As the weather turns cooler, many Americans look to upgrade high-trafficked areas like the living room, bedroom and bathroom. But big projects can be daunting, not to mention burdensome on your pocketbook. • Fortunately, you don't have to go big to upgrade this season. "Home renovations don't have to result in complete overhauls of your living spaces — and they certainly don't have to create major dents in your bank accounts," says David Shove-Brown, a member of the American Institute of Architects' Small Project Practitioners Committee. "Thinking through how you live in those particular rooms is key to making fall improvement projects manageable," he adds. • To help get you started, Shove-Brown offers some useful advice.
Think flexible spaces
Consider creating open, flexible spaces that grow or evolve with your needs. For example, connecting the kitchen and living room into a single, large live- and play area can help a family spend time together, even if engaged in separate activities. For older citizens, one large living area makes it easy to get around if mobility ever becomes limited.
Create a home oasis
Is your definition of bliss reading a good book? Or maybe getting a spa treatment? Then consider some small changes to key rooms to create a new hangout space to unwind and relax at home. For example, switching out your standard showerhead for a more powerful one and adding flex lighting can instantly transform a bathroom into a more relaxing, meditative environment. Or, install some bookshelves in your bedroom and add a cushioned window nook or comfortable couch to make the space just as cozy as your favorite corner coffee shop.
Take it step by step
One of the most difficult things homeowners face when it comes to renovations is the desire to do everything at once. But by working with an architect, you can create a plan for completing renovations that work with your time line and budget.
There are also many small things homeowners can do themselves before bringing in a professional to finish the job. For example, buy raw materials like tiles or light fixtures and then ask a professional to install them. Shove-Brown says that an architect can help map out what you can first do on your own to ensure the job gets completed the right way.
To find an architect in your area, visit www.architectfinder.aia.org.