An unfinished basement or attic, disused bedroom, or decades-outdated living room might seem like wasted space to some but to others, these rooms represent a world of possibility. A home remodeling project, from a subtle re-envisioning to a structural overhaul, can breathe life and energy into even the most tired, lackluster spaces, making your home feel as new as the day you moved in. In this guide we'll show you how to use the breadth of the Web to get ideas, plan your rooms, develop a budget, hire the right professionals, and more.
Modern, Colonial, Tudor, Southwestern: there are no one-style-fits-all looks when it comes to remodeling and design styles. This, coupled with the profusion of beautiful products on the market, means it's going to take a bit of time and research before you find a look that's right for you. Rather than picking up dozens of books and magazines on remodeling, why not use the Web for inspiration?
- A tried-and-true method for getting inspiration is to see rooms in photos or in person, and pull together the elements you like into something that's distinctly yours. As you're looking, take note of how the rooms are laid out, how they're furnished, what color palette is used, and how the rooms are lit and accented. All these factors will come into play as you plan and execute your project.
- Although not always fruitful, image searches, such as those from Google Image Search, can yield useful photographs and Web sites. Use different keyword combinations to find examples of styles and layouts for specific rooms. "Colonial living room" or "southwestern bathroom" are some examples.
- If the trade magazines' Web sites are too cutting edge, you might try a few of the consumer ones. In most cases, just type the name of the magazine, then dot com: for example, houseandgarden.com.
- Part of design is finishing up your newly remodeled room with some good decorating. Many remodeling sites have decorating sections, but also browse our findingDulcinea Decorating Web Guide for additional ideas.
For help determining your design style ...
has a fun style quiz that asks how you feel about your home, its furnishings, and general organization. Once you've answered the questions, the results at the end can help you learn a bit more about your design style and how to spruce up your home to suit your preferences.
is the online home of Home & Garden Television. It has another quiz that asks you questions about your style likes and dislikes. At the end of the quiz, you'll find a summary of your style preferences and recommendations for design options that suit you best, such as Tuscan, Cottage, or English Country. If you already know the home style you want, skip the quiz and head straight for your style preference to find pictures and decorating tips.
For general home remodeling advice ...
provides tips about remodeling your home, starting with a handy remodeling checklist and pictures of home remodeling ideas. Browse the rooms in the "Home Improvement Gallery
" for suggestions on sprucing up the various areas of your home. You'll also learn how to develop your remodeling plan, and find a contractor if you need one.
adds a few other rooms to its list of remodeling ideas, including attics, basements, sun rooms, and game rooms. You can also search for contractors at this site.
For trade publications and remodeling magazines ...
is part of the Hanley Wood network of construction-related Web sites and includes material from all of their trade publications. Visit the "Project Gallery" archive to see photos and articles on design projects around the country. Search by location, the magazine in which the article originally appeared, type of building project, or type of remodeling project to be inspired by a variety of styles.
Better Homes & Gardens
includes a gallery of design photos, plenty of budget-friendly ideas, and informative articles. Take a look at the "Remodeling Slide Shows" for ideas that can transform every room of the house.
is loaded with beautiful photos of interior and exterior design projects. If you really want to pinpoint your style and design preferences, search the "HB Image Library
" of more than 500 photos. Refine your search by style (cottage, new traditional, or modern, for example), color, room, or pattern, and be prepared for eye candy galore.
strives "to set a new standard for...inclusive coverage of the built environment." The magazine includes a wonderful "Environment" section with a "Remodeling Naturally" column that features beautiful photographs and good advice for designing with nature in mind.
Kitchen and Bath Business
is the online home of K+BB magazine, a publication that sponsors the annual Kitchen/Bath Industry Show and Conference. The "Designer's Corner" section has photos of completed projects along with a list of products used and the name of the manufacturer with links to the associated Web sites, if available.
For specifics ...
