Shaking off a dark winter with a spring cleaning, refresh

A spring cleanup and décor refresh have always been able to lift moods. But after this long pandemic winter, there’s special satisfaction in clutter removal, extra joy in being creative, particular pleasure in making a space even more your own.

“This time of year, I can often feel buried after so much time indoors, and with many of us working from home, this is even more crucial,” says designer Mel Bean in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Or as New York-based designer Thom Filicia puts it: “Be brave. The new year is a chance to create spaces that allow you to live your most beautiful life.”

Some suggestions from the experts on bringing a sense of harmony and happiness home this spring:


“`Bright and light’ is my motto, and when the days get warmer, I can’t wait to purge and donate some things,” says New York designer Michael Wood. He gives to Housing Works, a New York City non-profit fighting AIDS and homelessness.

Wood takes the change of season as an opportunity to get a professional firm in to deep clean.

“Every piece of furniture is lifted and cleaned by the crew — all lighting fixtures, fans, walls, blinds/drapery and ceilings are wiped,” he says. “They clean the outside, inside and behind all appliances, inside closets, shelving and cabinetry, all windows inside and out. Everything feels new again!”

Hiring pros might not be doable for all of us, however. Thankfully, cleaning can be free therapy.

Organizing expert Marie Kondo says that visualizing what a happy home would look like to you is a good first move on the de-cluttering, cleaning journey.

“Think about what kind of house you want to live in, and how you want to live in it,” she says. “When you imagine your ideal lifestyle, you are really clarifying why you want to tidy and envisioning your best life. The tidying process represents a turning point.”

Decluttering might spark some new ideas for old belongings, says Lance Thomas of Thomas Guy Interiors in Lake Charles, Louisiana.

“Heirlooms are a great way to accessorize and bring happiness into a home. Those ancient trinkets and doodads found while spring cleaning could make for a wonderful coffee table conversation piece,” he says. “There’s something special about preserving memories and respecting history that feeds the soul.”


Not up for anything big? After you’ve done a declutter, reward yourself by bringing home some green.

“Plants are known to boost mood and productivity,” says designer Jay Jeffers. “Add a floor plant in ample natural light to elevate your space, and put smaller plants where you spend most of your time, like your kitchen or your desk.”

There are lots of easy-care options, like succulents (including aloe and jade plants) and pothos. Or try cut flowers.

“Investing in a pretty vase and making a commitment to fresh flowers is a great way to bring happy into your space,” says Houston designer Mary Patton. “Even if you’re Instacarting, you can have inexpensive flowers delivered. Flower arranging is an easy, creative activity.”

Filicia advises paying attention to the pieces you touch most every day. “Your home should not only be a place where you feel inspired and energized, but also where you can kick back and relax. Create an environment that allows you to recharge,” he says.

“Bedding, pillows and throws create those welcoming environments.”

Paint or paper a wall, replace a rug, or reupholster a chair, he suggests.

Color is a simple way to create an upbeat feel, says John Cialone of Tom Stringer Design Partners in Chicago. The firm recently completed a Palm Springs, California, project where they brought in a vibrant kiwi green. Cialone also likes coral on walls or furniture for “giving you a healthy glow.”


Changing finishes or buying larger furniture costs more, but packs a punch.

Jeffers suggests drawing inspiration from your favorite destinations. “Think about the places where you feel happiest. Whether it’s a beach with tranquil blue water and warm white sand, or a cozy cabin surrounded by evergreen trees, incorporating design elements from your most-loved destinations will mentally bring you back,” he says.

At-home gyms have been one of his most requested additions this year. Whether you set up a few pieces of equipment or just some mats and pillows, that private oasis can pay off in both your fitness level and your mindset, Jeffers says.

Changing the finish or color of kitchen cabinets can be a big job, but the payoff, Cialone says, is also big.

