Our Home Remodeling Design Team
Kim James, Design Team Manager
Kim joined Sun Design in 2014 after a diverse career in sales, marketing and education. She is also a former NFL cheerleader, a motivational speaker and author. As design team manager, she is responsible for coordinating the company’s design process to keep projects on schedule and help communicate client needs to the design team. Before joining Sun Design, Kim was director of sales for Capital Yacht Charters in Washington, D.C. where she handled private charters and public ticketed events and trained and supervised the sales staff. She is founder and former president of the Dream in Color Foundation where she handled scholarships, proposal writing, fundraising and supervision of staff. She was assistant director of Grasshopper Green School in Annandale, VA, a theater arts teacher, a varsity dance team director and a life coach. Kim earned a BA in speech communication and theater arts with honors from Hampton University in Hampton, VA, and participated in the extended studies program in secondary education at George Mason University.
She chose to join Sun Design because, “As the design team manager who does not come from a design/build background, this role allows me to utilize my life coaching background to build relationships with the Sun Design team; doing my part in nurturing a work culture that inspires creativity and stimulates “Next Level Thinking”. I also consider it an honor to be a part of a team that exemplifies the qualities that I most value in my personal life “Truth, Fun and Charity!”
She adds, “I am a former dancer and NFL Cheerleader. I’m too old for that now, but once good music starts playing, I find it hard to sit still! I don’t get to do it nearly enough.”
Lead Designers are accountable to the Design Team Manager for interpreting and fulfilling the design vision of our client and working cooperatively with both our sales and production teams to ensure that vision is accomplished from concept to completion. A Lead Designer is to obtain complete understanding of the scope of work, budget, design concept and clients’ expectations. Additional responsibilities include coordination and management of comprehensive project schedules within design, between departments and with our client. The purpose of these meetings are to brainstorm and design preliminary sketches for discussion to ultimately get to refinement of the design concept, preparation of plans, elevations and renderings as necessary for presentation to our client.
Jon Benson, Designer
Jon joined Sun Design in 2012 and has spent 21 years in the remodeling and construction industry. Before joining Sun Design, he was a kitchen and bath designer for The Kitchen Guild where he was in sales, design and project management. He was the company’s top designer in sales volume. Before that, Jon had his own kitchen design and construction firm – Benson Fine Woodcrafting – and sold kitchens and built-in cabinets directly to homeowners.
At Sun Design he is responsible for presenting innovative designs that exceed our clients’ expectations, but also staying current on industry trends, building codes, products, and practices. Jon is a recognized expert in woodworking – the author of a book called Transforming Your Kitchen with Stock Cabinetry: Design, Select and Install for a Custom Look at the Right Price, and two other books on woodworking. He has published dozens of magazine articles on woodworking and conducted woodworking seminars as well as college courses throughout the country. Jon has won six design awards. He has a Master’s of Fine Arts Degree in Furniture Design from Rhode Island School of Design and a Bachelor of Arts in Art and Design from Iowa State University.
He says, “When I was looking around for a new position, I started by looking at companies that I would want to work for rather than just looking for openings. I came across Sun Design and I was impressed with the projects that were on the website. The ‘Best Companies to Work For in Virginia’ award was also very important. As I learned more about the position it seemed like a great opportunity for me to utilize my skills and continue to grow and do interesting work.”
In his spare time, Jon is still an avid woodworker. “I have a shop at my home where I build furniture and wood sculpture in my spare time. I also continue to do some writing and teaching related to woodworking and furniture design and I enjoy spending time with my wife and two daughters.”
Ericka Williams, Designer
Ericka joined Sun Design in 2015, bringing almost a decade’s worth of experience in residential design and remodeling from her personal design business – G. Street Interiors, Inc.
A graduate of the Art Institute of Ft. Lauderdale’s School of Interior Design, Ericka excels in space planning and problem solving, helping clients design spaces that accommodate their lifestyle needs with the goal of exceeding their expectations.
She says, “I was attracted to Sun Design primarily because when asked, employees’ comments about the company’s culture were consistently positive, and also because I love renovation and remodeling – taking what’s existing and creating a completely new, beautiful and functional space.”
She adds, “When I’m not designing, I enjoy exercising, wine tastings, and spending time with my cool kids.”
