Mission Possible

Incorporating the homeowners' favorite design style was just one of the goals of this award-winning remodel

Mission Possible

Katherine MacNeil’s award-winning design opened up
the existing cramped kitchen, incorporating it with the
dining space and family room. 

When Caroline Rapking and her husband, David Hemingson, bought their home overlooking Lake Audubon in Reston, Virginia, in 2004, they hadn’t planned on such extensive renovations. But after just three years in their house, the couple felt it was time to either upgrade or move. “We were trying to decide whether to buy another home with a more modern kitchen and bathrooms,” says Rapking. “But we loved Reston, especially being here on the lake. This home feels like a vacation, so we decided to stay and make it the home we wanted to live in for the next 10 years.”

Designer Katherine MacNeil of Burke, Virginia-based Sun Design Remodeling Specialists, Inc., recalls the major goals of the lakefront project. “This was the typical Northern Virginia two-story colonial,” she says, “so we really wanted to open up the floor plan and take advantage of the drop-dead-gorgeous lake views.” The project recently garnered two 2007 Contractor of the Year awards: one for residential kitchens between $100,000 and $150,000 and one for creative solutions under $15,000. The project also included a basement makeover.

Because of Chesapeake Bay watershed restrictions, adding square footage onto the home was not an option; MacNeil was limited to reconfiguring the existing space. Prior to the remodel, the kitchen was surrounded with walls, separating it from both the family room and dining area. After tearing down the dry-walled dividers, making it now one large space, MacNeil also replaced 28 feet of the rear exterior wall with a sun wall—floor-to-ceiling tempered, insulated glass panels framed with solid cedar. “Before, the only view to the lake was a six-foot patio door and a bay window,” says MacNeil. “Now you can see the lake as soon as you come in the front door.”

The open floor plan also complements the way in which Rapking and Hemingson live in the home. “We have very large families and many friends who like to visit, and we both have jobs for which we do a lot of entertaining,” says Rapking, who is an information-technology consultant for Fairfax-based CGI. Hemingson holds a similar position with BearingPoint in McLean, Virginia. “When we have guests over now, we can all enjoy and be near each other while I’m preparing dinner.”

And Rapking loves to cook. “It’s my relaxing hobby,” she says, “so I wanted someplace where I could have my gadgets, all of the high-end appliances and a functional layout.” Indeed, the updated kitchen boasts a 48-inch Wolf cooktop, a Sub-Zero refrigerator, double convection wall ovens, a warming drawer and an integrated dishwasher hidden behind a decorative panel. There’s even a separate coffee bar with a small sink and a 15-inch beverage refrigerator.

The home’s overall design style was inspired by the extensive collection of Mission-style furniture the pair had collected over the years. “One of my goals for the project was to take what they had and make a framework to complement the way they lived,” says MacNeil. In the adjoining family room, the fireplace’s neutral brick surround was replaced with 12-by-24-inch Italian porcelain tiles that resemble textured oxidized steel. An earthy color palette consisting of a brownish-leather hue on the walls and ivory on the ceiling “creates an envelope of warmth,” she says.

Although Rapking’s favorite part of the remodel is her new kitchen, David Hemingson is most pleased with the unexpected transformation of an unfinished space over their garage. The previously gloomy room is now a home office complete with powder room, file cabinets built into the eaves and plenty of recessed lighting. But it is perhaps the added natural light that makes the space so inviting. MacNeil added a large window on the rear wall, as well as skylights with motorized sunshades to reduce glare.

After updating their typical lakefront colonial to a contemporary space with a Mission-style twist, Rapking and Hemingson won’t be packing up and moving out any time soon. “There is no question in my mind we will be in this house for the next 10 years,” Rapking says. “Maybe even a little longer.”

Writer Kelli Rosen is based in Monkton, Maryland. Photographer Greg Hadley is based in Fairfax, Virginia.

A 28-foot wall of windows in the adjacent family room
overlooks Reston’s Lake Audubon.

On the lower level, MacNeil created a bar and seating
areas where her clients could spend time with family
and friends.

MacNeil also made creative use of space in what was
an unfinished room above the garage. The previously
gloomy room is now a home office complete with file
cabinets built into the eaves and plenty of recessed and
natural light.