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Improvement Home


About to Show Your Hardwood Floor the Door? Rethink-Refinish-Redecorate Instead


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on’t look down on your hardwood floors just be- cause they’re old and you want a new look under- foot. Your existing hardwoods can be the founda-


tion, literally, of a fresh new decorating scheme anywhere in your home. In addition to saving time and money, you’re also sparing Mother Earth when you don’t choke landfills with wood that’s still perfectly good and usable. “Hardwood floors are so naturally durable and wear-resis- tant they can go on looking beautiful for years,” says Linda Jovanovich of the American Hardwood Information Center. “But when you’re ready for a ‘fresh’ look, remember that there’s a new decorative role for that ‘old’ hardwood floor- ing.” American Hardwoods, treasured for generations - top interior designers agree. In Redondo Beach, Calif., designer Jackie Balint has cus- tomized old wood floors with floral patterns hand-painted to match the homeowner’s favorite plates. In Lexington, Ky., kitchen designer Laura Dalzell used contrasting stain colors to create checkerboards and borders on traditional hardwood floors. New York designer John Buscarello swears by faux-painted finishes like checkerboards and pretend parquet. And Arizona designer Karen Wirrig uses a unique glazing process that wins a floor prize for special effects. To revitalize old oak floors in a client’s California home,


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Hudson - Litchfield News


April 22, 2011 Page 12


Wirrig worked with a master cabinet contractor who repur- posed his custom cabinet-glazing techniques from furniture to the floors. “I have to admit I was skeptical,” Wirrig says. But when the glaze was applied over the sanded and stained floor, the grain was enhanced and the “old” floors looked seamless. “The individual planks receded visually, giving the floor a much more continuous look,” she reports. “It’s a rich and el- egantly rustic look, just what the homeowner had in mind.” Manhattan designer Buscarello believes in bypassing the demolition crew in favor of a decorative painter. For him, it’s all about cherishing the old wood and the patina it develops over time.


“Designers really covet old floors,” says Buscarello. “Old


wood is different; it has a beauty that’s hard to replicate. Un- less it’s really too worn to refinish – and that rarely happens


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– there’s no point in tearing out an old floor.” Buscarello likes to refresh old floors instead, sometimes with just a gentle cleaning process called “screening” that merely lifts the dirt and old wax from the surface of the wood. It doesn’t change the color of the wood itself, which can then be re-waxed or polyurethaned to look like new. When he wants a more dramatic transformation, Bus- carello calls for painted designs—classic floor treatments that “will never go out of fashion,” he says - not only in casual country-style rooms but also in sophisticated contem- porary settings.


Like the time his work crew pulled up 20-year-old lino- leum in a Manhattan apartment foyer, revealing splendid hardwood flooring underneath. Buscarello had a decorative artist paint a crisp black-and-white checkerboard on the floor, instantly brightening the entry, delighting the hom- eowner and leaving enough in the budget for extra decorat- ing projects. Even Park Avenue-posh clients appreciate the classic good looks (and budget-loving price tag) of faux-painted floors. Buscarello made a grand Park Avenue apartment “even grander” with faux painting on the half-century-old floors—a pattern that looks like warm Old World parquet running diagonally throughout all the elegant upfront rooms. “Everyone has a budget,” the designer points out. “You can save thousands by refurbishing existing hardwood.” Drama is what New York designer Darren Henault has in


mind when he sets out to renew a worn wood floor. Over the top and ultra-bold, Henault loves pattern on wood floors, a message visitors got twice-over at the most recent Kips Bay Decorator Show House in Manhattan. Henault floored adjoining sitting rooms – “His ‘n Hers” – with intricate entwined patterns lifted from an adjacent carpet and stencil-painted on the maple floors. “His” was darker and touched with ebony; “Hers,” the reverse, painted in milky white and lavender to match the walls. “Every surface is an opportunity to do something dramatic,” the designer believes. “Especially a hardwood floor.” Design pros across the U.S. agree. Don’t show your hard- wood floor the door. Simply refresh, renew and redecorate


to make hardwood floors look new and stylish again. For DIY tips about painting on hardwood floors, and other


decorating tips and suggestions, visit www.HardwoodInfo. com, the American Hardwood Information Center.


Economy, Housing Market Drive Smaller, Smarter Home-Remodeling Projects


hings may be looking up, but the economy remains sluggish. That real- ity, coupled with tight lending and home resale uncertainty, is driving consum- ers to prioritize home improvements based not just on immediate need, but also on potential appeal to future buyers. For the most part, it is best to make useful


improvements that will appeal to a wide range of buyers down the road, say experts. Proceeding cautiously, homeowners are therefore thinking twice before undertak- ing major projects. When they do decide to remodel, they are sticking with smaller, tried-and-true improvements—like adding a bathroom.


Bathroom additions are a wise renova- tion option, according to Remodeling magazine’s 2009-2010 Cost vs. Value Report. An added bath can be expected to recoup just less than 60 percent of its cost at resale.


Cost-effective solution Fortunately, creating a new bath need not be costly—especially in spaces that lack below-floor drainage; that is, where a bathroom does not currently exist, such as a basement, an attic, a garage or even a bedroom closet. In these situations, many plumbers recommend installing macerat- ing, above-floor plumbing. “With a macerating, or up-flush, toilet, there is no need to break up the floor to install drainage lines,” says Al Warren, a licensed plumbing contractor for more than 30 years and owner of Warren Brothers Mechanical Contractors in Stafford Springs, Conn. Warren uses Saniflo brand macerat- ing plumbing systems. “This technology,” he continues, “makes it possible to inexpensively install a brand new bathroom in any room in the house, including the basement.” Up-flush technology isn’t new,


having been invented a half- century ago, but its application is growing rapidly. These systems pump waste and water from toilets and sinks upward through


small-diameter piping that transfers the waste to the sewer or septic tank. Un- like sewage ejectors, up-flush systems evacuate waste immediately through this piping, rather than storing it in a holding tank. William and Jane Sprague from An- napolis, Md., wanted a bathroom in their basement family room, but they didn’t want the high cost and expense of digging up the concrete floor to create drainage. In addition, space for the pro- posed bathroom was limited. Up flush plumbing saved the Spragues money and simplified their half-bath remodel- ing project. “We’ve had a lot of compli- ments” on the new bathroom, says Jane Sprague. “It’s very small, but I love it. It’s worked out perfect for us.”


Multi-generational households Bathroom additions remain extremely popular, and with the increase in extended- family households, what could be more important to personal convenience and privacy than adding a bathroom? Recent U.S. Census data showed that a record 49 million Americans now live in multi-gen- erational households. That rising trend will likely impact future buying needs, so savvy homeowners are making strategic improve- ments now.


When it comes to bath additions, Saniflo up-flush systems can help. “Time and again, clients ask me for advice and guid- ance to update their bathrooms without breaking the bank,” says April Bettinger, owner of Nip Tuck Remodeling in Wood- inville, Wash. “They are happy to have recommendations for products that will hold up well, provide a useful life and look nice at the same time,” she says.


Appealing to future buyers


Here are some additional tips for making the most of your bathroom-remodeling investment, whether you are creating a new space or upgrading an existing one: * Choose neutral colors that make deco-


rating easy.


* Install a pedestal sink and a recessed medicine cabinet to reduce crowding in small baths. * Install grab bars in the shower and around the tub. Position them so that small children as well as adults can easily reach them.


* Choose child-friendly rounded edges for vanity tops.


Learn more about low-cost above-floor bathroom systems by visiting www.saniflo. com or calling (800) 571-8191.


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