How to Paint a Bathroom Vanity like a Professional

Over the past few decades, contractors and home builders have consistently installed oak vanities in new bathrooms. While there’s nothing wrong with wood vanities, the humidity of a bathroom can begin to make them look washed out over time. Whether you’re an expert DIYer or are new to the game, repainting your bathroom vanity is a fun and easy weekend project. As with any other paint job, it requires some preparation and lots of patience; follow these steps and you’ll be well on your way to a shiny "new" bathroom vanity.

Materials & Preparation

As with any other DIY project, collecting your materials beforehand is essential. Materials can vary depending on the condition of your vanity, but here’s a list of the basics: a high density foam roller, household cleaner, alcohol, primer, sandpaper, foam brush, acrylic latex-based paint, painter’s tape, and plastic sheeting. You’ll likely create a mess during the project, so it’s best to protect your walls and floor with the plastic sheeting. From there, remove the vanity drawers and doors, and remove all hardware. Wash the doors and vanity with a solution of two ounces of household cleaner per gallon of water. After the doors and vanity have dried, rub down the surfaces with alcohol. This will remove any residual gunk and prepare your vanity for a fresh coat of paint.

Prime & Paint

Acrylic latex-based paint, whether sprayed or brushed, needs an undercoat of a compatible primer to ensure proper adhesion. Use 150-grit sandpaper to sand the exposed surfaces, scraping loose any peeling paint. Once you’ve finished sanding, use a vacuum or tack cloth to wipe away the excess dust. Before you actually begin painting, apply two coats of primer to the drawers, doors, and vanity. Once dry, it’s time to paint. A high quality acrylic latex-based paint will work fine, or you can buy a paint that’s formulated specifically for cabinets. Typically, you’ll need at least two coats of paint to eliminate any burn through and/or eliminate the wood look.

Replace Hardware & Reassemble

If you want to give your vanity a totally new look, consider changing the drawer knobs and door handles. While your drawers and doors are separated from the vanity, fill the existing holes with wood filler and allow them to dry. Once dry, mount the new pulls and handles for a brand new look. Once the new hardware has been installed or the old hardware has been replaced, it’s time to reassemble the vanity. Start with the bottom drawers and work your way up, making sure to fix any broken drawers or cracks along the way. Be patient – it can take a day or two for the paint to dry completely, and the last thing you want is to have to paint a scratched or damaged vanity all over again.

Other Tips

If you don’t have a window in your bathroom, wear a dust mask while sanding and painting to avoid breathing in dust or fumes. Be sure to follow the recommended drying requirements for the primer and paint, otherwise the final result may not turn out as desired. Some stores carry a specialty paint designed for cabinets – this paint can be used on vanities and does not require a primer. Regardless of your DIY skill level, repainting a bathroom vanity is a relatively easy home renovation task – you’ll save time (and money) by not having to hire a pro!

How to Remove Outdated Popcorn Ceiling

Although textured popcorn ceiling went out of style years ago, many older homes – and some new ones – continue to be built with popcorn ceilings. While removing popcorn ceiling isn’t a difficult process, it’s a messy job that requires hard work and special safety precautions. If your home was built before 1980, the popcorn ceiling should be tested for asbestos before removal. To test for asbestos, use a putty knife to scrape a small amount into a sealable plastic bag and send the sample to an approved testing service. If your popcorn ceiling contains no traces of asbestos, use the below information to safely and efficiently remove the “popcorn” from your ceiling.

What You’ll Need

Before you start removing your textured ceiling, it’s important that you have the right tools. Without the proper equipment, removing popcorn ceiling will prove to be difficult. Here’s a list of equipment you’ll need for the job:

  • Plastic sheeting
  • Rosin’s paper
  • Painter’s tape
  • Rags
  • Putty knife
  • Pump up sprayer
  • Liquid dishwashing soap
  • 6” or wider floor scraper
  • Mesh sanding pad with handle
  • Drywall joint compound
  • Drywall joint tape
  • Dust mask or respirator
  • Coveralls
  • Eye protection

Prepare the Room

Since you’ll be using a lot of water in this DIY project, you’ll want to turn off the electricity and check it with a circuit tester. Proceed to remove all furniture, such as bath vanities and other removable fixtures, and ceiling light fittings from the room. Tape small pieces of plastic over each electrical outlet, and cover the floor with the plastic sheeting. For extra protection, extend the floor sheeting about a foot or so up the wall. From there, secure plastic sheeting along the walls with painter’s tape, and roll out a layer of resin paper on the floor.

