of the Month: Open Concept Living — Is It Right For Your Home?

By Nicola Caul Shelley, Synergy Design & Construction

Unless you live in a new or recently built house, chances are your home was designed with distinctly defined rooms like the kitchen, dining and family room that are closed off from one another.

In some cases, this can be a blessing. If you are using the formal dining room as an office or playroom, it’s a simple step to close the door on the mess (or the noise) when you have visitors!

However, top of the wish list for most of the homeowners we work with is to make their main level feel “more open.”

Most homeowners are ‘over’ walls that block views between rooms or to the outside of the home, the labyrinth of doors that mean one has to be shut before another can be opened, or the dark, closed-in feeling of the kitchen.

Whatever the scenario, creating a more open feel for a space usually starts with removing doors and taking down walls. Although the overall square footage of a space doesn’t necessarily increase, the visual it provides makes it feel like a much bigger space. It’s also a much better way to use space.

With most homeowners rarely using a formal dining room even when they have one, and preferring to be able to see into the eating area or family room when they are in the kitchen, an open floor plan provides better flow between spaces and allows for flexibility in how it’s used. An open concept also allows for more natural light to flow throughout the entire area.

But wait! Before you get too carried away, a few things to consider:

  • A more open concept may not be for everyone. Noise travels, heating and cooling costs may change, flooring may need to be replaced throughout, wall space for artwork is reduced and having a line of sight throughout a space means any messes will instantly be on display. Take time to think about how you use your space before determining if an open floor plan is right for you.
  • Removing load bearing walls can be complicated and costly. Always check with a professional remodeler or structural engineer first to find out if the wall or column you want to remove is load bearing or houses electrical, mechanical or plumbing lines.
  • You don’t have to remove an entire wall to make a space feel more open. Removing a door and taking down part of a wall to create a larger framed entrance between 2 rooms can also make a space feel completely different.
  • Similarly, if square footage is at a premium and you want to retain storage or countertop space, removing the upper half of a wall but retaining the lower half and adding an island countertop (with or without cabinets below) is also a great use of space.

This month, our project highlight features a Lake Townhome in South Reston. It’s hard to beat lake living in Reston!

This townhome has a gorgeous view and a great location, but our clients were ready to update the entire first floor of their home including the kitchen, family room and powder room.

We opened up the space between the kitchen and dining room to maximize the beautiful water view but retained usable storage space by adding under-counter cabinets. The kitchen is now lighter and brighter with an all-season view of the lake.

Our client loves a black and white color scheme, but the backsplash accent tile in the kitchen makes a statement and provides a pop of glorious color.

Ready for your home transformation? We’re always happy to discuss what works in your space!

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Reno of the Month: What Not To Do In Your Remodel

By Nicola Caul Shelley, Synergy Design & Construction

At Synergy Design & Construction, we are firm believers in helping homeowners become more informed by providing insights and advice on all things home remodeling.

There are many factors that can result in a ‘renovation nightmare,’ so here are our top 3 things not to do to help you avoid the common pitfalls!

1. Hire the Wrong Type of Contractor

Just figuring out where to get started often leads to many homeowners feeling quickly overwhelmed and giving up at the first hurdle. It doesn’t have to be that way. If you don’t know the difference between a General Contractor and a Design-Build firm, that’s a great place to begin! Knowing who you need from the start is a huge time — and cost — saver.

2. Have Unrealistic Budget Expectations

Having a clear investment goal and communicating it to your contractor at the outset is essential. With so many TV shows setting unrealistic expectations about the time and cost involved in a home remodel, it’s difficult to know if you are being realistic or not. The annual Cost vs. Value Report is a great place to start.

3. Move Forward Without a Clearly Defined Scope of Work and Timeline

Assume nothing! A detailed scope of work ensures you and your contractor are on the same page when it comes to your project. If you are provided with material allowances, do your homework to ensure they are realistic with the level of finish you are expecting. An allowance for low-grade granite when what you really want is gorgeous Carrara marble isn’t going to cut it.

Your chosen contractor should also have a timeline or project plan prepared that clearly shows when they are going to begin and when they’ll be finished with construction. The last thing you want is to be ringing in the New Year with a partially completed kitchen when they said work would be complete by Thanksgiving.

