Choices too often lead to other choices

HOMEWORK

August 08, 1999|By Karol V. Menzie and Ron Nodine

IF YOU BUY the television sales pitch, having more choices seems like the greatest idea in the world.

If you ever rehab a house or do a remodeling project, however, you'll find making choices can be one of the toughest things you have to do. It's not just that there are millions of items to choose from, but that the process is absolutely relentless.

Once you've made a choice, it's bound to have an impact on a number of others. If you choose to do something to the interior, it may have an impact on the exterior.

Even with small jobs such as a kitchen or bathroom remodeling, there are a lot of things to consider. Larger projects are more difficult because you have to consider not only the room you're dealing with, but also any adjoining rooms.

What to do? Well, you have to start somewhere. And, of course, there are a couple of schools of thought.

An architect may advise you to start from the outside and work your way in. An interior designer might suggest starting inside and then dealing with the outside.

While either way can work, Ron thinks the first thing you should do is figure out your priorities.

For example, you are redoing your kitchen, and part of the project will be replacing a window with a patio door and installing a new window over the new sink. How do you decide exactly where the new window should go?

If you look at it from an exterior point of view, it would probably look best if it lined up with a window on the floor above it. But, looking at it from the inside, you can see that placing the window there would not allow you to put the refrigerator where you want it.

So you live with the window out of alignment, or redesign the kitchen layout so that it can be lined up.

Karol ran into this sort of problem immediately when she was remodeling her kitchen a couple of years ago.

Because of the placement of a structural beam (part of the original back wall of the house), she couldn't put the refrigerator where she wanted it. The solution, which turned out to be fairly drastic, was to enlarge the proposed addition so it could be moved a foot or two farther down the wall. That changed the configuration of the cabinets and the windows.

The same domino effect applies to choosing finishes. If you find a cabinet you like and a floor you like, but they don't look good together, you will have to make a decision. Then you may find a counter top you like even better that doesn't work with either the cabinets or the floor.

Once again, the thing to do is set priorities. It often happens that you will fall in love with something, some piece of the puzzle, and you can start with that, choosing everything else to work with it.

Even that system may not be foolproof. Karol fell in love with a Provencal-style wallpaper and matched everything to that. But because of construction delays, when it came time to install the counter tops, the finish she had chosen was discontinued, and she had to find something else that went with the cabinets (fortunately white), the rose-and-salmon ceramic floor, and that lovely rose-and-lime wallpaper.

Ron tries to remind people that, before you start to buy anything, it's a good idea to sit down and think about the other things it needs to match. For instance, it will be easier to match the carpet (with hundreds of choices) to the comforter (with only dozens) than the other way around.

Where do you look for ideas to fall in love with? Home-improvement stores, kitchen and bath showrooms and decorator show houses (where, remember, everything is for sale) are good sources.

Magazines are also good places to get ideas. Ron often will have a client show him a picture from a magazine and say, "This is what I want."

If you know who makes a product it's usually easy to find. But suppose the ad in the magazine is for a brand of windows -- but what you like is the floor. How do you find it? You hunt through literature from manufacturers, visit home centers and show rooms -- and hit the Internet, if you have access. Almost all major manufacturers have Web sites now. To find them you can usually just type www."company name".com. Or use a search engine.

But be warned: Every bit of research you do will reveal more choices.

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