Carpet Selection: 5 Things You Must Know

In the market for new carpet? Educate yourself and research your options before shopping.

Carpet dealers usually carry samples of many carpet lines from multiple mills and manufacturers in their showrooms. You’ll see a range of quality when you begin your carpet search. Your best bet is to educate yourself and research your options before you head to the store. Then, you’re sure to get a quality carpet that provides comfort, durability and beauty far into the future.

Below is a helpful guide to understanding what to expect when visiting a carpet dealer.

Room Use
Be prepared for your dealer to ask some of the following questions:

How is the room going to be used?
Is there light or heavy room traffic in the room?
Is the room the center of activity for family or entertaining?
Is there direct access from outside?
What You Should Know:
By asking these questions, the dealer is trying to gauge which grade and style of carpet would work best for your home.

Try to give a detailed picture of your expectations for the carpet. Is it important that the carpet stand up to pets, running children and bustling activity? Or are you mainly concerned about how it will look and feel in a formal living room that doesn’t get a lot of use?

Color and Style
Typically, a dealer might ask:

How much use will the room get? (This is a consideration because a heavily used room may not be the best place to install white or very light-colored carpet.)
Are kids going to be playing down on the floor? Or is it a formal room that doesn’t get much use? (Again, lighter colors my create more maintenance but another factor the dealer is trying to consider is whether you should choose carpet made with BCF fiber like STAINMASTER® so that children playing on the floor will not find themselves covered in loose fibers shed from staple products.)
Is it a small room or a large room? (Smaller rooms can be made to feel larger by selecting a lighter colored carpet while larger rooms can be made to feel cozier by using a mid-to-darker colored carpet.)
What are the lighting conditions in the room? (Rooms with plenty of natural light will show the true color of the carpet while rooms on the north side of a house may need a lighter shade of carpet to keep them from feeling darker than they are.)
What You Should Know:
You should always remember to bring swatches of fabric from drapes and furniture, wallpaper samples, and paint chips with you when you are selecting carpet. That way you can consider a range of colors that will match your existing décor. Remember that color can also affect your mood. Warmer colors often make you feel energized while cooler tones provide a sense of calm.

When considering color, remember the lighting in the carpet store is not the same as the lighting conditions in your home. Ask the dealer if they have a lighting box in which to view the carpet, or ask if you can take a sample of the carpet home.

Typically, a dealer might ask:

Are you installing this carpet for the purposes of selling the home or are you re-decorating it for your enjoyment?
What is the size of the room to be carpeted?
What You Should Know:
The dealer is trying to determine what style of carpet you might be interested in. A home seller is going to want to select a neutral toned carpet in a simple style, like a cut pile texture. But a home owner who is re-decorating will want to explore the many varieties available to them. Either way, STAINMASTER® carpet is a good choice.

STAINMASTER® warranties are transferable to the new owner, a great selling tool, while home owners who will be living with their carpet selection will want the long-lasting durability and beauty of a STAINMASTER® carpet. Also, the dealer needs to know the approximate size of the area to be carpeted in order to give an estimate on total cost.

Come prepared with a rough estimate of the size of your room and the layout. Check out our handy Carpet Calculator if you need help measuring. When you’re ready to buy, the dealer will send a professional to take the final measurements.

Make sure that all cost estimates include padding, installation, seaming, stairs (if applicable), thresholds, the moving of furniture and the removal of old carpet or other flooring and materials.

Always make sure that you are selecting from the highest grade carpet you can afford. With STAINMASTER® carpet, the higher the grade, the more comprehensive the STAINMASTER® warranty will be. STAINMASTER®, a name you know and trust, only guarantees the finest, first quality carpet. Because of the patented technology that goes into it, and the company that stands behind it, your STAINMASTER® carpet will provide beauty and comfort for years to come.

While in the store, it may seem that many carpets look the same. But not all carpets perform the same. It’s the technology behind the carpet that makes a difference.

What You Should Know:
Only STAINMASTER® carpets offer the exclusive three-part system for lasting beauty:

6,6 Nylon Technology
With this patented fiber technology, STAINMASTER® carpets resist crushing, abrasive wear and color fading. The unique molecular structure of 6,6 nylon make it much more resilient than carpet fiber made from polyester, polypropylene and other types of nylon. Plus, this specially designed fiber keeps soil and stains from penetrating.

DuPont Advanced TEFLON® Protectant
This superior soil resistance technology enables SM carpet fibers to push dirt away, allowing it to be removed more easily with a vacuum cleaner. And the Stain Protection reduces the fibers ability to absorb liquids, greatly limiting its ability to become stained. This unique soil and stain protection lasts much longer than other carpets’ protection, which must be re-applied after each cleaning in order to maintain their warranties.

Anti-Static Technology
The fibers in every STAINMASTER® carpet contain a special carbon compound that act like thousands of tiny lighting rods, deflecting static shock for the life of the carpet. Most other carpets are sprayed with anti-static protection that can wear off with foot traffic and successive cleanings.