Once the room is covered in plastic and protected against stains, it’s time to spray and scrape the ceiling.

Spray and Scrape the Ceiling

Fill the pump sprayer with warm water and 2-3 tablespoons of liquid soap per gallon of water. Saturate a 4-6 foot square section of the ceiling with the solution; saturate it enough to loosen the popcorn, but not so much that it damages the drywall underneath. Wait 15-20 minutes for the solution to be absorbed and use a floor scraper to gently scrape away the popcorn texture. If the popcorn isn’t coming off relatively easily, spray it again and try waiting longer for the solution to be absorbed.

Finishing Touches

Once the popcorn ceiling is removed, you may notice high spots, gauges, or visible nails and screws in your ceiling. Hammer any visible nails below the surface, and cover them with a joint compound. Once the repair work has dried, sand the ceiling with a long handled mesh sanding pad. Just be sure to only sand the high spots, as too much sanding will damage the ceiling. The final touch is to prime and paint the ceiling with a latex ceiling paint. Once dry, remove the plastic and move any furniture back into the bathroom.

What Kind of Bathroom Privacy Windows are Right for You?

Whether you already have a bathroom window or windows are included in an upcoming bathroom remodel, finding the balance between privacy, light, and gorgeous views is an age-old struggle for homeowners. Sure, you’d love to enjoy a beautiful view while relaxing in the tub, but the undeniable challenge of finding privacy can’t be avoided. Whether your bathroom window is in a high-traffic area or not, nobody wants to constantly worry about accidentally exposing themselves to a neighbor, family member, or complete stranger. If you’d like to protect your privacy without obstructing natural light, here are a few options for bathroom privacy windows.

Privacy Window Film

With options starting at as low as $10 per window, window film is perhaps the most budget-friendly way to protect your privacy in the bathroom. From beautiful stained glass clings to colorfully embossed film, you can easily transform a plain window into an intricate piece of art in just a matter of minutes. Due to their low cost and ease of application, privacy window films can be changed as often as you like. Some homeowners use the same film for years, while others change up the design every few months. Perhaps the best thing about window films is that they aren’t limited to the bathroom – if you have a window next to the front door or facing a busy street, add extra film to your shopping cart and be prepared to enjoy a new level of privacy.

Window Coverings

Shades, shutters, blinds, and curtains will all provide privacy without blocking the natural light. Since window coverings allow you to control the amount of light, they can be closed during showers and baths, and left open the rest of the time. A pull down window shade will give complete privacy without breaking your budget, while custom sized wood plantation shutters will set you back several hundred dollars. One important thing to remember when choosing window treatments is the material: curtains made of heavy fabrics are a haven for mold, so avoid them at all costs. Thin, gauzy curtains over your window will let the sun shine through while protecting your privacy. Plus, they’re easy to clean: just toss them in the washer with your towels and linens.

Glass Block Windows

If you’re dedicated to taking advantage of natural light as much as possible, glass block windows are the perfect solution. They’ll obscure what’s inside while letting in an entire wall of light into the space. Available in custom sized units, ordering and installing glass block windows is easy. Since they’re made of a versatile material, they can be used for a variety of purposes, including creating an illusion of space in walk-in showers. Glass block windows can be ordered in a variety of shapes, including squares, rectangles, and stair steps, allowing you to create a unique look that’s all your own. Glass block windows and panels can be purchased in standard or custom sizes, and are ready to install straight out of the box.

Skylight or High Window

If you’re adding bathroom light sources in an upcoming remodel and have tons of control, consider installing a skylight, high window, or light tunnel. Not only are they a great source of light, but you won’t have to worry about protecting your privacy. Light tunnels are mounted on the roof and allow light to flow through a flexible shaft that exits through a lens on the ceiling. Light tunnels start at about $500 for installation, and a window or skylight with construction costs included start at about $1,500. While they’re not the most cost-effective way to incorporate natural light into your bathroom, your privacy concerns will be made virtually obsolete.

