Homes, like people and fashions, age.
Unfortunately, nothing stops the aging process in people. The good news is that older homes, just like clothing fashions, can be updated to give them a chic, modern appearance.
Barry Obermiller, owner of Obermiller Seamless; Jody Devore, owner of Drapery Den; Jim Narber, owner of the Floor to Ceiling Store; and Bethany Schock, an Allied member of American Society of Interior Design at the Floor To Ceiling Store, are a few of the professionals in Grand Island who can help people come up with ideas on how to modernize their homes.
As a retail trade center, Grand Island has many outlets where do-it-yourselfers can buy everything from raw lumber to bathroom sinks, fixtures and countertops to kitchen sinks and kitchen cabinetry. It also has a number of one-person contracting and handyman businesses that can do home remodeling. Don’t forget the full-service “turn-key” outlets that let people go in, select the materials they want to remodel their homes and then have that company do the installation.
Starting from the outside
Giving a house a new look can start with the home’s exterior, starting with updated replacement windows. Obermiller said people most often start looking for replacement windows when the wood frames begin rotting or when the windows aren’t working as well as they should in keeping the cold out and warmth in. Consequently, the most important issue for most people is the energy efficiency of the new windows.
After that, people may make a decision about buying aluminum-clad windows or vinyl-clad windows that provide the advantages of wood-frame windows with different exterior looks. People can also get vinyl frame and fiberglass frame windows.
All offer advantages and disadvantages when it comes to durability, heat and cold conduction, and energy efficiency.
Moving things inside
Updating the home’s interior also often begins at the windows, which can include shades, blinds, shutters and drapes.
“We do a lot of layering on window treatments,” said Devore, owner of the Drapery Den. She said layered sheers and shades can work in tandem to determine how much light gets into the room. Sheer backing can allow soft, diffused natural light into homes, while more opaque fabric vanes or panels can be either fully open, partially closed or fully closed to provide additional control on how much light comes into a room.
She said fabric vanes or panels in window treatments can provide protection from UV rays that can cause colors in carpets and furniture to fade.
When fully closed, the fabric vanes provide complete privacy for people when they turn on interior lights during the evening and nighttime hours.
How much light to allow into a room may depend on how that space is being used.
Devore said window treatments that allow lots of soft, diffused light into the house can be used for kitchens, dining rooms and living rooms. But people likely will want more opaque window treatments for their TV rooms or home theater rooms, as well as for their bedrooms, where they will want to get a restful night’s sleep free from any light.
She said some window treatments, such as Duette Architella honeycomb shades or Duette Trielle Elan shades from Hunter Douglas, incorporate insulating air pockets to reduce heat loss from homes.
“You can actually get tax credits for putting these into your home,” she said.
Devore said that technology has been incorporated into modern window treatments, which can be motorized or can be operated manually without using any cords. The absence of cords is meant to improve safety for children in the home.
Motorized window treatments can either be hard-wired or battery-operated.
“A big trend is to install a hub with the shades so people can operate their shades with their phones when they are out-of-state or when they are inside the house,” Devore said.
Sometimes, light sensors are used so that window treatments will automatically be fully open, partially open or fully closed, depending on how much light is shining outside.
Drapery Den still sells what most people consider traditional drapes and curtains, Devore said. For example, one homeowner had a 24-foot-wide patio door that needed a 24-foot-wide curtain that could be opened and closed to cover that wide expanse.
She said some people are getting stationary drapes that remain in fixed positions on both sides of the window. Those stationary drapes are popular because today’s homes are increasingly filled with hard surfaces such as vinyl floors, hardwood floors and ceramic-tile floors, with more and more of today’s furnishings also made from hard surfaces instead of fabric.
Devore said these stationary drapes are used to soften a room’s look and to add texture. Drapes also improve a room’s acoustics by providing a softer sound in place of the harsher noise that can be created when sound waves bounce off hard surfaces.
From floor to ceiling
Interior designer Bethany Schock said a current remodeling trend is the installation of vinyl floors. Those floors can look a lot like wood, or they can look like ceramic tile with various designs.
Schock said vinyl flooring is popular “because it is super easy to take care of. People here in the Midwest like things they don’t have to maintain a whole lot.” That’s especially true with the Midwestern climate that ranges from snow to rain and mud to dust storms.
She said homeowners can keep vinyl floors clean with either a damp or a dry mop.
Narber said another reason that people like a vinyl floor is that it has a warm feel to the feet compared to the chill of a ceramic tile floor, as just one example.
Many people still like to have wall-to-wall carpeting in their homes, although ease of maintenance remains a priority.
Schock said carpets will often have subtle “blends of colors” because a variety of hues can help hide tracking on areas such as doorways and hallways where people do a lot of walking.
“You don’t have to vacuum as often,” she said.
Many people like to have patterned carpet in their homes because it “provides another texture to the room and a little bit more of a design element,” said Schock, who showed a display carpet that had a subtle plaid pattern.
Light up your life
Today’s light fixtures give consumers a choice of either regular or incandescent light bulbs or LED lighting. The LED lights are popular for people who are very concerned about energy efficiency.
Schock said LED lighting comes as a unitary or integrated fixture so “you never have to change a bulb. It’s rated for 15 to 20 years and usually, by that time, you’re ready to change the style anyway.”
Narber said a popular model is LED “can lights” that are small-circumference, circular fixtures that are recessed into the ceiling. It would likely take 50 to 70 can lights to fully illuminate an area encompassing the living room, dining room, kitchen and bathroom areas of a home.
Schock said some people like to decorate their homes with chandeliers, which use incandescent lighting. If people like lighting on their ceiling fans, that usually comes as an integrated unit with LED lighting that is certified to last 15 or more years.
Adding a touch of interest
Narber and Schock said many people like to have kitchen cabinets with “Shaker-style” doors that have no raised panels.
Narber said many people also like “farm sinks,” which Schock described as sinks with an “apron front” that has the lip of the sink jut out a very short distance from the kitchen counter.
Schock said pattern tile that forms a specific pattern when all the pieces are installed is a popular floor covering for today’s bathrooms.
When it comes to paint, many people like to have soft, relatively neutral colors on all four walls, she said. But some people still like to have a room with three walls covered with a neutral color and one wall with a slightly more vibrant tone for an accent.
Schock said it also makes a difference if a room is a regular rectangular shape versus a room with “more interesting shapes or cutouts, because then you can do a couple of different colors to make it more interesting as an architectural detail.
Devore said often people who want to add texture to a room will consider using wallpaper, noting, “it’s coming back.”
She said grasscloth wallpaper made from hand-woven strands of natural fibers is an increasingly popular choice. Grasscloth wallpaper can be used on a room’s accent wall.
Narber said many homes built in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s had lots of rooms. As a result, many people like to remove all the non-supporting walls for those rooms to create an open-concept home.
He said one remodeling job tore down those walls, then installed wooden beams on the ceiling where all the walls had once been located.
Even though there may be definite trends when it comes to remodeling today’s homes, “I always tell people that you’re the one who has to look at it every day,” Schock said. “You need to be fully satisfied with everything. I can make whatever you want work, but you have to like it yourself first.”