Amy Mathews — Remodeling Tips

Amy Mathews - Remodeling Tips

Advice on Quick, Inexpensive Remodels, from DIY Network’s Amy Matthews

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The Remodeling Challenge

Brace yourself: relatives are coming for Thanksgiving and Christmas. You’d like to welcome them with a comfortable place to stay. But the guest bedroom and attached bathroom are ugly, dark, and unwelcoming: sheet vinyl and laminate counters in the bathroom; worn carpet, dingy paint, and little light in the bedroom.

You’ve always meant to remodel this area, and now is a great time. But you’ve only got a budget of $1,500 and two weeks for spiff up this 225 square foot space. What to do?

About Home Renovations posed this near-impossible challenge to Amy Matthews. a licensed contractor and hostess of DIY Network’s popular remodeling shows, Sweat Equity. Bathroom Renovations. and 10 Things You Must Know .

In typical Amy fashion, she crafted a quick, workable, and budget-friendly solution that any DIY homeowner can undertake with little learning curve. Let’s hear:

Amy’s Solution to the Holiday Remodeling Blues: Planning

The key to a quick and well-designed remodel is planning and preparation. These two things will help you get a fabulous space and keep you on budget.

When you save time, you save money. That why I do much of my interior design planning online, shopping for the best prices for product and supplies. I have researched at least three store options for pricing on each of the items listed below, from home improvement and hardware stores, to decorating stores and even my local Habitat for Humanity reuse store. I am very confident that with good planning you can accomplish a fabulous, timely remodel that will “wow” your guests and leave you with a great sense of accomplishment.

Tip: Habitat For Humanity Reuse Stores are slowly popping up all over the country. Expect to find jaw-dropping bargains on sinks, counters, flooring, windows, and all the good things that make up a home remodeling project. Learn more about this and other architectural salvage stores .

Saving Money, One Piece at a Time

Finally, the rooms you’ve been waiting to tackle are finished! For the bathroom, get the key pieces (i.e. countertop and floor tiles) first. This will determine the color pallete and your design style. A remnant counter found at a reuse center or building materials outlet is a great way to save money. You can find one made from almost any type of material – including marble, granite and solid surface – for a fraction of the cost of having one fabricated.

Keep in mind that you may need to be flexible on style choices for tiles and fixtures when you are on a short timeline, and therefore must pick materials that are in stock. See if your local tile shop has an outlet center or clearance area. Those are the perfect places to find deals on discontinued tiles for a small area like a bathroom.

Want an Easy Tile to Install?

Mosaic tile (such as a hexagon in 3/4-inches) on 12-inch by 12-inch mesh sheets can cover a small area in a short amount of time. Because the tiles are small, there is often no need for a wet tile saw. Tile snips and a utility knife to cut the mesh should be sufficient.

Amy Mathews - Remodeling Tips

If the bathroom is small, keeping fixtures on a small scale will help to make the space feel larger. Replacing an outdated faucet and old lighting with new fixtures gives the space instant appeal and is easy to do. You don’t have to be a plumber or electrician to update these simple pieces.

Of course, no bathroom remodel is complete without some finishing touches such as new, plush towels to make your guests feel pampered in their own spa retreat!

For a fresh new look in a bedroom, lay a floating laminate floor. They are very DIY-friendly and can cost as little as $3.00 per square foot. Most laminates cut easily with a circular saw, and the only other tools needed are a tape measure, rubber mallet and taping block to lock the floor panels together.

If you want to lay new carpet, order it as soon as possible and set a date for installation. I usually leave this to the carpet professionals, as the installation fees are often inexpensive and well worth the dime.

Painting the Bathroom

Paint the bedroom and the bathroom before either of the new floors go in. It’s much easier and faster as there is less preparation. I always use Scotch-Blue Painter’s Tapes from 3M for my paint jobs. They make it easy to achieve sharp paint lines and are designed for different surface applications, so you can choose the tape best suited to your painting project. As with any part of a remodel, you want your finish to look as if a professional did the job. That’s when your ‘sweat equity’ really pays off.

Choose calm and serene paint colors for the bedroom and bathroom. You want the spaces to blend, as if your guests have their own personal oasis. Use your decorating motif to set the warm tone for the holidays. Plush white bedding in a mix of textures and creamy tones instantly brightens the space and makes it inviting.

To finish off the spaces, don’t forget the lighting! Good lighting can enhance the mood of any room. In addition to overhead lighting, add task lighting, such as a reading light, and ambient lighting, such as a floor lamp. And don’t forget fresh seasonal flowers for both rooms!

For my painting tips on how to paint like a professional, visit: ScotchBlue.com.

For my step-by-step instructions on any of the above construction projects, visit: DIYNetwork.com


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