Kevin enlisted the help of some of the country's top renovation experts to bring his dream home to fruition. Now they are sharing their top tips with you. If you are considering a major renovation or just shopping for a piece of artwork or a new stereo, read their advice for a professional finish.
Bob Tobin of BC Interiors in Brooklyn, New York, was the contractor on Kevin's apartment renovation. Next, he shares his words of wisdom if you are about to go through the process.
Head contractor Bob Tobin shares his words of wisdom on a home renovation project.
Know Your Limits
"Many people think that installations of renovations are as easy as the ones they have seen on produced television shows. You need to remember that these programs are developed and prepped for weeks, maybe months. Talk to a professional who can explain a procedure with real depth and detail before you tackle it on your own."
Know Your Stuff
"Understand what the structure is that you will be working on -- whether it is a wall in your home, a roof, or even a piece of furniture. If you truly understand how it is made, it will be easier to change, modify, or repair it."
"You really can't overprotect a work area; it only will help minimize any potential issues that are unforeseeable."
Kevin was as mindful of what was going out of his apartment as what was coming into the space. That's why he entrusted the demolition to an eco-minded company, Green Demolitions. The company's president, Steve Feldman, recommends taking a serious look at what you're getting rid of: "Ask yourself, 'How can I turn my old stuff into cash to save on my new renovation?'" Here, he offers some tips for a green-minded gutting:
Donate: Get a tax deduction from a charitable organization who will take it.
Consign: Get a consignment shop to sell it for you.
Barter: Get a friend to exchange their goods or services for your stuff.
Remember the Three Rs: Recycle, Reuse, and Reward Yourself."
Anthony Santelli, Martha Stewart Living's senior home editor, acted as project manager for Kevin's renovation and design. His tips for keeping sane during the process:
"Open communication between everyone working on the project is key to success. As project manager, it is my responsibility to ensure that the plumber knows what the painter is doing; the painter knows what the electrician is doing; the electrician knows what the paint refinisher is doing; and the paint refinisher knows what the upholsterer is doing. This will keep the project moving and save time, effort, and money."
Henrik Hammarlund, a contractor with Yorke Construction who completed the bathroom tile for Kevin, shares this tip:
"When laying out your tile field, don't use the floor or a corner of a wall as your guide. Use a level to mark a level line on the wall. Then work up and down from that line. Lay out the elevation of tile using pencil marks so you know you won't end up with a tiny sliver of a tile where you don't want one."
Steven Frye, Brand Manager for Akzo Nobel Paints LLC, helped Kevin achieve a cohesive color throughout his apartment, using Martha Stewart Paint, MSL212, Heath. He offers these tips for a professional finish:
Calculating the Coverage Rate
"To make sure you are spreading enough paint, use the standard coverage rate of paint, which is between 300 and 400 square feet. How big is that? That is a 10-by-12-foot room with a standard 8-foot-high ceiling."
Achieving the Coverage Rate
"For each 'rollerful' of paint you should be able to cover a 3-by-3-foot area. If the paint goes further, you run the risk of spreading the paint too thin, ultimately leading to poor hide and potentially more coats. Be sure to buy enough paint to cover the entire area, and be sure to spread it at the proper rate."
California Closet's Carolyn Musher collaborated with Kevin to create his dream wardrobe. Here's her tip for creating an attractive and functional space:
"Whether you have a contemporary closet like Kevin's, or a traditional walk-in, the secret to staying organized is to use the prime real estate -- the areas you see right in front of you when you walk in your closet -- for all the things you use daily. This ensures that you won't fumble around with things you don't use trying to get to the things you do. Your closet needs to be functional as well as stylish. That's one of the reasons Kevin's closet works so well. Everything has its place, but the most important things are always up front and ready to go."
David Kassel of ILevel is an art-installation expert. He shared his secrets for precise and long-lasting wall hangings:
"Hang pictures from two hooks. They stay straight and won't swing like a pendulum when a bus goes by.
"Don't be intimidated by how you arrange pictures. Be brave. Have someone help you by holding them up on the wall before you commit.
"Be playful with groupings, and don't hang everything in a straight line.
"Don't hang something in every available spot. Leave some open space.
"Don't hang works on paper in direct sunlight. The sun will ruin them permanently."
Kevin's home theater was installed by George Emerson of Geneva Sound Systems. Here, he dispels two common myths about a home-entertainment setup:
It's crucial to run wiring everywhere to get multi-room audio.
