Tackling a remodeling project can be a stressful time. Your home is turned upside down along with everything else in your life. We've heard stories about contractors that would make midnight nightmares seem like pleasant day dreams.
But it doesn’t have to be that way if you make a plan to survive it all. Here are four keys to ensure that all goes well, whether it is tearing out a powder bath or something much bigger like adding additional rooms to the house.
• First things first. You can't start too soon. If you want your project to go well, the best thing to do is make every single decision on paper before the work begins. It seems like a lot of work but skipping this step and you could be reaching deeper in your pocket during the course of the project. Keep in mind that a lot of elements interact with one another and by putting them together on paper, you are much more likely to catch any problems before they are created.
Need ideas? Create a clipping folder of all the neat stuff you've seen. Head out to model homes to see what builders and design-stagers are creating. But forget about watching HG-TV. Those are reality-shows, in our humble opinion, and don't truly reflect the real nature of remodeling, architecture and design.
And if you still don’t have a clue what you want or how to get the look you desire, you reall should hire a design professional up front. They can save both time and money and avoid many stressful situations. And it is important to tell them as much as you can so that they can create a master plan that matches your style preferences and budget. With a plan that will help control costs even before the project begins, you will be able to survive the process much easier.
• The second key: Don’t change your mind (too much.) Even though it’s inevitable that you will change your mind on some things once the project gets started, know this: Every change you make - even the minor ones - can create a domino effect on other elements in the space.
Plus changes have a way of quickly getting out of hand due to added costs and time delays - even if it is only the time spent discussing the change. Plot and plan ahead of time. ( See The First Key ! )
• The third key: Don’t over do it. Replacing that tired kitchen with new cabinets and counters may increase the value of your real estate, but only if you plan to live in the home for at least 3 to 5 years. As with any investment, the longer you hold onto it, the lower the risk and the bigger the returns.
• Finally, the fourth key: Watch what you spend. Investigate what homes have recently sold for along your street that may have had similar work recently completed. Then use that data as a guideline on what to budget for your project. It doesn't make dollars and sense if you over-design and over-spend for the neighborhood. Keep in mind that creating great curb appeal may increase your home's perceived value but also give you pride in where you live and how you enjoy your corner of the world.
And that alone is worth any investment in a remodeling project.
In a recently completed renovation of a small master bathroom in a Palm Desert, CA residence, the client was asked what was ultimately important about the design of this space. She said, "It is all about the quality of life."
As the designers, we believe it is also about "comfort, convenience, security and safety."
What may be surprising about those four words is that many would think that interior designers primarily consider what it will look like. But great design is first about the function of the space. Finishes, colors and styles that are incorporated into the design follow behind.
And for this client, it was also time for a change. Her inspiration? A cruise where the bathroom was small but bright, functional and efficient. Once she got back home, she realized her existing bathroom, one with a very tiny shower, inadequate cabinetry and poor lighting was ready for a total makeover.
And with an eye to detail, we created a plan that enlarged the shower, added new multi-level cabinetry and increased the quantity and the quality of the lighting. But what we also accomplished was to apply "aging-in-place" design principles. Now the space is comfortable and convenient but also adds a layer of security and safety.
The multi-level manmade quartz counters provide a surface that is easy to clean while the cabinetry gives the opportunity to be seated if needed. There is a variety of lighting sources, both above and around the cabinets, making it easy to "put her face on."
Another attention to detail: the slightly over scaled handles make it easy to open both drawers and doors but this client loves the self-closing mechanisms that gently glide the door + drawer operations.
Since a larger shower was high on the client's list, we determined that the shower's existing location just wouldn't provide the opportunity to make it larger and more functional.
So we moved it from one wall to another.
Then the fun began. We designed this shower to have a dramatic feature wall that would be seen from all around the bathroom. We had the richly colored slate material sealed to bring out the colors but also reduce the water penetration into the natural stone.
Access to the shower is thru an entry around a glass block wall. But two things are missing from this shower: a shower door and a shower curb so there is no glass to clean and no curb to stumble over.
Small textured tiles on the floor enhance the safety when standing in the shower and help the shower to drain thru a trough-style drain. We like the bright sparkle of the balance bar, a nice contrast against the slate. And the client found a great teak bench that compliments the design.
