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Home remodeling Q&A

  • Star Tribune (Minneapolis)
  • Published Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014, at 12 a.m.

Julie Carlson, one of the creators of the Remodelista blog, answers questions about avoiding remodeling mistakes.

Q: What remodeling project is worth splurging on?

A: If you have a well-thought-out kitchen with good countertops and appliances, you’ll get your money back.

Other smart upgrades – a good, solid, heavy front door for curb appeal, and simple brushed stainless or porcelain light switch plates. It’s surprising to me when I go into an expensively remodeled house and they still have cheap plastic ones from Home Depot.

Q: What’s the first step before you dive into a major remodeling project?

A: Research, research, research – so you know what you want before you talk to an architect. And choose the right team by interviewing at least three contractors and architects. These people are going to be part of your life for a while and you need them to work like a well-oiled machine.

Q: What are common remodeling mistakes people make?

A: They don’t finish the last 10 percent because of decision fatigue. I have a friend who didn’t pick out a pendant light because he was tired of making decisions, and the contractor put in a fluorescent fixture. Many people don’t correct errors right away and just live with them. I ended up with movable, instead of fixed, shelves next to my bed. When I hit my alarm clock, the shelf falls down. The little things can bug you.

Q: What are some tricks for bringing light into dark spaces?

A: Our first home in San Diego was a dark pine-paneled ranch house. Painting the interiors white made such a difference. Add skylights or transom windows. Put on doors with frosted glass to let light filter through. There’s nothing like natural light.

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