As the pandemic waged on, Lisa and Peter Kinsman of Westchester County, New York, got fed up with their kitchen’s dark cherry cabinetry and black countertops. Inspired by a photo Lisa saw of a kitchen designed by Studio McGee, the couple chose a creamy gray paint to cover the cabinets, and changed out the counters for crisp white Silestone. The updates brought more light into the smallish, back-of-the-house space and improved the vibe in many ways, Lisa said.

“The light, definitely, but we’re surprised how much bigger it looks,” she says. “Hard to say if that’s why I find it more pleasant, or if it’s because it looks so much more current.”

Philadelphia-based interiors firm Marguerite Rodgers added a playful, cheery red pocket door to a recent kids’ room project on the Jersey Shore.

“The pop of color really ties the space together,” says designer Kaitlyn Murphy. “You can easily refresh existing millwork by adding a wallcovering, textile or a fun paint color.”

How to make your next home improvement project a success

Whether you are remodeling your home, making needed repairs, or sprucing things up to put your house on the market, the following tips will help make your next home improvement project a success.

  • Come up with a budget and stick to it. Home improvement projects can get expensive, fast. If you don’t want to break the bank, create a realistic budget to figure out how much you can spend ahead of time. Be upfront with contractors you hire about how much you can spend on a project as well.
  • Think about the pros and cons of DIY projects. If time and motivation is no problem for you, you may be able to tackle some basic home improvement projects on your own, but other projects may require further expertise. If you don’t have a background in construction, it’s usually best to hire a contractor to help with larger projects, such as plumbing, tiling, tree removal, exterior painting, and general remodels.
  • Give high priority to projects that keep your home clean and safe. If your home is in need of repairs, take care of those projects first. For example, fix that leaky roof before you give your home’s walls a fresh coat of paint. In addition, don’t forget to stay on top of regular home maintenance tasks to maximize the cleanliness and safety of your home.
  • Up the value of your home with a bathroom or kitchen remodel. Remodeling your bathroom or kitchen can completely change the look and feel of your home, creating a space you enjoy being in – not to mention it can add quite a bit of value to your home. For large scale remodels, hire a contractor that specializes in construction and remodeling services.
  • Improve energy efficiency. Save money (and the environment) by improving the energy efficiency of your home. Energy saving projects that are worth taking on include checking and replacing the seals on all windows and ducts in you home, installing new windows, and looking into green energy options like solar panels.
  • Get multiple quotes from contractors. When you are ready to start your home improvement project, be sure to get multiple quotes from several different companies. Never be pressured into hiring the first person you speak with. Comparing pricing and services is a critical step in choosing a skilled contractor you can trust.
  • Properly vet contractors before you hire. Even if the price is right, don’t hire a contractor before doing some research. Ask the contractor to provide references. Look up their name or company name online and pay close attention to any reviews or complaints from previous customers. Verify that the contractor is licensed and insured and get an estimate and contract in writing. Read contracts carefully before you sign them.
  • Think about permits. For larger projects, you may need to pay for building permits. Do you research ahead of time and understand that even if you hire a contractor, you may still be responsible for the cost of the permits.
  • Don’t get scammed. Stay alert to any suspicious behavior on the part of “home improvement specialists.” Red flags include not putting things into writing, demanding upfront payment, unexpected price changes, high-pressure sales tactics, unsolicited free inspections (that usually reveal the need for an urgent repair), and cash-only deals.

Key Things You Need to Know Before Home Remodeling

Remodeling your home is the perfect way to maximize the space and to make every room more comfortable. There is so much extra space that can be utilized when you do remodeling, and you can create the ideal home to suit your family’s life. Furthermore, a well thought out remodeling can also significantly increase the value of your home. It is always worth researching which home improvements are most attractive to potential buyers as these will be the remodeling jobs that will add the most value. A great remodeling can add far more value to your house than the original cost of the work.

To help everyone who is considering giving their home a new lease of life, here are the key things you need to know before home remodeling.

