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Decorating on a Budget

A few ideas for decorating without a lot of money.

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For some of us, there comes a point in our lives when we look around our dwelling and realize the college student look has to go. Others of us look around and see an eclectic mix of sad and worn hand-me-down furniture. And a few of us are just, well, bored with the décor we have had for the last five years.

To redecorate your home, you don't need to spend a whole lot of cash. Granted, a major remodel, such as a kitchen or bathroom, will be a whole different story (and an article to come later this year). However, any space in your home can be given a fresh look with easy do-it-yourself projects at minimal cost.

 

Décor Ideas for Any Room:

Use What Ya Got - Many times we become so accustomed to seeing things in the same place we don't consider their potential in another area or room of the home. Rearranging furniture and décor can give any space a new look.

  • Consider how you use the space first, do you find some rooms are used all the time and others hardly at all? Frequently used spaces can easily become cluttered. Perhaps there is something you can move to a less used space to bring new purpose to that area. Convert a scarcely used nook to a game table or move a small bookshelf and add a lamp next to that comfy chair no one ever seems to sit in. Think outside the "box" of your previous layout.
  • Similar to the point above, consider some of your larger pieces of furniture. Moving a piece out of the room into another may help free up space in one and redefine another.
  • What is the flow of your rooms? Do pathways from one doorway to the next make sense? Perhaps everyone seems to be ducking in front of the couch to get by the TV when there is room to move the couch away from the wall. Contrary to popular belief, the couch does not need to go against the wall!
  • Take established pieces and reinvent them. No, the modular sofa does not have to be one formal island in the center of the room. Break it up and add lights, or end tables to help recharge the room.
  • Besides furniture, consider what you have hanging on the wall as well. Do you have old paintings that no longer appeal to you or the space? Do you have new photos that you can't seem to find a place for? If you are rearranging furniture, take pictures off the wall first, you don't want to be boxed in with idea to leave wall space for this or that. Afterwards, look at the new blank walls and consider the possibilities. If you are not rearranging furniture, still take the pictures down. Leave them down for a couple days and come back to look at the room as fresh as possible - what do you really miss being up there, what would you like to add, or perhaps, do you prefer a more blank, uncluttered wall?

Color Me New - A splash of paint can go a long way! Repainting walls can be a lot of fun and the best part is that if you don't like it you can just paint over it! Of course today there are great programs at the do-it-yourself stores that help you customize colors and paint styles before you begin. And painting doesn't have to stop at the walls!

  • Repainting the ceiling can help to brighten a room considerably.
  • If you have old painted trim, you may want to consider splashing on a fresh coat of paint or changing the color altogether.
  • Painting old furniture can reinvent it and is something kids can get involved with if redecorating their own room.
  • There are paint sets out there to help repaint anything with a surface. You can give any end table, lamp or bookshelf a new antiqued look. For example, we had some white metal dining room chandeliers that clashed with our house, it was easy to dismantle them and paint them with a rusted look and this saved us buying chandeliers that would otherwise have cost $200 a piece! I admit, we did this with the thought that we would replace them "down the road," but since their makeover they have stopped being an eyesore and we have even received compliments on them - most didn't realize they were painted until we said something!

It's ALIVE! - Plants can do wonders for the home. Some believe that you should have a plant in every room. Large potted plants can help give life to blank corners or help set up the outline of a nice path throughout a room. Smaller potted plants can add color to the window or shelf. It must be admitted that although nice idea, not all of us have a green thumb and lack of light may doom some of our green friends from the beginning. Many of the silk plants these days look very real, however, they are not for everyone. Another alternative is fresh cut flowers. Get enough small vases and one bunch can be used throughout the home and greet you everywhere from the bedroom to the kitchen.

Instant Relatives - "Instant relatives" is a phrase my friend uses for the photos of people in the new frames you buy. If you bought a frame 6 months to a year ago and still have those "instant relatives" you don't know staring at you, then you have just found one of the easiest home décor projects! If you don’t have new frames, they are an inexpensive way to help any room. And remember, all the frames on one wall don't always have to match; sometimes the mix match look of your décor is what can give it personality! Once you have some frames you like, fill them with memories or art you enjoy having around you. Today it is easy to enlarge photographs and add effects to them. Enlarge one of your favorite photos of Scotland or collage your last family vacation. Fill the frames with photos of family, friends, vacation scenery, art prints, artwork by the kids, favorite postcards or cards, the list can be endless if you let your imagination run with it; make it fun!