Bathroom Light Bulbs: An Overview

Proper lighting in the bathroom is important for a variety of reasons. Not only do we need to see ourselves clearly in the mirror, but we need to make sure the room is well-lit for safety purposes. While each type of light bulb has its own pros and cons, certain bulbs work better in different areas of the home. While high color temperature daylight bulbs are great for kitchens and bedrooms, the bathroom benefits from lower color temperatures closer to the light of incandescent light bulbs. Below is an overview of the best light bulbs for the bathroom, in addition to valuable lighting tips and tricks that will help illuminate your space.

Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs

Not only do compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs match the incandescent light we’re accustomed to in bathrooms, but they consume a quarter of the energy and last ten times as long. Unlike traditional florescent lights, CFLs are quiet, turn on instantly, and have a warmer, color-corrected tone. This warm light is perfect for bathrooms, simply because our skin appears better under it. While they’re great for bathrooms, CFLs can be used anywhere you’d use a typical incandescent bulb. Since CFLs contain trace amounts of mercury, they should be handled with care. When they burn out, they should be recycled.

LED Light Bulbs

LED, which stands for “light-emitting diode”, is a long-lasting and extremely energy-efficient lighting technology. Unfortunately, these aren’t a direct substitute for other types of bulbs, as they don’t provide general light. Instead, these types of bulbs should be used for directional light – they’re a great lighting solution for under-counter task lighting or directed at an angle above a mirror. If you have a choice, it’s best to choose lower color temperature light bulbs, as these produce the best light.

Halogen Lights

If you prefer incandescent, halogen bulbs are also an option to consider. They give off the closest light to natural daylight, and colors appear sharper as halogen bulbs can be dimmed. Although they’re more expensive and burn at a higher temperature than incandescent lights, they’re more energy efficient and tend to have a longer life span. Ideal for under cabinet and recessed lighting, halogen light bulbs cast a bright light and last twice as long as standard bulbs. Just remember to avoid using your bare hands to remove halogen bulbs – in certain situations the oil of your hands can cause the bulbs to explode.

Bathroom Lighting Tips and Tricks

Having mirrors and other reflective surfaces in your bathroom can help distribute light throughout the room. While a mirror above the sink is the best placement for this type of reflective light, side mirrors elsewhere in the room can help. Although a mirror above the sink is ideal for reflective light, it’s important to avoid adding a light directly above the mirror. It’s ineffective for putting on makeup and shaving, and can visually add ten years to your face.

Like all rooms in the home, you can save money in the bathroom by installing energy-efficient bulbs. In addition to using energy-efficient bulbs and fixtures, you can save money and energy in the bathroom by placing your various light stations on different switches – that way, you’re only using the light bulbs you need while using the bathroom.

Modern Bathroom’s Bathroom Vanity Buying Guide

While it might not be the most exciting part of a bathroom remodel, choosing the right bathroom vanity can complete (or completely ruin) your bathroom design. If it’s placed awkwardly in a high traffic zone or doesn’t match with other décor, the rest of your bathroom will suffer the consequences. Since they’re an essential part of a bathroom renovation, they can dictate the overall look and feel of your bathroom. Whether you’re going traditional or modern, our bathroom vanity buying guide can help you select the very best vanity for your home.

Do You Have Room?

Before shopping for a bathroom vanity, scope out how much room you actually have in your bathroom. If you’ve always wanted a double vanity but realize you don’t have the space, this could save you the headache and financial hassle of having to purchase and return an oversized vanity. While double vanities offer more storage and the convenience of more than one person being able to get ready at the same time, the truth is, not many people actually have the space. Once you measure your space and decide how much room you can dedicate to a vanity, it’s time to decide on a style.

Will it Match Your Design Plan?

At the end of the day, your bathroom vanity will have to match the design of the rest of your bathroom. If you’re going for a traditional look and feel, you should browse wood or antique bathroom vanities, as their soft tones and warm colors will perfectly fit in with the rest of the room. If you’d like to take a more modern approach, a modern bath vanity in a dark color or with a sleek glass sink may be your best choice. Regardless of the bath vanity you choose, it’s important that it matches with your sink, faucets, and other bathroom fixtures – so pay attention to your bathroom in its entirety.