Looking for more insights on “what not to do?” Read 5 Things Not To Do in Your Kitchen Remodel and 5 Things Not To Do in Your Bathroom Remodel.

This month, our featured remodel is a kitchen remodel in Vienna. After almost 10 years in their home and with 2 college-aged kids, our clients were ready to make their space their own. They wanted to create a more open feeling with better flow on the main level with the priority focused on creating a larger kitchen. By expanding into the existing dining room, we were able to do just that.

Although drawn to a casual, warm look and soft textures, they were not afraid of bold color on the island with matching tile accents and other design elements to really make this kitchen shine!

May is National Remodeling month, so if you’ve been thinking about a remodel for a while, now’s the time to finally get around to doing something about it!

We’re always happy to chat!

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Reno of the Month: Community Matters

By Nicola Caul Shelley, Synergy Design & Construction

“Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.” This inspirational quote from Helen Keller has been a guiding principle at Synergy Design & Construction since the company was founded over 10 years ago.

It has been important from the very beginning to grow our impact within our local community — especially to those in need — just as much as growing the Company. That’s why it is such an honor to be recognized for this commitment as a 2019 Best of Reston Honoree!

Best of Reston recognizes the contributions of individuals, businesses, civic and community institutions and organizations who demonstrate significant contributions to the greater Reston/Herndon area through their philanthropy and volunteerism. So, this month, rather than feature one of our remodels, we are celebrating our Community and our Team.

Beyond the sticks and bricks of beautiful remodels, there is an underlying dedication at Synergy to give back to others.

Our team members show their commitment every day from working on housing repairs at Cornerstones transitional housing, helping make the holidays special at the Embry Rucker Community Center, mentoring and participating in the Special Olympics Virginia, donating to ReStore, leading Girl Scout Troops, running an arts program at a local elementary school to our recent participation in Walk MS Reston… and much, much more!

Inspired to volunteer? Here are more ways to get involved in our community:

  • Cornerstones offers year round volunteer opportunities
  • Reston Community Center has a number of needs throughout the year
  • You don’t need Marie Kondo to have a clear out. Green Drop will pick donations up right from your front door
  • Volunteer Reston offers teen volunteer youth/family groups opportunities for middle and high schoolers
  • All about the arts? Greater Reston Arts Center needs volunteers of the Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival in May
  • Help make someone’s day brighter at Reston Hospital Center by delivering flowers, helping at the Information Desk or visiting with patients
  • Give nature a helping hand from bird box monitoring to wildlife counts to Earth Day projects at the Walker Nature Center

Read more about our Best of Reston Honor and how we try to make a difference everyday in our local community. If you see us out and about, come and say “Hello!”

Ready to remodel with a company who cares? Get in touch!

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Photos: RCC’s Aquatics Center Nears Halfway Point for Renovation

The Reston Community Center is now in its fourth month of a nine-month renovation of the Terry L. Smith Aquatics Center.

Demolition of the existing pool and surrounding deck, which started in late January, finished in March, according to an update from RCC. The demolition resulted in more than eight tons of steel from the ductwork and ceiling that will get recycled. Several tons of concrete, rebar, stainless steel drains and other materials were salvaged.

“In addition, the excavation revealed that the years-long water infiltration problems RCC experienced probably resulted from a combination of poor drainage and water leaking from the pool shell,” the April 1 update said, adding that the project will include corrective measures for the drainage issues and ensure the new pools have water impermeable shells.

The 40-year-old aquatics center is getting a makeover that will add two pools — a 25-yard lap pool with zero-depth entry and a warm-water therapeutic pool — along with a new roof. The facility is slated to reopen in October.

Photos via Reston Community Center

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Reno of the Month: Should I Stay or Should I Go?

By Nicola Caul Shelley, Synergy Design & Construction

Ahh! The perennial question when it comes to making a decision to remodel or move.

For many Homeowners, the weight of making these decisions can be overwhelming, so they go the third route: do nothing! If you are ready for a change, but are having a hard time making a choice, consider these factors:

Moving

  • You can’t remodel a location, so if you want to move to a different school district or for a lake view, you can’t renovate your way to that.
  • Moving means not living in a construction zone. If you can’t stand the thought of living through a remodel but are ready for the work needed to move, maybe it’s time for a new home.
  • On the flip side, moving is more costly than you might think. From realtor fees, closing costs, pre-sale repairs, new home makeovers, higher utility bills, homeowners dues to movers, it all adds up. Make sure you fully understand your numbers.
  • Even in a new home, you probably won’t get everything you want. Unless you are building your own home, you’ll likely have to compromise on something on your wishlist — and may end up remodeling anyway.
  • Moving can be stressful and time-consuming. If timelines don’t align, you might even find yourself renting before moving into your new place.