Facelift Under $20 - Many times just adding a few small pieces can help a space. At many department stores you can find: candles, sconces, mirrors, frames, framed art, plaque art, photo holders, statues, ornate boxes, pillows, table runners, etc. Any of these smaller items can be combined to add a unique design to your space. Also, many department stores package themed art (southwest, modern, Victorian, African, etc.) to help you create the design for the space you want. These series often go on sale as one design set makes way for another, leaving you a chance to find some great decorations with a little planning and patience.

Oh Just Hang It! - The softness of fabric in a room can make a major mood change. Drapes are one of the easiest ways to change the look of a space. You can get drapes relatively cheap these days. I have both purchased and made my own drapes and consider it a draw. I was able to get better fabric quality when making my own, but the time and headache (I'm not a sewing expert) did cancel out some of the ease of just buying them. Others have been smarter than me and buy a fabric they want, simply seem the edges and then hang them freely over the curtain rods. Another consideration would be bamboo or roman blinds, some find these a more colorful and cheaper alternative to standard blinds.

Camouflage the Old - Covering up what you already have can be a great alternative to buying new furniture. Covers for sofas, tables and chairs can help you bring new colors and patterns into your room. Again, you can make these items yourself or purchase them in the store. Unless you a proficient with the sewing machine, it may be easier to purchase some of these items. Sometimes even cushions and pillows can help cover up worn spots or add color to a drab space. While we are covering things up, you may also consider to use rugs to cover up and change the pattern/color or old floors. Especially for older hard wood floors or pergo, this can be a great way to spiff up your room.

The Finer Details - Another detail that can be changed on a small scale but effect a room on a large scale is your hardware and fixtures. Changing the hardware on cabinets can reinvent your kitchen or bathroom. You can also replace fixtures such as light casings, towel holders, toiletry and soap holders, etc. Changing these items can help change the room from modern to antique or vice versa (just for example). Many department stores sell fixture sets that can be a quick and easy facelift to any bathroom.

Just Say No to Clutter - Finally, one of the most effective ways to redecorate your home is to get rid of clutter. This doesn't just mean picking up bits of paper. This can also mean getting items to help you organize. Many stores offer beautiful baskets, tins or other containers that can be used to organize your madness. Adding a bit of shelving, a chest, a large basket or an ottoman that opens up for storage are just a few ways you can change the look of the room and give yourself storage space. Changing a room from cluttered to organized can have a dramatic effect on the décor and overall feel of the space.

Conclusion

Redecorating your home on a low budget can include inventive use of what you already have to inexpensive updates to your room such as paints or wall hangings. Obviously we have only touched a few methods here. Hopefully this list helps you think outside the box and consider other ways you may utilize the spaces in your home. Still want to see more? Check out a few of our suggested links on the right. Happy decorating!

Further Reading

About.com

If you long for a beautiful home, you have come to the right place! Learn about home decorating, get tips for projects, find directions for how-to's, and advice from About Guide to Interior Decorating, Coral Nafie. Take a look!

Behr.com

Get interior design ideas from dozens of articles and hundreds of images.

BHG.com

Join us for truly inspiring decorating ideas, easy projects, step-by-step how-tos, practical home improvement tips, remodeling ideas, and home plans -- from Better Homes and Gardens family of magazines.

CountryLiving.com

Home decorating ideas, craft projects, home accents, renovation tips and more country style from Country Living magazine.

Do-It-Yourself.com

Decorating and painting is a key ingredient to a beautiful home. Before you begin decorating or re-decorating your home, learn more about painting techniques and preparation, selecting paint colors and finishes, decorating and designing trends, and interior décor, accents and furnishings. Home decorating has never been easier!

HGTV.com

Learn more about decorating and interior design ideas, projects and how-to from videos on Home & Garden Television.

KatieBrownHomeWorkshop.com

This is the official website for Katie Brown and the Katie Brown Workshop. It is the place to shop and buy Katie Brown books and provides information regarding lifestyle and domestic guru, Katie Brown and answers any questions you have about Katie Brown’s books, products, columns, Podcasts, or her televisions shows including the Katie Brown Workshop on Public Television.

MarthaStewart.com

Different ideas from her show and magazines.

RealSimple.com

Magazine and TV show about simplifying your life. Includes home solutions, meals, special features.

Galvanized Pipes in Older Homes

My husband and I are buying an 80 year old home in Columbia, South Carolina, but we are not sure about the galvanized water pipes under the house, What is the life expectancy of these pipes?

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Galvanized pipes have a general life expectancy of 50 years, but this can be shortened considerably by the amount of minerals in the water supply. Columbia has naturally soft water, and galvanized pipes here tend to last longer. Other areas of the country such as Southern California have rather hard water, and as a consequence, galvanized pipes won’t last as long there. Two things happen to galvanized pipes as they age.

