Working on your home can be a daunting prospect. Your mind may be flooded with ideas. You may be overloaded with advice from family and friends. You may be grappling with big questions, such as: Should we stay or should we move? Should we extend or simply tweak the space we already have?
The biggest obstacle can simply be knowing where to begin. If this is the case, it’s time to step back, gather your thoughts and apply a little objectivity to the process. Whether you’re planning a whole-house makeover or a fundamental reorganization, here are some ideas for how to go about creating a home that meets your needs in the best possible way.
Starting Point 1: Ambient Architecture, original photo on Houzz
Plan a methodical makeover. When major work isn’t required but the whole house needs a face-lift, work systematically through each room to establish the extent of the work and outlay required. Start in the hall — it typically needs more thought than you might imagine — and work logically from there.
Think methodically about each room in terms of floor, walls, ceiling, lighting and furnishings. Prepare a list of items to be purchased and building or decorative work to be done. You’re aiming to create a priced inventory of all the material needed for a successful project.
You may find it useful to create a shopping list with relevant dimensions on your phone or in a dedicated notebook for handy reference on the go.
Start with issues, not solutions. If significant alterations or even an extension are envisaged, take time at the outset to reflect on what’s propelling you to undertake the work in the first place.
Think specifically of what your issues are in terms of space, light and storage. Exploiting each of these elements to its fullest is key to creating a home that fits your needs like a glove. Whatever your space and budget, there’s an optimal solution for each part of this home-design trinity.
Also bear in mind the present and future life stages of members of the household — from toddlers to school children to young adults – and how your home will need to respond to each.
Starting Point 2: Black Fox Interiors, original photo on Houzz
Compare what you have with what you want. Where your issues relate to use of space, start by preparing an inventory of the rooms you have now and how they’re used. Next, itemize the spaces you’d like to have and the uses you need to accommodate. Imagine you’re writing the brief for your ideal home.
Comparing both these lists should identify any “gaps” that need to be filled. The challenge then is to see whether your existing home can be rethought to meet these needs.
For example, can the extra living room you desire be accommodated in a first-floor room? Or in a loft? Can the guest bedroom double as a home office? Be broad in your thinking to achieve best use of your resources, both spatial and financial.
Maximize your existing space. If you feel you need more space, first check that the rooms you already have are working sufficiently hard before deciding whether to extend.
Perhaps you even have an unused room. Could it be reinvented and put to work in a different way? Is it actually a problem room — with issues of light, warmth or arrangement that need to be solved before it can be put to any use?
Could the dividing walls between the rooms at the back of your house be removed to create that coveted kitchen/dining/family room?
If you do decide to extend, make sure that the existing house flows into the extension and that, between both areas, your needs in terms of space and storage are fully met.
Starting Point 3: Dorman Architects, original photo on Houzz
Boost natural light. If light is your main concern, a light-filled extension might seem a tempting vision. But bear in mind that such an extension may reduce light in your existing spaces.
Large windows to even the tiniest of external spaces can transform the light levels in any room. So, too, can light tubes, always a powerful source of light.
Where space and planning controls permit, a garden room, such as the one in this photo, can expand your space without impinging on the quality of light in the main house. Depending on the orientation of your home, the garden room may even enjoy better sunlight than the main rooms.
Manage your storage. Your aim throughout the house should be to achieve storage that’s both convenient and appropriate to what’s being stored.
You may think your existing storage is woefully inadequate, but before ripping it out and starting again, ask yourself: Could it work harder?
In the kitchen, for example, rearranging the contents of existing drawers and adding cabinet shelves can free up valuable space. This thinking can be applied to closets, linen cabinets and all other special storage areas around the house. Your main outlay here will be time, not money.
Starting Point 4: Domus Nova, original photo on Houzz
Turn a “problem room” into a successful one. If there’s a room in your home that’s shunned and avoided, you may well have a problem room.
