Mastering the Remodel

Tammy Randall Wood Remodel

There is nothing more fun (for many of us) than the pursuit of creating the perfect nest. The longing to come home to a space that reflects our tastes and serves our needs is one of the most fundamental of desires. Most will agree that developing a space which allows us to express ourselves and make life run smoothly is a worthwhile endeavor.  At the same time, our homes are the single largest investment most of us will ever make, so how we approach fixing up and feathering our nests can equate to serious business.

If you are a homeowner, then you know that furnishings are the icing on the cake of all that goes into creating and maintaining our living spaces. I write a lot about the icing, but today let’s talk about the cake! Remodeling an existing home to suit specific needs or simply updating it for investment consideration is something most of us will have to undertake at some point or another. 

The scale of a remodel can run a wide breadth -- from refreshing a few surfaces to the total reimagining of a property. Sometimes it’s apparent what goes and what stays, but often things aren’t so clear. Budget and the condition of a home are key for making these decisions, of course, but what if a home has custom detailing that is solid and well done but no longer current or desirable?  This is where our aesthetic preferences can feel at odds with the property itself, and it can be helpful to draw a clear distinction between what might be your personal style and what might be appropriate in staying true to the architectural direction of the property. A good rule is to save your individual flair for furnishings, and think of the house as its own entity. 

Remodel before

Architectural design choices that are consistent with the style of the house itself serve to create the most authentic backdrop to set our personal style choices against, whatever they might be.  These juxtapositions can be dazzling and frequently more compelling than if all choices are unilaterally tailored to our personal leanings.  Think of how lovely a mid-century chrome and leather chair could look set against formal and beautifully painted raised paneling.  Like a great marriage, both stay true to themselves and yet are brilliant together. 

With that said, the current trend in architecture towards the more simplified and sophisticated cannot be denied.  Highly stylized Spanish Mediterraneans and Tudors are being replaced with streamlined versions of themselves.  What I’ve been seeing (and loving) in SoCal is a quieting of the faux-theatrical trends of the late 90s and early 2000s -- they’re being rebooted to read “Clean California Sophisticated.”

According to USA.com, the median age of a house in Calabasas is 31 years old. Often, detailing in homes from the 80s is quite rich, containing oodles of trimming that can seem almost garish to our newly acquired palate for tailored, clean lines. Admittedly, I almost always recommend that the cabinetry packages in our projects be replaced. New kitchen and bathroom cabinets can be critical to a successful remodel since wear and tear and changing styles can quickly take a toll.  But not everything has to go! 

Some expensive but dated details can be ever so slightly turned in a direction that results in a refreshed and utterly gorgeous reinterpretation.  In many cases, elements like oak wall paneling, balustrades and parquet wood floors can be kept. Having these details professionally stripped, repainted and stained can save thousands in replacement costs, and the end result can sometimes be of higher quality than what you might purchase brand new.

Remodel After

One of the architectural features I routinely recommend replacing in projects built before 1990 are the windows.  Yes, these are big-ticket items, but updating for energy efficiency, safety and aesthetic appeal can have a massive impact on increasing the value and desirability of a home. Windows being installed in California now have strict new guidelines to comply with today’s more stringent codes, such as tempered glass that resists shattering in fires and UV coatings that prevent heat gain. The improved value a home can realize plus the savings in energy costs can often make the decision to upgrade an easier one.

If you’re considering remodeling or just love home design, I have some resources I think you’ll enjoy!  There are two relatively new websites you should know about.  Houzz.com is one of our favorites. It’s a website and online community dedicated to architecture, interior design and home improvement. Houzz has over 3 million high-quality photos to inspire users, and they can be handily assembled into idea books. It is also a great resource for finding professionals in every category, from contractors to closet providers.

Another great website is DeringHall.com, where you can shop for high-end furnishings as well as connect with the world’s most elite architects and designers.  Homeowners know what they want and are more astute than ever with the help of these types of communities.

This guide would not be complete without naming a few of our favorite local providers.  For paint, I love Décor, Paint and Wallcoverings (decorcolor.com) in Thousand Oaks.  They carry Benjamin Moore paint and are great at answering all your questions with wonderful customer service.  Also in Thousand Oaks, my favorite carpeting and new wood-flooring source is Alpine Carpet One Floor & Home (alpinecarpetoneto.com).  They carry an array of the best carpets, from affordable to high end, with great customer service and impeccable installation. Agoura Sash & Door  is terrific. They have everything from Milgard to Marvin, as well as the new specialty bi-fold window systems that I love designing indoor/ outdoor spaces with.  And if you’re looking for truly unique architectural details, make a visit to Charme D’Antan in historic Cornell. They import exceptional antique and reproduction limestone fountains, mantles and building elements from Europe. A visit there feels like time spent in Provence!

Until next time, here’s to creating your own Noble Spaces!