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Irish Bar Meets Ritz Carlton

Lower Level Solution Is Category Best in 11 States

Author John Gilstrap had waited long enough for a “destination place” in the lower level of his 5,500 square foot duplex in Fairfax. Gilstrap, who writes the best-selling John Graves novels, had purchased the home 11 years ago and promptly “finished it”– as a place where his son could shoot pool with friends.


Fast forward a few years; the son has graduated from college and moved into a place of his own. Seizing the day, Gilstrap and wife Joy decide it’s now their turn. Main goal: covert the lower level into a family entertainment suite that conveys something of his Irish heritage, her interest in art.


It all begins with a detailed program. As Gilstrap explained to his chosen remodeler, he wanted an intriguing mix of interior design values. “Irish Bar Meets Ritz Carlton,” as he described it.


Of course, it’s not always clear what a remodeler understands about a homeowner’s “wish list”, but Michael Nash Design Build and Homes not only embraced Gilstrap’s vision, but ran with it– demonstrating considerable creative aplomb along the way.


“I had actually interviewed several remodelers,” Gilstrap recalls, “and they mostly tried to tell me what I wanted. By contrast, the Michael Nash people listened. It was an inspired collaboration from the start.”

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Best Basement Over $100,000
John Gilstrap described his vision for his home’s lower level as “Irish Bar Meets Ritz Carlton”. The spacious family entertainment suite includes a TV-viewing zone with a hearth and an impeccably finished full-service bar.

Also, not to be overlooked, the result is exceptional– by definition, In fact, the makeover recently garnered a regional (11 state) “Contractor of the Year” (COTY) Grand award for best “basement above $100,000.00” from the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) The award is one of five regional COTY grands presented to Michael Nash this year.


In accepting the prize, company founder and president Sonny Nazemian praised his company’s talent pool, and its well-practiced cost controls:


“We use a turn-key business model and can offer fixed price contracts because most of the work is executed by Michael Nash employees,” the remodeler observes. “Since the COTY highlights remodeling solutions that outperform the limits of the budget, we’re usually well-positioned to offer better prices.”


For John and Joy Gilstrap, though, the deeper satisfaction is in the beautifully articulated entertainment space with its many well-defined, cleverly-integrated activity zones, to wit:

  • a full-service bar perfectly replicates the signature component of a classic Irish pub. With its dark cherry cabinets, rain forest quartzite countertop, brass foot railings and hammer copper sink, the plan accommodates a microwave, a refrigerator, an icemaker and a dishwasher. Leather and mahogany stools provide comfortable counter access. Underfoot, distressed wide-plank, wood-grained porcelain tile reinforces the old world ambiance. Overhead, a tray ceiling festooned with copper tile paneling and LED lights brings the gathering spot into bold relief;
  • nearby, an electronic entertainment center set off by a ledgestone-wrapped fireplace topped by a 50” plasma TV embedded in a newly-wired AV cabinet; 
  • a new archway with bench differentiates the foyer within an otherwise open floor plan; the re-designed staircase features wrought-iron spindles and cherry-stained handrails;
  • a fieldstone wall just inside the archway provides an appropriate backdrop for an English poker table; the textured wall motif is developed further around the fireplace;
  • the new guest bathroom boasts a walk-in shower with a tumbled marble surround; there’s also a custom-made hammered copper vessel sink over a distressed ebony vanity.
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Inside Bar
A rain forest quartzite counter surface, dark cherry cabinets, and wood-grained porcelain tile reinforce the bars old world ambiance

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Entertainment Zone
A ledgestone-wrapped fireplace topped by a 50″ plasma TV provides a cozy spot for electronic entertainment. The Gilstraps use the space daily.

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Fieldstone Wall, Poker Table
A fieldstone wall just inside the archway provides an appropriate backdrop for an English poker table.

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Guest Bathroom
A new guest bathroom boasts a walk-in shower with a tumbled marblee surround; there’s also a custom-made hammered copper vessel sink over a distressed ebony vanity.

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Home Additions: Patricia Meder, Annandale, VA ---

“I would say, over the years we’ve hired Michael Nash anyway 15 different projects …”

Kitchen Remodeling: Jay and Gretchen MacMillan, Potomac Falls, VA ---

“… It was very scary, but overall it’s a very pleasant project for us” “I think it’s just like working with peers, they’re very nice and very open …”

Bathroom Remodeling: Cheryl Ann and John Helmick, Centerville, VA ---

“Oh they were fantastic (Michael Nash) … They came into the house and did everything …” “They were professional at all times …”

Home Additions

Patricia Meder, Annandele, VA

Kitchen Remodeling

Jay and Gretchen Mcmillan, Potomac Falls, VA

Bathroom Remodeling

Cheryl Ann and John Helmick, Centerville, VA

Michael Nash Design, Build & Homes
8630A Lee Hwy, Fairfax, VA 22031, USA

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