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:
- 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.
- 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.
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!
by Mina Fies, Synergy Design & Construction
I love the start of a New Year! There’s nothing like that feeling you get after you’ve had time to put away the holiday decorations and put your home back together again after the flurry of family, friends, cookies, presents and cleaned up the trail of gift wrap and empty boxes all over the family room floor.
I often find that once I take the last bauble down, my place looks bigger. But, despite my dislike of the chaos the holidays bring, it also feels a little “flat” (kind of like that leftover New Year’s Eve champagne).
Which is why the New Year is the perfect time to start thinking about putting a little pep back into your space before the next round of hosting begins! If you found yourself thinking about how your kitchen just isn’t working for you anymore, or that your master bath wasn’t the sanctuary from the in-laws you needed, listen to that inner voice and decide this is the year you’ll make a change.
Whether you’re trying to figure out how much a remodel really costs, or you just don’t know what you need, we’ve got answers and we’re here to help! Check out our Free Getting Started checklist and to get a jump-start on your remodeling plans.
To get the creative juices flowing, this month, we’re sharing a beautiful lakefront home remodel in Reston. The first floor of this gorgeous home was completely transformed into a contemporary family-oriented space that now feels bright, fresh and 2019 ready!
You can see more photos of the home on Houzz.
If you’ve done your research already and are ready to discuss your remodel, give us a call to talk about your home and make this the year to make your space your own.
The Herndon High School is on track with its renovations as the school works to have new additions open by the time the 2019-2020 school year kicks off.
Assistant Principal Jim Hannon told Reston Now that the school plans on having the north addition ready for students and staff for the start of the new school year in the fall.
The 74,000-sqaure-foot addition will house the science and world languages departments, along with new classroom space for the mathematics, computer science, career and technical education and English as a second language (ESOL) programs.
Meanwhile the front addition will have the main office and Student Services Office on the main level with a new 18,000-square-foot library on the second floor, he said. That addition is also slated to be ready for the start of the 2019 school year.
“We are very excited about the pace of work, the progress and the coordination between Fairfax County Public Schools Design and Construction, Hughes Group Architects and the general contractor — Grunley Corp.,” Hannon wrote in an email.
The rest of the project includes renovating locker rooms, art rooms, the gym, music rooms, the cafeteria, the stadium press box and tennis courts.
This is the school’s first renovation since 1991.
By the 2022-2023 school year, more than 100,000 square feet of space will have been added to the school.
Photos via Jim Hannon
(Updated at 5:12 p.m.) While kids were off from school during winter break, Langston Hughes Middle School (11401 Ridge Heights Road) kicked off 2019 with renovations as a part of its planned expansion.
The first move of the school’s renovation took place during winter break, Principal Aimée Monticchio wrote in an email to the school community today (Jan. 4).
“We look forward to a new, modern and larger building after the renovation,” she wrote.
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.
The $39 million improvement program will be done in phases with the occupied construction project spanning five phases across three years.
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.
The project also includes renovating the cafeteria and adding a new dining courtyard.
With work already underway, seventh grade core classes, English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) and Spanish classes are now housed in “Panther Town” — modular trailers on the field adjacent to Ridge Heights, Monticchio wrote.
Construction is estimated to be completed in 2021.
Take one last splash in the pool at Reston Community Center’s Terry L. Smith Aquatics Center before it closes for renovations.
Built in 1979, the Terry L. Smith Aquatics Center will undergo a more than $5 million renovation starting on Jan. 2.
The pool area is expected to reopen in October, featuring an expanded lap pool with a zero-depth entry and water play area and another pool for warm-water therapy, exercise and teaching.
During the construction period, Reston patrons can receive discounted rates, which are offered through RCCs’ partnership with the YMCA Fairfax County Reston, Reston Association and Herndon Community Center. Patrons can pick up a “Construction Pass” at RCC’s Customer Service desks to take to the partner locations and get special rates.
“The Last Splash Aquatics Renovation Party” is set for Friday (Dec. 28) from noon to 9:00 p.m. Admission is $1. The pool party will include open swimming with games and races, music, a farewell gift and a graffiti wall for locals to pen their pool goodbyes.