"It's not necessary to suffer the cost and hassles of having electricians pull wires behind your walls. There are wireless multi-room systems from companies such as Sonos and Logitech. The best value comes from Apple, with their Airport Express wireless products."
The room should be rearranged around the electronics.
"There's no need to build special home theater rooms or place the furniture to adapt to a stereo speaker arrangement. New advances in digital sound mean that balanced sound can come from compact, simplified electronics setups."
A master furniture builder and restoration expert, Christophe Pourny refinished Kevin's bedroom armoire and desk. Christophe answers the two questions he receives most from his clients: How often should furniture be cleaned, and what should be used to clean pieces?
"Furniture should be thoroughly cleaned once a year. Cleaning any more often can damage the finish on the piece. Clean the piece with a combination of turpentine and linseed oil."
Frank Cafaro of Desiron was entrusted with one of the most important elements of Kevin's space -- mirrors. Here's his top tip for someone reflecting on a minor or major mirror installation:
"It's important when thinking about mirror size and placement to think about not only what the mirror itself will look like in the space, but also what it will be reflecting. Using a mirror to reflect an amazing view, or an outside-facing window, is much more desirable that reflecting a messy desktop or an unorganized space. Mirrors amplify a space's light and depth."
Junior Nolte, who was charged with installing a lot of mirrors in Kevin's new space, warns that separating out the process could be costly.
"Many think they will save money by buying materials or the glass products themselves, then having another party (or a professional installer) finish the job. This idea could cost you time and money. It's best to let the glass dealer take care of everything from start to finish. This will avoid any regrettable ordering, inaccurate measuring, or worse, damage inflicted to your home -- the installer is not responsible for any damage to your materials during installation. Bring in a professional at the beginning, consult with him or her, then let him take the measurements, order the materials, and install."
Luther Quintana -- a master upholsterer who has worked on pieces for the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City -- brought new life to Kevin's living room benches and dining room chairs. No matter what the job, Luther's top tip involves doing a thorough once-over.
"Examine the frame very carefully. Structural repair -- fixing cracked legs or a broken frame -- will vault the price of a reupholstering job. Exposed wood that needs to be refinished will also add to the expense. On the other hand, some damage may not be as serious as it looks. For instance, if springs are popping out of the bottom of a chair, the problem can be easily corrected by rewebbing its base."
Kristen Vander Hulst of Waterworks worked with Kevin to find his perfect bathroom tile. She offers this advice when perusing your options:
"Design with classic lines and understated details. Use neutral palettes for the surfaces, with a few bold strokes of color embellished through your choice of accessories or paint. This way your space will still look new and updated 10 years from now. Paint and accessories are easy ways to refresh the space over time. What is trendy today will be outdated and tired tomorrow."
Arash Yaraghi of Safavieh Rugs offers this sound advice when thinking about floor covering:
"The location should be considered when choosing color, fiber, and construction of your rug. In high-traffic areas, medium to dark colors hold up better and tightly woven hand-knotted or hand-tufted rugs will hold up better to heavy wear. Wool is easier to maintain than silk or cotton in area rugs. In living rooms or bedrooms, wool, wool with silk, and cotton rugs in a variety of weaves are all good choices."
Suzanne Kantra, a technology expert at Techlicious, guided Kevin through his home-electronics setup. She has great tips for those in the market for a new television:
"Many people put their TVs where it looks good from a decor perspective, without thinking about whether it's also good for watching TV. When you're scouting a location for your TV, keep in mind that the center of the screen should be at eye level. If you really want to mount your TV above eye level, above your fireplace for instance, consider using a mounting bracket that enables you to pull the TV down to eye level. And if the TV is too low, invest in an adjustable-height stand."
Eric Beare, a Brooklyn, New York-based artist, recommends the following if you are considering commissioning an original piece of artwork for your home:
"Reference, don't copy. One of the most exciting aspects of an art commission is the prospect of creating something new. It's always a bit disappointing when a client wants to do an exact copy of an existing work. It just seems like a missed opportunity. I don't see a problem with referencing another artist's style. Art history can be a great source of inspiration and can provide helpful visual aids in communicating your aesthetic proclivities. Instead of insisting on a replica, which denies any possibility of creating something original, why not call it 'inspired by' and use your references as a launching pad for generating a one-of-a-kind masterpiece?"
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