When redecorating, don’t forget plumbing and electrical upgrades - East Valley Tribune: At Home

When redecorating, don’t forget plumbing and electrical upgrades

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Posted: Saturday, April 7, 2007 1:55 pm | Updated: 7:43 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Renovation season is upon us. It arrives with a jumble of emotions that range from wild hope and excitement to varying degrees of fear and trepidation. Renovating any room is a process. You may already have a good mental image of how the finished room will look, the new sofas, the wall color, the fireplace, fresh bathroom tile, dazzling floors.

Renovation season is upon us. It arrives with a jumble of emotions that range from wild hope and excitement to varying degrees of fear and trepidation. Renovating any room is a process. You may already have a good mental image of how the finished room will look, the new sofas, the wall color, the fireplace, fresh bathroom tile, dazzling floors. The decorating is what you see, and it will create the mood that envelopes you when you arrive home.

However, the basic elements that underpin any successful renovation project are hidden. They’re not pretty, they’re not fun and they can be expensive. I’m talking about plumbing and electrical upgrades, even structural work if it’s required. These will all have a direct effect on how long your decorating will last and how good it will look.

Spending the time and money to correct or upgrade existing problems pays big dividends in the future. There is little point in installing new tiles in the bathroom if they are going to have to be ripped up when outdated pipes burst. Also, tiles require an even, flat base, so floors might need to be leveled.

Wiring is another sensitive issue. With all the new electronics available for every room in the house, plan ahead for where you want new power outlets, and have the existing wiring checked to ensure the feasibility of additional strain on the system. If you are dreaming of a TV in the bathroom or cabinet lights and speakers in the kitchen, work out these details first.

Heated floors are becoming increasingly popular. It’s one of those hidden luxuries that can’t be matched. Bare feet on a heated stone, tile or wood floor goes beyond soothing any time of year. There are a few methods of supplying the heat; traditionally a layer of cement is laid and then heating coils are set in place and covered with a second layer of cement. I have just discovered a product that makes the job much simpler. The heating coils are sandwiched within a matting that is laid down like an electric blanket. The heat mats are cut to size and can be custom fit to suit your specifications. An ENERGY STAR-rated thermostat lets you determine the time and amount of heat, and with warm floors you’ll find the room temperature can comfortably be turned down. For more details on this innovative system, available across North America, visit its Web site or call (800) 778-9276.

I have found that if you break down your renovation into two parts, it will be more manageable. It may be easier to plan in reverse, and have two budgets. Step two is the dream — the look of the finished room; step one is the hidden, but all-important, infrastructure. Good preparation always pays off. This may mean renovating in two stages, but don’t lose the dream.

Q: We have five boys age 7 to 15 and are planning to paint their bedrooms. In one room both boys want green, in the other room one wants blue, the other wants bright red. The third room is small and not so well lit, so I will do it the same as the hall, a creamy yellow. I’d love any suggestions for paint colors in a cost-conscious brand.

A: Look for shades of camouflage, jungle leaf greens — very popular with young boys — and let them help with the painting. In the blue and red room, why not apply a denim paint finish? It’s cost effective, as you require less paint than you would for a solid finish. Mix blue paint with glaze, roll it on the wall and then pull a hard bristle brush through the wet glaze to produce the look of fabric weave. You could add fake stitch lines with red paint and an artist’s brush. Paint the trim red, and both boys will be happy. I recommend you choose the best paint you can afford. You will need to apply more coats of economy paint to get good coverage, so you don’t really save money.

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