1. The Exterior Will Give Your Home Instant Curb Appeal

The first remodeling job you should consider is an upgrade on the exterior of your home. This will give your home instant curb appeal, which will not only make the neighbors jealous, it will also significantly increase your home’s value. Potential buyers’ first impression of a property is usually its front exterior, so if you are looking to remodel in order to sell your house, this is definitely an area which you shouldn’t overlook. There are various materials and finishes that can make your home look totally different such as cladding and stone veneers. A little landscaping or a newly laid driveway can also make a huge difference when it comes to the look of your home’s exterior.

2. Kitchens Are Ideal for Remodeling

In most homes, the kitchen is at the very heart of family life and so maximizing the use of your kitchen’s space and creating a beautifully designed room is always worthwhile. In any home, an updated kitchen can easily be achieved by adding some top of the line appliances, changing the countertops, cabinets, and drawers, and adding a splash of color with contemporary styles. The kitchen is also a major factor in a home’s value as many potential buyers want a home where the kitchen doesn’t need any work, as this is considered to be a big job. If you are trying to decide which rooms in your home should be allotted the most amount of your budget, it is always worth starting with the kitchen.

3. Plumbing and Wiring Should Not Be Overlooked

Whilst being far from the most glamorous remodeling jobs, it is really important that every home has quality, up to date plumbing and wiring. It is vital that you have both of these regularly checked so that any potential issues can be nipped in the bud long before they escalate into more major problems. If you are remodeling your home to sell it, it is also worth noting that prospective buyers will usually check the condition of your plumbing and wiring in the survey. If you have certificates that show you recently had them replaced, the potential asking price of your home can be significantly higher. Plumbing can be difficult to access, so consider getting your pipes replaced or fixed whilst you are remodeling the floors in your homes.

4. Backyard Landscaping Will Open Up the Potential of Your Yard

As well as upgrading the exterior of the front of your house, it is always a great idea to landscape your backyard. This will enable you to create the perfect space for whatever it is your family likes to do in the garden. You can add some beautiful flower beds if you like gardening or create an area for your kids to play sports. If you are a family who loves entertaining, building a firepit or a big outside grill will really take your garden parties to another level. Other potential backyard ideas are adding a pool, creating a secret garden behind tall hedges, or adding a fish pond.

5. Your Bathrooms Should Be Sparkling

We spend significant amounts of time in the bathroom, so it is important that this is a room which you like. The total bathroom can be a little expensive, but as with the kitchen, even small changes can make a big difference. Replacing old tiles and having a professional restoration company clean up your old bathtub and sink can give the whole room a completely new lease of life. These are improvements that only cost a few hundred dollars but could add thousands to the value of your home.

A well-considered home remodeling can transform your family’s life and also add serious value to your house. Whilst the best remodeling choices vary from home to home, there are some which are always the most sought after. Consider the suggestions in this article, and your home will soon be the envy of the whole street.

6 Things You Can Do to Help a Remodel Go Quickly and Smoothly

Unexpected delays can quickly turn a fun home remodeling project into stressful misery. But you’ve got more power than you think to keep your project on schedule — and it all comes down to what you do before a single nail is hammered. These six proactive tips will help you avoid remodel problems so your project runs smoothly.

1. Choose Your Team Carefully

When you hire a contractor, the burden of verifying their credentials falls squarely on your shoulders. Start by checking the Better Business Bureau’s website for red flags, as well as visiting LexisNexis online (which requires a subscription) to see if any lawsuits have been filed against potential contractors.

It’s also important to get valid references, stresses David Merrick, president of Merrick Design and Build in Kensington, Maryland. Rather than simply trusting online reviews, Merrick suggests doing some legwork.

“Visiting a project that is actually in progress is the best way to get a reference,” says Merrick, who also serves as the chairman of the Government Affairs Committee for the National Association of the Remodeling Industry’s Metro D.C. chapter. “So if you’re serious about hiring a contractor, and you want to take the time to check their references, ask to talk to [a current client] or visit a job they have in production.”

