Ch..Ch..Changes (Pt. 1)

If you could do three things for your home tomorrow, what would you choose?  Paint? Carpet?  Kitchen cabinets? Throw pillows? La Z Boy? Fireplace?   I'd pick insulating the crawlspace (so my bedroom and kitchen floors would be warmer in the winter), re-doing the deck with something that won't need much upkeep and buying a fascinating piece of sculpture I saw last Thursday to put in a place I've (mentally) picked since we moved here.  Probably the deck is the most costly and the insulation would cost us money, but save us over time.  The sculpture would be just for enjoyment, but it might someday be worth more than it cost.

My personal list is a bit quirky and varied, but doing things like this for my house keeps it maintained and fresh.  Realistically?  I can't even guess which of these three "projects' might get done soon or even which would likely be done first.  For us, it has been a summer to replace a toilet, rewire and replace dimmers and outlets, and reinstall our brick walk (sunken by a problem in the front yard).  Many years ago, a much older client told me: "If you don't keep up your house 'up', it becomes an overwhelming proposition".  I have probably quoted her more than 50 times, since she was absolutely right. 

I have been thinking a lot about which homes (and offices) keep looking fresh and stylish.  Perhaps it's because this summer I have been asked to re-do or refresh so many spaces, some my projects, and some not. 

How do these spaces look after time?  Obviously, rooms that have been lovingly cared for may look aging, but not worn.  Sometimes redoing these spaces is a bigger challenge because it's a "want", not a "need".  Most often, these spaces are living rooms, libraries, and powder rooms - more formal spaces.  The colors as well as the materials originally selected make a huge difference to how badly they scream: "time to go".  Clean lines, neutral colors and interesting accent furniture, accessories and art visually last the longest.  If something was an antique then, it's older now and will usually stay.  Some of these antiques or furniture that have become classic (like Herman Miller, Dunbar or Knoll, etc.) can be the focus of updated layouts.  Last year I worked on a living room converted to a dining room in a large remodeling project.  We changed mauve carpet, very shiny gray foyer tile, white walls, shiny brass and lucite (it's b-a-a-ck) light fixtures and aluminum vertical blinds to hardwood floors, sheer ripple fold drapes, very pale gray-green walls and gorgeous all-glass contemporary lights



I worked with the original homeowner (12 years ago) AFTER that part of the house was "done".  The colors for the family room we furnished and completed together had to be compatible with the mauve and gray, but not in the faux Art Deco style "of the day". (They already had periwinkle kitchen cabinets, too.)   It might be some time before this entire project is complete, but care has been taken to stay away from very trendy items and colors.  The new furniture is contemporary, but has clean lines.  I am hoping to convince them to buy some furniture with classic style that's "vintage" (maybe from the 60's) in wood with glass, or even chrome and glass... and buy some art.  I want to give them space to decide which room gets done next.  When the powder room gets redone, I promise to take before and after pix.

Try to a make a deal with yourself to do something each year to keep up your home structurally and/or visually.  Setting a plan and prioritizing is a good start, but I PROMISE that you will veer away from it.  It's not as much fun to insulate the crawl space as to buy a piece of sculpture.  Maybe insulating the crawl will help me save on heating to buy the art (good idea, huh)?  And an emergency (like our walk or a new AC unit) can kill the whole list.

MANY maintenance items can be Do It Yourself if you are inclined to take on household remodeling projects.  If you are not comfortable with DIY, you can still set priorities and look for the workmen and craftsmen you will need.  Now is a good time to develop relationships with plumbers, electricians, painters and designers (like me) -- and our sources--who might take on something smaller now to perhaps build into a long-term relationship.  I look forward to working more with those who have helped us over the summer and to recommending them to my clients.  My long-standing list of contractors does changes if someone becomes unreliable (what I look for FIRST) and falls off...

By the way, don't DIY what is over your head.  It sounds a bit like a sitcom plot, but I wouldn't want it to be me - or at my house!




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