Avoid 4 common remodeling mistakes

By Josh Garskof, Money magazine April 11, 2011: 3:53 PM ET

(MONEY Magazine) — The road to bad remodeling is paved with good intentions. Anyone tackling a major project wants his home to look and work better — and to get a reasonable return on investment. But renos are packed with so much stress and emotion that it’s easy to go wrong.

“I see homebuyers discount brand-new kitchens and bathrooms all the time — especially in this market,” says Curt Schultz, a realtor-architect-builder in Pasadena.

Read on to learn how to keep from falling into these four common traps.

1. Being a slave to fashion

The more up-to-the-minute your project is today, the more out-of-date it will seem in five or 10 years.

Skip trends such as glass tiles, wire-hung track lighting, and vessel sinks (the kind that sit on the countertop like a salad bowl), says Schultz.

Instead, go with classic choices that match the house’s original style.

For a bathroom in a 1920s colonial, for example, that might mean a white pedestal sink and subway-tile wainscoting, but those choices wouldn’t look so timeless in a 1980s contemporary.

You can find retailers specializing in period products at traditional-building.com

2. Skimping on the design

The payoff you’ll get on a redo will diminish if the project isn’t well thought out, says Omaha appraiser John Bredemeyer, spokesman for the Appraisal Institute, a standards-setting organization.

If you’re building an addition or moving interior walls, it’s worth spending $1,000 to $3,000 to hire an architect (to draw a plan, not project-manage).

True, many contractors and showroom salespeople/designers can provide plans, but they don’t have an architect’s specialized training.

3. Over investing in the kitchen

Yes, great kitchens sell houses.

But there’s a limit to what you can recoup for granite countertops and commercial-grade appliances. Because the kitchen generally represents 5% to 15% of a home’s value, limit your kitchen renovation budget to that range — and do the work only if your kitchen is in really bad shape, says Bredemeyer. (Estimate your home’s value at zillow.com.)

4. Counting on a big pay-back for going green

Greater energy efficiency alone rarely justifies a pricey project.

Take windows. Window companies may tell you that replacing old ones ($300 to $1,200 each) will knock 50% off your energy bills. But windows really account for only about 15% of a house’s heat loss, says Jerry Thatcher of Energy Diagnostics, a green-building certifier in Valparaiso, Ind., so you’d save just $50 to $175 a year.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t go ahead with new windows. As long as they match your home’s style, new windows will add value. They’ll open and shut easier, tilt in for cleaning, and reduce draftiness — they just won’t pay for themselves too.

Light up your life with colour!

By Amber Beall, Benjamin Moore Dunbar

What do natural light, artificial lighting and the colour of your walls have to do with one another? How important is it that you choose the right colour, considering the natural light in your home? The answer to both is everything!

As the days get shorter and we creep towards the stay-indoors and hibernate months of fall and winter, making sure your home is properly lit is very important. Not only does good lighting affect your overall mood, but choosing a wall colour while considering the amount of natural light you get in a space is essential.  For instance, many people think that the best colour to paint in a darker room is a light, fresh tone to “make the space feel bigger” when in fact the opposite is true! Think about it, how will you see the light, fresh colour when it’s overcome by shadows in the room.  Much better to use a warm, mid-tone or even a cozy, darker shade and leave the provision of light to some swanky new table lamps!

The opposite is true of airy, natural light-filled rooms, these often look wonderful painted a lighter colour that contrasts subtley with white trim.  In this case, artificial lighting is only necessary in the evenings.  Either way, there is no hard and fast rule to darker or lighter paint colours in any room, as it is your taste that matters most in the end. The most important thing is that your space is a warm and inviting place to relax and shed the cares of your day!

Amber Beall is an Interior Designer and Benjamin Moore Colour Expert based in Vancouver, BC.  Specializing in residential homes, Amber transforms her client’s spaces with colour palettes and design ideas as bright and bold as her personality!  Contact her directly at amberbealldesign@gmail.com

Vancouver Home and Interior Design Show

By Amber Beall, Benjamin Moore Dunbar

Vancouver is again the proud host of two of the hottest design shows in the country.  The Vancouver Home and Interior Design Show kicks off September 9-12th at the new Vancouver Trade and Convention Centre and IDS West (Interior Design Show West) arrives October 14-17th at the same location.  Both shows will feature a plethora of speakers and vendor booths with every kind of design advice and gadget imaginable.  From green to dream, there is a solution for all of your upcoming projects if you know what you’re looking for.

For new homebuyers, both shows offer a chance to gather ideas for any renovations or updates you plan to do in your new space.  The trick is knowing what to choose once you’ve brought all those nifty samples home with you; it can all feel overwhelming if you don’t have a plan or a colour scheme in mind.  Hiring a designer to help doesn’t need to break the bank.

Many designers are happy to provide a few hours of consultation to help you choose wall colours, corresponding tile, counter and flooring if necessary.  You will need to pay their hourly rate and you should determine all that up front, but for the cost of 2 to 3 hours with an expert, you will have a colour scheme that flows beautifully in your space for as long as you live there.  Wondering where to start if you’re looking for a designer? Call me! I love design jobs of any size, from a one-hour Benjamin Moore interior or exterior colour consultation ($135-150) to design consultation and sourcing ($100/hr). Let me take the stress out of the process.

Amber Beall is an Interior Designer and Benjamin Moore Colour Expert based in Vancouver, BC.  Specializing in residential homes, Amber transforms her client’s spaces with colour palettes and design ideas as bright and bold as her personality!  Contact her directly at amberbealldesign@gmail.com