However, there’s always a reason why a room is not used. It may, for example, be physically or architecturally cold, uninviting in its furniture arrangement or just dark and gloomy.
Make an effort to find out what doesn’t work in your problem room, explore possible solutions and get cost estimates for the work involved. Could you take down a wall, as in this inviting, open-plan space? Even moving a door or a radiator can transform a room — and for a fraction of the cost of an extension.
Prioritize the fundamentals. Tackle issues of watertightness, plumbing, electricity and thermal insulation in the first instance.
You won’t see visual benefits, but a warm, snug home is a springboard to greater things.
Starting Point 5: Eoin Lyons, original photo on Houzz
Seek professional advice. There’s no end of advice available when undertaking work on your home. Everyone around you will have an opinion, and you’ll find a huge volume of inspiration from a variety of sources.
The downside is that, amid all this, you risk becoming addled and even paralyzed, unable to figure out what you need to do and how to do it.
If you do find you’re out of your depth, seek expert, paid guidance. A good professional will advise you on how best to spend your money and help you avoid costly mistakes. The earlier you involve a professional in your project — even if it’s just for a one-off consultation — the better.
Stay focused. Whatever scale of work you take on, resolve to stay focused to the very end. Renovation work tends to be a long and tiring process, and you may be tempted along the way to delegate minor — or even major — decisions to outside parties.
Those decisions you delegate may haunt you. Remember, your aim is to create a home that fits like a glove.
By Eva Byrne, Houzz
Our series on reader renovations of kitchens, bathrooms and laundry rooms has garnered many comments, with plenty of readers chiming in about the features they love. Here, we round up some of the brightest ideas from the Reader Projects featured so far. Perhaps you’d like to try them in your own project.
Reader Remodels 1: Original photo on Houzz
Related: See More Bathroom Remodeling Ideas
Reader Remodels 2: Original photo on Houzz
1. Aging in Place in California
Bathroom at a Glance
Who lives here: Beth Sawatzky
Location: Healdsburg, California
Size: 50 square feet (4.6 square meters)
Total cost: $22,026
Construction time: One month
Great idea: Adding grab bars and a curbless shower. These features anticipate the need to accommodate a wheelchair — or even just avoid the potential hazard, as the homeowner ages, of stepping over a shower curb.
“Wow — that bathroom would be a positive sales feature for a buyer of any age,” writes Jannie in a comment. “I’d like to see the aging-in-place adaptations built into more homes from the get-go. Just the curbless showers and reinforced framing for super sturdy grab bars would be so much cheaper to do on the initial build.”
Reader Remodels 3: Original photo on Houzz
2. An Update in San Francisco
Kitchen at a Glance
Who lives here: Houzzer Christa Martin and her husband
Location: San Francisco Bay Area
Size: 90 square feet (8.4 square meters)
Cost: About $35,600
Construction time: Three weeks
Reader Remodels 4: Original photo on Houzz
Great idea: A a pullout pantry placed between the refrigerator and the wall ovens.
Reader Remodels 5: Original photo on Houzz
3. Enjoying the Views in Washington
Kitchen at a Glance
Who lives here: Jo Ann Snover and her husband
Location: Woodinville, Washington
Size: 350 square feet (32.5 square meters)
Construction time: Four months
Reader Remodels 6: Original photo on Houzz
Great idea: This Seattle-area kitchen renovation has a couple of ideas you might want to steal. It removes cabinetry to make room for light — and in this case, beautiful views. To make up for losing those cabinets, the homeowners added some under-the-stairs pullouts where they stash appliances.
By Erin Carlyle, Houzz
We love brick. Who doesn’t? The building material of choice for ages, it is revered for its rich, organic texture, color and visual interest. And it only gets better with time, the color having more depth after baking in the sun for years.
If you’re building or remodeling and brick will be part of your home’s exterior, it’s worth considering how different siding materials can be paired with brick to create different design and textural effects. Here we look at five distinct siding options — horizontal, shingle, board and batten, stucco and metal — that work hand-in-glove with classic brick.
