Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Remodel and Live to Tell About It! (Part 1 of 3)

"Home Remodeling"....the very words strike fear into the hearts of many. With planning, research and a good team, the process can be almost painless.

Not only do I help my clients with their remodels, I just finished one on my own home. I have previously built two homes, but a remodel is a whole different animal. You need to have a good relationship with your contractor and his crew, because as you stagger bleary-eyed to the breakfast table at 7am with your morning coffee, they will be the first faces you see. They won't live with you, but it will feel like they do!

The first step in a remodel is deciding what your house is lacking that a remodel can fix. Just want a facelift? More space for a growing family? Fixing up to sell? Make a list. I'm big on lists! Then decide what your priorities are - what is a "must have" and what are the extras that are not a necessity, but would be nice to have.

Next up is the budget. Decide what you can realistically spend either through savings or financing. Call several banks and get some preliminary rates. What would make the most sense for you? An equity loan? Line of credit? Construction loan? Your banker can explain your options.

Now comes the best part - finding a contractor! The best advice I can give is to GET RECOMMENDATIONS!! Talk to anyone you know who's done a remodel and find out what they liked and didn't like about their contractor. Call your Better Business Bureau to see if any complaints have been lodged against them. Ask your interior designer if you already have one. Interview several contractors and get preliminary estimates - what is included in the price (materials and labor), time frame for starting and completion of the project and time frame for disbursing of funds. If he wants all his money up front - RUN!!

Don't pick a contractor solely on price. Are they open to your ideas? Can you communicate effectively with each other? Did the contractor promptly return your phone call? (My biggest pet peeve!) If you have trouble now, it won't get any better during the process. Pick the contractor you "click" with. Our contractor, Mike, called a few minutes before our initial appointment to say he'd be ten minutes late. That one phone call earned him a lot of points!

To Be Continued.....

"It's not about the destination. It's about the journey. Enjoy the ride!"

Friday, June 11, 2010

Lighten Up!

Sunshine! Warm Weather! The grass is growing. The flowers are blooming. Our gardens are planted. But our homes still bear the last remnants of winter.

We don't wear heavy sweaters in the summer....neither should your home! Change out those heavy, dark winter throw pillows and replace them with light colored, floral or geometric shapes. If your curtains are made of a heavy material, replace them with cotton, linen or sheer fabric. You can even do the same for the bedspreads and duvets. Lighten up the fabrics and the room will feel cooler.

Bring the outside in! But do it with a twist! Instead of the usual cut flowers for centerpieces, make a planter using herbs! We all love the look and fragrance of cut flowers, but a pot of herbs will do that and more! Chives have beautiful lavender colored flowers. Basil grows tall and bushy and has a wonderful aroma. Parsley looks beautiful when planted in an urn or ceramic pot (see top photo). The curling stems from a garlic plant give a quirky, contemporary look. The best part is, not only will they look good on your table, you can cut off pieces to use in your cooking. Keep the plants in a sunny spot most of the time and place them on your table when you want to dress it up. Take a sniff....take a snip! And enjoy the summer!

"When you stop to smell the roses....don't forget to open your eyes and see their beauty."