First, minerals tend to slowly build up on the inner walls of the pipe decreasing the inside diameter. In extreme cases, this can slow the water flow to a trickle.

The other common problem with galvanized pipes is corrosion at the joints. In the process of cutting the threads for the pipe fittings, the protective galvanizing is cut away exposing bare metal. Over time, these threaded joints will corrode and eventually break. In the case of your 80 year old house, if the pipes are original I would definitely consider replacing them. If you are not sure how old they are, I recommend that a qualified home inspector examine them and look for signs of corrosion at the fittings, and check for low water flow at all of the faucets.

Reduce Your Heating Bills This Winter

Tips for reducing your bill.

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Imagine leaving a window open all winter long -- the heat loss, cold drafts and wasted energy! If your home has a folding attic stair, fireplace or clothes dryer, that may be just what is occurring in your home every day. These often overlooked sources of heat loss and air leakage can cause heat to pour out and the cold outside air to rush in -- costing you higher heating bills. Air leaks are the largest source of heating and cooling loss in the home. Air leaks occur through the small cracks around doors, windows, pipes, etc. Most homeowners are well aware of the benefits caulk and weatherstripping provide to minimize heat loss and cold drafts. But what can you do about the four largest “holes” in your home -- the folding attic stair, the whole house fan, the fireplace and the clothes dryer? Here are some tips and techniques that can easily, quickly and inexpensively seal and insulate these holes. Attic Stairs When attic stairs are installed, a large hole (approximately 10 square feet) is created in your ceiling. The ceiling and insulation that were there have to be removed, leaving only a thin, unsealed, sheet of plywood. Your attic space is ventilated directly to the outdoors. In the winter, the attic space can be very cold, and in the summer it can be very hot. And what is separating your conditioned house from your unconditioned attic? That thin sheet of plywood. Often a gap can be observed around the perimeter of the door. Try this yourself: at night, turn on the attic light and shut the attic stairway door -- do you see any light coming through? These are gaps add up to a large opening where your heated/cooled air leaks out 24 hours a day. This is like leaving a window open all year round. An easy, low-cost solution to this problem is to add an attic stair cover. An attic stair cover provides an air seal, reducing the air leaks. Add the desired amount of insulation over the cover to restore the insulation removed from the ceiling. Whole House Fans Much like attic stairs above, when whole house fans are installed, a large hole (up to 16 square feet or larger) is created in your ceiling. The ceiling and insulation that were there have to be removed, leaving only leaky ceiling shutter between the house and the outdoors. An easy, low-cost solution to this problem is to add a whole house fan cover. Installed from the attic side, the whole house fan cover is invisible. Cover the fan to reduce heating and air-conditioning loss, remove it when use of the fan is desired. If attic access is inconvenient, a ceiling shutter cover is another option for reducing heat loss through the ceiling shutter. Made from R-8, textured, thin, white flexible insulation, and installed from the house side over the ceiling shutter with Velcro, a whole house fan shutter cover is easily installed and removed. Fireplaces Sixty-five percent, or approximately 100 million homes in North America are constructed with wood or gas burning fireplaces. Unfortunately there are negative side effects that the fireplace brings to a home especially during the winter home-heating season. Fireplaces are energy losers. Researchers have studied this to determine the amount of heat loss through an unlit fireplace, and the results are amazing. One recent research study showed that an open damper on an unlit fireplace in a well-insulated house can raise overall heating-energy consumption by 30 percent. This is truly a remarkable statistic! A recent study showed that for many consumers, their heating bills may be more than $500 higher per winter due to the air leakage and wasted energy caused by fireplaces. Why does a home with a fireplace have higher heating bills? It is simple - hot air rises. Your heated air leaks out any exit it can find, and when your heated air is drawn out of your home, cold outside air is drawn in to make up for it. The fireplace is like a giant straw sucking the heated air from your house! An easy, low-cost solution to this problem is to install a fireplace draftstopper. Available from Battic Door, a company known for their energy conservation products, a fireplace draftstopper is an inflatable pillow that is installed into the fireplace below the damper. As the pillow is inflated, it seals the damper, eliminating any air leaks and heat loss. Other benefits include the reduction of downdrafts, toxins, odors, pollutants, and noise. The pillow is removed whenever the fireplace is used, then reinserted after. Completely reusable and available in two sizes to fit any masonry or zero-clearance fireplace, the draftstopper can pay for itself in less than a month! Clothes Dryer Exhaust Ducts In many homes, the room with the clothes dryer is the coldest room in the house. Your clothes dryer is connected to an exhaust duct that is open to the outdoors. In the winter, cold air leaks in through the duct, through your dryer and into your house. Dryer vents use a sheet-metal flapper to try to reduce this air leakage. This is very primitive technology that does not provide a positive seal to stop the air leakage. Compounding the problem is that over time, lint clogs the flapper valve causing it to stay open, or a cold breeze can blow the flapper open, allowing frigid air right to come right into the house. An easy, low-cost solution to this problem is to add a dryer vent seal. This low-cost, easily installed vent is mounted on the outside of your house, and reduces unwanted air infiltration, and keeps out pests, bees and rodents as well. The vent will remain closed unless the dryer is in use. When the dryer is in use, a floating shuttle rises to allow warm air, lint and moisture to escape. If your home has a folding attic stair, a whole house fan, a fireplace, and/or a clothes dryer, you can easily, quickly and inexpensively seal and insulate these holes. At Battic Door Energy Conservation Products, we have developed solutions to these and other energy-conservation related issues. For more information please visit our website www.batticdoor.com or send a self-addressed, stamped, envelope to P.O. Box 15, Mansfield, MA 02048.

