Unexpected problems normal while renovating, decorating

HOMEWORK

May 21, 2000|By KAROL V. MENZIE AND RON NODINE

WHEN IT comes to renovating or decorating a new space, expect the unexpected.

You will certainly run into some things that you didn't think of when you were in the planning stages. This doesn't mean you or your contractor is a dummy; it means there are inevitably some things that get changed, and some things you just can't foresee.

Unless you've done some renovation in the past, it's hard to imagine the number of decisions you'll have to make. They involve everything from where doors will be to what the doorknobs will look like. What kind of flooring? Carpet, wood, ceramic or vinyl tile? What kind of light fixtures? Ceiling, wall, freestanding? If the lighting is installed, where will the switches be?

You would think that for people who like to be in charge, this would be heaven. It's not. There are too many variables and too many human beings involved. No one is completely in control.

Distributors will run out of a particular type of faucet. Manufacturers will get orders mixed up and deliver the wrong cabinets. Your local home improvement center will have only 11 cabinet knobs of the type you really like, not the 14 you need.

Some people are driven berserk by this flux factor. It should be recommended, if not required, that couples planning a renovation find a marriage counselor at the same time they hire a contractor. One can't simply duck out - all of the disputes will involve you.

At some point, you will surely feel like Jasper, the elderly dog who lived at a house where Ron did a major renovation. Throughout the project, she continued to bark at a blank wall where "her" door used to be.

And all of this doesn't include all the things you bring on yourself. Things like, "Wouldn't it be nice if there were a window there?" or "This is the sink I love, and everything else will just have to match it."

Karol has been trying for six weeks to get vinyl flooring installed at a project she's working on. Despite the good intentions of everyone involved, it hasn't happened yet, and she doesn't know, at this point, when it will.

When it comes to last-minute touches, even the experts can run into problems. For instance, the little issue of the vases in Ron and Charlotte's addition.

When they were laying out the electrical plan for the project, they considered where the furniture would be placed, how the switches would control the lighting from each location and where outlets would be needed.

They thought they had thought of everything. However, Charlotte has found some glass vases, in various shapes and sizes, that match the color scheme in the room perfectly. She wants to put them on top of the entertainment cabinet in the bedroom.

In the store, the vases were displayed in a curio cabinet with interior lights that really set off their colors. To get the same effect at home, however, will require some new lighting.

The best way to accomplish this would be to install either recessed or track lighting over the entertainment cabinet. The problem is, that would mean cutting, patching and repainting the walls and ceiling to conceal the wires, or using a surface-type fixture that will leave the wires exposed - both unacceptable trade-offs.

The solution will probably be to backlight the vases from behind with a small fixture on top of the cabinet. It's not an ideal situation, but it's the best one to avoid cutting up the new walls or leaving wires exposed.

Can you ever really plan for everything? No.

Instead, make as many decisions as you can in the planning and rough-in stages, when they won't cause costly change orders. Make the others as necessary, and try not to beat up yourself, or the workers, or the contractor, or the manufacturers, when things go wrong.

Jasper's door came back, and your life will too.

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