Rendering via Reston Community Center
by Mina Fies, Synergy Design & Construction
You might think the remodeling industry is all about carpentry, cabinetry and chaos with not much room for fun. However, when we founded Synergy Design & Construction, we knew there was much more involved than just the sticks and bricks of the typical renovation experience.
That’s why we chose to add to go deeper with our clients to ensure we helped them create a home that was is in Alignment. Simply put, we help you better understand your connection to your home and how it influences your daily life, both at home and work.
One of the fun elements we encourage is a practice called “Intention Painting”. An intention painting is a way for you to energetically “stamp” your intentions for your new space onto the walls during the remodel.
Many of our clients participate (and make it a family affair) by writing meaningful sayings, quotes or just something playful about their family on the drywall before the space is painted. You won’t see it when the remodel is complete, but you’ll always know it’s there!
This month, rather than featuring one of our client transformations, we are sharing some holiday spirit with these real intention paintings from some our clients. So sit back, relax and feel inspired!
Download our FREE intention painting tip sheet and add some heart to your next remodel. If the warm and fuzzy stuff isn’t up your alley, you can also find out more about our approach to remodeling here, or stay in touch and sign up to receive no-commitment design inspiration directly in your inbox!
Wishing you and your family a festive holiday season and Happy New Year 2019!
by Mina Fies, Synergy Design & Construction
Interior Design trends come and go — so how do you know which have staying power and which ones will make you say “That was so 2018” in a couple of years? Before you splurge on that remodel you’ve been thinking about, here’s my advice on how to get the look you want without going over-the-top on trends.
All-white kitchen cabinets are a great example of a design trend with longevity. White cabinetry continues to be a firm favorite and is a great choice for a clean, modern look.
However, we started to see a move away from the all-white kitchen a few years ago. It started with homeowners willing to take a risk with a different colored island, or different colored/two toned cabinets. It’s a beautiful look.
More recently, we’ve seen a shift to different colored kitchens altogether. Those who want to play it safe have been choosing neutral sand colors, but some have gone all-out with blues, greens and even black accents!
You don’t have to go ultra-modern to get the look. The key to great design is respecting the aesthetic of the rest of your home so it feels cohesive.
Portuguese and Moroccan-inspired tile is everywhere right now!
A friend recently asked, “I love this look, but will I regret it in a few years?” There’s a way to do it right. If you aren’t a risk taker, then start small. Use the tile you love in a mudroom or laundry room, or use it as an accent piece behind your stove in the kitchen.
My prediction is this look is here to stay, so have fun with it!
Once the staple of the family home, wallpaper got a bad reputation after the 80’s overuse with lots of busy patterns and borders. Not any more! The resurgence of wallpaper started a few years ago with statement accent walls and now it’s now back with a bang!
New wallpapers are geometric, textured and beautiful. Believe it or not, floral wallpaper is back too, but with a modern twist with large flowers that make really bold (yet tasteful) statements!
Hardwood was the only way to go for many years. However, there’s new competition on the block and hardwood is no longer the must-have solution. Alternative flooring types bring a few benefits: some are more eco-friendly and/or are less expensive than hardwood.
Bamboo floors are a great option and look beautiful. They have similar water resistance and durability as hardwood but are more environmentally friendly because bamboo grows quickly (and therefore takes less time to replace).
Luxury Vinyl Tile (LVT) has also made a big comeback. This is not your Grandma’s kitchen floor. The new LVT is modern, hard wearing and can look beautiful in any space in your home. You’ve probably seen this in homes and not even realized it was LVT!
With lumber tariffs having an ever-increasing impact on remodeling costs, the trend for non-hardwood floors is growing with all signs pointing to the reign of hardwood being over.
For the last decade (and counting), brass fixtures were everywhere. Everyone was ready to leave the heady days of 1980/90s brass everywhere in the past and there was a shift to satin nickel and chrome.
Well, what was old is new again, but with an updated look. Gold brass has been given an updated look with softer shades and finishes. What’s nice about the new-look brass is that is pairs so well with the trend of mixed metals.
