The more light that bounces around in your bathroom, the larger the room will look. The most obvious place to start is with the intentionally reflective surfaces: mirrors. “Anytime you have an opportunity to put a mirror on the wall, select the largest one that will fit,” Maykut says. “It will give you the illusion that the room is bigger than it actually is.”
Knocking down may not be as costly as rebuilding, but you can still shave dollars by doing some of the demolition yourself—as long as you proceed with care. "If a homeowner wants to demo a deck, well, I am sure they can handle that," says Michael Winn, owner of Winn Design, in Virginia. "But when it comes to interior spaces, I would dissuade them from doing it unless they have done it before." The reason: A reckless wrecker might unwittingly take out a load-bearing wall or, worse still, plunge a reciprocating saw into live wiring or pressurized plumbing. (For tips on how to do demo right, see our October 2005 feature, "Before You Construct, You Have to Destruct.")

Depending on the scale of your project, you might not need a full-on architectural commission, which involves extensive meetings, multiple job-site visits, and several sets of construction drawings, to the tune of about 8 percent of a project's construction budget. You might be able to tap an architect's design savvy by having him undertake a one-time design consultation. For example, for a $400 flat fee, Baton Rouge architect Kevin Harris will meet with a homeowner, examine the problem, and sketch out a few solutions that could be as simple as opening up a partition wall or moving a door. The homeowner can then give the sketch to a builder or take it to a drafting service, which will charge about $1 to $1.50 a square foot to crank out formal construction drawings.

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.


For those who are thinking of putting their home up for sale five years from now, then it’s important to ensure that the value of your property would increase over time, consider having your home renovated for that purpose. On the other hand, if you’re planning to live in your home for a couple of years, it’s very important to ensure that the design of your bathroom is something you would really love and fit with your style and preferences.

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.

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