Originally dubbed “Providence” by the farmers who emigrated there in the early 18th century from southeast Virginia, the town of Fairfax still provides a heavenly slice of Americana for its 24,000 citizens. This northern Virginia city — located just 17 miles west of Washington, D.C. — has never abandoned its small-town roots despite becoming a suburb of the nation’s capital.
Fairfax is home to George Mason, the largest public university in the state, as well as charming neighborhoods and a walkable downtown. Put it all together, and it’s no wonder that the city is often found high on livability lists. In 2017, Fairfax was rated the ninth-best city in America to raise a family by WalletHub; that same year, GoodCall placed Fairfax on its “Best Cities for Seniors to Retire” list.
Those last two facts are especially important to the MacInnis family. Jack and Julia have lived in the Fairfax area for almost a decade with their two sons. Julia’s mom, Lita Clark, a widow, would often visit from her home in nearby Alexandria. But Julia wanted her mom closer, so she and Jack decided to build an addition to the home for her, one that would give Clark a separate living area.
“They wanted to give her some space,” said Craig Durosko, founder and chairman of Sun Design Remodeling Specialists, Inc., whose company designed and built the addition. “We wanted to stay away from common in-law suite traps.”
Toward that end, Sun Design built a three-room addition. There are 12 vinyl windows, and all of them are products of Pennsylvania-based MI Windows and Doors, one of the largest manufacturers of windows and sliding glass doors in the country.
“We use MI Windows in renovations all the time,” Durosko said. “The low-E argon glass, the construction warranty, and the low maintenance make MI Windows ideal for construction professionals and homeowners alike.”
In all, there are four awning windows, three double-hung windows — two twins and a triple — and one architecturally designed picture window for the bathroom.
“In the bathroom, we wanted to allow natural light to enter the space without sacrificing privacy,” said John Benedetto, the lead designer on the addition for Sun Design. “We used obscure glass to ensure privacy.”
MI’s obscure glass is achieved when a pattern is pressed into the glass during production. Ideal for a bathroom, obscure glass works to allow natural light into a space while still protecting privacy. It can also help to diffuse glare in a direct sunlight setting.
“And the vinyl construction eliminated any worry of water damage,” Benedetto added, “being that the window was installed in such close proximity to the shower.”
All of the double-hung windows are from MI’s 1556 line. The 1556 vinyl double-hung offers crafted features that provide exceptional durability, energy efficiency, and ease of installation. Featuring a stylish beveled exterior profile, true-sloped sill, and tilt-in sashes, the 1556 delivers enhanced curb appeal for any renovation project or newly built home.
Available in dual- or triple-pane glass and with over a dozen color options, including painted exteriors, the 1556 is one of MI’s top-selling products. Its Duralite® warm-edge spacer system also ensures comfortable temperatures inside the home regardless of the season. For added peace of mind, almost all of MI’s products are ENERGY STAR®-qualified.
“The windows’ high-energy efficiency ratings and low-maintenance material were attractive features,” Benedetto said.
In addition to the double-hung windows, Clark’s in-law suite has four of MI’s 9660 awning windows. Boasting beveled exterior edges and multi-point locking hardware, the 9660 awning windows have energy-efficient features, including triple-point weatherstripping, double-pane insulating glass, and a multi-chambered mainframe. The design offers a large viewing area with clean, continuous lines for unobstructed views and the unique outward hinge allows fresh air in, even on rainy days.
“The windows look awesome,” Durosko said. “The whole addition ties in with the rest of the house, and I think she’s really happy with it too.”
Although she recently turned 84, Clark is still very active. She wanted to be close to her daughter, son-in-law, and two grandsons. But having some personal space was also important. The floor plan created by Sun Design ensures that Clark has her independence — she can even control the temperature in the addition. In total, the in-law suite has a bedroom with a walk-in closet, a bathroom, and a living room that also has a small kitchenette.
“It gives her independent space,” Durosko said, “but she can also hang out with the family and the grandkids.”
“She’s very independent,” Julia MacInnis added. “She goes out every day. She’s very healthy.”
The suite is only 580 square feet, but the number of windows helps add to the feel of an apartment that’s set apart from the main house.
“In the bedroom, we were able to get windows on all three sides, which was awesome,” Durosko said. “It doesn’t feel like you’re in a basement or anything like that. It’s really about being able to bring the natural light in and give her some privacy.”
The MacInnis home is located on a wooded lot that allows plenty of privacy. One wall in the addition does face the neighbors, but Sun Design made sure that that wouldn’t be an issue.
“They did the awning windows above her bed, so it’s still private,” Julia MacInnis said. “She’s super happy with it; she gets teary when she talks about it. She loves the space and the light and she loves the privacy: The space is absolutely incredible.”
The National Association of the Remodeling Industry seems to agree: Sun Design was honored with a Contractor of the Year (CotY) award due to its work on the MacInnis home.
Although they were just looking for a nice in-law suite when the project began, the MacInnis family is glad to see that their addition is being honored.
“I called Mom immediately when I heard about the (CotY) award,” Julia MacInnis said. “We were just thrilled, of course. We were delighted.”