Setting Your Budget

Your next step is to create a project budget.

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You have evaluated the neighborhood and find that your improvement is consistent with general aesthetic and size parameters. You plan to remain in the house for some time. You find that a second mortgage payment will not strain your current monthly budget. You feel you can devote a certain amount of time towards planning the project. And finally, you are really sick of waiting in line to go to the bathroom in your own house!

Your next step is to create a project budget. Decide how long you plan on staying in your home. The length of time you intend to stay in a home will affect how much money you should invest in it. If you are going to stay in the home for more than ten years, you should spend as much as you are able to create the home of your dreams. Make a list of all your debts. You should include any debts you pay on a monthly basis, such as mortgages, car loans, credit cards, and any other items with a fixed monthly payment. This list should not include payments for groceries, utilities, telephone services, or other general expenses. Call this list your monthly expenses. Determine your total gross monthly income. Include all sources of income that you would list on a loan application.

You are ready to determine a project budget. Use the following steps for this process; I have plugged numbers into the formulas to demonstrate how each works.

STEP 1
Lenders use a simple Debt-to-Income (DTI) ratio to determine if a homeowner can afford the additional debt of a remodeling project. DTI Enter Your Total Monthly Expenses $2,860.00 Add the Estimated Monthly Payment for the Project +$775.67 Total $3,635.67 Divide the Total by Your Gross Monthly Income $7,950.00 DTI = 45.7% Each lender will approve loans at a specific DTI percentage (most lenders will tell you what their set DTI ratio is, if you ask). In this example, let us assume that the lender accepts DTI ratios of 45 percent. You are right at the cusp of qualifying. Provided your credit rating is good and you have plenty of equity in your home you will most likely be approved for this loan.

STEP 2
The next step is to determine the maximum monthly payment you can afford for remodeling. Multiply your monthly gross income amount by the lender's maximum DTI allowance, and subtract your current total monthly expenses, excluding the estimated remodeling payment. Gross Monthly Income $7,950.00 Lender's DTI ratio x.45 Subtotal $3,577.50 Less Total Monthly Expenses -$2,860.00 Maximum Affordable Payment = $717.50 Use this figure to determine the maximum available to you to borrow. In this case we assume that the home improvement loan is a fifteen year note at seven percent. The maximum you can borrow is forty-seven thousand dollars for your project given this monthly payment. There are many different options you can explore with your lender during this process. These options can sometimes increase the amount you can borrow; it is best to discuss this thoroughly with lenders. We discuss financing in more detail in the next section.

STEP 3
The final consideration for your budget is if there is any available cash to supplement what you borrow for the project. These are funds not being set aside for future financial obligations such as retirement, college, or other major purchases (like a new car). They are not required for monthly or general expenses as well. In this example let us assume that you have three thousand dollars in excess funds available for the project. This brings your maximum project budget to fifty thousand dollars. The budget now becomes the overriding parameter that drives the project. Every decision from this point forward is made according to the limits set by the budget. The next thing to consider is the percentage of the budget necessary for contingencies. Contingencies are unexpected items that present themselves during the course of the project. The guideline is to set aside between five and twenty percent of your budget for contingencies. The actual percentage depends upon the complexity of the project. For instance, a new roof generally does not require other ancillary items be repaired or altered in order to install the roof. Therefore the minimum contingency of five percent is usually sufficient. On the other hand, a large addition to your home involves many more trades and materials that likely require the maximum contingency of twenty percent. As a rule if any portion of your existing walls, floors, or ceilings must be demolished or opened up in order to install the new materials you need a contingency towards the maximum. Although a professional architect and/or contractor have vast knowledge of the construction process he or she does not have X-ray vision. Often times there are situations that complicate construction contained within these areas that cannot possibly be known about until the area is opened. For our example we will assume you are putting on a small kitchen addition (referred to as a “bump-out”). Since you will have to open up an existing wall but the work area is concentrated to a small portion of the house a contingency of fifteen percent should suffice.