Merrick goes on to explain that homeowners should also check contractors’ license statuses online and “request a certificate of insurance. This comes directly from the insurance agent without going through the contractor’s hands, so you know it’s not forged.” This official document also lets you know whether the contractor’s policy is sufficient for your project’s size, and if workers’ compensation coverage is included.

2. Build in a Budget Cushion

Setting aside money for unexpected costs could help prevent your project from being delayed indefinitely.

Although good contractors usually spot evidence of costly problems during the initial estimate, some issues don’t reveal themselves until the walls are opened up, explains Rebecca Davila, owner of Building Dreams, a construction and renovation company in Hawthorne, California. For this reason, she suggests homeowners protect themselves by factoring in a substantial budget cushion.

“You have to look at having at least 20% to 25% [more] money on the side of your project,” she advises, “just in case of unforeseen conditions.”

3. Order Materials Early

Backorders and slow order fulfillment can stop renovations in their tracks. That’s why it’s essential to select and order tiles, fixtures and other materials your contractor requests as early as possible. It’s also crucial to choose products that are in stock and can be delivered quickly.

“Make sure you have everything ready and available,” Davila says. “You don’t want to order something and find out you’re on hold for six weeks, and your whole project stops for that item.”

4. Pay Attention to Permits

To maintain building codes and regulations, renovations often require permits. Be aware that the larger your project is, the longer it may take for permit approval — and for very large jobs, it could take months.

Professional contractors generally have a good feel for permit requirements and lead times and should know when to file to keep your project on schedule. Merrick warns that if a contractor asks you to get a permit yourself, that’s a major red flag.

“Any time a contractor asks a homeowner to pull a permit, there’s a reason,” he cautions. “They’re either lazy or they’re not properly licensed. They’re usually doing it because they’re not licensed.”

Having your contractor pull permits is also preferable for liability reasons. “The contractor’s name should be on it because they should be liable for it,” Davila says.

5. Get Everything in Writing

Before any work begins or money changes hands, you’ll need to sign a detailed contract. This ensures that everyone is on the same page and protects against being left high and dry with your project unfinished.

Renovation contracts should cover all the work being done and materials used, along with a clear payment schedule based on either time intervals or project completion levels. Know that a reputable contractor will never ask for full payment upfront or expect your final payment before the entire project is completed to your satisfaction. If you don’t understand the details of your contract, consider having a lawyer look it over.

6. Avoid Change Orders

One of the simplest ways to prevent remodeling delays (and budget disasters) is to be sure of what you want and stick with it. Changing your mind midstream results in change orders, which are contract amendments that occur when a customer decides to change project details like the location of a wall or the type of flooring.

Change orders not only create delays when new materials don’t arrive on time; they also can easily derail your well-planned budget. As Davila explains, “When a contractor gets a job, that’s when their prices are the lowest. When a change order comes in, they know that you have to do it so they can charge you anything.”

5 Reasons To Avoid Hiring Cheap Home Remodeling Companies

If you are planning a complete remodeling of a house or apartment – it is always advisable to make a list of all important items. You should know when the works start, how long they will last – and perhaps most importantly, how much they will cost. What people most often ask before all the work is: How to save and where to start? However, keep in mind that the cheapest is certainly not always the best. Moreover, by hiring some of the cheap home remodeling companies – you can get into a situation wherein the end everything costs you much more. Therefore, take a look at the 5 reasons to avoid hiring cheap home remodeling companies.

Is It Easy To Find A Home Remodeling Company?

Pressed by a tight budget, many investors – that is, property owners, start from one key fact: The price of the contractor for the house remodeling. When we decide to buy things such as coffee, clothes, a used or new car – we evaluate the criteria implied by the brand of the product and the manufacturer behind it. Although we are not always able to choose what we like – we still make our decision based on a proven company or manufacturer.

Still, this task is far more difficult if we need to choose which home remodeling company we want to hire. Unfortunately, there are no precisely defined criteria for the evaluation of individual companies in the field of construction – and especially not in the field of remodeling. Therefore, it is up to you to assess which of the companies meets your expectations and requirements.