Why is anti-stat protection important? With our homes filled with expensive electronics these days, the last thing you want is to short circuit a computer or audio system simply by walking on your carpet and touching a device. Anti-stat protection offers peace of mind for homeowners where their electronic investments are concerned.

At the store, you’ll see lots of labels from different mills and manufacturers. You might get confused as to what type of carpet you are looking at.

What You Should Know:
Look for the STAINMASTER® label on the back of the dealer’s sample. That’s the only way to guarantee a carpet that features STAINMASTER®’s comprehensive warranties, anti-static controls, resilient fibers and a carpet surface that actually repels dirt and soil.

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Top trends in home flooring

By Lisa Liddane | Seattle Times

Lightening up, supersizing and going gray are among the current trends in home flooring.

It’s been three years since Matt and Alana Andrews bought their one-story Newport Beach, Calif., home built in 1960. Now, they’re in the thick of a major renovation to bring the home into line with their 21st-century lifestyle, including installing blond, 6-inch-wide hand-distressed Siberian oak planks finished with ultraviolet-cured oil.

“We wanted something that resembled the old heart of pine floors that you see in Southern farmhouses,” Alana says.

The planks, which are from the Heirloom collection of Santa Ana-based Provenza Wood Floors, are in sync with some of the major themes in wood flooring for houses across the U.S.

Industry experts Scott Humphrey, chief executive of the World Floor Covering Association, and Michael Martin, chief executive of the National Wood Flooring Association, weigh in on those themes, as well as other top wood and engineered-wood floor trends that they’re seeing in homes.

Lightening up
During the economic downturn, people gravitated toward the traditional dark colors. But with the economy improving, Humphrey says, he’s seeing a rise in the demand for lighter tones. Some of these are finished to look like driftwood or washed-in white to make them look beachy. The look is popular on both coasts and is growing elsewhere in the country.

“There is a growing popularity in what are referred to as ‘domestic exotics,’ like hickory and ash,” Martin says. “Walnut is growing in popularity, and if left natural, is much lighter than traditionally dark-stained walnut. That said, red oak and white oaks continue to be widely used, and are easily stained for any design trend.

“Many of us remember the pickled light woods of 25 years ago. The gray, white and lighter multiple-stain color processes of today are this generation’s version of that trend.”

Traditional wood floors usually have 2- to 3-inch-wide planks. But some homeowners are gravitating toward planks that are 6 inches wide or more and also longer, Humphrey says. These can make rooms appear bigger.

“Wide and long planks are very popular in high-end homes at the moment,” Martin says. “Many new engineered wood flooring products are emerging to match this trend.” He adds that as the wood gets wider and longer, engineered products tend to move less and are more stable, depending on the humidity levels of the home.

Going gray
Gray is having its moment, whether it’s gray mixed with light or dark brown, whitish gray or gray with black.

“Gray or weathered-looking wood flooring is very popular with designers this year,” Martin says. “However, as we watch furniture trends, which tend to indicate flooring as well, there seems already to be less focus on gray moving into 2015.”

Other trends
Wood that’s reclaimed from buildings, homes, barns and other structures is getting new life as flooring. It adds a rustic or aged touch and tends to be used in a wide range of homes, from those that have casual or contemporary interiors to homes that feature more traditional furnishings to homes with eclectic designs. The farmhouse look is big this year, and both reclaimed and lighter-hued woods fit that aesthetic.

It used to be that hardwood floors had to look smooth and pristine. Some homeowners prefer the opposite, seeking wood planks that have been distressed or wire-scraped. The biggest advantage of these roughed-up woods: They hide scratches and nicks much more than smooth and shiny floors do.

“Matte, penetrating oils and UV finishes are gaining in popularity,” Martin says. Some of these finishes allow the grain of the wood to be more visible, a plus for homeowners seeking a rustic or natural look.

“From a care-and-maintenance perspective, it’s important for homeowners to understand what type of finish they’ve installed, as there are different techniques for upkeep,” he says.

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Ready to tackle a fixer-upper? Here’s help.

Boston Globe |  NOVEMBER 30, 2014

Overhauling a home means sticking your neck out. Sometimes your head.

A fixer-upper survivor, I still remember swathing paste on a strip of wallpaper way too floral for my husband’s taste, then watching in horror as it released from the wall and fell on my head. I ran to the guest bedroom, 6-foot paper hitchhiker and all, and tried a wall in there. Success!

Taking on a fixer-upper generally offers buyers a lower-priced home with the freedom to make decisions on their own watch. It is, for sure, an adventurous road that can involve everything from cosmetic work to installing a new electrical system, but those with experience will tell you it’s certainly achievable with a budget, a schedule, and research on products and vendors. And lots of stamina and patience. The result is a home that fits your lifestyle and reflects your taste, right down to the drawer pulls.

The angst most people have over fixer-uppers usually comes from fear of the unknown. But a home inspection and then a walk-through with a contractor or architect can clarify what you are dealing with. Having both kinds of input is important. Home inspectors flag things that need attention. A contractor and/or architect has the experience to put this report in perspective and prioritize the “to do” list.

