If your addition calls for clapboard siding, for instance, you can save more in the long run by ponying up now for the preprimed and prepainted variety. It costs an extra 10 to 20 cents per foot, but "you'll wind up paying for half as many paint jobs down the road," says Paul Eldrenkamp, owner of Byggmeister, a design-build remodeling firm in Newton, Massachusetts. The reason? Factory finishes are applied on dry wood under controlled conditions—no rain, no harsh sun. "I used prefinished claps on my house about ten years ago and the only flaw in the finish is the occasional mildew spot, easily washed off," Eldrenkamp says. "The paint looks as if it'll be good for another ten years, easily."
Design can be overwhelming. People often want to know where exactly to start. For any room, I usually suggest that you begin from the ground up: Decide on the floor covering. It doesn’t matter if you want or have hardwood floors, area rugs, tile, stone or wall-to-wall carpeting. Thinking about your floor first will dictate how other pieces are layered in the space. If you select a neutral tone or natural fiber without a lot of pattern or color, you have more options with colors or upholstery. If you start with an antique rug, you can draw colors from the rug to formulate a color palette. It is important to plan these things in tandem, otherwise you end up with the circus effect: too many things going on without the space as a whole functioning in unison. Starting with a sofa or upholstered chairs limits your style immediately. There is more flexibility with something like an area rug with dozens or even hundreds of possibilities. This is where you have options and can then start to layer pieces. It is a much easier approach to make your final floor covering decision first, and then layer.
Even in a cosmetic remodel, there can be an opportunity to enhance the function or money-saving capability of your home. When ripping out an entire room, for instance, this may be the perfect time to add insulation to the walls, upgrade your electrical panel or add additional light or electrical fixtures. The key is to think ahead to how you will use the room, and take advantage of cosmetic updates to enhance the structure of your home.
Lucky for you, there are paints to help. Rust-Oleum makes a "mold and mildew-proof" paint for about $27 a gallon that can protect those mold danger zones. You can fight those nasty germs with Sherwin-Williams' Paint Shield, which costs about $85 per gallon. Unlike other microbial paints, this formulation is EPA-certified to kill more than 99.9% of surface bacteria in less than two hours, including E. coli and staph.

Visually raising the bathroom ceiling will make the whole room feel larger, and it’s not a difficult illusion to achieve. For starters, it’s a good idea to replace large crown molding with narrower crown molding painted to match the ceiling, because heavy, dark crown molding will overpower a small room. You might also reconsider the room’s light fixtures. A ceiling fixture that hangs down emphasizes the smallness of a room, so replace it with recessed lighting for a cleaner look. Need extras? Wall sconces that direct light upward blur the line between the wall and ceiling, almost as though the ceiling has receded.
It’s important to look beyond the space of the bathroom. Think about the entire look of your house. What kind of layout would best match the design? Does your preferred bathroom layout blend well with the rest of your home? Keep in mind that not everything has to be matched perfectly for it to blend well with your home. Not every door handle has to be bronze, for example. But if you choose a contrasting design, such as silver with bronze, it can be too distracting. If your bathroom is a part of your master bedroom, it is critical to blend the design. Don’t choose a stark bright color to distract from the theme of the main room. Instead, make it an extension of the room that flows well without taking away from the grandeur of the bedroom. A common adage is “add, not change.”There is also a matter of “functional zoning.” This is a good way for you to plan your bathroom layout around the idea of what’s functional. Instead of remodeling from a design perspective, instead think of things from a use perspective. Planning an effective space has everything to do with your lifestyle and how you best use the space. Make sure you incorporate this in your bathroom remodeling.
While the process of decorating your home is thrilling, it also comes with its fair share of challenges. Your goal should be to showcase your design aesthetic in a tasteful way, but it’s a given that you'll be faced with everything from an interior that lacks natural light to a layout that’s much smaller than you’d like. So it’s no surprise that these common dilemmas might turn you off from decorating altogether. But instead of viewing them as stumbling blocks, use them as inspiration to design the home of your dreams.
Keeping the walls and trim light doesn’t mean you have to settle for an absence of all color or personality, though. Maykut recommends injecting color into the bathroom through the accessories you choose. Bold red towels and a soap dispenser in a matching shade will energize a small bathroom without overwhelming it. Add texture and color to the floor with a patterned rug. Should you tire of the look of your bathroom down the road, this color strategy makes updating easy: All you have to do is switch out your textiles and accessories to create a whole new look and feel.
If you can reorganize and equip your kitchen for maximum utility, you may not need to blow out the walls to gain square footage. Start by replacing space-hogging shelves with cabinet-height pullout drawers 8 inches wide, containing racks for canned goods and other items. "You're getting three or more horizontal planes where you might otherwise get only one," says Louis Smith Jr., an architect with Meier Group, in Ann Arbor, Michigan. You could easily shell out a few thousand to outfit cabinets with upgrades like dividers, pull-out pot trays, and lazy Susans, but you'll save many times that amount by skipping the addition you thought you needed.
Remodelers can do some amazing things, but they can't read minds. "Let the company supervisor or project lead person know if anything is unsatisfactory so they can deal with the issue," says Jeff Hurst, a Certified Remodeler (CR) and president of Hurst Total Home, Inc., in Kettering, Ohio. "The contractor may not be aware that something is not OK with the owner."

Brian Peppel, a homeowner in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, attends one building-supply auction each month in nearby Lancaster County. His recent finds include two pallets of concrete block for $10 and a solid-wood prehung exterior door for $65. "Their inventory is everything under the sun, a lot of scratch-and-dent, misordered custom items, or new overstock supplies," reports Peppel. He once watched the auctioneer's gavel fall on a large, custom-made triangular window with an original retail value that he pegs at several thousand dollars. The winning bid? $1.

The one surface in the kitchen where you want to avoid glossy paint is the ceiling. Ceilings love to crack and settle, so cover up those inconsistencies with some (yes, now you have permission) flat paint. The less reflective the surface, the less obvious those cracks will look from the ground. Glossy paints will actually emphasize these errors and problem spots.
If you’re an experienced DIYer, you are likely good at working around the disruptions of a house remodel. However, if you’ve hired a contractor for any part of the job, be sure to be clear about your daily routine, and work with the contractor to come up with start and end times that cause the least disruption in your family’s day. After all, no one wants to encounter tradespeople while you’re still in your bathrobe.
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