Virginia project wins top prize


The owners of a Colonial house in Vienna mostly wanted to add a screen porch and deck at the back of their house, just off the kitchen. The resulting outdoor living project, however, won Sun Design Remodeling Specialists of Burke a  Contractor of the Year Award (COTY) from the National Association of the Remodeling Industry. It was named  Best Residential Exterior over $100,000 in 10 South Atlantic states.

Certainly, the projects many engaging, handsomely-differentiated architectural elements played a factor in taking the title. Consisting of three primary components a 14x 12 six-sided screened porch off the existing kitchen, a sprawling 30 x 25 upper deck with grilling zone and an elegantly articulated staircase perfectly integrated to the flagstone terraces below the project evokes Virginias gentrified garden party settings, commingled with accents of the French Quarter and even the Caribbean.

The dining porch, for instance, with its fine detailing, is as perfectly nuanced as any Bahamian summerhouse. The 36-inch knee walls and paneling separated by wrapped columns; the tongue-in-groove decking, crown molding, and decorative glass these design details define an outdoor space that is both perfectly finished and irresistibly comfortable. The glass-coffered ceiling, by the way, can be lighted at night, while four massive skylights keep the porch and kitchen sunny during the day. And for convenience: the custom screen panels can be handily removed when summer ends.

Meanwhile, Sun Designs schematic is scrupulously functional: the old kitchen window is now employed as a pass-through for food and beverages. The pre-existing family room connects to the deck through the double French doors, and the dining rooms set of triple, double-hung windows invites a panoramic view from the backyard and pool. The grilling station equipped with everything needed to store, cook, dice, marinate, stage and serve   is centrifugally convenient to myriad dining spots, with an appeal that seems to follow the sun.

For all its winning aesthetics, though, it was not simply clever design, well-conceived activity zones or sensible traffic patterns that caught the judges attention. To appreciate whats at work here one must look also at the selection of building materials that reduce maintenance needs, resist tough weather and add to durability.

With the outdoor-built project now an integral feature of home landscaping, the building products industry has undergone a technological revolution in recent years.

All the decking planks are made of weather resistant composite materials, project designer Darren Smith explains.

Manufacturer Timbertech points out that the planks wont splinter in the sun or  build up moss after a rain. And theyre perfectly suited to any construction task even fine woodworking assignments.

Similarly, the black powder-coated wrought iron railing is exceptionally durable and rust resistant. So, too, is the standing-seam metal roof atop the gazebo.

The project really shows us something about how indoor/outdoor projects have evolved, says Smith. It is no longer enough that you meet seasonal requirements. Today its important to produce durable work thats easy to maintain.

In other words: its a whole new era for outdoor living.

The Sun Design staff periodically offers workshops on home remodeling topics.

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