My column a couple weeks ago–the one about my hair stylist’s horror story of an experience with a dishonest tree-trimming contractor, sure did draw a lot of feedback from readers. Only the responses weren’t about the guy’s troubles. They were jabs at me for getting my hair cut by my wife’s hair stylist instead of by a barber.
My only defense is that my wife made me go. Alright, she didn’t “make me go”. As I get older, it’s harder and harder for me to look good. The guy does a great job with what little hair I have for him to work with!
Just to give you more fuel for Jeb jokes, I’m devoting this week’s column to something sort of “mushy”: the emotional reasons that lead homeowners to remodel—and why it’s not such a bad idea to follow your heart when choosing your projects.
Here are five very personal—and quite valid—reasons why you might want to start to renovate, expand, upgrade, update or retrofit your home.
1. Shame. Have you ever invited friends over and prayed they wouldn’t notice the hole that your bathroom doorknob poked into the wall or shoot each other a critical glance when they see your kitchen’s original linoleum countertop? Do you avoid having company at all because all of your friends seem to have beautiful stainless steel kitchen appliances, granite countertops, tile backsplashes and finished wood floors, while your home is still rocking a mismatched set of off-white appliances and 20-year-old, wall-to-wall carpet?
Put yourself in a position to be proud of showing off your home. If the state of your space embarrasses you, makes you feel foolish or sets you up as the object of neighborhood gossip, do something about it. Freshen the look of your home by updating appliances, faucets, countertops, flooring and even the color of the walls.
2. Anger and resentment. Do you and your spouse or children fight over who gets to use the bathroom first every morning? Are you stumbling over each other in the kitchen while one person is cooking and another is trying to find enough space to chop veggies for tonight’s salad?
An extra bathroom has saved a lot of marriages. A separate bathroom for the kids has saved a lot of families from running late every morning for school and work. Even an extra sink in the master suite can save a couple from blaming each other for misplaced items or for making a mess that the other one has to clean up when it’s his or her turn at the mirror.
Ease your household stress by creating enough space for each member of the family to have a little bit of privacy and elbow room. Adding a bathroom is the best way to start. Follow that by enlarging the kitchen.
3. Envy. Do your favorite neighbors have something in their home that you believe could solve a problem in yours or make you happier in general? Maybe you would like to entertain as much as they do, but you don’t have a patio that’s roomy enough for both a big grill and a dining area. Or perhaps you’d love to have a “man cave” like theirs so you can hang a giant TV there and isolate the noise and activity that’s inevitable when the guys get together to watch the Tigers or your teenagers gather to play video games.
Turn those feelings of envy into a problem-solver. Think about how remodeling or adding a room to your home might solve a social, logistical or privacy problem. Observe how your friends and neighbors have overcome the same issues in their own houses, and ask your contractor to help you come up with something similar that will work for your family’s lifestyle.
4. Revenge. Ever heard the adage: “Living well is the best revenge?” What better way is there to “stick it” to people who predicted you would fail in your career or your life than to live in a home that makes them envious?
Show off your success by making your home a showpiece. You don’t have to spend millions on a new home; renovating your existing place is far less expensive but can result in something equally as opulent.
5. Fear. Looking forward to living in a nursing home some day? Few people are. So lots of homeowners are remodeling their homes into abodes where they can comfortably and safely live out their golden years.
Even if you’re relatively young, remodeling is an opportunity to get your house ready for anything that might happen: a broken leg, a permanent disability that requires someone at home to use a wheelchair, the arrival of an aging parent whom you’ve invited to move in.
Again, start with the bathroom. At least one of yours should be large enough for someone in a wheelchair to roll into and turn around in. Its doorways should be extra-wide. The tub should be replaced with a curbless shower that has a built-in seat and grab bars—or at least reinforced walls that can support grab bars when the time comes. The vanity should have enough leg room underneath for someone to use it while seated.
Don’t fear the unknown; prepare for it.
Jeb Breithaupt, B. Arch., MBA, has been president of JEB Design/Build, an Angie’s List Super Service Award Winner, in Shreveport since 1983. You can contact him at 318-865-4914 or by visiting www.jebdesignbuild.com.