Margie Florini and her husband, Joe Randazzo, are two veterans in the fixer-upper market. The Danvers residents have been renovating, living in, and selling properties for more than 20 years.

As conventional wisdom dictates, Florini and Randazzo consider location first in their house-hunt. “We look for the environment and location that works for us. You can change the house but not the location,” Florini said.

What do they avoid? Cookie-cutter designs and areas where the houses look the same right down to the landscaping. “I look for sad-looking houses in lovely places,” Florini said. She and her husband also consider how long it would take them to get from home to the worksite. They usually live in the properties they renovate, but sometimes they can’t.

This home needed a lot of work, but it had a water view and good bones.

Next, they examine how the home sits in the neighborhood (is it among well-kept homes?),

on the street (is it set back far enough?), and on the land (which way does the house face?), and how sunlight moves through the house. “I never want my front door on the north side. It’s always darker and colder,” Florini said.

Douglas Dick, a principal at Cambridge-based LDa Architecture & Interiors, said location is a common topic of conversation with clients, regardless of whether they are building or renovating a home. “When you look for that new house, the smallest or largest renovations won’t fix the wrong location,” Dick said. He often suggests that his clients go to Walk Score ( ) to get a snapshot of the neighborhood they are exploring and the amenities available close by.

When Florini and Randazzo find a property in a good location, they check the condition of the flooring, foundation, walls, ceilings, roof, and HVAC systems. They also search for obsolete things like knob-and-tube electrical wiring. “Knob-and-tube is a real red flag,” Florini said, citing the expense of replacing it. She recommends taking a contractor with you when you look at the house. “You need to find someone who will listen to you,” she said. “These homes are like living things to me.” Check to see whether the contractor charges a fee for the site visit.

Margie Florini and Joe Randazzo in their new kitchen.

Florini creates an Excel spreadsheet for her “scope of work” list, essentially a line-item budget. “I do a SOW on a fixer that I am considering while I walk through a property alone or with my contractor,” she said. For comparison, she keeps a spreadsheet on the actual expenses when the remodel is underway, grouping the work by trade: electrical, plumbing, finish carpentry. In addition, she takes photos and keeps copious notes on what worked and what didn’t. The couple take on whatever tasks they can handle themselves and find that having a cadre of trusted plumbers, carpenters, and electricians makes a huge difference.

They spent nearly a dozen years planning, saving up money, and renovating one of the first fixer-uppers they purchased, a Beverly fisherman’s cottage. This home needed a lot of work, but it had a water view and good bones. They tackled a lot of the initial cosmetic work themselves and hired licensed experts to upgrade systems. Then, after living there for 10 years, they hired an architect to draw up the plans for the design they devised: They added a second story, sun room, and a mudroom. With any major project, there are always high anxiety moments when unforeseen problems crop up (in this case tree roots in the sewer line was one). “You really have to have patience,” Florini said, and “you don’t want to be too flexible.”

This onetime ramshackle cottage is now a contemporary shingle-style home with water views on three floors. It sold quickly and commanded an unusually high price for the neighborhood, Florini said. They invested a lot of time and money in that house, and more than tripled their investment.

Next up for Florini and Randazzo? A Cape in Manchester-by-the-Sea.

The plan was to update this modest-sized home and sell it. The major renovations involved systems upgrades and joining the kitchen and dining room, creating an open-concept space with a bar-height peninsula, granite countertops, new lighting, appliances, wood floors, and storage. They also added a mudroom and laundry space off the kitchen, updated two full baths, painted the interior, and renovated the back entry. There were hurdles along the way with this home, too (the house came with illegal electrical and plumbing work). This Cape, not far from the harbor and the beach, sold in just a few months, but not for much of a profit.

Their current Danvers home, a circa 1910 modified Foursquare, needed a lot of attention as well. The property’s great bones, pretty setting, and convenient location to Randazzo’s office outweighed the cosmetic, structural, and systems work that lay ahead. (For starters, one of the back egresses had rotted and was pulling away from the house, and the three-story chimney was one Santa visit away from separating from the house.) In just two years, though, they’ve created a home that suits their needs and will, when the time comes, be a better offering for the next family. The kitchen has been upgraded, the back entry was redone, and there is a new master suite, a laundry room, another bedroom with a walk-in closet, an additional full bath, and a two-car garage.

Others who have successfully taken on fixer-uppers insist there’s a golden rule: Always hire an architect to turn your vision into a plan.

Linda Greenberg of Brookline has been taking on these properties for 16 years — from the South End to Brookline to Martha’s Vineyard, where she recently renovated a summer getaway.

“With an architect, I present a budget and they take it from there,” specifying where every light fixture should go right down to the type of nail to be used, Greenberg said, and “there is no void between client communication with the contractor. It’s all on paper, and you can always refer back to the plan.” This, she said, helps you obtain accurate bids and contain costs, but you should always find out what a builder’s “up-charges” are should you change your mind on something.

Citing the savings, she researches and purchases nearly everything from lighting to doorknobs on the Internet. For convenience, though, she usually buys all her appliances from local vendors.