That’s right, not every fixture has to match any more — brass and mixed metals have been all over the design shows and magazines this year.
Is it a trend that will stick? If you do it right! But no, that doesn’t mean you get to claim your faucets from 1985 are once again trendy!
This month’s remodel features a single family home remodel in North Reston. What we loved about these wonderful clients was their desire to think outside the box with regards to cabinetry. Anything is possible: we even matched the blue cabinetry to the homeowner’s favorite blue purse!
The new owners of Sheraton Reston Hotel (11810 Sunrise Valley Drive) in Reston Town Center have proposed a series of renovations to the 298-room hotel.
Wurzak Hotel Group, a Philadelphia-based company and DoveHill Capital Management acquired the property in March. Reston Association’s Design Review Board will consider the owners’ proposal to renovate the building’s exterior at the board’s meeting on Tuesday (Oct. 16).
Proposed renovations include repairs and repainting of the building’s facade. New louvers will be installed and wood-printed aluminum screens would be added to bring a “natural element” to the property, according to the owners’ proposal. Nature-inspired wood-printed metal will be repeated throughout the building and a clearer entry to the new Gastropub location will be added.
The DRB meets at 7 p.m. in Reston Association headquarters (12001 Sunrise Valley Drive). The board will also hear a case that was previously rejected in April.
T-Mobile has filed another application to install antennas on the roof of the Waterford Square Condominiums — a proposal that was flatly rejected after opposition from residents. Opposition to the proposal remains.
Photos via handout/Reston Association
by Mina Fies, Synergy Design & Construction
You finally decide you’re going to tackle that kitchen remodel and you want it done in time for Thanksgiving. The contractor you meet with looks thoughtful and says, “Your project is going to take 3 weeks and cost $20,000″… and then you wake up.
We’ve all seen the TV shows. Much as I love them, reality shows do a disservice to homeowners in terms of setting unrealistic expectations about what it takes to create your perfect space — both in terms of time and cost.
I had the chance to see the Property Brothers speak at an industry conference awhile back and found them not only engaging and insightful… but completely honest! One of the first things they said was “Our shows are not reality”. They went on to explain they don’t charge for their time, most of the materials are donated and a lot of the shows are shot in locations where the cost of living is vastly different from ours.
So where else does reality lie?
- Design comes first, then construction. Thoughtful design takes time and needs to be finalized before anyone starts pulling out your cabinets.
- We’re frequently asked, “Can’t you give me a ballpark cost?” We can certainly give you a range, but think of it as car. Want the heated seats, sunroof and rear view camera? That adds to the final cost. Until any remodeler knows if you want the high end appliances, the radiant heating or the custom cabinets, there is no way to give you an accurate cost until you’re further along in the design process.
- You’ve finalized the design you want, now it’s time to order materials. Quality cabinetry alone can have a 6-8 week lead time. This is where many remodeling projects start to fall off the rails. Your kitchen or bathroom has been torn out, and you are suddenly told the tile you want won’t be delivered for another 4 weeks.
- No-one should be swinging hammers in your home before they’ve finalized the design or ordered the materials. We have a saying at Synergy, “materials wait for construction, not the other way around.” The contractor you pick should be able to tell you exactly when the construction phase of your project will start and exactly when it will finish.
If any contractor comes through your front door now promising to complete your remodel by Thanksgiving, that’s great and depending on the size and scale of the project, perhaps it will. But do your homework and make sure it’s not just a tactic to get you to sign on the dotted line. The last thing you want is to be taking down your Christmas decorations and they still haven’t finished the job.
This month’s remodel features a single family home remodel in Reston. Our clients wanted to completely open up the space to create a better flow and a more cohesive space. They put their trust in us to deliver the final project on-time and on-budget and that’s exactly what we did!
Ahead of the completion of phase two of the Silver Line project, a nearly $14 million renovation project of the Reston-Herndon bus garage facility on 268 Spring Street is complete.
County officials said the facility will help support Fairfax Connector bus operation in Reston and Herndon as the Silver Line project brings more demand to the area.