The Old House Web
contains a nice balance of design and decorating articles and photos for "old-house enthusiasts." If you're searching for more design-specific ideas, browse through the headlines on the homepage to see if anything piques your interest. The "feature stories" tab has a great series of articles about restoring old homes and a section on "Architectural Housing Styles" that can help you identify the style of your home.
claims that although ranch homes are the most popular style of home in the United States, they're also the most boring. This article can help you spice up the look of your ranch-style home.
Carlisle Wide Plank Floors
provides examples of different wood floors to match a variety of home styles. Whether you use Carlisle flooring is up to you but the photo illustrations can help you get some good ideas about your flooring preferences.
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A serious remodeling project could mean taking down walls, tearing up floors, and buying roomfuls of furniture. The following sites present you with knowledge, insight, and know-how for getting your project off the ground. They'll help you work out your expectations, and provide some guidelines for getting started.
- It's essential to read about both the process of remodeling as well as about the materials you'd like to use. Make sure the materials you are considering are durable, easy to maintain, and offer a timeless style. You don't want your kitchen to look worn out or dated a year after its completion. Many of the larger home improvement stores maintain Web sites with descriptions and details about the supplies they sell.
- Choose your do-it-yourself projects carefully. If you're not an expert, you may want to leave elements like electrical and plumbing work to the pros. Stick to hanging wallpaper and painting if you want to cut your costs.
- Advice and tips from homeowners who've been there and done that can be invaluable. But when reading blogs and forums, take posts with a grain of salt. Homeowner advice is not expert advice.
For general tips and advice ...
helps you get the home you've been dreaming about. An extensive "Articles
" section documents a myriad of topics in the remodeling process, including kitchen remodeling, when to call an architect, and how to select a contractor.
is the site for Home & Garden Television on the Web. Video clips demonstrate remodel projects in the bathroom and kitchen, as well as a few smaller how-to ideas you could use to change the look of a room in your home. Just browse through the "Channels" on the left side of the screen.
is a great site for do-it-yourselfers. Search the "Most Popular Projects" or the "Index" of projects (scroll down to find it) for step-by-step instructions for things like replacing grout in a bathroom or refinishing kitchen cabinets. Not the handy type? With its detailed instructions and can-do attitude, this site just might change your mind.
Home Energy magazine
has a number of free articles on optimizing your home in terms of saving energy but the site does encourage you to subscribe for premium service. Visit the "DIY" section for a number of full articles on topics such as sealing your home's leaks and how to optimize your ceiling fan.
For forums and blogs ...
Camping With a Mortgage
chronicles the many efforts it takes to restore and remodel old homes: in this case, an 1881 Italianate home. It's sure to provide some handy ideas if you're remodeling your residence, as well as some good chuckles at the author's frustration of spending years and years renovating his humble abode.
offers nearly 40 "Home Forums" on topics like electrical wiring, flooring, lighting, porches and decks, remodeling, and smaller homes. If you're curious about which toilet to buy or whether to use recycled wood floors, this Web site has some worthwhile discussions.
has some great how-to information in their message boards. Real homeowners give their advice on things like tankless water heaters, dryrot, and laminate flooring.
If yours is a big job, chances are you don't have the skills, tools, time, or know-how to complete it on your own. This means you'll need to find a contractor or other outside professional to make your vision a reality. Use the resources in this section to ensure that you select the right people for the job.
- Before you use the Internet to find names of professional builders, designers, or architects, ask friends and family if they have any recommendations. Then use the Web as a tool to find out more about that person or company.
- The sites in this section let you filter professionals geographically, enabling you to find a contractor more easily.
- See if each professional that you're considering has his or her own Web site. Often experts have portfolios displaying their projects posted on their sites. This can help you determine if you like their work, and whether they've done something comparable to your home improvement project.
is the site of the weekly TV show Today's Homeowner with Danny Lipford
. Look for articles on products from drywall to decks. You'll also learn how to determine what pro is right for your job, and the questions to ask your contractor before hiring him.
answers whether an architect is truly necessary for all home remodel projects, and provides information about building designers. It also offers thoughtful advice for people wondering if they could design a remodel themselves.
Choosing a floor plan can be tough—especially if you're not a visual person. A professional architect or remodeler should be able to guide you but here are some sites that can help along the way.