For many, renovating a fixer-upper is a chance to put your personal touch on a property.

Diane Giardi and her husband, Don Tison, purchased their 1766 Gloucester cottage more than three years ago and did just that. An educator and accomplished artist, Giardi made the ceramic tiles used in the kitchen and bathroom backsplashes. And Tison, a professional woodworker and furniture maker, saved the couple money by removing and replacing all of the wood trim, cabinets, and other finishes in the kitchen, dining room, and elsewhere, designing and building the cabinetry by hand, as well as adding attractive design details throughout — often with recycled architectural elements.

“Know what you’re getting into,” Giardi advised. “Hire a builder, electrician, and plumber to look at the home before you buy. If you use a home inspector, find one that was a licensed builder first.”

Being handy also helps keep down expenses.

It’s always a juggling act between the purchase price and the cost of the potential renovations, said Douglas Dick, the LDa architect. The firm encourages its clients to think about how long they plan to be in a home and to come up with a master plan of renovations that can be done over time.

This, he said, helps eliminate the risk of having to revisit an old renovation to accommodate the new one.

Diane Giardi and Don Tison’s kitchen was outdated.

The cabinets, made by Tison, open up and add flair to the space.

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Five Remodeling Ideas for Your Living Room

Huffington Post | Posted: 11/19/2014 6:03 pm EST

A living room is the hub of a home, and host to celebrations, family gatherings and movie marathons. According to the Remodeling 2014 Cost vs. Value report, a midrange family room addition costs $80,765 and you can recoup 68.8% of the cost during resale. Use these tips as inspiration to create a more functional living room, while adding value to your home.

Incorporate a home office area
Designate an area for a multipurpose office space that everyone in the family can use. If your desk space and family computer are in plain sight, they are likely to get more use than when located in a separate home office.

Extend your space outdoors

Add a multi-season sunroom directly off your living room to enjoy year-round. Work closely with your builder to mimic your home’s original style and structure so the new addition feels like a seamless extension of your house. The additional square footage will also add to your home’s value.

Update your windows

Replacing windows can be expensive, but installing energy-efficient windows will cut down on your current energy bills over the course of time. If you have active kids or live in an area prone to severe weather, consider impact-resistant windows. These will help protect against damage to the house and could reduce home insurance premiums.

Add customized storage

Finding a discreet place for media systems, personal items and extra storage can be difficult. Custom built-ins will showcase your belongings and keep your main living space organized. Add recessed lighting inside the shelves for a streamlined way to highlight your favorite personal items and books.

Manage your home technology from a mobile device

Install a budget-friendly speaker system that you can control from your mobile device. You can also manage lighting, heating and cooling systems and surround sound on any mobile device using home automation technology.

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11 Ways a Surface Remodel Can Save you Money | November 11, 2014

Surface “remodeling” is a great way to give your home a lift without investing a huge amount of time and cash. This type of work is really renovation, a cosmetic refinishing process, rather than deep down remodeling. Whatever you call it, a surface upgrade can be a fantastic way to update a house that doesn’t have any structural or safety issues, but just needs a fresher, brighter look. Surface reno will have the biggest impact in your kitchen or bathroom, where a complete remodel would come with a price tag of tens of thousands of dollars. As well as contractor manhours, you’ll save on building permits and designer’s fees. Here a list of 11 practical how-tos.

1. Preserve your home’s original footprint. Avoid relocation of plumbing lines, electricity, or gas whenever possible to save major money. Just moving one toilet a distance of more than three feet would cost you as much as $1000!

2. Ditto for the envelope, the exterior of your house. In fact, you’ll be best off not moving walls of any sort, outside or in. A perceived lack of space can often be dealt with by more effectively using the square footage you already have. For instance, you could add kitchen cabinets that extend all the way up to the ceiling for maximum storage space at a minimal price.

3. It’s often not as urgent to cut a new window as you might think. When you want to add a sunnier feel to a room, just paint it a brighter color (palest egg yolk or cream gives a warmer effect than pure white does). If that’s not enough, put in an inexpensive light tube to channel more daylight into your room. When better ventilation is your goal, install an exhaust fan.

4. Speaking of light, you can save still more cash by opting for easy-to-install, surface-mounted lighting fixtures over the trendier — but pricier — recessed type.

5. Reduce labor costs by applying new flooring on top of the existing floor; be sure to level the surface first. However, if the old flooring is vinyl or another material that can be pried up easily, take a peek underneath — you may get a pleasant surprise in the form of hardwood floorboards, hidden for years.

6. Cover up minor irregularities and flaws in your walls with attractive “disguises” such as wainscoting, wallpaper, or textured paint. Do NOT try this, though, when the problem is due to serious issues like mold.

7. Get the look of a brand new kitchen on a dime and in a New York minute by finding (who else?) a New York carpenter to reface your cabinets. Then cover or paint the countertops yourself.

8. Don’t put away your paintbrush just yet. Use it to refresh your backsplash tiles with a change of color. Don’t have a backsplash? Paint one on, in a scrubbable finish.