Siding 1: Bennett Frank McCarthy Architects, Inc., original photo on Houzz
Horizontal siding comes in many forms, including vinyl sheets, wood planks and fiber cement boards. It offers many design possibilities that can break up the look of dense brick and add visual interest.
1. Go wide and modern. The aesthetic of horizontal dark-stained wood siding skews modern when installed above brick on this remodeled, split-level home. This rich style of siding gives the pictured home a sleek appeal; similar siding can be used to transform a tired exterior into an updated jewel.
2. Choose a precise color match. If you’re going for a completely new look for the exterior, consider color-matching your siding and brick. The result is a cohesive main color field that gives trim and shutters a chance to stand out.
3. Create a subtle accent. The siding adds a modest decorative element on a home that might look less interesting in solid brick.
Siding 2: Brooks Ballard, original photo on Houzz
Cedar shingles, or shakes, as they are also known, are versatile in terms of their look and how they can be installed. Whether you use real wood or a composite material, keep them natural, stain them or paint them, they can be used with brick to evoke various architectural styles.
1. Dress up a Craftsman. The shingles here are the cherry on top of this quintessentially Craftsman-style home, with its deep overhang, decorative brackets and columns. The shingles are stained to coordinate nicely with the brick at the skirting and base of the columns.
2. Be dramatic and modern. Dark colors are striking when used as the predominant color on an exterior.
3. Go beachy. This type of siding, originally used on this style of home on the East Coast, was intended to withstand a harsh Atlantic weather beating, requiring little care. If you have a brick-clad Cape Cod, the cedar shingles are a design detail you may not want to leave out.
Siding 3: Meridith Baer Home, original photo on Houzz
Board and Batten
This classic siding installation is characterized by wide, vertical wooden boards joined together with a strip of wood or “batten” covering the seam. When paired with brick, each element has enough of its own distinct visual appeal that they both shine.
1. Paint it out. In this photo, the board and batten and the brick are painted to match each other, as well as the trim and doors. This works to allow for one popping accent color on the shutters. Color matching the elements also allows the the natural lines of the vertical boards to create a subtle textural contrast with the lines of the brick.
2. Keep the eye rising. The vertical installation of board and batten siding draws the eye upward and gives the illusion of some extra height. Here’s another color-choosing trick for siding: Look to your brick’s mortar for the shade that works best with your house.
Siding 4: Studio C Architecture & Interiors, original photo on Houzz
Another versatile material that can work well with many different architectural styles, stucco cooperates naturally with brick. Why? Their respective textures play off each other so well. The relative flatness of the stucco can work beautifully as a canvas for brick’s coarse nature and make it really stand out.
1. Layer the texture. This photo is a great example of how stucco can work as expected with brick on a very classic and traditional Tudor-style house. It also reveals the dense texture of the stucco. This material is available in finishes ranging from smooth to coarse, and layering a rougher stucco with brick’s natural surface can be an appealing look.
2. Use brick as the accent. Using the brick as an accent to the stucco is a great option in some parts of the country where brick is not as plentiful or if budget is a concern, as brick is the more expensive material of the two.
Siding 5: carterwilliamson architects, original photo on Houzz
Perhaps not as ubiquitous as the other siding options, metal is a great choice for your brick house if you’re looking for something provocative and unexpected. It’s also versatile and available in many forms, and it can be installed vertically, horizontally or diagonally, depending on the look you’re after.
1. Use it as part of a design recipe. As the French mirepoix mix of celery, carrot and onion is the foundation of many culinary dishes, so the combination of metal, brick and wood often is the basis of modern architectural design. In this photo, the metal works in conjunction with the other materials to create a delightful harmony of elements, each with its own visual interest.
2. Create tension. The dark of the metal is the perfect material to play off the warmth of the red brick, providing a smart design tension between the modern and the traditional.
