Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Older home renovations, things to consider

Older homes have charm and beauty galore, but they also need to be updated in ways that make sense economically and environmentally. There are things to be prepared for before renovation begins. Never go into a home renovation project without some information beforehand.  Otherwise, you could end up spending a fortune in a renovation that has no end in sight.
Priorities - Always factor in what is a priority in renovations with older homes. Is the purpose to simply update old fixtures and appliances? Is your goal to replace heating, electrical, plumbing etc? Think from the outside-in with older homes. Issues concerning energy efficiency should be addressed initially. Don't start something you can't finish. Make sure you know what your own personal limits are with regards to renovation/home improvement experience. If it could get over your head, be smart enough to realize it and call in professionals.

Expect the unexpected- Even well planned renovations can be sidetracked by things that come up that couldn't be factored in. Always leave a buffer in the budget for those unforeseen issues. Sometimes you open a hornets nest when doing a project. This is good and bad. Sometimes a hidden issue like termites or mold could be lurking that you would never have realized until it was too late. That being said,  don't let renovations that make sound economic sense stop you.

Reface or replace?- When doing older home renovations, you may opt for refacing a lot of the surfaces. This could be a bad idea especially in homes that are very old. For instance putting sheet rock over old walls that are poorly insulated and built with plaster and wooden slats isn't wise. There could be underlying issues that you can't see that could come back to haunt you later, resulting in a tear down of the reface and the old layer beneath. New over old usually isn't the best route to take.

Does it fit?- Do not make the mistake of assuming that the new standards fit  the old standards even when the measurements are the same.  Even dealing with homes that are only a few decades old, replacing things like sinks, and tubs in bathrooms will be a challenge. Many homes had cabinetry, tubs and sinks site-built and installed  during the construction. The room may have been built specifically around those pieces. When you go to replace an old tub unit with a new one you may be in for a surprise. Yes the measurements may be the same, but it doesn't mean it will fit into the space. Be prepared to do additional carpentry to make the new unit fit into the old space. This is particularly important if you are replacing a tub/shower single piece unit with a tub and wall set.

How much and how long ?- If you are doing all the work yourself, assume that it will cost around 15-30% more than what your initial budget is. The same goes for how long the project will be. Never assume a weekend project is a "weekend project". Be prepared for it to take several weekends, even if you thought it was a simple renovation. In older homes, there are no simple renovations, especially if you are doing the job yourself.

Safety first-
Older home renovations, especially those 30+ years old, have certain risk factors involved. Research the potential hazards, and have your home checked out prior to any renovation for lead paint and asbestos. Make sure to purchase safety gloves, goggles, and filtered masks during renovation. Don't renovate on the fly, do your homework first.
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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Using metal accessories in decor

Metals have been used since the iron age in our everyday lives. Initially metals were used strictly for functional purposes in life. Today, metals play a key role in our home décor, and many are decorative and functional. This list will detail different metals used in décor.

Copper- Copper is one of the oldest metals used often during the roman era. Copper is commonly seen as a decorative element in kitchens. However, copper also have properties that make it resistant to bacterial issues as well. This beautiful soft metal looks particularly well as an accessory when paired with other warm hued natural elements like terracotta , honey pine, and cherry woods.

Stainless Steel
- This metal is highly resistant to corrosion and thus an invaluable metal in society for a number of reasons. It is a mainstay of cutlery, flatware, and cookware. It is presently the most preferred request of finished on appliances in home décor and renovations. Stainless steel is a cool toned neutral metal, stainless steel naturally compliments contemporary and modern aesthetics. It can pair with brushed or satin nickle finishes, pewter and chrome. Easy to care for and a handsome partner to black granite, stainless steel also goes well with light oak and maple finishes or dark cherry finishes.

Pewter- a soft metal that has been around since the middle ages, pewter was once used as often as we currently use aluminum today. Its soft malleable ability make it a great decorative element today for accessories, cabinet hardware, and finishes. It is also a neural metal and can go well with all forms of metals in a design scheme. Items made of pewter are collected widely and they are often incorporated into design schemes around kitchens. It will remain a popular collectible and accessory for some time to come because of its ability to meld well with current trends and fads around silver colored metals used today.

Because if its similarity in look to gold, brass has been valued and used throughout history in many ways. In the last decade, brass finishes and brass plated decorative accessories were seen in many homes. Brass finishes were seen in hardware, lighting fixtures, faucets, etc. today, it's popularity has slowly been in decline as home owners gravitate towards the neutral cool appeal of stainless steel, and metals in the same color family. Because it was so popular in the last decade it is often a sign of a dated look today and is usually changed out for the newer trends. Because it is a warm hued metal, it pairs only with warm hued finishes in wood, granite and stone accents. This limits its ability to transition with décor and thus it will probably stay out of design schemes for some time to come.

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Home decor trends that will last

Recent Trends in Home Decor, they'll be around for some time to come...
If you are updating an existing home for yourself or you are preparing to sell in the near  future, one area of interest should be what the recent trends are. Typically speaking, following trends can be a risk but a few trends surfacing today are likely to be around for some time to come. Knowing what trends are safe to use and likely to appeal to not only your sense of style but any future prospects is just sound investing.

Know your style- Not sure? Educate yourself online, look up various decor styles and their definitions, ie: Contempory, Traditional, etc. Once you have some idea of a few design styles, simply walk through your home and take note of the furnishings you have that appeal to you. Make sure to factor in lighting, fabrics, types of wood, and metal finishes. This should give you an idea of what you lean towards aesthetically. Knowing this, will help steer you in decorating your home and updating it's look.

Color Trends- If you have watched a few design shows on tv, specifically those geared at helping people stage their homes you know all too well the word "neutral". Most of us associate neutrals with varying degrees of tan, taupe, or beige. However, recently the "new" neutral color trend is leaning toward dove greys, and blue greys and powder greys. Yep, ten years ago that would have shocked most people. As society in general becomes more decor savvy though, we see a new educated breadth of vision with what neutrals can be. Keep an eye out for these soft hues in decor, especially wall color. Why? Soft blue greys lend themselves very well to crisp white trims, blacks and metallic finishes like brushed nickle, and Pewter.

Trends in furniture- In the world of design, furnishings always follow lifestyle in design and function. The more active the lifestyle, the more simplistic, clean lined and comfortable furniture trends tend to be. Dual purposing furniture will always have some level of allure to most family homes. However, gone are the days of floral fabrics, and over-stuffed pastels, and that ever lingering oak trim. A society much more educated in decor has emerged and furniture is becoming soft, comfortable and offering much cleaner lines. Rich fabrics in shades of mocha, cinnamon, and every shade in between seem to be here to stay. When chosing woods, always chose quality, and when in doubt, a good rule of thumb is, if you wouldn't want it for your kitchen cabinets, it probably isn't desirable elsewhere in the house. Cherry, Maple, and Mahogany are high on the list for most desirable furniture woods. Investing in pieces made of these are probably going to stay in vogue for years to come and if they go out of style, it will have more to do with the overall design than it would the woods itself, so keep that in mind when shopping.

Trends in Finishes-
Finishes that will probably stay in the game for a while will be on two ends of the spectrum, Stainless steel, Pewter, Brushed Nickels are popular in faucets, appliances, light fixtures and hardware. On the flip side, Oil rubbed bronzes, and dark iron grill work is also making a comeback. Both metals go well with all forms of granite, marbles, and natural elements. It is a safe gamble to replace your hardware and fixture in these, and not have to worry about them going anywhere or becoming out of date any time soon. Because these finishes are offered in so many styles from chic and sleek to old world, they will be a versatile and desirable look for many years to come.