Katie Bryan, Designer
Katie joined Sun Design in 2014, bringing over a decade of experience in the Interior Design industry. She is accomplished at recognizing her client’s vision, and prides herself in her ability to deliver innovative, creative design solutions. Inspired by her background in fine arts, Katie enjoys crafting eclectic, collected interior spaces with an emphasis on architectural form, color, and detailing. Katie received her BFA in Interior Design from the Art Institute of Washington. She is an active member of the Washington, DC Chapter of ASID, and also received the Washingtonian Award for Leadership in multiple community volunteer design projects.
Katie says, “I have been working in the remodeling industry since I was a teenager and I have heard nothing but great things about Sun Design! I am so lucky to be a part of a team that works hard, plays hard, values integrity and treats each other like family.”
You can usually find Katie out meeting new people at networking events, trying out a new brunch spot, or at the gym lifting very heavy things.
Chris Donaghy, Designer
Chris brings to Sun Design 24 years of upscale kitchen and bath experience. Earning his MBA from James Madison University, Chris specializes in both commercial and residential remodeling and stays current on the latest trends, particularly for the innovative cooks of the home. Chris has appeared on numerous segments of HGTV and is quoted regularly in newspapers and design/home magazines such as The Washington Post and Kitchen and Bath Design News.
As a Designer Chris works with clients to understand the scope of their project, their design ideas, and budget expectations. He prepares visual aids for review with the client, helping refine their design concept for their desired objectives and ultimately construction plan sets for the project to be built from.
“It is a dream to come to work each day knowing I work with such supportive people, and we all serve as sounding boards for each other.” Chris says. “The most important thing I heard during my discussions with Sun was “we strive for life balance.” That is a rare thing to hear in the construction industry and is a balm to my soul.”
Chris and his family have found a haven of “the quiet wild” along the Potomac River in Mason Neck. He enjoys kayaking, golf, skiing of all types, reading, cooking, and supporting his community outside of work.
Maggie Wills, Designer
Maggie joined Sun Design in 2013 as a Design Intern and quickly has moved up the ladder as a Lead Designer. She has been a part of multiple award-winning projects that vary from interior remodeling projects to outdoor living spaces. Prior to coming on board, Maggie was a junior designer for Houseworks Interiors in Alexandria, VA as well as JR Design Coordinates in Pennsylvania. Maggie received her Master of Interior Architecture & Interior Design from Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA, earned her LEED Green Associates certification, is NCIDQ certified and studied abroad in London, England.
Maggie says, “What really drew me to Sun Design was the team approach. At the end of the day, the client really is getting exposed to a lot of expertise from so many talents within our staff, it is extremely gratifying to know that I am a part of it.”
Maggie loves to bake, and her office mates loves that she loves to bake.
Morgan Arehart, Designer
Morgan joined Sun Design in 2014 as a Specialty Designer and since then has been promoted to a Lead Designer, participating in 8 award-winning projects. Prior to joining the Sun Design team, Morgan was an intern at Margaret Carter Interiors working as a Design Assistant. Morgan attended Florida State University where she received a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree. While in school Morgan was on the Dean’s List and she was a student member of a number of Interior Design Student Organization.
Morgan says, “I enjoy working at Sun Design because of their loyalty to customer satisfaction. We exist for the customer, and at the end of the day, the quality of what we produced is measured by their satisfaction. This has always been highly important to me, and it’s great to be a part of a company that thinks so too.”
Being new to the area, she enjoys exploring DC, Northern Virginia and Maryland. Trying new restaurants, visiting museums, and discovering new towns have been joyful adventures. In her spare time Morgan likes spending time with friends around the pool or catching up on a good TV show.
Christine Done, Designer
Christine came to Sun Design in July of 2019, following her years designing at multiple architecture firms across the nation, from Rochester, NY to Laguna Hills, CA. Most recently, she was the Lead Architectural Designer at Melton Design Build, in Colorado. Her unique skills and experience as an architectural designer allow Christine to support our clients while they define their home remodeling goals. She maintains each client’s project schedules while in the design phase, and brainstorms ideas with them based on her drawings and concepts. As a Lead Designer, one of Christine’s top priorities is to remain within the client’s scope and budget throughout every phase of the remodel, while also creating a space unique to them.
When asked about her role at Sun Design, Christine said: “I just love helping people’s dreams come true.”
Christine attended Golden West College, where she was certified in Architectural Technology. She was also a student at the Construction Specifications Institute and left with her certification in Construction Documents Technology. She enjoys creating opportunities for fun around the studio and is always there for her Sun family with a pie and a smile. In her spare time, Christine loves to cook, read, and spend time with her husband.