9. Change the bathroom or kitchen hardware for a sophisticated modern style to get a trendy, low cost new look.

10. Refinish your bathtub. Reglazing is a fraction of the price of replacing.

11. One area where you might actually want to spend a little extra is on environmentally aware features. For example, eco-friendly items like energy-efficient double- or triple-paned windows, a fuel-sparing tankless water heater, or a dual-flush toilet will cut your energy or water bills significantly and save money for you in the long run.


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The Dos and Don’ts of Kitchen Remodeling

Huffington Post | Posted: 11/05/2014 2:17 pm EST Updated: 11/05/2014 2:59 pm EST

Remodeling your kitchen is a top way to improve your home’s interior aesthetic and to increase its resale value. According to the Remodeling 2014 Cost vs. Value Report completing a midrange minor kitchen remodel costs on average, $18,527 and you can recoup 75.4 percent of the remodeling costs during resale. Follow the below dos and don’ts to avoid unnecessary time and monetary investments, and to increase your home’s value.

1.) Do your research Before you meet with a contractor or architect, create your own Pinterest or Houzz accounts to curate images of your dream kitchen. Consider your ideal layout, appliances, functionality, finishes and color palette. Prioritize these images by “must haves,” “would be nice,” and “one day.”

2.) Do consider the purpose of the space. Is your kitchen your family’s gathering hub? Do you host elaborate dinner parties, and need space to prepare for your guests? Are you a master chef who needs top-of-the-line appliances? These details will help your architect determine the best layout to maximize your kitchen’s functionality.

Also, consider the activity level of your kitchen. An active family of four brings more wear and tear than empty nesters, so install flooring and finishes that will withstand this level of use.

3.) Don’t skip the technical homework. When visualizing your new layout, determine the best location for your sink, where you need electrical outlets and if you are building out, where you need windows or a sliding door. The functionality of these features will dictate the layout of the rest of the room.

4.) Do maximize space. Take advantage of every square inch of your kitchen. If you aren’t building an addition, you can still gain space during a renovation by extending cabinets up to the ceiling, or turning an awkward corner space into a food prep corner.

5.) Don’t rush through the planning and design phase. Your instincts will be to move quickly to the construction phase, but take your time to visualize the layout, functionality and design of your new kitchen. Every change during the remodeling process will cost you money and time, so picture yourself going through your daily routine in your new kitchen.

6.) Don’t price yourself out of the neighborhood. The house may not be yours forever, so avoid adding so many upgrades that you price it out of the neighborhood when it comes time to sell.

7.) Do budget to exceed. Budget at least 10% more in additional expenses to cover unforeseen costs you may likely incur.

8.) Don’t overlook the business details. If you are using a contractor, get all the details of the renovation in writing up front, before you sign any contracts. Don’t make the final payment until all renovations are complete.

9.) Do keep your receipts. File all receipts associated with your renovation in a safe place to submit when filing your taxes, or to reference if you sell your home.

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15 tips on surviving a kitchen renovation project

Review Journal
Posted October 25, 2014 – 6:03am

Chris Lee/Tribune News Service A new kitchen sink and tile backsplash was installed in the home of Clark and Kelly Walker in Crestwood, Mo.

Stephanie S. Cordle/Tribune News Service Kevin Banel, left, with Bokal Commercial Construction, caulks some trim around the countertop in a kitchen of an apartment in St. Louis.

A kitchen remodel can be one of the most rewarding home improvement projects and also the most frustrating to endure.

Family life tends to center on the kitchen, and functioning without one disrupts all aspects of life. Tearing out the heart of your home requires a plan of how to survive the weeks to months of construction ahead.

The duration for a kitchen renovation depends on the scope of the project. Is it a simple tear out with the same basic footprint or a major redesign?

If it is a basic tear out, plan on four to six weeks without much access to the kitchen. If it’s a significant renovation, expect at least three months of disorder.

We recently updated our kitchen, changing everything from the floor to the cabinets and countertops. We kept the layout essentially the same. Our contractor was in and out in a month. We were lucky. But we still had moments of high stress simply because of the nature of the project.

Beyond the decision-making and budget-making that go along with a kitchen redesign were things I hadn’t been prepared for: the overwhelming number of decisions required and eventual decision fatigue; hitting the wall on prepackaged or carryout meals; and the emotional upheaval that comes with having the central part of your home upended for weeks.

Homeowners embarking on the road to a kitchen makeover invest so much time in picking out the contractors, the countertops, floors, cabinets, appliances, lighting, paint, backsplash, faucet, sink, layout and hardware. But you need a plan of how you will deal with the life details, as well.

Along with the lessons learned from our recent renovation, we consulted with a dozen local kitchen experts for their best tips on how to survive a kitchen remodel.

1. Set up a separate, temporary kitchen.

If at all possible, move your current refrigerator to another room in the house, where you can still access it. Otherwise, get a small college fridge to keep the essentials. A spare microwave is also a critical appliance.

Kim Feld, a kitchen designer with National Kitchen &Bath, says to be creative with small plug-in appliances that can make life easier during construction, such as a coffee maker or electric skillet.

