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5 Steps to Find Your Remodeling Style

Find Your Remodeling Style

Are you a little bit country? Or a little bit art deco? When remodeling your home, the right contractor can help you find your way.

So you’re ready to remodel your home. While you know that your bathroom or kitchen needs a little sprucing up, you’re not quite sure how to put your personal stamp on the makeover. Are you more shabby-chic than contemporary? More country than European? And how do you convey these tastes to your contractor so your kitchen doesn’t resemble a farmhouse when you were hoping for sleek modernism? Read on for advice to ensure that your home feels like just that:  yours.

1.  Do Your Homework

If you’re not sure of your personal taste, hit a local bookstore’s magazine rack to gauge what does or doesn’t click. Or go online and visit sites like Pinterest to find what speaks to you. Tear out magazine pages you like or print what you find online and write down what you like about it, then store it in a folder marked “Kitchen Ideas” or whatever you’re looking at. This helps communicate your personal likes to the contractor or designer. You can also filter through all of the images to see if any collective themes jump out at you.  

2.  Pinpoint Your Dislikes

Knowing what you dislike can be just as important as knowing what you like. And seeing what doesn’t click for you is sometimes a lot easier than pinpointing what exactly does. If you know that sharp edges, sterile spaces, and black granite would make you feel as if you lived in 2050, that’s a good start. You can probably rule out any designs or furnishings with a contemporary or modern feel. But do keep an open mind. Just because your home is art deco now doesn’t mean that you wouldn’t fall for a more modern or an even less modern feel.

3.  Find the Right Contractor

A contractor does more than just erect walls and build shelving. In fact, they are your partner through the entire remodel, so it’s imperative that they understand your vision from start to finish. Don’t be afraid to ask questions to make sure that the contractor is compatible with you. A good contractor will want to walk through your house several times beforehand, so they can get a sense of your overall style; you hardly want to build a country-casual living room if the rest of your home is spare and minimalist. They’ll also show you examples of past work and take the time to look over all of the photos and ideas that you’ve put together. Once the customer has collected all these pictures, the designer should have a very good idea of the customer's style and likes. And be sure that your contractor not only spells out the time frame and pricing in a written contract, but that they also put their vision onto paper as well. Detailed drawings are important to ensuring that you get what you want. In the event it does not turn out how you were told, you have something to fall back on. Ask your contractor to show you “before” and “after” pictures of their past projects. This really helps clients get a sense of what can be done, and what will be done to their own home. 

4.  Answer the Right Questions

As your partner in the redesign, your contractor needs to tune in to your style and tastes and go beyond just looking at the pictures you’ve torn out. Some critical questions that the contractor should ask before embarking on the remodel are: “What do you like and dislike about your current home?”; “What are the traffic patterns?”; “How often and how do you entertain?”; “Do you envision a cozy home or an open home?”; “What are the present problems?”; “How many people use the room you’re remodeling?”; and “Do you see this as an investment or just a short-term sprucing up?” And, be frank about your budget from the get-go. You’ll ensure that you’re on the same page with expectations and get a realistic assessment of how much work can truly be done.   

5.  Make Small Changes

You don’t have to overhaul your home to infuse more of your personality into the rooms. In fact, a few small changes can have a big impact. It’s okay to start with a more general or universal style then use paint, wall paper, rugs, light fixtures and decorative accents to personalize your remodel. This gives the homeowner the ability to evolve in their taste and vary over time. You can change the wallpaper, paint and accents for a couple of thousand dollars, whereas flooring, cabinets and countertops can be tens of thousands. Just envision how the rich hues of a crimson foyer would embolden your entryway, leopard-print throw pillows might spice up your den, or recessed lighting could soften your living room. You’ll be on your way to a personalized home in no time at all.  

Making Sense of the Lingo

Not sure what means what? Here’s a quick reference guide for a few commonly used design terms:

Modern: Refers to sleek, often minimalist designs with hard edges and neutral colors.

Retro: A “retrospective” style that pays homage to past eras, such as the 1950s and 1960s. 

Art Deco: A style that developed between the two World Wars. Noted for its liberal use of circles, triangles, and parallel lines.  

Country: Exactly how it sounds: a bit rustic, akin to what you might find in a country home. Floral patterns, plaids, and soft lines abound. Think Ralph Lauren.

Contemporary: Very similar to modern, but a bit more relaxed, with fewer sharp edges and lines. A more universally accessible design, and probably the most common.

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National Association of Home Builders
National Kitchen & Bath Association
National Association of The Remodeling Industry
Remodeling Big 50
NAHBR Remodelers