Tag Archives: home remodel

9 questions you should ask when picking your ideal kitchen countertop surface

Itching to update your kitchen with new counter tops?  The choices are plentiful with many new exciting trends to watch.  To help make the process less intimidating and more rewarding later, I believe it is important to first ask yourself some questions  about the types of surface choices and how they may suit your needs.

9 Questions you should ask yourself to ensure a perfect match for your new kitchen counter top surface:

1) Feel: Do you want your counter to be smooth vs textured?

2) Appearance:  Do you desire a solid or consistent color vs  more natural that has granules, veining or that’s patterned?

3) Material: Do you want a natural vs manmade material?

4) Durability:  Can I chop, slice, and dice directly on my counter tops?

5) Water resistance:  Will I want to roll dough directly on them?

6) Heat Resistance:  Can I set hot pots directly on them?

7)  Stain Resistance:  Can I spill lemon,  orange juice or red wine on them?

8)  Maintenance:  Do I have the time and diligence to reseal them routinely?

9)  Do I want an integral sink that matches the countertop?

Over the next few days, I’ll be discussing the various choices in surface types, along with the pros and cons of each including projected costs.  In the meantime, please feel free to ask a question or provide feedback.

How to maximize your home value with home improvements

Many areas across our country have been hit hard with declining real estate values.  As a result, more and more people are looking at ways to stay in their current home and ride-out the decline.  As I like to say, learn to “love the home you’re with”.  By completing a few critical home repairs or improvements, homeowners can actually add value to their home by increasing its equity and marketability.  Even better, there are many options that can be done yourself that won’t break your bank.  When you can tackle smaller projects yourself, you save even more money.

Invest wisely:

Invest your time and money into wise improvements.  Before tackling larger projects, consider the resale value of those improvements.  Will you get all or most of your money spent back equally in the increased resale value?   Renovating your home can also improve your quality of life.   Any upgrade should reflect your style, but try to choose colors, building materials and furnishings that will bring you maximum marketability for resale. Even low cost improvements like painting can go a long way.

Consider Functionality

Will the renovation serve a purpose for your family?  Does it fit into your lifestyle?  Will it improve the use of a current space?  Consider the size, location and layout of any addition to ensure it blends well into your current surroundings.

Go Eco-Friendly

Let’s face it, with current tax credits available and all the buzz about carbon footprints and going green, this should be a very important part of your investment decision.  Not only do energy efficient improvements save money on utility costs or take advantage of recycled building materials, they are becoming a hot selling factor in homes which increases your marketability resale value to buyers.  Insulated windows, lighting, solar panels or other energy saving features are among the available options to homeowners.    There are also a variety of building materials that are available in eco-friendly options such as flooring, natural fiber carpets, VOC free paints, recycled material countertops, etc.

Popular Options for Home Improvements:

Fresh Paint Inside and Out: By far, this is the least expensive and easiest way to get a lot of bang for your buck.  Don’t overlook door trims, exterior paint, corners and doors.  Chipped or dirty paint in a desirable color does nothing for resale value, but a fresh coat of paint says “welcome in”.  Go over your home inside and out from a buyer’s perspective and ensure your paint is in its best condition and clean.

Landscaping/Outdoor Amenities: As families are getting back outside to enjoy time together and entertaining, patios and decks are a good option for any property. Decks and patio additions can recoup at least 75% of their cost in extra home value.  Flower beds, brick walkways, fresh mulch and other landscaping add instant curb appeal.  Curb appeal will be the first thing any real estate agent will look at when you go to sell your home.

Kitchen or Bathroom upgrade: These two rooms historically bring the best resale value to homes when updated in current finishes.  You might be surprised that by doing even a budget kitchen makeover, it will go a long way on the value you get in return.

Survey your floors and cabinets to determine if they should be updated.  Consider sanding, staining, or painting dingy looking cabinets.  Replacing old cabinet hardware can add a lot of visual appeal for a low cost.  Old and worn sinks and fixtures should be replaced.

