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Understanding Remodelling, Hottest Trends, Interior Designers and Make Over

Perhaps you’re trying to decide if it’s a good idea to purchase a model home (a professionally decorated show home). Perhaps you’re thinking of remodelling your present house. Maybe you’re just trying to find the right interior decorator or maybe you’re toying with the idea of doing it yourself, putting up some curtains and repainting. No matter what decision you are trying to make one thing is for certain: with all the choices available, sprucing up your house is no easy feat.

Still, as scary as all those choices and ideas can be the variety they provide is actually a marvellous thing, because that’s what home decorating is all about, finding the perfect style to suit your taste, budget, and personality. Don’t know where to begin? That’s okay you won’t have to walk this path alone. In this report you will find tons of ideas, suggestions and tips that will help you navigate your interior decorating expedition.

The Pre-Decorated Home
The first place to start, of course, is with those people who don’t yet have a home. Really you have two choices here; buy a home and decorate the way you want, or buy a model home and save yourself the trouble of putting the home’s decor together yourself (or hiring someone to do that for you).

The draw to a model home, of course, is you know what the finished product is going to look like. It’s easy to become intoxicated with a model home. The drapes are perfect.
The French impressionist artwork on the walls perfectly matches the color scheme in that overstuffed chair; the immaculate white carpeting has no Kool-Aid stains.

The problem with buying a model home is that it’s much like buying a car with all the bells and whistles. Sure, you can buy a SUV with a 6 channel surround sound speaker system, DVD player, and LCD screens in the back seat, but what if all you wanted was a CD player? What if what you really wanted was an 8 channel surround sound speaker system? Suddenly you’ve found you’ve bought something that you didn’t really need, or something that doesn’t match what you wanted, and while it’s shiny and fun, if you came in looking for a sedan you could end up spending a lot of money on something you didn’t really want and in turn spend even more getting it to where you do want it.

Is buying a model home such a great idea? Yes, sometimes … and sometimes no. The value of the model home exceeds the non-models, which don’t contain any of these extras. In a non-model the garage is a garage, the front yard is bare, the shelves aren’t there and the wood floors are vinyl. The main questions you want to ask are; are you going to have to pay big bucks for the extras in this model home and is this what you want your home to look like?

If, for example, the market has slowed down considerably, you may be in for a great deal—scoring extras like upgraded plush carpeting, wood floors, shelving, even an extra room—for almost nothing. Even still, you’d be wise to consider that the home you’re thinking about is, in many aspects, a “used” home. Many people have walked on the carpeting, tracking in dirt and mud; the wood and linoleum floors may be scuffed or chipped; the paint covering the walls may be scuffed; and the air conditioner or heating unit may be broken after being on nearly 24 hours a day during open houses. Keep in mind that some open houses have been open not for months, but for years, meaning that the home may be exhibiting signs of damage that only a very careful inspection could reveal.

If everything meets to your satisfaction, you just may have found the home of your dreams. If not, then you’ve saved yourself from an impulse buy that could have tied you and your family to a money pit.

Tips for Successful Remodelling

Now let’s move on to those people who already have a house. A good analogy to remember about fixing up your house is that if interior decorating is a face lift, then remodelling is a triple bypass. Remodelling is a big step and you can gain a lot with just some new furnishings, paint, and hangings. But there are times when a cosmetic spattering won’t do and major changes are more desirable. One of the major reasons to consider remodeling is that it can increase the resale value of your home. In areas where two or three buyers are bidding on every house, a good remodeling job can make your house stand out above all the others.
Even so, you shouldn’t undertake a complicated and costly remodeling project just to sell your house since its possible (depending on the market) that you may not be able to recoup your investment. What you should do is make changes, enjoy them for a few years, and then recoup all or part of your investment in the sale price of the house.

