Once the holiday decorations are packed away, take a good look at your house with the fresh perspective of a New Year. What changes would you like to make to enhance the value, comfort and appearance your home? As with most of life’s endeavors, advance planning plays a major role in any successful home improvement project, whether you are refreshing a single room or remodeling the whole house. There are four simple steps that I recommend completing before meeting with a design or construction professional to discuss a new remodeling project. The first three steps are described below and the fourth will be covered in my February column.
- Think Big Picture
Before jumping into your first remodeling project it is best to think big picture about how your home meets your family’s needs both today and in the future. How will your lifestyle evolve and how will the anticipated lifestyle changes impact your housing needs? Are you planning on starting a family, sending your children off to college, beginning retirement or aging in place? Based on your responses to these questions, create a list of the functional changes that are needed to improve the layout, space allocation and storage capacity of your home. The functional deficiencies of a house are sometimes complex and expensive to correct and should always be considered before the aesthetic improvements. In remodeling as with so many aspects of design, form follows function.
Once you have compiled the list of the changes that you would like to make, the next step is to rank the list. I typically ask clients to organize their list into three categories 1. Must have; 2. Wouldn’t it be great if…; 3. Blue sky. The exercise of prioritizing should definitely be done with your partner or spouse and usually involves some negotiating and compromise to arrive at a shared conclusion. You probably won’t accomplish everything on your list but it is still helpful to clarify and define the changes are most important to you and your family.
- Get Inspired
Spend some time researching websites like Houzz, http://www.houzz.com, to get inspired by photographs of spaces that you find appealing. Some of my other favorite resources include both the printed and on-line versions of Elle Décor (eclectic) House Beautiful (updated traditional) and Dwell (modern). Collect photos of entire rooms as well as design details, colors and materials that catch your eye. Home and kitchen tours are another great source of ideas that can be adapted or adopted for your home. Organize the photos, ideas and articles by room or concept, paying special attention to the consistent themes that inevitably emerge. These consistent themes are usually the starting point for determining the look and feel of the remodeled space.
- Set Your Budget Range
The topic of budgeting is an entire article unto itself. Stay tuned for “The Economics of Remodeling in the Bay Area” in February.