Specialty Designers are responsible for working closely with clients, guiding them through the selections process. Working with the Lead Designers, vendors and Design Consultants, the Specialty Designer makes sure that all finishes and fixtures adhere to the design program, budget and project time frame. They also oversee the design studios, keeping all samples and product information up to date and organized. In addition, Specialty Designers create design boards and other visual tools that help clients understand and visualize all of the elements of their remodel before a project begins.
Jenny Maceira, Interior Designer
Jenny joined Sun Design in 2016 and works with us as an Interior Designer. She has over seven years of experience working closely with people in Northern Virginia and DC, to make their dream homes a reality. Her projects include everything from a small kitchen pull and replace, to a whole house remodel with multilevel additions; all the while improving the function of the space and adding value to each home. Jenny seeks to understand each of our client’s unique tastes and styles to come up with design solutions that fit their individual needs. She does this by working very closely with our client’s, using patience and a trained sense of space, to steer them toward the selections that are consistent with their vision.
Prior to joining the Sun Design team, Jenny served as a Design Assistant at Bartolomei & Company, an Interior Design firm in Georgetown. She received her Associates in Interior Design from Northern Virginia Community College, making design her second successful life-career. As well, she has been an instrumental team member on several of Sun Design’s award-wining projects. Outside of work, Jenny enjoys restoring furniture, acrylic painting, and spending time with family and friends.
When asked why she chose Sun Design Jenny said, “Sun Design is my work family. Every unique personality here adds to the joy and pride that I have in my job. The atmosphere here is one of fun, mixed with professionalism and integrity. For these reasons, my desire to go above and beyond starts with the clients and carries over to my fellow Sun Design employees.”
Julia Ripple, Interior Designer
Julia began working for Sun Design in the summer of 2019 as one of our Interior Designers. Her role involves working closely with our clients to help them choose their final selections, specifically within their kitchen and bathroom remodels. Her trained eye for detail and aesthetic makes Julia an essential part of the design process. Our clients are given the full-service treatment and are always assisted in these decisions that range from which walls to tear down, to selecting the finishing details!
Julia brings with her to Sun Design over four years of experience as an Interior Designer. She worked with Daltile Design Studio and Bath Plus Kitchen as a Design Consultant, and earned her Bachelor of Science in Interior Design from the Indiana University of Pennsylvania. When asked why she chose Sun Design, Julia said, “Sun Design offers a sense of community and teamwork, knowing that the company is filled with genuine people who want you to succeed. The projects excite me and challenge me to be a better designer and progress my personal growth.”
Julia says that honesty, hard work, self-growth, and teamwork are the values that drive her to be successful and give our clients the best she has to offer! During her time at Daltile, Julia was able to build a home with Habitat for Humanity, which she also found to be very rewarding work. In her free time, Julia enjoys going hiking with her husband and their dog Buddy, as well as checking out the local cuisine and working on her DIY projects at home.
Nicolette Drescher, Design Associate
Nicolette joined the Sun Design team in January of 2018, as a Design Associate, where she supports our Design Team in their work by making sure everything is running smoothly behind the scenes. Nicolette’s role is to provide effective assistance with presentations of residential design concepts, while incorporating each client’s requirements, to exceed their very own remodeling objectives. Further, Nicolette organizes, prepares, distributes and files materials and data to help establish and maintain efficient communication within the design department. Nicolette’s ability to multi-task seamlessly creates an ease throughout the Design Team to make sure that everyone has what they need; therefore, guaranteeing client satisfaction!
Nicolette has a degree from Virginia Tech in the field of Residential Environments and Design, which is an accredited program with the NKBA. She holds integrity, honesty, and respect to be the driving values that she seeks to utilize every day at Sun Design.
“I chose Sun Design for multiple reasons. One being that I saw the opportunity for professional growth in the field of design; they encourage their employees to never stop growing and continuing to learn. Another reason was because they are a family-oriented company, and by that I mean, there are many events which feel like family events such as: happy hours, picnics, parties, etc. These allow us to connect and bond outside of the workplace. I also wanted to be closer to home, which this allowed me to do.”
In her spare time, Nicolette loves to play soccer, and enjoys spending quality time with her husband, son, and dog.
Yesica Suarez-Arora, Interior Design Associate
Yesica joined the Sun Design family in June of 2020. Her role involves working with our designers to order finishes and fixtures and put together design presentations to share with each client. She listens to the client’s needs and desires, utilizes her expertise in interior architecture to come up with palettes and space planning solutions for each unique home, and then tailors our selections to meet their home remodeling vision. As such, she develops close relationships with our client’s, while working with them. Our clients are given the full-service treatment and are supported in every decision.