Here are some things to consider when remodeling your home:
Plan carefully. The first step to take is pre-planning, which can be started by making two lists about the room that you want to remodel. One list will highlight the things you like about the room, the other will catalogue what you don’t like. Making changes on paper costs nothing. Making changes in the midst of construction becomes very costly.
Make a Wish List. Come up with a wish list. This list will include features you wish you could have — for example, a second dishwasher just for glassware if you are remodeling a kitchen. List features that you want, such as a convection oven or a larger refrigerator-freezer. And lastly add features you need, which could include newer plumbing, adequate lighting and a new tile or vinyl floor.
Decide which features are most important to you and allocate a larger share of your budget to pay for them. Then make less costly choices for other product categories. If a luxurious whirlpool bath tops your wish list, for instance, work it into your budget and opt for a basic porcelain lavatory.
Plumbing stacks are expensive to move. You’ll save money if you can achieve your goal without relocating plumbing fixtures.
Choose Your Colours. Pick out some possible color swatches. You can go to the home center or paint store, get a bunch of chips and stick them on the walls of the room to see which ones go better.
Fixtures in neutral or subtle colors are most practical. You pay a premium for designer colors, and boldly colored fixtures may not lend themselves to future remodeling or redecorating projects. If you love color, consider using it in paint, wallpaper, and accessories that are inexpensive to replace.
Don’t scrimp on structural, plumbing, or electrical materials or installation. Consider them long-term investments for which strength, durability, and performance are mandatory.
Synthetic surfaces replicate the look of natural products but often cost much less. Choose stone-look laminate instead of granite for the countertop, or vinyl instead of slate or marble for the floors.
Check closeout specials for the tile you want. Often stores slash prices when they have less than 50 square feet of a style remaining — plenty for most bathrooms. Instead of buying expensive wall tiles, you may opt for a custom look by using two or more colors of less expensive tiles.
Consider going for a vintage look. It may take some shopping around, but an ensemble of old, used fixtures can look great and cost far less than high-end new products.
Do at least some of the work yourself. Even if you need a plumber to rough in the drains and supplies, you may be able to save significant amounts by doing the finishing work yourself.

The Five Hottest Remodelling Trends
If you’re going to hire someone to remodel your home it’s never a bad idea to know what’s common in the industry. Here are the top five trends going on at the moment:
1. Day lighting – Almost without exception home owners want their homes lighter and brighter. Most people are tired of dark rooms, small windows and no views. Larger windows, more windows, stacked windows, feature windows, skylights, sun tunnels, interior windows, mirrors and open floor plans that share light from other rooms are all at the top of the remodelling list. Bringing in daylight from more than one direction increases visual comfort and safety.
2. Detached Garages – When automobiles first became commonplace, they were relegated to the carriage house or a purpose-built structure away from the main residence because they were smelly and rather dangerous but recently detached garages are making a comeback.
Pulling the garage away from the main residence allows for four-sided architecture and makes it easier to expand the main house, adds architectural interest to the lot and creates a great opportunity for protected outdoor uses in the space between the garage and house.
3. His/Her Space – The ultimate luxury is space; there never seems to be enough of it, which is what keeps the remodelling business healthy, though even with limited space there is a b desire for “defined space”. When given the choice most people are opting for him and her spaces: closets of their own rather than shared or vanity areas that are opposite each other, rather than side by side.
4. Visit Ability – This is the new term for remodelling a house to make it more accessible for older occupants. A house is visit able when it meets three basic requirements:
At least one no-step entrance
Doors and hallways wide enough to navigate through
A bathroom on the first floor big enough to get into in a wheelchair and close the door.
5. Making It Real – Home owners are choosing higher quality materials for every room in the house. Tile or granite countertops instead of plastic laminate, porcelain cast iron tubs over fibreglass, even lath and plaster over drywall. Across the board people are choosing quality over quantity, selecting the better materials that have lasting value and lower life-cycle cost.

Interior Design Decorating

As mentioned, if remodelling is akin to major surgery, interior design is like cosmetic surgery. In most cases a change of your home’s superficial décor can work wonders. But, as with anything, there’s a lot to know and tons of choices you can make. Should you do it yourself or hire someone? What’s the difference between an interior decorator and an interior designer (yes, there is actually a difference)? And, how do I go about finding either of them?

The first question is whether you want to do it yourself or hire someone to do it for you. If your idea of interior design is remembering to cut the tags off your pillows or draping that end table with a piece of fabric to disguise its secret identity as a milk crate you might want to find some help. If that isn’t an option there are quite a few things you can do to educate yourself, which will help you spruce up your humble abode.

If you have no idea where to begin, some designers recommend taking a good look inside your closet. What hangs on you may be a good indication of what you want hanging around your home. Look at your clothes and gauge how formal your style is and what colors you find most appealing.

Great places to learn about decorating are specialty channels such as Home and Garden Television, The Discovery Channel, and The Learning Channel. These stations offer a variety of programs targeted at the do-it-yourself designer. Also, don’t overlook the web sites of home improvement stores. Stores such as Lowes and Home Depot offer decorating tips by the click of a mouse. Lastly, you can get a glimpse of what the professionals are studying, The American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) provides a list of non-commercial informational and educational Web sites about and for interior designers.