For some budget kitchen makeover ideas:

http://agirlcandoit.com/2010/04/21/6-quick-and-easy-tips-for-a-budget-kitchen-makeover/

For some budget bathroom makeover ideas:

http://agirlcandoit.com/2010/04/27/portfolio-bathroom-remodel/

http://agirlcandoit.com/2010/04/28/portfolio-bathroom-remodel-2/


Preparing for a “Green” baby – 6 DIY tips for an eco friendly nursery

Don’t worry, your baby won’t be a little green alien.  Although sometimes, it may feel like it with the jabs and rolling motions of the little life inside you waiting to make his or her appearance in this world.  Having a baby is life changing.  Most expectant parents want to do their best to prepare for their new arrival, so it makes sense to embrace a lifestyle change to eco-friendly if you haven’t already, starting right in the nursery.

Here are some eco-friendly home improvement options when planning your new nursery:

1)  Follow your nose

Lead is no longer found in newer paints found in stores, but there is another chemical you should become aware of: volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) How can something that says its organic be bad you ask?  The VOC culprits emit toxic fumes and invisible gases from common household items such as paints, flooring or even a new vinyl shower curtain.

Thankfully, many major paint brands now offer low or no-VOC paints.  Check the labels!

2)  Now I lay me down to sleep

Add a corded dimmer switch to your lights that are next to your cozy chair so it’s always within reach.   A little night-light  also provides sufficient lighting in the dark at lower wattage use.

3)  Beyond the 5 second rule

Crawling around on the floor can have its disadvantages for baby.  Carpet is one of the most toxic elements that you can put in any home.  Carpets can harbor dust mites and other allergens.   Even worse, new synthetic carpets can emit gaseous VOCs.

Options to keep the nursery carpet-free:  bamboo flooring, cork or carpet tiles.  Add softness to the bamboo floors using a natural fiber rug or mat.   If you don’t like the idea of carpet free, at least consider one made of natural fibers such as wool, cotton, hemp or jute and don’t forget about checking the padding!

4)   Let the sun shine in

Cordless cellular shades (available through Levolor) is just that…cord free! This is the safest option for curious little fingers.  Use natural fiber window coverings to compliment your color scheme and room decor.

5)  The air we breath

An air purifier improves indoor air quality by removing allergens such as dust, pollen, mold and pet dander.    The Idylis air purifier from Lowes claims to remove 99.9% of airborne allergens.

HEPA filtration on vacuums also helps reduce airborne allergens.

6)  Keeping it clean

Using eco-friendly cleaners are the safer alternative for your whole home.  Even a little vinegar, baking soda, etc. can do a great job cleaning without the harmful chemicals.

A Home Remodel Series (Part 5-Retile a Shower)

At last, today is moving day for my friend!  Her mini-home remodel is complete and the construction dust is gone.    My friend went from vanilla everything to “wow” by making subtle changes with color and a few finishes.  Concluding our home remodel series we started last week, her master bath shower and tub, like the rest of her home,  were white on white.

To see where we started and what we’ve done, click here:

http://agirlcandoit.com/2010/04/27/a-home-remodel-series-part-1-before-demo/

For such a large and bright space, it lacked a lot of personality.  With some paint and new tile, see the room take on a new life below.

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A Home Remodel Series (Part 4-How to install wood flooring)

The finished project

Continuing our series on following the progress at my friend’s home remodel, part of their wood flooring in the dining room had been damaged by a water leak from the adjacent kitchen.

See what all we are covering in this series by clicking the link below:

http://agirlcandoit.com/2010/04/27/a-home-remodel-series-part-1-before-demo/

Wood floors add a lot of warmth and character to any room.  They are exceptionally durable and a good quality wood floor is meant to last for years and years.  Unfortunately, in the case of my friend’s home,  wood and water do not agree and the resulting buckled wood flooring was not salvageable.