Pay Attention to Plumbing

If you’re like most, chances are you’re remodeling on a budget. If you need to change your bathroom’s plumbing in order to install your new vanity, it’s going to take a huge chunk out of your budget. Even switching from a traditional floor-mounted vanity to a wall-mounted version could mean you’ll have to reroute pipes and drains. While locating a vanity far from other bath fixtures might look great, it’ll require a higher cost for rough plumbing. If you’d like to make your bathroom remodel as cost-efficient as possible, experts recommend replacing your bath vanity with one that’s almost identical.

Choose an Appropriate Countertop

While you may not have a choice depending on the type of vanity you choose, some vanity retailers allow you to choose your own countertop. Choosing a good surface for your vanity top is crucial, as it needs to hold up to the rigors of your particular situation. For example, a decorative vanity in a powder room doesn’t require the same amount of durability or resistance as a vanity in the family bathroom. Also, be sure to keep an eye on the types of cleaners you use in your bathroom – certain cleaners could permanently damage the countertops of your vanity.

Managing Your Bathroom Renovation Costs

The bathroom is one of the most used rooms in the home and can begin to show age rather quickly. Fortunately, a bathroom remodeling project can breathe life into your home while adding value and improving overall efficiency. Unfortunately, nearly 40 percent of American homeowners spend more than they plan to during a renovation. From choosing a contractor and selecting a style, to purchasing fixtures and making sure they’re properly installed, it’s easy for the costs of a bathroom renovation to get out of hand. If you’re concerned about not being able to stick to your renovation budget, here are some tips for managing your bathroom renovation costs.

Skip the “Total” Renovation

While in the planning stages of your bathroom renovation, stand in the middle of your bathroom and take a good look around. Chances are, there are parts of your bathroom that don’t even need to be touched. Whether it’s the tile, the toilet, or the vanity, you should determine what can stay and what should be replaced immediately. While a total bathroom renovation would be nice, in most cases it’s not necessary. Make a list of what needs to be renovated or replaced in priority order – you may find your bathroom renovation budget will shrink before your eyes as you cut out any unnecessary aspects.

Resist the Urge to Make Changes

Be aware of the possible consequences that making changes to your bathroom renovation can have on your remodeling costs. The truth is, making changes can quickly cause remodeling costs to spiral out of control. Each time you request a change, it can delay the schedule, cause the contractor to shift workers to another home, and almost always increases the bottom line. If you’d like to finish your bathroom remodel according to schedule and escape extra fees, try to avoid making any changes once construction has officially begun.

Use a Rewards Credit Card

If you’re taking more of a DIY approach and are purchasing many of the materials yourself, use the best rewards credit card you own. Many credit card companies offer deals and bonuses for customers who use their cards, as long as you pay the balance in full when you receive the bill. Typically, credit card companies offer everything from cash back deals and frequent flyer miles, to free merchandise and discounted groceries. Just think: with all the money you spend on a bathroom remodel you could get a free plane ticket to the destination of your choice. It just might make the renovation stress worth it.

Let the Workers Do Their Jobs

While it’s only natural to want to see the progress being made on your bathroom, it’s best to save the walk-through for after working hours. Many of the workers are there to do a specific task, and will have no idea about the plan for the overall project. If you’re constantly interrupting them during working hours to discuss your project or ask questions, you could be slowing down their progress and unknowingly extending the life of the project. If you have any questions or concerns you’d like addressed, call up the contractor – he or she should know exactly what’s going on with your project.

The Best Vintage Bathroom Decor

Whether it’s antique pieces from the early 1900s or brand new products inspired by days gone by, decorating your bathroom with vintage décor is a chic and stylish way to fuse the past with the present. When many of us think of vintage bathrooms we think of claw foot tubs, pedestal sinks, and white subway tile – but you can add a vintage flair to your bathroom with more than just the fixtures. From shower curtains to color schemes, here’s some tips for incorporating vintage décor in your bathroom.

