New Tips for Spring Remodeling

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Noted American author, Tad Williams, once said, “Never make your home in a place.  Make a home for yourself inside your own head.” 

So you have some ideas you’ve been thinking about, and you're finally getting around to doing that remodeling job on your house.  Spring is that time of year when most of us, after spending much time during the winter staring at the walls, decide to put some long-thought-about ideas into motion.  This means you can now take your renewed positive attitude, motivation and home remodeling skills to good use.  However, before tackling a major project, let's look at some ideas you may have overlooked.

Shower Design Power

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We have many customers that come to our showroom looking for remodeling solutions, especially in their bathrooms.  One family wanted a very nice bathtub, but also wanted to include a separate, freestanding shower unit.  The problem was they couldn't afford both.  In the end, they chose to spend a little extra on the tub, a beautiful, deep-soaking Clawfoot tub, and economized on a separate shower with sliding doors.  The wife dressed up the drab shower by putting a handsome, fabric shower curtain to hide the sliding doors.

Room for Expansion

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I’ve purchased many houses over the years, and one thing I always do is to make sure the property is  expandable.  By that I mean are the property’s boundaries and set-backs such that I could add an extra room in the future if I so chose?  If the house is on a foundation with “crawl space” it could be rather expensive to expand the floor system.  A slab would be a little easier to work with, but don't forget the cost of drawing up plans, pouring more concrete, and more importantly, making sure the addition fits the current footprint design.  Many people have created an oddity with their home by randomly adding rooms and extensions that don't follow the original footprint concept.  A once-beautiful home can become an “albatross” if over-all design is not taken into consideration.  A wise choice would be to hire a professional designer to help with this before you start.

Kitchen Tops Our Discussion

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Let's talk about the kitchen for a moment.  As you know, counter tops are a real focal point in any kitchen.  The old style of laminate counter tops are being replaced with abandon by most homeowners.  That style has never had a reputation for holding up very well over time.  A “laminate” is just that, a shallow surface of vinyl or plastic that is laminated over pressed board.  The corners are notorious for being easily damaged.  The surface will start to lift over time, regardless of the care

Thank goodness for innovation.  Today,  granite countertops are the craze.  However, even newer are the engineered quartz counter tops.  Two words about counter tops: remember resale.  Spend a little and it usually pays off in the long run.  In one of the houses we built some years ago, we decided on  laminate counter tops to make sure we stayed within our budget.  We took good care of them over the years and they still looked good after ten years of living there.  But, when we decided to sell, and before we put the house on the market, we spent a little money and replaced them with granite.  It was a wise decision.  The house sold quickly and the new homeowners could only rave about how beautiful the new counter tops were.  

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Another thing about kitchen remodeling, unless you’re a professional cook or money is no object, don't buy an expensive commercial-style range and fridge.  There are many mid-priced, great looking appliances out there.  Appliances can be plenty big for your needs, so start with what you can afford.  When I was growing up in the 1960s, we always had the same Frigidaire refrigerator.  It was more like an old-time icebox. The inside was about half the size of modern, regular size refrigerators, with a place for two ice trays in the top.  There was no freezer portion to speak of and it was about two feet shorter than today's versions.  So today, be practical.   You can always move up to something larger and nicer later.  Save your money for custom cabinets and countertops

There is a trend now to make the kitchen and bathroom huge, but they needn't be — after all, they're also the most expensive rooms to build.  Opt for functionality over size.  A nice touch in a shared bathroom is a separate room for the toilet.  It can be relatively small, but include a window to provide light and a  feeling of connecting with the outdoors.

Curtains Up

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Choose shower curtains over custom shower doors.  Glass doors cost about $1,500, and they require a good deal of maintenance.  Soap film build-up is one problem, requiring the need to squeegee them every time you take a shower.  On the positive side, great-looking fabric shower curtains are very affordable, plus they add color and design to the shower area. And, if you get tired of the curtain color or design, you can always change it for little money.

Here is another tip for the bathroom:  Buy a good toilet ― the new ones are quiet and use less water.  Most showrooms don't have working models, so be sure to check the reviews.  Dual-flush models are a good option.

WW2: Walls 'n' Windows

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Throughout the house, keep the windows the same size, if possible.  That said, you can also make a spectacular change with really big windows or French doors.  Increasing natural light is always a good investment.  If you have single glass windows ― even if they're in decent shape ― it may be worth replacing them with insulated windows, which will save money on heating and cooling and also help reduce noise.  Also, insulate all exterior walls and ceilings.  If you open any internal walls, put in insulation, particularly around bedrooms and bathrooms.  It's cheap and it helps reduce sound.

Nuances Make a Difference

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Small areas to consider are door hardware and light fixtures.  Many homes have the typical cream-colored light and receptacle plates.  By simply upgrading to something as simple as pewter light fixtures will speak volumes about quality and elegance.  Light fixtures in old houses are normally ugly, discolored and out of date. 

Bedrooms nowadays are fitted with ceiling fans, which come with their own light package. It’s easy to catch a sale on ceiling fans.  They sometimes run as low as $59or $69.  If you’re ever considering a future resale, this is invaluable.  And don't forget the porch, especially a screened-in porch.  A ceiling fan that is rated for outdoor use can turn the porch into a key gathering spot.

Never underestimate the transforming power of color.  Paint offers immediate  gratification.  Even the good stuff is relatively inexpensive, and a careful amateur can do a good job.  Hate the look of your house?  Try a fresh coat of new paint first.

These are just a few suggestions for keeping your home beautiful and functional.  “There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort,” wrote English novelist, Jane Austen, in the 18th century.  Her wise words ring true even today.  Make your home a place of leisure that you can be proud to show off.

In this article, I discussed some useful ideas for spring remodeling such as adding a cast iron/porcelain Clawfoot tub, upgrading kitchen countertops, adding new ceiling fans, replacing electric plates with pewter, repainting rooms, and myriad other suggestions.

If you’d like some suggestions and professional advice about what type of bathing solution would work for your bathroom remodeling project, whether it’s a Clawfoot or Pedestal tub, a Walk-in tub or a Safety Suite Shower, Tub King’s experts are here to help.

If you found this article useful, please share it with your family, friends and co-workers. If you have a comment related to this article, leave it in the Comment section of this blog. 

Thanks again for visiting with us.

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Have a question? Feel free to contact me at the number or email listed at the end of this article and I’ll personally get back to you.

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Alan Knight is the owner of Tub King, Inc., and  in Jacksonville, Florida. He has many years of experience in the antique and senior bathtub industries. His companies not only provide superior products, they are also award winners, receiving the “Best of Jacksonville Chamber Award” four years running. To contact Tub King directly, call (800)843-4231 or email

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