This means that the budget for actual construction that you present to the architect is forty-two thousand five hundred dollars. This is the parameter you want your design professional to use. You hold the seven thousand five hundred dollars in reserve to address any unforeseen expenses that occur once the project begins. You protect yourself from scrambling for extra funds in the middle of the upgrade; if you do not use all of the contingency, and there is no rule that says you have to, then you complete your project under budget (heretofore an unheard of occurrence in remodeling)!

Kitchen Remodel

Hints and Tips

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Remodeling your kitchen is a major event. You may be without the room entirely for most of the remodel process. There will be many different contractors and specialists coming in and out of your home. And changes in timelines may happen due to product availability or other unforeseen circumstances. All said, it is a major project that takes careful planning and attention to detail for a satisfactory outcome. Take your time to plan carefully and enlist professional help if you hit a brick wall and don't know how to make certain items or features work. We have given you the short list of some things you will need to consider before and during a kitchen remodel.

The Kitchen Remodel List

Sink with money going down drain

The Dreaming Stage: Evaluate your needs. What do you want to change about the existing layout, appliances, utility, storage, lighting, flooring, ascetics, etc. Consider how you use your kitchen - where do you prepare meals, cook meals and clean up. How can these used spaces be improved. What will make your ideal kitchen in the space you have available? Do you want to go as far as to restructure walls? Review the three basic layouts for kitchens: U-Shaped, L-Shaped and Galley. Which of these works with your kitchen use? You may also consider the "work triangle" which places the refrigerator, sink and stove in an easily accessible triangle to help optimize your kitchen tasks. Of course with the inclusion of other useful appliances and innovative cabinetry/counter space, you may think outside the triangle. Picture your ideal kitchen and write down the elements it includes.

The Reality Stage: Figure out your budget. How much can you afford to spend/finance to make your dream kitchen happen. Do this before any purchases are made or contracts signed. Knowing your budget limitations is a must so you don't get in over your head!

Your Timeline: Consider how much time you can be without a kitchen. You may want to plan ahead and have the remodel done when the kids are at college or you are certain not to have house guests, etc. Because of the scope of the remodel, knowing a timeline is essential to preventing some of the headaches involved with not having access to part of your home for weeks or even a month or two!

The Design: Now that you have your ideas, budget and timeline, you can contact an interior designer (some are now specialized as kitchen designers) to begin hacking out the reality. Now is when you determine which of these formats will best fit your ideal use of the space. The designer can help you determine how to make all your ideas work with the products available to you at your budget.

The Material Breakdown - There are many different types of materials for you cabinets, countertops, floors, etc.

  • Types of Cabinets: Cabinets either come with a framed or frameless design. You can get 'Flat Pack' or the do-it-yourself assembly-required variety, 'Stock' which are limited in size but are fully assembled, 'Built-to-Order' which are made at the factory and shipped and finally 'Custom' that usually include some factory pre-build and more fine tuning on installation. The cabinets can be stained, painted, laminated, and sometimes even made of material other than wood like metal. There are plenty of options to get carried away with. Review the options for the drawers, slide outs and other extras for the interior of you cabinets as well. Determine your style and use of your cabinets and you will still be overwhelmed by the choices!
  • Types of Countertops: Countertops can be natural stone such as granite or marble, sealed surfaces such as laminate or ceramic tiling, or manufactured surface material such as Corian. Laminate and ceramic tiles may offer a project for the do-it-yourselfer, but any of the other products will have to made to order and usually need professional installation to keep the warranty valid.
  • Types of Flooring: Just like any other room in your home, flooring options are endless. However this would not be a room for carpeting! Installing hardwood floors, Pergo flooring, vinyl, or tiles can be a do-it-yourself project or another one you hire out.

The Appliance Breakdown - The choices for appliances are abundant. When designing your new kitchen you will want to consider the size and layout of these major items. The layout of everything else in the room will be effected by the appliances you choose. You may decide to include appliances built into the cabinetry or countertop or keep them freestanding. Overall, you are considering your refrigerator, freezer, dish washer, microwave, stove top and oven.