Wood floors damaged by water leak

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A Tween Girls Bedroom Design

A Tween Girl’s Bedroom-Easy and inexpensive decorating ideas

I am blessed with a very quick witted and enjoyable tween daughter.  With a college student moving on and another teen son taking over a bigger room, my daughter has an opportunity to also move to a bigger bedroom within our home which will leave behind her current room.   Her current bedroom (above) is already decorated in a style that most TEEN girls would die for, so it pains me to disassemble it.

It may seem odd to give up her current room’s modern and trendy appeal, but there is a valid story and a certain amount of guilt behind it.  When we first moved into our home, I painted her room the pink it is now.  Florals, gingham check were the visions of “little girl” I once had for my daughter.  Turning 7, she wanted something a little more hip and definitely anything BUT pink!

Not having the heart to repaint so quickly or do away with some decor pieces already in her space, I regrettably convinced her to “compromise”.  So with a new comforter set and pillows priced at less than $200, along a few intentional decor pieces purchased on sale at Hobby Lobby for under $100 and a little creativity, we had a complete budget room makeover for less than $300.

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A Home Remodel Series- Part 2 (replacing bathroom faucets)

Continuing the progress at my friend’s home remodel  http://agirlcandoit.com/2010/04/27/a-home-remodel-series-part-1-before-demo/ , they had 5 bathroom faucets to replace.  With new faucets running as inexpensive as $40 and up, this is an affordable update to make to your space style-wise.

First and most importantly,  make sure that your new faucet needs the same number of holes as your old faucet.  In other words, some sink faucets only need one hole in your counter tops whereas some others need 3 or 4.  Sometimes it might just be easier to take the old faucet with you to your local store to ensure a match.

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Portfolio Bathroom Remodel 2

Another portfolio for bathroom makeover ideas!  This bathroom was a late 80′s vanilla room with oak cabinets, tulip track lighting, marbled vanity and tub with white tile and beige carpet. See how it goes from “ho-hum” to “wow”
Some of the projects completed like tile and faucet replacement will take a little more know-how, but in time, will be talking about all of this on this site.

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Portfolio Bathroom Remodel

Bathroom remodel-Before

Bathroom Remodel Before

Bathroom remodel progress

Bathroom remodel-After

Bathroom remodel-After

This bathroom update project involved:
1) repainting existing cabinets in a satin black
2) Installing new cabinet hardware in brushed nickel and retro glass knobs
3) framing the existing mirror
4) new glass mosaic tile counter tops purchased from Home Depot, drop in sinks and faucets from Home Depot
5) new floor tile (4″ x 4″ black, 12″ x 12″ white and 4″ x 4″ blue glass)all from Home Depot
6) new tiles dispersed in shower(chiseled out random tiles so that a complete shower demo would not be required)
7) Paint-”Shale Blue” by Ralph Lauren from Home Depot
If you’d like to complete a project like this and just don’t know how, comment back and I’ll try to help with the “how to” advice!  Many of these topics will be covered on this site.  You CAN do it!

Remodeling on the Rise, Not Home Sales

Here is some great information about why it may be a good time to love the home you are with!

Excerpts:

NEW YORK, April 21 (Reuters) – U.S. home improvement spending is expected to rise 5 percent in the United States in 2010, but the surge might not foretell an increase in sales of new homes.

But an American Express Co (AXP.N) survey found that only 5 percent of homeowners are preparing their homes for sale and that 53 percent see a seller’s market at least two years away.

The majority – 53 percent – of the projects involve indoor remodeling, with cosmetic work (36 percent), re-doing a room (25 percent), and installing new flooring (14 percent) topping the list.

“It’s clear from this month’s survey findings that Americans’ most prized possessions are their homes and they are committed to continuing to enhance its appearance and value in spite of the softer real estate market,” said Pamela Codispoti, American Express senior vice president and general manager, Cardmember Services.

She added that homeowners are doing so responsibly by funding the projects “within their financial means.”

Sources:  ecreditdaily.com, reuters.com