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What Makes an Award-Winning Space

By September 28, 2011June 5th, 2024No Comments

by Mina Fies

Last month, Synergy D&C was thrilled to bring home awards from Qualified Remodeler magazine for two Northern Virginia-area renovations.  Though we are proud of the recognition to say the least, we also love the winning basement and kitchen because awards or no, they are simply great examples of what makes spaces work.  Check out a few of the common issues that our homeowners faced, and the universal solutions that were used to create the spectacular end products.


1)     Great Falls finished basement

Square footage before:  1,580
Square footage after:      1,780
Construction timeline:    3 months
Total project cost:            $179,350

Synergy D&C: What Makes an Award-Winning Space: Great Falls BasementAlthough our clients had a beautiful home that they loved, their “builder grade” basement left them feeling uninspired.  They sought to update their basement floorplan into a welcoming space that both adults and teenagers could enjoy.  To accomplish this, their first priority was a complete interactive gaming area.  Space for a pool table, game table and big-screen TV were a must.  Rounding out the wish list were a bar, ample seating, and the incorporation of a very large wine cabinet.  Standing in the way of an easy solution, however, was a long, narrow floorplan, which made it difficult to incorporate many of the items, especially the pool table.  An unfinished storage room could potentially provide the needed space, but the homeowners were worried about losing storage space.

With a little creative brainstorming and some plan reconfiguration, it turns out that the basement could incorporate everything the clients were looking for.  Removing some bulky cabinetry at the base of the stairs allowed for a new entrance into the existing gym and a large storage closet.  With new wall placement, three oversized closets were created by the stairs, in the guest bedroom and in the gym, which gave the clients the confidence to relinquish their storage room.  Enough room was gained for a pool table, TV area, and card table, and extensive cabinetry and stool seating at the bar made the basement feel complete.  With the redesign, the clients were even able to expand their bathroom to include a changing area, a laundry closet and better access to the outside pool area.

While the homeowners did build into their unfinished storage, they were able to maintain storage capacity by reorganizing areas previously allocated to hallways and other space-eaters.  Ultimately, they found space for all the features they wanted, kept their basement open and clean and improved the traffic flow.  Proof that a little innovative reshuffling goes a long way!

2)     Reston kitchen

Square footage:               280
Construction timeline:    4 months
Total project cost:            $46,000

Synergy D&C: What Makes An Award-Winning Space: Reston KitchenBefore calling Synergy, the homeowners of this project had previously renovated the top two floors of their townhome to a clean, contemporary style reflecting their European heritage.  The next logical project was to update the 20-year-old galley kitchen.  The ideal end-product was a modern kitchen that would easily flow into the adjacent dining room and living area, with a modest budget to avoid over-improving the home.  The issues the clients faced were common: a lack of cabinet space, an island configuration that isolated the kitchen, insufficient lighting, and an outdated brick fireplace with a large hearth that encroached on the seating area.  A tight timeline was also a necessity, as the clients were expecting twins in a few short months!

To achieve the contemporary feel the owners were looking for, the kitchen was outfitted with all new cabinets, hardware, countertops, a tile backsplash, and stainless steel appliances.  The sleek look was accomplished with simple straight lines that tied everything together.  To solve the storage issue, an “L”-shaped configuration was created, as well as a larger island with a flat, rather than split-level, countertop.  Area for two stools at the end of the island brought a focal point to the kitchen.  To further unify the kitchen and dining area, all existing flooring was replaced, the walls of each room were painted in complementary neutrals, and the old fireplace mantle and hearth were removed and replaced with large-format tile for a modern feel.  Finally, the addition of 6 simple recessed lights and 3 pendants on dimmers created much-needed lighting.

In this project (as well as many other kitchen renovations that we see), the footprint of the space did not change, though the cabinetry layout was slightly altered to maximize storage.  Putting some creative thought into the layout and especially the island configuration helped bring the kitchen and dining space together in a more cohesive and inviting way, and gave the open space the sleek, unified feel it needed to match the rest of the home.


Though styles and tastes differ, the solutions in these two award-winning spaces are almost universally applicable to any project, whether it be a kitchen, bathroom, basement or office.  From a facelift to a floorplan configuration – a solution can always be found to improve the look and function of your space!


© Mina Fies is the Founder and CEO of Synergy Design & Construction, Inc.  To learn more about Mina or request your FREE Renovation Roadmap™ use our contact us page,

This article may be reprinted when the copyright and author bio are included.

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