The Kitchen Sink - The kitchen sink stands alone as a major item to consider. You may have a double sink, typical for hand washing dishes. You may have more than one sink including one on a workspace island or countertop. You may get a deep sink, shallow sink or a combination of both.

Permits: It is very likely a major kitchen remodel will need permits from your city or county government. Research these to get a good idea of what permits you will need. Your interior designer may be able to help with this. More likely, the contractor(s) that you work with will either do the permits themselves or be able to help you determine what permits you may need. Steer clear of a contractor who tells you that you can "get by" without getting a permit; it may sound like they are saving you money but in the long run they could cost you much more!

Hiring your Contractor(s): With a major kitchen remodel you may be using several different professionals. You may start with a general contractor, however, they may hire or you may need to hire specialists such as plumbers, electricians or tilers. Talk to several contractors and get estimates and references from each. Call the references and make sure to ask questions about estimate variations - some may substitute materials to cut costs. Discuss the timeline in detail with the contractor you choose.

Determine how they will work with any sub-contractors. For example, when does the electrician and plumber need to come in or when will you be ready for the tiler? What time of day will they begin work and what days of the week? What will the contractor do if there is a delay due to materials or labor? For even more information about hiring and making a contract with a contractor, please see our previous article How to Hire a Contractor: Working as a Team on Your Next Home Project.

Demolition: Once you have removed all the dishes and other small items, the big demolition will begin. Even if you are just replacing a small section or part, there may be demolition involved. Usually appliances are removed first, then sinks, then fixtures, then countertops, then cabinets and finally flooring.

The Remodel: After everything is taken out the first couple items that will be done will be any reframing, plumbing changes and electrical wiring. Any plumbing and electrical work will need to be inspected before they can be sealed back up. You may only have portions of wall removed for this type of work. Once the inspection is done and the walls are in place, the cabinets will usually be the first item installed. After the cabinets are in place, your new countertops will be installed. After the countertop and any backsplash is done, the flooring will be installed. The final items to be done will be all the finishing work such as installing light switches and fixtures, installing the sink and faucet, and finally, installing the appliances from the garbage disposal to the refrigerator. Keep in mind, if any of the appliances are built-in, they may be installed earlier. Extra care should be taken to make sure they are not damaged while other work continues!

If Things Go Wrong: Stay calm! Delays may happen. The worst case scenario is if there are any miscommunications between you and any of the professionals working on your home. This can be anything from timing to cost. Make sure to get all details in writing before any work begins!

  • You should have a section in your contract that states what is expected if there is a delay due to material delays, staffing delays, etc.
  • Stay involved in the process and don't be shy - get progress reports daily!
  • If a problem does arise, contact the contractor immediately, a good contractor will respond quickly and appreciate you speaking with them directly. If there is any question about the quality of work, you may consider having an inspection done early to ensure everything is on track.
  • Never pay for the job fully in advance. Many contracts work out a payment plan that will include paying a certain portion as various stages of the project are completed.
  • If there are disputes, make sure to write your concerns down and keep records that you have communicated all of these concerns with the contractor.
  • You will save yourself from a headache if you make sure to: Get it in writing, get the work described in detail and leave no questions unanswered.
  • Again see our article How to Hire a Contractor: Working as a Team on Your Next Home Project for more details about hiring contractors and sample contracts.

Finally - It's Done!: With a major remodel there may be another building inspection of the site on completion. Once that is done you are ready to clean up and move back in! Enjoy your new kitchen. Take pictures and keep a record of all your new appliance, cabinet and other big item warranties.

Conclusion

One of the most major remodels of the home is the kitchen. Take time to plan it out carefully, store a lot of patience, and get ready for one of the most intense but rewarding remodels to your home! It can be done, there are many people out there to help you get it all organized. We hope you find the above short list of things to consider for a kitchen remodel helpful. To the right of the article are some additional sites that will help get your creative ideas going. Enjoy! 

Other Useful Sites

Do It Yourself.com
ww.doityourself.com/scat/kitchenc
tchen remodeling will increase the design, function and resale value of a home. This section provides information about building kitchen cabinets, re-facing kitchen cabinets, selecting a kitchen cabinet style, selecting a kitchen countertop style, and planning a kitchen design that will look great and maximize the amount of available storage space.

HGTV
http://design.hgtv.com/kitchen/
HGTV KitchenDesign is your ultimate online destination for all things related to kitchens: design and decor, renovation and remodeling, appliances and products. Utilizing original video content as well as the rich television libraries of HGTV, Food Network, DIY and Fine Living, we show you everything you'll ever want to know about your kitchen.