“You can make anything from pancakes to Hamburger Helper on it,” she said. Another contractor lends out a two-burner hot plate to clients during kitchen projects.

If most of your trash and recycling was collected in the kitchen, move temporary garbage cans to a place you can tolerate them. And be prepared to take out the trash more frequently.

2. Find a place in your home to eat.

Many families eat meals in the kitchen, so think about how alternate living spaces will serve at mealtimes. We ended up eating most of our meals in the family room, where our temporary kitchen (a fridge and microwave) was set up, but I wish we had better utilized the dining room.

3. Invest in paper plates and disposable utensils.

You will end up having to wash dishes in a bathroom sink, so it’s best to keep a stockpile of disposable plates and utensils handy. If at all possible, keep a sink hooked up on the main level during the construction.

4. Add the cost of eating out into the renovation budget.

Figure out how much your family typically spends on a meal eaten outside the house. Multiply this by the number of meals in a day and weeks the project may last to get an idea of how quickly this expense can add up. It’s best to have a rotation in mind of reliable carryout, prepackage microwavable meals and nearby friends or family who will either invite you over occasionally or allow you to cook a few meals in their kitchen.

5. Prepare for noise and dust.

“It is messy. It is disruptive, and it can get expensive. There is no way around that,” Feld said.

Jon Kay, a manager at Signature Kitchen &Bath, says to expect day-to-day interruption.

“Plan on there being a mess every day,” he said.

For some, this is much easier to tolerate than for others. If you are easily unsettled by disorder and mess in your living space, this is a good opportunity to spend more time outside your home.

6. Consider your pets.

Ken Henry, a designer with Glen Alspaugh Kitchen &Bath, says to think about how pets, used to having the run of the house, will be affected when sections are off-limits to them.

“We’ve had cats get into the attic when it’s opened up,” he said. It may be best to have them kenneled or in a friend or relative’s house during the construction.

7. Get a sketch or design plans beforehand.

Kathy Israel, owner of Accents on Cabinets, says that if you are planning on moving walls, it’s a good idea to sit down with an architect before starting a project.

“Think about how the kitchen is going to work from a function level,” she said. It’s also wise to think about where all your current kitchen items and appliances will fit into the new kitchen.

Jonathan Carson, with Kitchen Liberty, said a simple sketch can work out “flow” issues that may come up in a kitchen. The design needs to take into account the social and storage needs, he said. And, it’s best to include skilled labor in this sketching stage so they can let you know potential, expensive pitfalls in the design.

“Consult with the installers early and solve potential problems with a pencil,” he said.

8. Hire a general contractor carefully.

Mike Beck at Beck/Allen Cabinetry says a good relationship with the general contractor is crucial.

“You don’t want to call the plumber at 8 p.m. and ask why he didn’t show up. You want the general contractor to do that.”

This will be the point person you are spending the most time with, so find out about how often he plans to communicate with you. Will he text or email photos if you are out of town? How quickly will he return phone calls? The worst kitchen nightmares I’ve heard of tend to involve a contractor who disappears or won’t return calls.

9. Recruit a second opinion or hire a designer.

Getting a new kitchen can feel like buying a new car that you can’t test drive or see beforehand. So many choices in materials and colors can be overwhelming to visualize how they will come together. Even those most confident in their preferences will second-guess their taste at some point.

This is the time to call in the professional designers.

Beck said designers can be hired by the hour to help guide those choices. Hiring a designer for a few hours can save money and regret down the line.

I called a designer when I was stuck on flooring choices. He looked at our kitchen and the samples I had picked out and accompanied me to a tile shop. We were able to use his discount to purchase the backsplash, which ended up offsetting the cost of his time.

We also recruited a few neighbors to stop by and cast their votes when we were torn on a particular color or design.

It can take a village.

10. Be prepared for days when you don’t see any progress.

Every decision in a construction project involves a timeline. So, there will be days of waiting — waiting for the countertops to be measured or waiting for the backsplash to arrive.

11. Order as much as possible before the job starts.

Beck said they won’t start a project until all the decisions are finalized.

Henry says as projects wear on, the customer tends to be stressed and doesn’t have the time to pick out details such as hardware quickly, which can slow down the entire project.

“Everyone is different about how many decisions they can make at one time,” he said. Some people can feel paralyzed by decision overload or hit a point of decision fatigue in the middle of a big project.

There’s also a risk that making choices as the work progresses might delay the final completion.

One homeowner hired a friend, who is a designer, to help her pick out a backsplash. The designer ordered the wrong amount of the custom backsplash, which took months to deliver. The remaining backsplash had to be reordered and picked up, and then she had to wait for an opening in the contractor’s schedule to come back and finish up the work. The one mistake meant the entire job could not be completed fully for six months after it began.

12. Expect some delays and cost overruns.

When you get the estimates, it’s wise to add 20 percent to that number and ask yourself if you could still live with that number. If you don’t have that cushion, think twice about proceeding. Unexpected things come up in renovation projects, so keep track of overruns so you’ll have no major surprises at the end.