The project was funded through revenue from the commercial and industrial tax and general obligation bonds. A ribbon cutting to celebrate the opening of the new facility was held today (September 19).
“Staff now have a working environment that is safer, more efficient, and more comfortable than before,” county officials wrote in a statement.
The renovation project includes the following:
- An existing bay was closed to create a new drive-through bus wash
- Addition construction for exterior tire storage
- Upgrades to vehicle lifts and service equipment
- Creation of automated parts storage system
- Modernization of drivers lounge and administration areas
- Addition of new fueling station
- Replacement of bus parking lot surface with heavy-duty concrete
- New parking lot for staff
Photo via Fairfax County Government
by Mina Fies, Synergy Design & Construction
School is back in session but many of us are still in recovery mode from all the first day prep work!
Multiple trips to different stores to buy everything from dinosaur pencils to glitter glue to never-ending supplies of hand sanitizers and wipes. Forbes reports the average family spends around $500 per child on back-to-school items.
Now it’s the inevitable collection of backpack contents and “no, you can’t throw it away! I made it for you!” items that start piling up on your kitchen counter. Don’t know where to put stuff? Constantly asked by your family, “Where did you put my… ?”. You are not alone! Consider this:
- Americans spend 9 million hours looking for things (organizedworld.com)
- On average, people spend 6 minutes a day looking for their keys, cell phones and wallets/purses
- According to napo.net, getting rid of clutter eliminates 40% of housework
Given the money spent and time wasted in a cluttered home, this month we’re highlighting how organization can be beautifully accomplished as part of your home remodel. Perhaps some of these features should move to your “must-have” list!
Joys of a well-designed Mud Room
High traffic areas like mud rooms can become nightmarish drop zones. Mud room design should make much more efficient use of space with lots of cubbies, thoughtful storage and built-in cabinetry with ample space for coats, bags and backpacks.
One of our clients even asked us to incorporate a wet-zone to help ease post-swim meet chaos! Having a well-thought out mud room means the whole family has dedicated storage as they enter/exit the house.
Double Duty Laundry
I’m sure it’ll come as no surprise that laundry rooms are no longer just about function either — nothing beats a beautiful, put-together laundry that makes you feel good!
One of our clients wanted a contemporary laundry that served double duty as a craft space. With a young family, having somewhere to put all their “stuff” was also high on the wishlist. We were able to provide this with TONS of storage hidden behind oversized sliding doors.
It’s hard to know exactly what you want if you can’t visualize the space. Whoever you pick as your remodeling partner, ask them if they provide 3D renderings to show how much bang for your remodeling buck you can get with more organization.
Renderings allow you to see conceptually what the space will look like and if the design will work for you and your family.
Purposeful use for every nook and cranny
Most of us have unused areas in our home that are, quite literally, a waste of space. Good design maximizes the use of every square inch of a home. The basement of a recent Leesburg whole home remodel shows two instances of smart use of space for added organization.
In the game room, a void space was used to create storage for a table tennis top and pool cues. The space is accessed by a hidden, flush door that blends into with the wall. The remodel also opened up the space under the basement stairs to create a mini-refuge in the new niche. With built-in drawers and a twin mattress along with a bookshelf, extendable sconce and a nearby outlet, the house is tidy and ready for the grandkids!
Incorporate Built-In storage
Oh, the joy built-in storage can bring! Beautifully designed storage doesn’t mean it loses its functionality. Open shelves are great if you are good with staging; the key is to keep it simple and only display one or two “objets” to provide visual interest and not make a room feel too cluttered.
If open shelving isn’t for you but adding doors to cabinets is going to break the budget, there are lots of great options to hide items in boxes and containers that provide an inexpensive alternative from The Container Store to Target.
Students will return to Herndon High School tomorrow (August 27) as a major construction project at the school, which has not been renovated since 1991, continues.
Between now and the 2022-2023 school year, more than 100,000 square feet of space will be added to the school. Renovations were approved as part of the FCPS Fiscal Year 2017-2021 Capital Improvement Program, which includes $310 million approved by county voters in a school bond referendum.
