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Easy Renovations

There are no Contractor Fairies (and I refer here to the magical ones! Ha,ha,ha!) who can slip in the middle of the night and have the project done by the morning, although that would be good! (I’m guessing that there’d be some really loud dance music, anyway, which would just keep you awake…!) Have your Contractor include a probable time frame with the quote.

Have a clear idea of what you want before your contractor comes over. You don’t have to sketch out the changes, but you should be able to tell him or her what changes you would like to see. Many good contractors will have done so many renos that they will immediately know what needs to be done, the approximate cost and time-frame. When a contractor tells you that ‘the little bathroom’ will cost about $3,000.00, don’t think that your job will secretly only cost about $20.00, maybe a little less…then be shocked and dismayed when your bill comes in at…$3,000.00. You’d be surprised how many people have notions like that. Try not to fall into this trap, or to think that any changes you make once the job has started won’t affect the price or the amount of time of a project. Always get written quotes for any work you are having done, that way you’ll both be clear about the expectations for the job.

If you’re really stuck trying to figure out how to improve an area in your home, consider hiring a Designer. Keep in mind that they can work within your budget, but if your budget is really tight, it’s probably better to spend the consultation fee on new drapes or a toilet… If decision making is a problem area for you, and you’re able to relinquish control, then a designer might be the clear solution. Shop around the same way you would for a contractor until you find someone you’re really comfortable with, someone who will listen to what you want. Remember, it’s your house, so do what’s right for you. If you say, “Absolutely no red” and the designer says you need all red if you’re going to be ‘cutting edge’, then choose another designer – one who is more interested in catering to your needs.

Is there a quick fix?

Often, there is a quick fix. If you aren’t dealing with structural changes or a complete makeover, then consider a coat of paint, new flooring, new baseboards, and/or new window treatments. There are lots of things that you can do yourself, now. You might want to up-date your bathroom or kitchen with new flooring. There’s a new glueless laminate ‘wood’ flooring that you can tackle on your own, if you are so inclined. Tiling is an excellent option, too, and you can learn how to do that on our site (click on the Tiling page), or attend a seminar at your local hardware store. A really nice throw rug can change the look of a room and add new life to an old carpet. Installation of new carpet should be professionally done, unless it’s a small area and you are skilled at that.

Sometimes a simple change like up-dating your hardware (the knobs in your kitchen – no, not your husband’s friends! Ha,ha,ha! ) can make a huge difference in the overall look of a room. You may be able to paint your cabinetry if you don’t want to replace it. If you are replacing the cabinets, Check out your Local Hardware Stores selection. You can check for price, availability, installation fees (don’t try this alone!), and for some ideas in general that you like. They will provide you with a computer printout of what your completed kitchen will look like, if you arrange to meet with a Kitchen Designer and draw one out together.

If you have an old brick fireplace that you don’t care for anymore, or want to give it a fresh look, consider painting it. This is not a crime…painted brick looks great! Generally, creamy shades work well, but you can choose what you like. Brick really soaks up the paint, so use a good primer, first.

You can also put a marble tile (slate works well, too) around the fireplace. Use the correct tile adhesive (ask at the store) and choose a nice grout.

You can actually buy a Fireplace Surround pre-made, or you can build your own Mantel with Crown Moulding and some nice lumber. You may want to bring in some help for this. While you’re looking at the Fireplace Mantels, check out the cool ‘Fireplace Overmantels’ — they’re gorgeous! You can have mirror custom cut to fit in the center and make your house look fabulous, darling!

Changing the lighting can create a whole new look in your home. If it’s not too complicated, you can do this on your own. If it’s too tricky or dangerous, bring in an electrician. Changing the light switches and switch plates can make a huge difference, too. You can go from the past to the present in a flick of the switch! Ha,ha,ha!

Doors have a huge impact on how a house looks. Painting old wooden doors (the ones from the 60’s and 70’s) can add new life to them. Change the hardware while you’re at it, and you’ll have a nice new door! Switching to French Doors (the ones with the glass inserts) can add extra light to a room. You can get the glass with many different looks, if privacy is a concern. If your budget will allow, consider changing all the doors to the new white colonial style – that looks nice in just about every home. They’re clean and neat, and will brighten up a hallway.

Replacing your front door can give the house a real boost and probably add a bit of safety, too, since many of the new doors are made of steel. Sometimes adding a lovely screen door can create more interest at the front entry. When you change the doors, you will probably want to replace the baseboards, too. If you are trying to make the job as easy as possible, consider using Rosettes for the corners, then all the cuts will be straight ones. Use Dap to fill in any little gaps, or wood filler if you’ve gone with a wooden finish.