Improve.net
www.improvenet.com
Welcome to ImproveNet's Kitchen Remodeling Center. In these and supporting pages, you'll find information and ideas for kitchen remodeling, from kitchen cabinets to kitchen countertops and everything in-between. Our goal is to inform you, give you kitchen remodeling ideas and direction and show you some examples of kitchen designs to get you started. For their kitchen cost estimator click here.

Kitchen Remodel Ideas
ww.kitchenremodelideas.com
itchenRemodelideas.com is a guide to new products for your kitchen.

Kitchens.com
ww.kitchens.com
Kitchens.com is the Web’s most comprehensive consumer resource on kitchen design. We invite you to: Be inspired by our Featured Kitchens and Photo Gallery. Learn the basics of Design and Products & Materials. Check out the latest New Product News and Trends. Follow the Kitchen Diaries for the homeowner perspective of the remodeling experience. Get started on your own kitchen project at Budget & Planning or our Professional Locator

National Kitchen & Bath Association
www.nkba.org
National Kitchen & Bath Association has created the NKBA Kitchen & Bath Workbook. This workbook will take you through every stage of creating that perfect space, whether it's new construction or a remodeling project. From selecting a designer, to collecting ideas and establishing a budget, this workbook will help turn your dreams into a reality.

Renovation Experts
www.renovationexperts.com/green-kitchen.asp
Whatever the reasons and goals are, there are more options available today for Greening your kitchen. Green kitchen design can be eco-friendly with out losing luxury and style.

This Old House
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Clean to Green

Spring clean your way to the ultimate garage sale!

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The days are longer, the temperatures are becoming pleasant and our energy levels are up as we begin to stretch out of our winter hibernation - spring is here! Time to harness some of the new energy and get the spring cleaning out of the way. Although some demigods may have immaculate households and not heed this tradition, most of us do have a bit (or more) of collected clutter and dust around the home. Spring cleaning is a great opportunity to remove dust, mold, toxins and clutter from our households. And as we clean, we notice a pile emerge of unused and unwanted "stuff." This gathered hoard of old décor, books, electronics and exercise gadgets should not be squirreled away for another year! Instead, incorporate into your spring cleaning the determination to get this "stuff" out the door through a garage sale (real or virtual) or off to charity.

Spring Cleaning

Spring cleaning for most households is a family tradition. According to the contributors to Wikipedia, evidence of spring cleaning can be seen in ancient civilizations - from the Jewish tradition of cleaning the house before Passover to the Iranian "khooneh tekouni" or "shaking the house." Many Americans grew up in households where there was a yearly purge of dust and "bad air" from the winter months. This too comes from earlier times when fires of coal and wood were the primary source of heat and rural households sometimes bundled down with the livestock indoors. For this reason, some argue that spring cleaning is not a necessity with our modern furnaces, solid windows and cleaner spaces. Consider this a time then to do the very best cleaning of all your living spaces, appliances and work areas. We all skimp on cleaning out the fridge or stove, now is the time to hit these areas thoroughly. Below we have listed some common items to clean during this sweep. For a more detailed list to help on your cleaning, we have also provided a "Spring Cleaning Checklist."

Common Spring Cleaning Tasks:

Dust ceilings, walls, corners, light fixtures, base boards, vents, and furniture

Wipe down walls, light-switches, outlets, doorknobs and handles

Clean blinds, curtains, drapes, window sills and windows

Clean doormats, bathmats, and area rugs

Shampoo the carpets

Clean the hardwoods and vinyl

Dust and wipe down furniture, cabinets, shelves and countertops

Clear the clutter and get items back where they belong

Consider items for a garage sale, charity run, or dare to think it - re-gift it!

Remember to click here for a detailed Spring Cleaning Checklist! WORD | PDF

Other important items (while your at it):

  • Update important documents in safe or safety deposit box
  • Update emergency plans and phone trees
  • Review emergency plans with family members
  • Review all medications in your household for expirations
  • Review first aid kits - these don't last forever and you may need to replace some items or the whole kit Also review any other emergency kits
  • Test and change batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors

Garage Sale

Now that you have cleaned your house, you have gathered "stuff" that you no longer use, need or want. Your gathered hoard of goodies will probably include:

  • Unwanted décor
  • CDs / DVDs / Games
  • Books
  • Dishes / Glasses / Cups
  • Kitchen Gadgets/Small Appliances
  • Exercise Gadgets
  • Craft Goods
  • Small Electronic Devices

Now what?

