How do I know what to remodel restore?

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Answered by: Lori, An Expert in the Remodel and Restore Category
Have you recently purchased a home? Are you looking at your long-time home in a new way? How do you know what to remodel or restore in your home? If you live in a building from long enough ago that it can be considered "historic" or is otherwise architecturally significant, restoration might be the better option for you. If you have a standard, builder-grade, mass-produced house, remodeling might provide a better return for your investment.

Let's say that your house was built in the early 1960s. It has a midcentury modern style, sound structure, and the materials are in good condition. Whoever owned the house before you was meticulous, and the house's preservation shows that. Every aspect might not be ideal for you—or for a modern lifestyle—but everything is functional and not aesthetically abhorrent.

For example, the house might not be well-insulated, but the wood, glass, and stone have held up over time. Adding insulation can significantly affect the house's energy efficiency, and you don't have to tear out all of the walls! There are several non-invasive methods of adding insulation to an older house, some methods should be done by a licensed contractor, but some methods are DIY. If the house has paneling, you can remove each panel and add batt or foam insulation, and then reattach the panel. This method can easily be done by homeowners. Because this method involves removing one panel at a time, even a small budget can be accommodated. If the house has attic space, insulation can often be blown in to walls from the attic, avoiding all disruption to the living space.

Perhaps you love the cabinets in the house, but the bathroom vanities are very low and the sink is pink ceramic. Replace the sink; no one should be forced to live with pink ceramic. If you like the cabinets, have them raised to a more appropriate height. If the faucet and handles are in good working order and you like them enough, keep them. If they leak like crazy and can't be repaired, find some new ones that you like better that can blend with the age of your home.

Light fixtures might have broken over the years and been replaced one by one, all in different styles. If you don't like the mix-and-match look, pick a light that you like enough to see everywhere and change out the old ones.

Look at each room of your home. Think about how you currently use it. What bothers you about it? What do you love about it? What change might make it work better for you? Imagine how you want to be in the space and how you want the space to make you feel. The question of what to remodel or restore comes down to assessing your home and your lifestyle. Don't assume that you need to either restore everything or remodel the entire house. Restoration and remodeling can often happen on the same project. Keep what works for you—or what you can adapt to—and change the rest to suit your taste and way of life.

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