“In remodeling, there are probably 50 things that can go wrong, and if you have a good contractor, you may only know about two or three of them,” Kay said.

13. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

“Trust the people you’ve hired,” said Jenny Rausch, president of Karr Bick Kitchen &Bath. Ask their opinions. Don’t second-guess yourself. Don’t agonize over the smallest details like hardware and countertop edges.

Keep a sense of perspective. Clients can get hyperfocused and paralyzed by decisions on the smallest details, she said. Give yourself a gut check. Can you really remember what the hardware and edges in your friends’ kitchens look like? The point is for all of it to come together beautifully.

14. Get out of the house altogether.

“The happiest clients I have are the ones who are not trying to live through it,” said Chris Berry, of brooksBerry Kitchens &Baths. Some will find a short-term, furnished rental for the most intensive part of the construction.

Henry said his company tries to plan remodeling jobs around clients’ vacations, such as summer or winter breaks.

15. Keep a sense of humor.

If there’s a low point at which the mess and stress get to you, take a few minutes to make a list of things for which you are grateful. On the list, be sure to include the ability to create a new kitchen.

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Get the 411 on Flooring

Lubbock Online

Choosing the right flooring for a home is no small task. Flooring is expensive, so homeowners want to make the best decision possible so their choice of flooring is not one they regret and ultimately replace in the years to come.

When choosing flooring for their homes, many homeowners are overwhelmed by the options at their disposal. Each type of flooring can look great in its own way, which is why homeowners may struggle to find the right fit for their homes. Educating yourself about flooring is a great way to make the process of choosing your next floor much less overwhelming and more enjoyable. The following are some of the more popular flooring options you will no doubt encounter as your search for a flawless floor begins.


Nearly everyone is familiar with hardwood floors, which are durable, warm and a favorite of homeowners aiming for a traditional look. Homes with open floor plans often benefit from hardwood flooring, as it creates the feeling of continuity that homeowners hope to achieve with open floor plans. Various species, including oak, maple and cherry, of hardwood flooring are available, and they typically vary in price, with more exotic imported options carrying hefty price tags. More traditional hardwood flooring is less expensive, and solid wood flooring can be refinished several times to increase its lifespan.


Engineered wood is less susceptible to temperature changes and humidity than solid wood, and some new varieties of engineered wood include substrates made from recycled wood fiber and stone dust, which may appeal to eco-friendly homeowners. Men and women who want to install their own floors may prefer engineered wood, which is now available in self-locking parquet or plank squares that can be installed without using glue or nails.


Bamboo is another flooring alternative that’s popular among eco-conscious homeowners, as it comes from plants that regenerate quickly and is therefore considered a sustainable material. Bamboo flooring is made of strands of bamboo that are glued together, forming engineered planks or solid strips. Bamboo flooring is strong and able to resist the negative effects of fluctuating humidity, which include swelling and contraction. Many people prefer the fresh, bright feel of bamboo flooring.


Laminate flooring is among the less expensive flooring materials to buy and install. Homeowners who purchase laminate flooring have an array of options to choose from, and floating laminate flooring systems can be installed over existing floors without glue or nails. Some feel laminate flooring is indistinguishable from real wood, but the plastic coating that makes up the top layer of laminate flooring is often a giveaway that the floors are laminate and not real wood. Similar in construction to engineered wood, laminate flooring differs because its top layer is a photographic imprint on the face of each board, whereas engineered wood is made up of real hardwood veneer attached to several layers of plywood.


Cork is another sustainable flooring material that’s a favorite among homeowners looking to make their homes more eco-friendly. The appearance of cork floors is unlike many flooring materials, as it is speckled thanks to unusual grain patterns of the trees from which it is harvested. Cork flooring is popular in kitchens and bathrooms because cork tiles have a naturally nonslip surface that makes areas of a home where floors get wet safer. Cork flooring may need to be resealed every few years to guard against stains and potential moisture issues.

Flooring choices vary greatly, and it’s easy for homeowners to become overwhelmed by all of the options at their disposal. But taking time to understand each of those options can make the process of choosing a floor that much more fun.

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Fall decorating: Cozy interior design for the colder months

Fall decorating: Cozy interior design for the colder months
By Lindsey M. Roberts October 15
Washington Post

Just as wardrobes change with the season, so should a home’s style. Spring and summer are for “whimsical,” decor, says Wesley Thompson, an Annapolis interior designer, whereas there’s something about the fall and winter months that’s “more sophisticated and rich feeling, as a reflection of the hibernating, nesting instinct.”

So squirrel away the linen and jute. Pull out the wool, velvet, faux fur and cashmere. These luxurious materials — in drapes, rugs, throws and more — will make a home look warm and elegant.

Pairing fall foliage with luxe decorative objects in warm-colored metals is one way to achieve this sophistication. Ambient candlelight’s another. Vanessa Holden, West Elm’s creative director, especially likes tone-on-tone vignettes that layer contrast, texture and materials rather than shout for attention with bright colors. “The aim is for a more polished and elevated look,” she says. “It’s a reaction to the casualness of summer.”