Some remodeling companies have references behind them, some stick to their level of quality and professionalism – and some favor a low price. You shouldn’t let anything deceive you in your assessment – even if it’s the low price.

Quality At Low Cost: Mission Impossible

Although the low price sounds tempting to everyone – think again! Is something like that really possible? A professional contractor must have a team of professionals, craftsmen, and technical staff behind him. Such a contractor must be able to prepare and implement the project at the expected level and prescribed quality – adhering to the norms and standards of the profession.

When you have such a contractor behind you – then it is assumed that it includes certain costs that will be included in the realization price. Sure, there will be those competing companies that will offer you all this at a lower price, but don’t be fooled! Such a company can be unregistered, or they can use cheap materials and work outside the prescribed standards. In these cases, you will not be entitled to a complaint – and the whole job can cost you much more in the end. You simply cannot produce a good and quality product for a small amount of money.

Reasons To Avoid Hiring Cheap Home Remodeling Companies

When you hire a remodeling company at a cheap price – you can expect anything and everything. It has not once happened that people had to pay much more than expected at the end of the work. Why? Because such companies mostly make beginner mistakes that professionals would never allow themselves. Here are the 5 most common reasons why you should avoid hiring cheap home remodeling companies.

1. Imprecise calculation of the cost of works

We have already said that quality materials have their price. It is the same with the works. Respect that! Cheap remodelers will do other jobs in parallel – so the renovation could take you longer than all the set deadlines. Ultimately, if you are not satisfied with the work performed – all the corrections will significantly increase the cost of the project. Also, be prepared for additional costs. Planks break, pipes burst – and additional work, even unplanned, is often unavoidable.

2. Unrealistic deadline

Every professional remodeling company will try to realistically estimate how much time it takes to perform the work. Consult the contractors so that they can tell you within what period they will complete certain jobs. Consider both your available time and life situation. It’s not the same if you can afford home remodeling work when you’re not home – or if the workers are around the house where your daily life takes place. According to, it is extremely important to put it all together – and set a realistic deadline for the completion of the project. Here, professionals are always at an advantage – because they will tell you the deadlines with great reliability and stick to it. In contrast, low-price companies often justify non-compliance with deadlines – with the fact they gave you a lower price. Therefore, always opt for a better service, even if it is more expensive. If you don’t do that, stress and nervousness are your safe companions at work.

3. Incorrect space measurement

Believe it or not, this also happens when you hire cheap remodeling companies. Often such companies hire people who are not true professionals. That is why such beginner mistakes often happen. When remodeling a house, every inch should be important to you – so improper measurements can create a problem. Wrongly read inches, an asymmetrical line – and your new kitchen elements will not fit in the kitchen space. True professionals won’t ever make such mistakes-  and they will also pay attention to the positioning of sockets and switches. Sometimes it happens that the sockets or switches are in the wrong places – and then you have to stretch the cables around the renovated space, which looks hideous.

4. Use of cheap materials

When hiring a remodeling company, and especially at a cheaper price – take care of the materials they use. Follow that saying that you are not rich enough to buy cheap things! Professional companies mostly use more expensive construction materials because they are of better quality. Ask why some material is more expensive than others, what advantages it has over others. If you can’t afford such an investment at the moment, you’d better wait. It will pay off in the long run if you have no intention of frequently renovating your house.

5. Neglect of safety at work

This is something that professional companies can boast of as opposed to those that offer you cheap services. Unprotected renovation is not smart. Before moving to work, it is necessary to have all protective equipment: Goggles, suitable gloves, breathing masks, and the like.


You certainly don’t want to renovate a house just because it looks too old – but because you want to make your home a better place to live. Remodeling a house doesn’t mean that you always spend a huge amount of money. However, you must know that every quality service has its price – and this can hardly be avoided. So don’t trust every ad or advertisement you come across. Try to find the right professionals who will do the work on your house according to your requirements –  and respecting quality standards. We hope you understand that there are reasons why you should avoid those cheap offers that promise a lot – and don’t give much in return.