So, here we are with the economy teetering and people panicking. But your house really needs work...what lousy timing. Look at this bathroom, originally built in the 1930’s and not reworked in at least 30 years. As the clients have aged and their needs change, they didn't even (really) mention taste or style. It was time, whether the Market was at 1300 or not…
What to do? This bathroom is one of a handful of similar Interior Design and Construction challenges I've been presented with in the past months.
First, I told my clients that if they don’t redo this bathroom, it would stop buyers from considering the house. The architecture of this building is charming and the master bath and closets are new and we've done a fair amount of updating over a handful of years. But this bath (and the kitchen wallpaper and countertops, but that’s another story) is “a 911” for them or any buyer. It’s more than just dated, some elements were literally falling down (and apart).
First, look objectively and don’t (if you can spend even a little bit) let the condition of your home “get away” from you. It will only get worse. I see it nearly every time someone wants to remodel or update. If you are able to spend a few thousand dollars every few years, it will not become too much to handle. As one client told me in the early part of my career: “You need to keep up with your house or it becomes an overwhelming proposition”. I quote her time after time. OF COURSE we can’t all jump in with a major remodeling, so this is what I would do:
1. Hire a pro: me, for example, or another Professional Interior Designer, or perhaps a General Contractor. You probably will not need an architect if you aren't moving walls, but a Designer can act as a Project Manager, and a Contractor will coordinate the tradesmen (tile, painting, cabinets, plumbing, electrical, mirror and glass).
2. With this person (or persons) decide what is most vital to the project. With a bathroom, do you want to dump an old tub for a shower stall? Maybe you have a sink like this one and need a vanity for storage. Or maybe you know that you want to sell soon, so you want it to be a neutral solution that will much more than pay for itself in a few years.
3. IF YOU HAVE DONE NO WORK IN MANY YEARS, YOU WILL(almost surely) EXPERIENCE “STICKER SHOCK”. I work with these items daily I always need to readjust the costs I thought I knew.
4. My BIG item: work with your Professional’s “team“ to meet the budget you can afford. That will save bidding time and also strengthen the “team” mentality. Make a budget based on the work you hope to do and if you must, adjust: reuse a medicine chest and put on a new mirrored door rather than rip out what you have, drywall the hole and buy a 900.00 new medicine chest.
5. If you can’t do it all and have a “line by line” budget, you CAN do this in segments. Maybe in the bathroom you can re-tile the floor and put in a new shower stall, but keep the old towel bars and lighting for now.
In this bathroom, we saved the old tile, covered up the cracked ones with a vanity and used the design of the border tile to inspire a stenciled border on regular painted walls. This awful weather created damage in the walls, so no wall photos…ASAP.
A few “ifs” to consider:
If your kitchen is old-er, refinish the cabinet doors? Replace the countertops? Add a tile back splash (and that can vary enormously in price) with affordable tile. That could be one of the most visible kitchen updates. Also? Replace the flat(ish) fluorescent ceiling fixtures
If you have a cabinet that your huge console TV was built into 10 years ago, it is absolutely possible to update that cabinet. My cabinetmaker says he re-works older wall units more than almost any other rework.
If you haven’t done any work in 15 to 30 years (although I don’t always ask, this seems quite common), you are almost certain to not know current costs – everything will be more, even what you think should or could be a bargain. This also applies if you are moving into a “used” place that was completed years ago. Ask friends you trust what they paid for similar projects and perhaps “dial down” your taste on some elements… or let yourself wait for finishing touches. The construction industry is hurting, but products are not free and some prices are ever increasing. And, with the unfortunate loss of many workmen and companies, those left are doing OK, so mind your manners when you negotiate!
Would love to hear what you are doing…my e-mail’s above!
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