One of my New Year’s resolutions is to push for a little more fun and whimsy with my remodeling projects. It’s sometimes a bit of a challenge to get clients to go along, though. Many are convinced that they will get eventually get tired of anything out of the ordinary and end up going with “safe” decisions that they think will stand the test of time — mostly because these decisions then will be invisible forever.
I’m always a little sad to see people choosing to live in a bowl of vanilla ice cream out of some vague fear. I’ve visited past remodeling clients 10 or more years after completion of construction, and uniformly they are most glad for the little personalizations they’d built into their homes. I’ve yet to encounter someone who got bored with, or regretted, a bold design decision they’d made years earlier.
There are a number of things you can do to spice up your projects that are only slightly more expensive than the most boring choices, and most can be easily changed later, if necessary. We’re talking about maybe a few hundred dollars in upgrades to make your project special — not thousands. Here are some simple ideas:
1) Take a chance with some bold or unusual paint colors. Budget for a few trial runs in a couple of key rooms.
2) Have some fun with cabinet hardware. Check out www.bauerware.com to get your creative juices flowing.
3) Splurge on a few interesting light fixtures. Take a look at the latest generation in low voltage lighting. (e.g. www.techlighting.com to get you going.)
4) Check out the latest plumbing fixtures, and get some good quality, but out-of-the-ordinary, faucets. The variety of designs is amazing right now.
5) Upgrade the finish of your wood cabinets to a more unusual wood. You don’t need to stick with the roundup of the usual suspects — cherry, maple, or oak. Maybe hickory, ash, birch, fir, or even anigre would fit your kitchen nicely. And there are many more choices, besides. Or upgrade the “cut” of the veneer to one with some “figuring” or maybe a quarter-sawn pattern.
6) Install some of the cool new dimmers, like the Lutron Maestro. A single tap on the switch will smoothly fade the lights on or off, and give you a little thrill each time. (At least I still get that thrill.)
7) Use accent or decorative tiles in your tile installations, and have some fun with the patterns. I think some people are so tired of choices by the time they get around to the tile selections that they go with a single, bland ceramic tile out of sheer exhaustion, and then have to live with that blandness for years. Pick tiles early in the process, while you’re still fresh.
At the higher end, one of the most fun features for me (as well as the client) last year was a swinging bookcase in a media room, that hid a secret room housing all of the video equipment Your own remodeling project undoubtedly will have lots of opportunities to do something a little unusual if you just look for them. Have some fun!