- If you want to keep costs down, ask your contractor about ways to design the layout to minimize your expenses while still providing you with a reasonable degree of change you desire.
- If you can't understand the symbols on a floor plan, don't be afraid to ask your professional.
- If you're having trouble visualizing the layout from a floor plan, ask your architect or remodeler to draw the rooms in perspective.
- An axonometric drawing (one in which you appear to be looking down at the plan in a three-dimensional drawing) may be helpful.
- When searching for floor plans on the Web, you're likely to find an array of plans for new homes. If a professional home building company designed your home, it's possible that the company's Web site could contain floor plan updates or improvements on your home's design.
is the Web site of the National Association of Home Builders. The site has a "For Consumers" section loaded with interesting articles like "Building a Custom Home" and a varied collection of "Floor Plans
" complete with photos of the finished project.
is a business graphics software program that can help you create floor plans. Are you ready to design your new addition or kitchen remodel? Download a free trial to check it out or purchase a license for one or more users to get started.
is the online home of the Royal Australian Institute of Architects Home Advisory Service. In the "DIY Design Guide," the institute offers excellent advice on planning a renovation with specific attention to the all-important floor plan. First word of advice? Before getting too attached to a certain floor plan, take a look at the shape of your roof: will the plan work with your existing roofline and ridges? The article does a great job of addressing other floor plan considerations like space, circulation, energy efficiency, views, and overall exterior appearance.
Planning your remodel is fun—creating a budget and paying for it is not. Material costs, labor, financing, and budgeting all need to be taken into consideration. Use these sites to get on top of your finances, and ensure that the scale of your home improvement project matches your wallet.
- There are many things you can do to get financing. Crunch your numbers to see if refinancing your mortgage can free up some additional cash to pay for your remodeling. Home equity loans may be another option for you. Our findingDulcinea Credit Web Guide discusses home equity lines of credit.
- Be wary of financing that comes with high interest rates or points. Even if the payments are small, in the long run you don't want to be overpaying for the job.
- Many of the Web sites listed previously, such as BHG and Danny Lipford, also have information on your financing options.
Because your budget affects your options ...
has an interesting "Remodel FAQs" section with questions like "How do I balance my dreams with my means?" and some great before-and-after photos. Remodelinc is based in New Mexico.
For financing information ...
has posted Remodeling
magazine's "Cost vs. Value Report." It explains how much value your remodeling adds to the resale value of your home. It also lists average job costs—of course, this will differ depending on where you live.
offers a calculator based on Remodeling
magazine's "Cost vs. Value Report." They also offer articles on revving up your resale value and how to save during a remodel.
is a terrific resource for financing information. You'll find information about interest rates for home equity loans, refinancing information, and several calculators to determine mortgage payments, FICO scores, and more.
For a different point of view ...
asks whether you'd be better off spending your money on a remodeling project or purchasing a new home instead. Depending on your personal circumstances, the "right answer" for you might be different than for someone else. This article can help you decide.
favors the approach that remodeling a room or two in your home will actually make you a little money if you decide to sell your home later.
What are the keys to a successful project? The best home improvement tips come from people who've been through a remodeling project. Use the wealth of articles on the Web that offer advice on remodeling to learn what needs to go into a contract with builders, how to negotiate prices, and much more.
- Always have detailed contracts listing what you expect, a timeline, and a specific outline of materials. Many of the sites recommended in the "Design Styles" section of this guide also have advice for helping a project go smoothly.
- Some of the blogs and forums in the "How to Remodel Your Home" section contain advice from homeowners who have worked on remodel projects and have personal suggestions for managing a project well, or comments about a remodel they wish they'd handled differently.
- Make sure that you and your contractor have the proper insurance—for your home and the subcontractors.
For home remodeling tips and advice ...
is a site that explains why permits and inspections are important. The site is specific to Washington State but it includes some valuable information that can be useful for everyone.
has a helpful article on the types of insurance you need during a remodel as well as other home insurance tips
. Find a home insurance quote by entering your zip code in the search box on the right.
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