A Design & Renovation Experience That Covers All the Angles

    Every time Lisa Kristiansen and Steve Robinson looked out their french doors to nowhere, they knew they had work to do. Those doors were supposed to lead to a deck - or something - but a previous renovation had fizzled out before that got done. “The more we thought about it, the more we realized we didn’t really need another deck. We wondered about putting a porch in that spot, but weren’t sure how to make that happen,” Lisa recalls. 

    The Kristiansen/Robinson home is located on a verdant five acre lot of rolling meadows bordered by woodlands near Potomac, Maryland straight out of a Eugene Walker Leake, Jr. (famous Maryland artist) painting. The area surrounding the home features winding roads, and creeks that meander into the nearby Potomac River. It’s a region of incredible natural beauty.

    So having a porch that would overlook the backyard, the pool area, and the surrounding landscape would make a perfect addition to their home, and bring some good use to those french doors. They got project bids from several contractors with one thing in mind: they did not want a generically modern addition to their country home that did not have a “modern” bone in its architectural body.

    They didn’t necessarily know this at the outset, but they were trying to find a remodeling company that would cover all the angles: one that would bring a personalized approach, listen to their ideas and offer their own, help them problem solve as issues came up, and reliably deliver on promises made. 

    scenic-overlook-porch-addition-potomac-md-before-2-1Before: The Kristiansen/Robinson home with French doors to nowhere on the second level.

    After: The Kristiansen/Robinson after the addition of a porch and Juliet balcony.

    Angle 1: A Personalized Approach

    It doesn’t get much more personal than where you live. Your home should be a place that reflects your tastes and interests. As they approached this project, Lisa and Steve knew they wanted some kind of outdoor three-season space. They were talking to contractors and getting bids, but not really finding the right fit. A friend suggested they contact Gilday.

    “When Kevin came out, he brought such a thoughtful approach to the aesthetics of how the new space could look and how this porch would fit in with the rest of the home and landscape design,” Steve remembers. 

    Everyone involved in the project from the owner, to the designer, to the on-site carpenters listened and asked questions to ensure the Kristiansen/Robinson’s got the experience and the end result they wanted. 

    Here are a few details of the porch that came from a highly personalized approach to the design-build process.

    • “Haint Blue” - A tradition in many Southern homes is to have the porch ceiling painted a bright sky-like blue. “We would have never thought of this, but Kathy Gilday (one of the architectural designers on the team) brought it up and we really love it,” Lisa remembers.
    • Natural Light - The original design did not specify skylights, but the builder and designer noticed there would have been little natural light especially in a drybar area of the porch. The skylights make all the difference.
    • Black or White? When you think of wrought iron, black is the go-to. But with the color palette on the rest of the exterior, designer Kathy suggested going with white. Steve said, “We’re glad we did. It fits in so much better with the whole color scheme of the home.”


    Angle 2: Communication is Key

    When you are contemplating a renovation of any size, it is going to involve some level of disruption to your routines. There will be a lot of moving parts, and many small and large decisions to make along the way. Good communication is essential.

    It began with the initial consultation which was followed by a written proposal that included Kevin’s hand-drawn conceptual design.

    “When we got Gilday’s 13-page proposal, we really felt good about it. The level of detail and professionalism was a breath of fresh air,” Steve recalls.

    One added benefit of working with a full service design-build firm is that the design work is done in-house and the cost is incorporated into the proposal. It helps to avoid surprise charges, and run-around in communication between architect, designers, and builder.

    Speaking of the builder, communication on site during construction is especially important. There will always be questions that come up as 3D concepts are crafted into a fully realized addition. Steve and Lisa experienced this when the design called for a “Juliet” balcony off their master bedroom, and there was a question about how to safely and aesthetically integrate that into the existing structure.

    “Jon, the foreman walked us through the details of how that was going to work, how they would attach the balcony to the wall.” Steve remembers. “The way he described the details and his craftsmanship really put us at ease throughout the process.”

    Communication day-to-day is great, but you also want to keep a global perspective on how the project is progressing.

    ”Kevin Gilday came every Wednesday, had a favorite rocking chair he sat in, and gave us a full update on what was happening and what was coming up.” Lisa says.

    Angle 3: Problem Solving

    Closely related to communication is problem solving. As issues arise, they need to be resolved to keep the project on track and keep the finished product as close to the original vision as possible. 

    In almost any renovation, problem solving means fixing issues left by the weekend DIY warriors and contractors that came before. On this project one such problem was ductwork that wasn’t up to code. In fact the ductwork was flexible, flammable material that was best fixed asap.

    There were also issues with the grading and the base layer (or lack thereof) of material supporting the concrete slab on the existing patio below the new porch. Steve expressed his concern:

    “You could see it was just dirt in there, so I was always worried that eventually that patio, over time, would sink and not be supported by anything.” Gilday underpinned the existing footings to ensure the structure would hold firm over time.

    End Results That Speak for Themselves

    The french doors of the Kristiansen/Robinson home now lead somewhere spectacular.

    “Lisa keeps talking about wanting to go to Nantucket. Well, I can enjoy this new porch all the time! We’ve got the woods, the pool in the backyard, a golf course, and walking/cycling path all nearby. And the porch is a great vantage point to take it all in.”


    When you undertake a major renovation, it is important that you feel heard and that the end result exceeds your expectations. With a design-build firm that covers all the angles, the result is that you will feel included in the process and confident that the best decisions were made each step of the way--in both the dreaming and design stage and later in the construction phase. That’s the kind of dedication that leads from french doors to nowhere to a space you can enjoy for years to come.

    To learn more about the design-build process, download our eBook titled "How Gilday Renovations Integrated Team Delivers the Home of Your Dreams" to get an in-depth understanding. If you are considering a home renovation, please feel free to schedule a home renovation discovery session with Gilday today.

    Gilday Renovations Integrated Team Delivers Home of Dreams

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