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Renovation Tips and Trends


At times, the thought of renovating can be so daunting that instead, we do nothing. But caring for the properties we love can have many returns - both in terms of our own use and when it come time to sell.

Some renovations involve solely practical considerations, such as replacing old wiring, outdated heating systems and worn materials. Others are for when it's necessary to add or reconfigure space for a growing family. Naturally, aesthetic elements often come into play, too, in nearly every renovation. But the decoration of an already updated space, no matter what the budget, can suffer if not factored into the original planning.

Designers are rarely in accord when it comes to color, but one thing they all swear by is using the paint to showcase architectural features. William Sofield asks us to"imagine all the surfaces of a room simply as reflectors of light, and then choose paint values, tones, and colors that will accentuate or minimize differences. I often paint each surface a different color in order to achieve the right balance." Most designers have favored colors, and Suzanne Tucker's are "The warm tones of butter-yellow," since they "are always flattering - to art, antiques, and us!"

David Mann, a prominent designer and architect in New York uses mostly a black and white color scheme, as it is seen as sleek, chic, urban sophistication. If that seems too bland or boring, use differing patterns of a similar palettes to add richness and depth to a room, says designer Amelia T. Handegan. Small pops of color, hidden within wallpaper, carpet, or even throw pillows, can break up monotone color schemes.

When it comes to specific rooms, one of the most splurge-worthy is the bathroom. Steven Gambrel explains that "Hardware is something you touch every day, so purchase the best. [His] splurge for the bath is the Henry line of faucets and hooks by Waterworks." Smaller bathrooms are often times overlooked in favor of creating grandiose master baths, though they can be the best chance for self-expression. Sofield argues that "Powder rooms have always afforded a great opportunity for self-expression. They should be dramatic, exotic, or, at the very minimum, noteworthy."

Kitchens are equally as splurge-worthy. Since they are often the rooms in which family and friends gather, it is important that they are comfortable and well-lit, as well as functional. Scott Sanders explains that "indirect lighting can make a small space seem larger. For example, cove lighting recessed in soffits seems to dissolve the ceiling, creating the illusion that the walls extend much higher." If durability and beauty are the goal, using quartzite countertops is the way to go. "Quartzite wears like iron. I've had bright-white quartzite counters in my kitchen for years, and they still look brand-new," says architect Dirk Denison. The advent of portable music players has created a niche for invisible speakers, throughout houses, but especially in kitchens. Barry Dixon laughingly describes them as having "just the opposite virtues ascribed to Victorian children- they're heard and not seen!"