Read: Six ways to update your home for fall


Nate Berkus Faux Fur Stool (Target)

Ringo Candleholder and Vase (Bliss Home & Design)

● Stools with Mongolian wool or faux-fur tops offer perfect respites for cold feet. At a fraction of the price of higher-end stools, the Nate Berkus Faux Fur Stool can add the fluffy feel of luxury to a living room, sitting room or bedroom ($55,

● Candles are fall standbys for good reason: They cast a glow that warms one inside and out. Their scent is important, too, Thompson says. “Scents such as French oak can often bring about feelings of cozying up to a fire,” she says. Try the Ringo Candleholder and Vase in a centerpiece or on a mantel, with a pillar candle ($96,

● Thompson likes the tassels on this dark orange leaf-colored Temple Bells Throw ($128, Fold throws such as this one on the back of a sofa, pile them in baskets, or spread them out on a bed. “I love to drip a throw down the side of a sofa,” says D.C. designer Patrick J. Baglino Jr.

● It’s time to put away spring and summer’s brights and neons. Fall and winter call for “texture and shape rather than color and contrast,” Holden says. The cream-on-white Tassel Trace Pillow is all about neutral, touchable texture ($58,

● Holden says that metallics convey a rich sense of luxury during the fall and winter months, whether rich burnished gold, patinaed mirror or copper. And a trio of gold Prism Vases is just the type of “pretty, warm thing” that Thompson likes to put on a table around the holidays ($16-$28,

Paxton Copper Bucket 1
Paxton Copper Bucket (Pottery Barn)

● Throws, heavy drapes, glittery metals: They all add visual warmth. Baglino suggests adding physical warmth to your home, too, with burning fires in the hearth. Keep the Paxton Copper Bucket full of chopped wood and you’ll always be fire-ready ($229,

● “In the fall, people want to live with items that hypnotize,” Holden says, including “luxurious textiles like distressed velvet or dip-dyed velvet.” Thompson notes that most of the velvet fabrics today, such as the cotton velvet in H&M’s Velvet Cushion Cover, are more durable and less expensive than traditional silk velvet ($18,

● Textiles underfoot can be changed out for the season, too. “I go from a flat-weave to something that’s a bit more plush,” Baglino says. “That’s an easy way to change out the look of a room.” In the colors Sand and Earth, the soft Eileen Fisher Shadow Box Tufted Wool Rug would go well in a living room or bedroom ($118-$948,

● Warmth can be conveyed in many ways. If not real firewood, why not a faux bois wood print on a porcelain cup? Edgewood Cups are sized for drinking, but they could also be used decoratively, lined up on a mantel and filled with fall flowers, berry branches or bare branches ($24, “Changing out accessories is the easiest way to transform a room,” Baglino says.

● The easiest way to make a home feel cozy is to change out fabrics. Think “velvets, wools, suedes, faux furs, cashmere, quilts,” Thompson says. And think beyond the bedding. Baglino recommends replacing summery linen window panels with elegant velvet ones, such as Pottery Barn’s Washed Velvet Upholstery Drape ($399-$469,

Washed Velvet Upholstery Drape, Ebony
Washed Velvet Upholstery Drape (Pottery Barn)

Shadow Box Tufted Wool Rug (Garnet Hill)

● For evening fires, Baglino recommends the simple Glass Standing Firescreen by Modern Design Living ($255-$410, “Your view will be exquisite and unobstructed,” he says. It’s available in three sizes and custom sizes up to 40 inches square.

● Gray is still popular as an interior neutral, but instead of pairing it with pops of color, Holden says, designers are layering it with “charcoal, light gray, something with a hint of silver and gold. There’s a richness to the tonality of color.” Start with the Braided Quilt and Shams in your own layering scheme ($29-$189,

● Don’t neglect the outdoors. When guests come over, grab some blankets and get a blaze going in a backyard fire pit. The Weather-Resistant Large Outdoor Fire Bowl has a large steel base to hold a generous amount of firewood ($300,

A wooden serving bowl is a great go-to for big summer salads. As the weather cools, instead try a festive, low centerpiece arrangement in the acacia-wood Tondo Bowl to dress up weeknight dinners ($35 for 101 / 2-inch bowl, For more drama, Baglino recommends pairing pheasant feathers with your flowers.

Chat Thursday at 11 a.m. Carl Minchew, vice president of color innovation and design for Benjamin Moore, joins staff writer Jura Koncius for our weekly online Q&A on decorating and household advice. Submit questions at .

Roberts is a freelance writer. She can be found at

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The world around us and the currency of the moment affect the way we feel in that moment—and that affects how we look at and create our homes. To understand those feelings heading into 2014, Benjamin Moore spent the usual time understanding the latest looks in haute couture, home fashion, textiles, the arts and culture.

Benjamin Moore’s Color Trends 2014 palette is less about where you’re going and more about where you come from—while most of your life requires you to be absolutely up to the moment, when you come home to this palette, we want to be sure you’re fully in the moment.

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