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A brighter, airier kitchen. A more practical bedroom. A warm and inviting family room. Pick a home remodeling project to tackle this season and you’ll be in good company. Every summer, millions of people head off to their favorite home improvement store to get started with their home makeover project. But, before you go shopping, it’s important to have a game plan. Here are three tips to ensure that you’ll be happier and save money with your remodeling project — no matter how big or small:
Have a dream
With new innovations in product design, your dream — or at least part of it — may be closer to coming true than you think. If you’ve longed to replace that old vinyl floor with wood but couldn’t afford it, you can give your existing home a timber-style makeover using affordable, easy-care materials such as laminate flooring with the look and texture of real wood grain. Or, if you’ve fantasized about cooking in a Tuscan-inspired kitchen, you can update your countertops using durable high-pressure laminate with the look and texture of Italian granite or stone.
The key is to dream big and plan from there. You’ll be pleasantly surprised to find that you can have the look of real stone, granite or wood with more affordable, hard-to-tell-the-difference, man-made products.
Make a plan
Familiarize yourself with the newest remodeling trends and start working your dream into a design theme. According to design trend expert Reneé Hytry, today’s home makeovers are reflecting our desire for comfort and familiarity. As vice president of design for Formica Corporation, Hytry ensures the company brings trend-right high-pressure laminate, solid surfacing and flooring materials to market.
“Homeowners are creating amazing rooms using natural-looking materials with contrasting colors and textures. These design trends, combined with innovative technologies, are allowing them to do more with their interiors than ever before,” says Hytry.
For example, if you’re investing in sleek, stainless steel appliances for your kitchen, you can trade off the cost of real granite countertops with an affordable, easy-care laminate.
Select the right products
Do your homework, because remodeling is not an “I’ll know it when I see it” proposition. Spend some quality time flipping through magazines, viewing home remodeling shows, visiting Web sites and collecting ideas before walking into the store. Determine whether you will do all of the remodeling or hire a contractor to manage part of it. Your decision will be based on the level of difficulty of the product installation, the budget and your time to invest in the project. Then, make your shopping list — noting items that require a major investment, as well as practical materials that provide the look you want, yet keep you on budget.
With man-made materials incorporating more sophisticated designs and offering high-end looks for moderate budgets, today’s homeowners are selecting familiar styles and mixing them with natural materials.
* High-Pressure Laminate (HPL) Today, the classic countertop surfacing comes in new trendy colors, patterns and finishes. Formica brand laminates have a new granite- and stone-inspired “Etchings” finish available. Its softly polished and etched surface is reminiscent of natural materials dappled with highlights from tiny fractures and fissures.
* Solid Surfacing — When you are searching for the look and feel of natural materials with the strength and design flexibility of a synthetic solid surface, there are many new products available — from countertops and windowsills to wall panels and backsplashes. Trendy “Ice” designs from Formica Solid Surfacing capture the cool colors of water and combine the transparency of glass with subtle pearlescent shimmers.
* Flooring — Take a close look at different flooring manufacturers’ laminate wood plank and tile pattern designs. These days, it’s tougher than ever to separate laminate flooring from the real thing.
The same holds true for tile patterns. More realistic grout lines, hand-crafted-looking textures and natural-appearing finishes make them convincing, high-performing substitutes for stone and tile.
Finally, make sure you are happy with your color scheme and product selections. “Making the final purchase is an emotional decision, and consumers need to feel satisfied with their design choices,” says Hytry.
Once you’re in the store, check out the product displays and lay out all of the products you’ve selected to see how they blend together. Work with the sales representatives to make sure your “shopping list” has everything you need. Ask for directions on installing the products, as well as a demonstration. And don’t be afraid to ask for product samples that you can take home and see how they look in your room and with different lighting. Once you’re satisfied with the selections, it’s time to begin the room transformation.
If you follow these simple steps, your dream will become a reality; you’ll be happy and won’t break the bank.