Getting ready for a garage sale can be a daunting task and should be handled with the same planning and care you would give to a major event - just try to keep it fun - you're planning for a big block party where you get to meet your neighbors and make some money! Here are some basic guidelines:

  1. Take inventory of your gathered hoard: :Literally list the items as you place them in boxes/bags until the weather is nice for the sale. This will help you organize items. It is very helpful if you begin this process during your spring cleaning.
  2. Consider items for charity: If you have some highly valued items, such as gently warn winter coats or clothing, consider giving some of these items to charity. You may try to sell most items and then give the leftovers to charity. However, don't use your local charity as a dump - be realistic and keep only usable items for these organizations.
  3. Set a date: Choose a day where you can rest well the night before and commit your full energy the day of the event. Keep the big day reasonable - if you are not a morning person - don't open a garage sale at 8am. With the right advertising you should be able to set your hours and stick to them.
  4. Be firm on your choices: If you haven't used an item in a year, then it is a very good chance you won't use it again. Let go of any emotional attachments to items - even if you mother gave you that clock you never use you can let it go. Instead, keep the more personalized items like photos or something handmade. Every gift is not a treasure! Remember - it was the thought that counted - not the unworn tie!
  5. Know the going rate: Review other garage sales in your area to see how similar items are being priced. Check online for prices on trade sites such as eBay.
  6. Showcase your items: Hang clothes, put small items in baggies, etc. Keeping your selection clean and neat will help buyers decide quickly. Also, label all of your prices. One box of "10 cents each" may be okay, but try to keep most items clearly priced and labeled.
  7. Advertise and make signs: These days advertising a garage sale is not only done in the paper. You can post announcements to online localized sites such as Craigslist and even most Penny Savers have an online option as well. When you make your signs keep them clear, big and simple. Make certain to take them down as soon as your sale is over.
  8. Change from the bank: Before the big day make sure to get some change for the cashbox. Decide beforehand if you will accept a checks and under what conditions or for which particular items.
  9. Prep your sale table: Besides your cashbox, prep your sale table with bags, newspaper to wrap fragile items, paper and pens, maybe a few good munchies and some items for you to do during any slow lulls.

Online Garage Sale

Now perhaps you have items left over from your garage sale or prefer to sell from the comfort at your computer desk at your own pace. Just keep in mind that selling items online will require more time as you write descriptions, place photos and run to the post office. If you have the patience or enjoy the idea of a virtual garage sale, these sites will help you get your unwanted items moving out the door! Amazon Marketplace: If you are a bit of a bibliophile and need to thin your collection, the

Amazon Marketplace can be a great option to sell used books, CDs, DVDs and more. Keep in mind that to list is free, but there are fees when an item sells. Considered more user-friendly than similar sites, it is worthwhile to check it out. http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=1161232

BarterBee.com: A site specifically geared towards recycling CDs, DVDs and computer or consol games between households. Once you sign up for a membership, you list your used items for sale. Sell items to get points. You can then use those points to buy other CDs, DVDs or games that you want to try out. Of course you wouldn't use this site to make cash - points are used for like items. http://www.barterbee.com/

Craigslist: An online mismatch of services, used goods and announcements by city location. Here you may be able to find used items cheap. It can be the ordinary like used furniture to the not so common. For example, I once found someone who had new pavers left over from a patio project that they were willing to sell at a discount just to get them off their lawn. You may also be able to find cheap services such as yard work. However, users beware, there are no regulations on this site and you should take precautions when working with anyone on this list. This site definitely has a mixed history of great successes and terrible wrongs. Be careful. http://www.craigslist.org/about/sites

eBAY: One of the most popular and well known online auction stops, eBay has been around since 1995. Users have the ability to rank other users for the ease of trade transactions. Probably the biggest garage sale on the internet. http://www.ebay.com/

Etsy: Buy and sell handmade items - a great source for crafters and home artisans of all medias. This site allows you to sell your talented pieces or purchase others for less than gallery prices. http://www.etsy.com/

JunkDepot: An online clearing house where you can list your items for sale. To list is $.99 per item and there is a 6 month limit to your posting. http://www.junkdepot.com/

Oodle Classifieds: An online classified search machine that searches 80,000 sources. You can also post your classified adds as well. http://www.oodle.com/

Sell.com: Another online classified site that allows you to list items for sale - a basic add is free and there are no transaction fees once an item sells. You can get a few more bells and whistles for a cost. http://www.sell.com/

Silkfair: Another online trade site that strives to make your life easier with fewer fees and an easy to use interface. A good alternative to check out if interested in selling or buying items online. http://www.silkfair.com/

SwapThing: This site allows for consumers to trade and barter items or services. There is also the option to do flat out sales. Unlike an auction site, you can barter privately and do not have to list items for auction. You enter what you want and it will match you with others who have it available. http://www.swapthing.com/home/index.jsp