Currently, the second half of phase one of the project is underway, which includes adding a new wing to the back of the building and an addition to the front of the building where a new library, main office and administrative and counseling offices will be located. The school’s assistant principal Jim Hannon expects this phase to be completed by next fall or the beginning of the 2019-2020 school year.
Three other phases remain, which call for renovating locker rooms, art rooms, the gym, music rooms, the cafeteria, the stadium press box and tennis courts.
School officials told Reston Now that parking continues to be a challenge this year. The number of spaces was slashed from 377 to 90, pushing the school to create a lottery system to accommodate student parking. Seniors who received a number between 1 and 100 in the recent lottery will receive spaces. Others must complete application forms to be entered into the lottery.
Photos via Fairfax County Public Schools
Written by Mina Fies, Synergy Design & Construction
Have you ever wondered why renovations go wrong? Here are some of the most common complaints we hear from homeowners:
- The contractor said the work would be completed by the end of June. It’s August and there’s STILL no end in sight.
- The estimate they provided at the start of the project bears no resemblance to what it’s actually costing me.
- Why am I the one driving the project and making all the design decisions?
- There seems to be an endless stream of people in my home but I’m not sure who’s actually in charge!
Does any of this sound familiar?
Most complaints are the result of remodelers not having a clear pathway and strong synergy between the design and construction phases of a project. They’re all too eager to get started and give you a ballpark estimate with no reality around allowances for your design choices, the complexity of your remodel or they have no project plan in place to get you to your end game.
No one wants a “I wasn’t expecting that!” moment in the middle of a remodel which inevitably adds time and cost to your project.
That’s why we created the Renovation Roadmap™ as our way to help you navigate the remodeling process. Think of our proprietary system as your ticket to an exceptional remodeling experience. We take care of every step of the process from plans and designs to providing exact costs and a detailed timeline for quality construction.
Why is this important? It eliminates change orders, unexpected bills, delays, frustration and — most importantly — it allows you to have some fun along the way!
Our Reno of the Month features a kitchen remodel in Fairfax Station. Our clients had a poor experience with a previous remodeler and had been searching for another partner to work with for 4 years!
Friends and family said there was no way we could finish on time (having not had that experience with remodels themselves) and our client took great delight in walking everyone through the completed spaces ON TIME!
Why was our client so happy? Because they felt completely taken care of from start to finish.
Learn why our approach works and sign up to receive our free Renovation Roadmap™ brochure!
Written by Mina Fies, Synergy Design & Construction
Many homeowners make assumptions about the general contractor or remodeling firm they pick for their remodel. You get a great first impression from the initial sales meeting, but, odds are those aren’t the same people who’ll actually be in your home doing the work every day.
Carpenters and construction crews will be in your life, around your kids and overseeing your investment each day of the project, so don’t forget to ask questions during the selection of a remodeling partner about the people actually doing the work:
- Are your carpenters in-house employees or subcontractors?
- Do I have a dedicated lead for my project?
- What training or certifications do workers have?
- What standards will the staff follow while they’re in my home?
- Who will have access to keys while work is being completed?
So much of a home remodel depends on labor, so it’s important you’re comfortable with the field expertise of your team.
While all of our carpenters are in-house team members, and one will be assigned a specifically oversee your project’s quality, safety and security protocols, not every company operates that way.
It takes a lot of trust to invite people into your home and we don’t take that lightly. Although many of our clients live in the home while we’re remodeling, others schedule their remodel while they’re out-of-town, or even relocating from outside of the area!
Regardless of who you choose to remodel your home, the point is to go beyond the initial sales call and find out who will actually be doing the work and overseeing your project.
Our Reno of the Month features a client who was living in Massachusetts during both the design and construction phases of their project.
We took all the necessary measures to ensure we delivered a perfect renovation while respecting safety and cleanliness, leaving nothing behind but a gorgeous, transformed home. Their neighbor even commented, “Thanks again for the neighborly way the crew handled everything. It’s really like we never knew you were there!”
Want to learn more about our team? Find out Who We Are!