As designers, we often hear that aging in place is only for old people or for someone who is disabled. Often the concern is really about the appearance. And as these pictures clearly indicate, it does not have to look "institutional" at all.
This freshly updated bathroom certainly provides our client with comfort and convenience she was looking for. And it adds a high level of safety and security that we all can use in the most dangerous room in our homes.
Oh,....by the way, she also says likes the way it looks and the quality of life the space provides. Awesome. Guess we did our job. ;-)
We are very frequently asked about what people should do to their homes.
Standard question. But the standard answer is: It Depends.
We ask: What are the objectives? Make it more comfortable? Update the Kitchen? Add a room?
But one thing that should be considered is the projects that return the greatest return on the dollars spent to do the job. There are many surveys that offer advice but the one that, for us, seems to have the greatest value is the annual survey from Remodeling Magazine.
in the Instant Index below, check out the projects that increased the value of the real estate. We think there are some surprises. The first on the list is replacing a garage door,... after all a home buyer is certainly going to be interested in that... particularly if the garage is on the front side of the home. They will want to make sure it works but also makes a strong statement that works well with the rest of the facade.
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover But You Can Dress It Up And Make It Look Better With A Little Work.
In 1946 the phrase "You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover" first appeared in the murder mystery novel Murder in the Glass Room (by Edwin Rolfe and Lester Fuller). It is also a well known English idiom which means "you shouldn't prejudge the work of value of something by how it looks." But since you only get one opportunity for a first impression, if you are planning to place your real estate on the market, it is wise to make a strong first impression.
So here are three quick, easy and uncomplicated ideas about how to make the most of that first impression starting right at the curb.
(1) The front facing side of a home is one of easiest, quickest ways to communicate the right impression. While the exterior of your home may be painted in a quiet, perhaps conservative color or stuccoed with some boring beige material, the main door or the garage is a place to have a little more fun by adding a contrasting color, perhaps even a bright pop of color that will lift your home’s main color and increase that curb appeal. And if you don't like it... it's something fairly easy to change.
So just get to the paint store and pick out a few colors. Many paint departments will have very small vials that you can buy for less the $5.00. BUT if you are still unsure...don't put the color just yet. Paint a good size piece of cardboard, place it up against the door and then get to the curb and look back. Does it pop? Does it communicate who you are and what you like?
(2) Add some planters, flower boxes, hanging baskets or just re-do your main garden around the front of the place using one or two overscaled plantings to create a feature. Adding such items is like adding accessories. Choose items that require little or no maintenance and will stand up to the elements if you don't have that green thumb. And...Try for one theme or color. For instance, in the desert, look to the color of cactus as a theme. Then use that same green in pottery or planters to provide continuity. Shutters painted a deep Saguaro color will always be a classic color that few would grow tried of. Perhaps add dark green recycled glass as mulch, something then that you will not have to replace anytime soon. And by the way... a deeper green is a color that has greater appeal to those with higher incomes. Think of green marble for instance,... in a bank or law office. That same green marble would be silly looking in a Target. Besides... it might clash with that Red Target bullseye logo.
(3) Finally, look at your exterior lighting. I have found the scale of many exterior light fixtures to be just wrong. Recently in a walk by a contemporary home near where I live, there were these great stone faced columns at the fornt of the house.... about 24" square and 5 feet tall. On top was this silly looking colonial light fixture that was no bigger than a child's shoe box. And at night, it was illuminated with only a 40 watt light bulb. What a waste of design, money and energy. Changing to something appropriate to the size and scale of the columns would have meant just going to a local lighting store, even a Home Depot and buying one to try out before calling the electrician. So keep in mind that lighting style, output and size are the important criteria for choosing the right fixture and increasing curb appeal.
Michael is an award winning interior designer based in Palm Springs, CA. He is a Professional Member of the American Society of Interior Designers and a member of the ASID College of Fellows.
As a Certified Aging In Place Specialist, he creates smart looking spaces that are safe and secure and create homes for a lifetime.
And with thirty plus years in the profession, he has honed his humor, elevated his passion for design and sharpened his wit to not take anything too seriously except his design work.