Remodeling

  • Don’t expect to get the ROI you want on a remodel, especially in the short term. Although most remodels are a cost effective way to make your place your own, none guarantee 100% returns.
  • Extensive remodels like Kitchens or Master Bathrooms don’t take a matter of weeks and a few thousand dollars (sorry, no TV personalities included either!). The 2019 Cost vs Value report is a great place to start to figure out realistic costs in this area.
  • You can, however, remodel to your own needs and design tastes. Go for it and enjoy it.
  • Lived in your home a while? If you don’t have cash on hand for a remodel, look into getting a home equity loan to pay for it.
  • If you love your neighborhood, stay. Nothing makes up for your community — or a short commute.
  • Remodeling doesn’t have to be stressful. Any professional design/build firm will do the heavy lifting for you and plan it out well in advance so you know exactly how long it will take, who will be in your home and make it as stress-free as possible.

So who is a typical client for a design/build firm like Synergy Design & Construction? Our clients usually intend to stay in their homes for the medium to long-term, or are living in their “forever home” and want to enjoy their beautifully remodeled space themselves.

They are looking for a full-service experience that prioritizes thoughtful design and quality construction by a firm who will manage the whole process for them from conception to completion.

Looking for a quick fix for resale purposes? There are other options that might be a better fit for your needs. Read Best Remodelers in Reston and How to Find Them for more information.

Our reno of the month features a Kitchen, Pantry and Mudroom remodel for a family who perfectly fit our client description. They love their neighborhood and their local school and didn’t want to move, so Synergy was the perfect match!

They were ready for an updated Kitchen with a better layout, more light, beautiful design features and lots of space for the regular events they host. With two elementary aged children to think about, additional storage was also a must which we provided in a newly created Mudroom for shoes, backpacks and sports equipment, all out of sight of the Kitchen.

Want to learn more about what we do and how we can help you? Read our frequently asked questions or get in touch. We’re always happy to help in any way we can.

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Reno of the Month: Free Estimates — What Every Reston Homeowner Should Know

By Nicola Caul Shelley, Synergy Design & Construction

With so many approaches to remodeling, it can be confusing for homeowners to know not only where to start but also what to expect in the process.

Sometimes, we receive calls asking for “free estimates” straight away. There are a number of reasons why the contractors you speak to may not offer free estimates for an extensive remodel, and here’s why:

  • It’s impossible for any contractor to know how much your final project is going to cost without seeing your space, knowing the level of finishes you want and doing due diligence up front. Many initial “free estimates” are merely top-of-the-head thinking based on standard finishes without knowing what’s going on behind your walls or under your floor. This can lead to sticker shock down the line when what you really wanted and the number your contractor initially gave you don’t match up.
  • Great design takes time and money. Measuring, conceptual plans, elevations, design options and revisions all add up. Just as you wouldn’t expect free website design or free consulting services, remodelers provide professional Architectural and Interior Design services that cost money.
  • Going through a detailed design process first allows you to get to a more realistic budget/cost which will save you money in the long run. No-one wants to be continuously change ordered once the Kitchen has been demolished and you have no choice but to pay more to get the project done. A detailed design process up front stops those “wasn’t expecting that” moments and blown budgets once demolition starts.

This month’s renovation features the transformation of the Main level of a contemporary lakefront home right here in Reston. As with all of our clients, we partnered together to go through a detailed design process at the beginning of the project to come up with a design that perfectly matched the homeowner’s wish list.

In addition to the kitchen, butler’s pantry and family room, we remodeled the laundry room and mudroom into functional spaces for a busy sports-enthused family and created a much more modern feel to the entire main level more in keeping with the contemporary architecture of this beautiful home.

Learn more about our approach and listen to our clients tell you in their own words Why Us. Ready to take the next step in your remodel? We’re always happy to hear from you and discuss your project. Get in touch!

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