By Nicole Jacobs, Houzz
Newlyweds Zach and Sam weren’t looking for the typical three-bedroom, two-bathroom home; their list was, let’s say, unique. So, what was important to them? At the top of the list: a claw foot bathtub, wood burning fireplace, acreage close to town, and lots of trees. Windermere agent, Mary Ahmann Hibbard, made it her goal to find them the perfect home. After having a house fall through, “the “one” came on the market. Mary knew before her clients even walked the property that they would love it. In Sam’s words, “It was an instantaneous love for the house”.
Today Zach and Sam have turned the 3.44 acres into their own little country farm, including a yurt where Sam operates her Mountain Bluebird preschool. As Sam affectionately puts it, “Mary has a way with matching her clients up with the perfect home. She found us not only a home, but our forever home.”
“You’re never too old, too wacky, too wild, to pick up a book and read to a child.” ~Dr. Seuss
Today is Read Across America Day! What started out in 1997 as a move to create a day to celebrate reading by the National Education Association, turned into an official day of observance in 1998. Read Across America Day became an official day to be observed on March 2 or on the closest school day to that date each year. This particular date was selected to promote reading for children because it is the birth date of Dr. Seuss, author of many famous children’s books.
Although not officially a national holiday, it is observed across the country by schools and libraries, taking a lead role in promoting the day. You can observe the day by picking up an interesting book and reading it with a child. Or you can find a Read Across America event by clicking on this link and searching by state. You can also add an event to this site by taking the Read Across Pledge.
The Windermere Foundation is proud to support school and community programs that provide resources for students in need, like the Olympic Hills Elementary School library. Through a grant from the Windermere Foundation, Olympic Hills Elementary School was able to purchase 130 new books for its library.
If you’d like to help support programs in your community, please click the Donate button and specify the Windermere Real Estate office near you. Donations made to offices will go to help non-profits in the communities they serve through Windermere Foundation grants.
To learn more about the Windermere Foundation, visit http://www.windermere.com/foundation.
As far as design goes, bedrooms are pretty straightforward. Pick the typical necessary components — bed, nightstands, dresser — and you’ve got a bedroom. But too often homeowners stop there. The designers for these three bedrooms didn’t. They took a holistic approach, embraced built-ins and celebrated simple white walls to turn what could have been ordinary rooms into spaces worth bragging about.
Related: Discover Nighstands in Every Style
Bedroom Projects 1: Erik Biishoff, original photo on Houzz
1. Holistic Approach
Designer: Architect David Edrington
Location: Eugene, Oregon
Size: 14 by 28 feet (4.2 by 8.5 meters)
Year built: 2007
Homeowners’ request: A cozy bedroom with a great view and access to an outdoor room with a comfortable place to sit. This was part of a new home.
Plan of attack: Architect David Edrington used an architectural method detailed in a book titled A Pattern Language to help flesh out the deeper idea of how the homeowners wanted the bedroom to function and how it should be experienced in terms of intimacy, which direction the bed should face and the flow to other rooms. “The primary patterns were ‘intimacy gradient,’ ‘sleeping to the east,’ ‘sleeping alcove’ and ‘the flow through rooms,’” Edrington says.
Why the design works: Simplicity and smart planning. “My work is about the common principles that come from the human experience with spaces,” Edrington says. “The beauty of this bedroom comes not from any unique situation or odd problem that needed to be solved. The beauty comes from the simplicity of the decisions guided by A Pattern Language. The bed is in an alcove-like space that is just big enough for the bed, side tables and room to move around. It has windows on three sides, including one on the east for morning light and several on the west for the evening view of the Oregon Coast Range.
Bedroom Projects 2: Erik Biishoff, original photo on Houzz
“Opposite the bed is a sitting space just big enough for two people, with a fireplace and some book storage. The fireplace is raised, so it’s visible from the bed. The proportions of the room are about 2:1, which means it’s naturally two spaces. In between the two spaces there is a thick half wall made of cabinets and columns and beams, which is a continuation of a theme used throughout the house.