Should you choose to phone a professional, it still won’t hurt to invest a little time scanning the web, thumbing through magazines, watching home shows or browsing through furniture stores to get a better idea of what look you want to achieve.

Before you hire a professional, be sure you understand the difference between an interior designer and an interior decorator. ASID says designers are professionally trained in space planning, and in 18 states, they must pass a strict exam and be licensed. A designer’s training can include study of fire rating classifications, government building codes, ergonomics, lighting quality and acoustics. ASID says a decorator works only with surface decoration, and because no license is required, trades people such as upholsterers and house painters may also call themselves decorators.

Now we turn to the question of: how do I select a designer? What you want, of course, is to find yourself a designer who will carefully listen to your preferences and create a plan that works within those parameters, not to mention your budget. First, check with your local furniture store or home décor center. Many of them have interior decorators on staff, and their services (ranging on average from about $50 to $150 per hour) usually come more cheaply than those of an independent designer, whose services can run you anywhere from $200 to $300 per hour.

Hourly is the only method designers’ use. They charge in a number of ways, including a fixed fee, percentage fee, or per square foot. Of course, if a friend has recommended an independent designer, and you’ve seen their work and want to capture the same look in your home, it may be worth your while to bite the bullet and pay the independent designer’s higher fee. If you opt for a cheaper designer with whom you’re not familiar, you could waste hundreds of dollars if he or she doesn’t live up to your expectations.

Regardless of whether you’re satisfied with the designer’s work, you’ll have to pay his or her rate. Plan to “comparison shop” before you make a selection. Interview a series of designers, ask to see examples of their work and request a list of references. While the bottom line is certainly important, don’t make instant judgments based on rates. Price quotes can indicate differences in the level of service and quality of merchandise. The true test should be based on references and the quality of the designer’s work.

Before contacting an interior designer, ASID recommends you think about the answers to questions designers frequently ask.

  • For whom is the space being designed?
  • What activities will take place there?
  • How long do you plan to occupy the space?
  • What is your time frame?
  • What is your budget?
  • Are you relocating or remodelling?
  • What image do you want to project?

While interviewing prospective designers, ask them the following questions:

How many years of experience do you have? (You may then want to ask yourself if the designer’s experience justifies his or her rate.)

Where did you receive your training?

Are you accredited by the American Society of Interior Designers?

What is your design specialty? If your tastes lean toward traditional, and your designer specializes in contemporary, his attempts to traditionalize your home may not live up to your expectations.

Is the designer accustomed to working on homes of a similar age and architectural style as yours?

When you’re asking to see examples of the designer’s work, make sure you specifically request a couple of samples taken from homes of a similar age and style as your own.

How would you like us to work together as a team?

How do you define the client’s role?

Do you view yourself as both the designer and the shopper, or do you prefer to advise me and then have me shop for furniture and other décor that meet the design parameters we’ve established together?

How would you describe your personal style? “Taste” is subjective, so it’s imperative that your boundaries of taste mesh with those of your designers. Your designer may encourage you to push the envelope, of course, and that’s commendable. It’s also your right to pass on his offer. If he pressures you to change your mind or seems unwilling to abide by your requests, it’s time to move to the next candidate.

Do you work with specific contractors and subcontractors – professionals on whom you know you can depend? If you don’t work with a set group of contractors, how often will you be present to monitor their work and assure quality and accuracy?

How long will this job take?

What is the time frame and how available are you? (How many other projects do they have on the go can be an indication of how much effort they are able to put into your home).

How will I be billed for your services?

Do you charge an hourly rate, charge on a per-project basis, etc.?

If I make purchases through you, what percentage of that sale do you keep?

The answers to all of these questions should be handed to you in writing before you make your final selection. It’s in your best interest to make sure you have a signed contract before work begins or any money changes hands. There’s no doubt about it – hiring a designer is an expensive proposition. But it’s an expense you’ll only have to incur once if you get it right on the first try.

This paper is intended for informational purposes only. Nothing contained herein constitutes legal, financial or other professional advice. Transmission of these materials is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, any relationship of any kind between the provider and the recipient. Some of these points may not apply in your area. Different term and conditions may vary from state to state and province to province. All articles, text and photographic material presented here is for the use and pleasure of the recipient only. Download PDF

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