12 Days of Christmas
December, 2009 - Issue #62
A Pro's Guide to Affordable Holiday Home Improvements that can be Finished in Two Weeks or Less

Let there be Paint
Paint is the easiest, least expensive way to create an updated look. Spend some time thinking about the intention for the space. Is it warm and cozy or vibrantly energetic? What is the basic architecture of the house? Use these answers to guide you to appropriate color palates.

Here's news: Black is the new brown. Graphite and gray are everywhere. Warm neutrals, like champagne and taupe, are also very popular. They create a sophisticated, easy elegance. These classic neutrals are being paired with edgy, energizing accents of acid yellow, amethyst, green apple, turquoise and crimson red.

Look around the space, decide where the natural focal point is in the room and put your accent color there. It doesn't have to be a big wall. Sometimes just painting a corner column can do the trick.
Available from A.Allbright Painting 294-1159
Valencia Design Group (consultation) 993-1478

Control Media Clutter
A custom built-in can give your home a finished, well-thought-out look. Is your home starting to look like an electronic dumping ground? There are so many amazing storage solutions available that can end all the media madness. Pullouts, door shelves, accordion shelves... you name it. Think of the built-in as fine furniture, not just the place you store your kids' Disney DVDs. It's generally the largest object in the room, so it's worth the investment.
Available from David Bryan Woodworks 312-1964

Repurpose and Rethink Furniture and Accessories
You can keep your furniture - but move it around a bit. Try some angles. You can always move it back. Try a slipcover, or add an accent side chair, for a new look. It's best to clear out all the "stuff" and start fresh.
Available at Suburban Chateau 775-2980

Refinish Cabinets for a Quick Fix
I like to add a stain wash to maple cabinets. It adds warmth and character. It's easier than completely refinishing, but makes the cabinets look totally new. If you have the classic '80s oak cabinets, I recommend paint or a dark stain. It completely updates that country oak to a more contemporary appearance. Add new knobs and you are good to go!
Available from American Fine Finishing 775-2706

Frame your Views
Window coverings can provide a clean, sophisticated visage or add warmth, texture and bring color to the walls. And if it's the windows themselves that look dated, or aren't performing well energy wise, it's a great time to replace them.
Available from Alpine Shutters 251-1038
CountryView Shutters 254-2908
Preferred Glass & Windows 298-2165
Shutterworld 775-7700

Give your Kitchen a Kick
Remember: every dollar you spend in your kitchen will give you a 150 percent return. I recommend a new backsplash. Fabulous! And, if you still have a tile counter, change it to a slab. Whether synthetic or natural stone, a solid surface is an outstanding, easy upgrade that will pay for itself at resale - and it can be done in about a week.
Available from Advantage Tile Stone Design 295-9819
Cavalier Builders, Inc. 800-749-5765
Dannick Design, Inc. 775-7430
Woodward Kitchen & Bath 251-3865

Make Old Furniture New Again
Take that family heirloom and put a modern graphic material on it. Creating that juxtaposition between old and new can be rejuvenating. Accent pillows are a key element to all living spaces. Mix and match shapes, colors and textures.
Available at Coming Home Fabrics 255-5023

A Custom-home Look without the Price
Still living with two-inch baseboards? It's amazing how updating your baseboards and door casings can affect the entire house. It gives your home a substantial, custom look. Add a five to six inch crown and you're dream house is well on its way.
Available from Mint Condition Painting & Moulding 251-5521

Get Comfortable with Carpet
With the trend leading toward hard surfaces, carpet manufacturers have been focusing on capturing the specialty market, meaning we get a high-end world-class look at a retail price. If you have stand-alone rooms that are separated by hard surfaces, you can comfortably mix and match coordinating patterns - one in the dining room, another in the family room and then a "whole house" carpet for the stairs and upstairs rooms.
Available from Brent's Carpet One 255-3337
Wicall's 259-6040

Replace a Beaten Banister
Your stairway is often the first thing people see when they enter your home. Stain yours to work with your flooring or go all out with wrought iron. Just be mindful of the architecture and stay true to the bones of the building.
Available from FM Finish Carpentry 433-6200

Make a Timeless Statement with Wood
Wood is really my favorite flooring. Yes, it dents! Yes, it scratches! There's nothing we can do about that, but the heart, soul and character it brings to your home is timeless. It's not for everyone, but if you have realistic expectations you'll never regret it.
Available from The Flooring Connection 297-9800

Finish with Flowers
Flowers make everything and everybody feel good. They are the piece de resistance! The icing on the cake! The finishing touch! If you're attending a function at a friend or family member's home, bring the flowers with you. I promise your gesture will never be forgotten.
Available from Acton Country Flowers 269-9326
Charmaine's Bouquet Canyon Florist 297-3100
Celebrate Florals 255-0255

Nancy Bowler, your design doctor, is the owner of Valencia Design Group, specializing in full-service design with an expertise in flooring and countertops. Free estimates are available; 993-1478

What Guests Don't See Matters, Too
If you don't have time to really clean your house before the first "We're here!" announcement, the pros at Clean and Bright Maintenance Co. (433-4035) will dust the baseboards, (finally) get the spaghetti sauce off the cooking range and make you look like a domestic god or goddess - without breaking your back or the bank.

Make your carpets look like new by calling Truly Dry Carpet Cleaning (476-7775). Their state-of-the-art cleaning system is, well, truly dry; they'll get rid of stains and give your carpets back their bounce without an ounce of liquid left behind. You can use your space immediately after service.

To anyone who hasn't spent Christmas morning making icicles with their own breath ("Daddy, what does it mean when you say that the furnace 'burned out?'"), you might not see the value in updating your heater. And to this we say, do it for the children (Who still haven't forgiven us for delaying "presents" three years ago.). Call GW Richardson Heating & Air (295-0115) for first-rate assistance and great quotes.
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