“The room has a gently vaulted ceiling that supports the cozy human scale. The walls and ceilings are made of integral colored plaster, which is also a continuation of the wall finishes used throughout the house. The cabinets, windows, trim and other wood detailing is done in Douglas fir, because that’s our local wood and it has a beautiful color and grain.”
Who uses it: A couple in their late 50s and early 60s, who work at home
The nitty-gritty: Cabinets: clear Douglas fir, The Cabinet Factory; walls: colored plaster; floors: bamboo, Imperial Floors
Team involved: Dorman Construction (general contractor); Erik Bishoff (photographer)
Bedroom Projects 3: Garcia Stromberg, original photo on Houzz
2. Embracing Built-Ins
Designer: Garcia Stromberg
Location: Stuart, Florida
Size: 14 by 20 feet (4.2 by 6 meters)
Homeowners’ request: A contemporary yet classic look with clean, straight lines
Designer secret: Strategically planned built-ins save space.
Plan of attack: Create as much livable space as possible, then focus on the view. “Then the built-ins brought the whole room together,” designer Garcia Stromberg says.
Why the design works: “The design of the linear lines worked flawlessly with the natural colors that were incorporated from the view of the outdoors,” Stromberg says.
What wasn’t working: “The biggest challenge was the narrow space and fitting a comfortable amount of furnishings and decorations in the space while still portraying a contemporary look,” Stromberg says.
Splurges and savings: The homeowners saved on furnishings but splurged on built-ins.
Team involved: Palm City Millwork Inc.
Bedroom Projects 4: Eric Charles, original photo on Houzz
3. Off-the-Shelf White Walls
Designer: Carley Montgomery
Location: Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles
Size: 20 by 28 feet (6 by 8.5 meters), or 560 square feet (52 square meters)
Year built: 2015
Homeowner’s request: This home was built on spec for a future owner. Carley Montgomery acted as the architectural designer, interior designer, general contractor and developer. She envisioned modern clean lines and flexible living space for this house, which could be used as a guest house, an office or an artist’s studio.
Designer secret: Plain white walls. “Everyone gets all crazy trying to pick the perfect white,” Montgomery says. “While in many circumstances this is vital to match the furniture or warm a space with a hint of color, I find off-the-shelf white is the most universal, easy and safe color for modern homes.”
Plan of attack: Montgomery designed the home from the ground up, positioning it to capitalize on unobstructed views. Large floor-to-ceiling windows bring in light and views of downtown Los Angeles, which Montgomery wanted to highlight by keeping the interior design minimal. “It’s incredible at night,” she says. “The desk behind the sofa allows you to work and also enjoy the view.”
Why the design works: “This entire space is only 560 square feet and feels so much larger,” Montgomery says. “The ceilings are vaulted, creating a loft-like feel. But the flow of the space is what really works. We fit a full kitchen, full bath, dining area, living area, desk and bed in the space, and it doesn’t feel crowded. This has everything to do with the placement of the entry door, kitchen and bathroom inside the space. It is vital to place your furniture on your plan when in design so that you maintain flow through the finished space.”
Bedroom Projects 5: Eric Charles, original photo on Houzz
Related: Park a Bench at the Foot of the Bed
“Uh-oh” moment: “If this were a project being built for a homeowner, there would have been numerous ‘uh-oh’ moments. There always are,” Montgomery says. “Being that this is my business and I’m acting as owner representative, designer and contractor, decisions are quite simple. The only issue is trying to anticipate what the buyer of the property is going to want. It’s like working for a mystery client.”
Take-away: The value of well-planned and thought-out design
Team involved: Jordan Christian (artist); Corbin Poorboy of The Here Co. (styling); Eric Charles (photographer)
By Mitchell Parker, Houzz