Yesica earned her BA in Operations Management from GMU and Masters in Fine Arts in Interior Architecture from GW. When asked why she chose to bring her talents to Sun Design, she said “the people. When I was looking for job opportunities, Sun Design had a YouTube link to an employee video that sealed the deal for me. After seeing how close and team oriented everyone is, I knew I wanted to be part of a work family like Sun Design’s.”
In her spare time Yesica enjoys playing with her dog and spending time with family and friends. She also loves to practice her sketching skills, play any racket sport, and travel around the world to seek inspiration from new places.
As a CAD Designer their goal is to achieve or surpass the target to begin design production, which includes checking drawings for accuracy, consistency and clarity. The CAD Design Department is accountable to the Design Team Manager for supporting the Lead Designers in assisting in due diligence and documentation of all existing conditions through site measure and preparation of as-built drawings. This includes preparing plans for RFP (request for pricing), Trades Walk, Estimate Review, and Contract and Permit submission. In addition, the CAD Design Department continually improves and maintains Sun Design drawing standards.
Phil Bentley, Senior Structural CAD Designer
Phil joined Sun Design in 2017 as a CAD Designer and brings with him over 15 years of experience designing high end residential remodeling projects. He uses his structural and architectural knowledge to create detailed 3D renderings that we can use in multiple different ways. He takes time to understand each of our client’s visions and then brings them to life.
Phil received his Master’s in Architecture from Tulane University, where his drive and passion for architecture truly started. He sees each and every project as if they were his own home, and said, “each home is a spiritual space for someone and therefore I try to approach each project as if I am working on something sacrosanct.” At Sun Design, Phil specializes in the more detailed aspects of remodeling by combining creative solutions for your home through 3D renderings and plan sets.
Phil says, “I create an instruction manual to execute the dream.” In his spare time Phil enjoys travelling, running and yoga.
Rafael Espinosa, Senior Structural CAD Designer
Rafael became a team member at Sun Design in 2018, as our Senior CAD Designer. While creating the renderings, Rafael is performing thorough due diligence, and uses creative methods to solve any problems that may pop up along the way. He ensures that every one of our projects is properly researched an explored so that there are no surprises when we begin construction on your home. He said of his work that, “Clients will have the most cost-effective project within their wishes and needs without sacrificing beauty and functionality.”
He brings with him a vast experience in almost every field of home remodeling. Having received his architectural license in Peru, he has since worked as a Project Manager, Designer, Consultant, and even a Carpenter, so he truly understands the ins and outs of every project. He believes that honesty is one of the core values that drives him to create each and every project and has been proud to see several of his designs featured in the Annapolis Newspaper.
In his spare time, Rafael loves to play and discover music, as well as sports, gardening, and spending time with his family and friends.
Joe Barnard, CAD Designer
Joe brings to Sun Design over twenty-seven years of experience in CAD design and over twenty years of experience in construction. His central focus has been on structural design and timber framing. Having said that, he is always looking for new creative work to expand his artsy side and professionally grow. Joe received his Bachelors in Mechanical Engineering from Pensacola Christian College.
“I like living spaces, and professionally helping others remodel theirs. Sun Design does an amazing job and has fun with it,” Joe says. “There’s a lot of compassion about our work, and it’s exciting to not only do my job but to learn new skills and contribute to a great team.”
Outside of work you can find Joe engaging in fitness and sports; anything from roller hockey to cycling.
Cat Davis, Design Coordinator
Cat came to work for Sun Design back in 2017 as our Design Coordinator where she efficiently collects and communicates the needs between each department and facilitates the seamless hand-off of every project as they move through our process from Sales, to Design, and lastly to Production. Cat ensures that every client’s unique needs and desires are available by maintaining accuracy and accountability within the Design department.
Cat brings with her 10 years of experience as a Master Carpenter for regional theater, and 5 years as an Estimator and Purchasing Agent for Building Automation Services. Her skills as a Carpenter and Purchasing Agent make her the ideal Design Coordinator for Sun Design, and verify that with every project we undertake our clients receive the best in quality and design. Cat said of Sun Design, “I love the family-oriented attitude and collaborative effort everyone puts into the final product.”
When she isn’t exceeding our clients’ needs, Cat enjoys camping, running, gardening, and renovating her house with her husband.
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