Shower Curtains

If you’re going for a hippie look, consider purchasing a set of shower curtains in a bright and vibrant pattern. If they look like they were taken straight from last seasons’ Mad Men set, you made the right choice. If you have wallpaper in your bathroom and are worried about the curtains clashing with the walls, consider purchasing curtains in colors that are reminiscent of the time period, including avocado greens, daisy yellows, and tangerine oranges. This funky shower curtain is a fun way to bring pops of orange, green, and yellow into your bathroom. As long as the shower curtains match the color scheme of the rest of the room, you’ll be one step closer to creating the vintage bathroom of your dreams.

Small Accessories

Instead of spending tons of cash on an antique toilet or sink, consider focusing on the details. Soap dishes, antique perfume spritzers, or vintage-inspired makeup bags are an easy and cost-effective way to add vintage charm to your bathroom. If you’ve never been to an antique or thrift store, you’d be surprised at what you can find. Make a list and head to your local antique mall, browse Saturday morning yard sales, or head to an estate sale – you may find just what you’re looking for at a fraction of the cost. If you’re looking for a “free” way to liven up your bathroom, purchase a simple vase and head to your backyard or local park – daisies are a beautiful way to breathe some life into your bathroom.

Vintage Ad Artwork

While in the antique store, ask the sales clerk or owner if they have any old magazines or newspapers for sale. Depending on the decade, these will be full of fun and unique vintage advertisements which can be turned into wall art or, in some cases, even wallpaper. Since the art will be featured in the bathroom, find vintage ads for makeup, brassieres and pantyhose, suntan lotion, or toiletries, and create a collage. Purchase an old frame while you’re there, paint it in a funky color that matches your bathroom color scheme, and feature the DIY artwork near the vanity or on a bare wall.

Mix & Match

When it comes to DIY vintage bathroom décor, it is okay to have some fun with mixing and matching. Instead of purchasing a brand new mirror to hang above the sink, consider using two or three vintage mirrors from the thrift store – if they don’t have frames, put then up anyways! If you have a drawer full of antique door knobs, use them as towel hooks or use them to replace the knobs on your vanity. For a unique “retrodate” on your medicine cabinet, consider using old shutters – paint them different colors and repurpose them as a fun alternative to a mirror.

How to Refinish Wood Vanities

Wood vanities are a great way to add warmth and charm to any style bathroom, but changes in humidity, age, and normal wear and tear can take a toll on even the most maintained wood vanity. Fortunately, you don’t have to rip out your old wood vanities and replace them with new ones – refinishing a bathroom vanity is a relatively simple DIY project. Giving your vanity a new coat of stain or a fresh coat of paint can transform its look, add years to its life, and save you money.

Preparation

Before you get started, make sure you have all the items you’ll need to refinish your wood vanity. Since the project is relatively simple, you probably have most of these items available in your toolshed. If you don’t already own them, they can be purchased or rented from a local home improvement store.

  • Cleaning product
  • Sponge/soft cloths
  • Screwdriver
  • Painter’s tape
  • Sandpaper
  • Hand sander
  • Shop vacuum
  • Stain or primer and paint
  • Paintbrush
  • Polyurethane finish

Once you have all the items, go over the bathroom vanity with a cleaning product to remove all signs of hairspray, makeup, soap scum, deodorant, and other products that may have accumulated over time. Next, remove the drawers, handles, and knobs from your vanity. Place the handles and knobs in a plastic bag so you can easily put them back on once you’re finished.

Strip the Paint

Place the doors and drawers on drop cloths on a flat surface. Make sure the area you’re working in is well-ventilated, as some strippers, stains, and paints have strong fumes. Apply a chemical stripper to the doors and drawers with a paintbrush; once the stripper has been left standing for the recommended amount of time, scrape away the old finish. Wipe down the wood with a clean cloth. Use the hand sander and 180-grit sandpaper to remove any traces of the old finish. Be sure to work with the grain of the wood, and avoid applying too much pressure.

Before stripping and sanding the rest of the vanity, place painter’s tape on the wall around the vanity – this will prevent any paint from getting on the surrounding walls.

Prime, Paint, Stain

Once the paint has been stripped, it’s time to prime, paint, or stain the wood. Before getting started, use the shop vacuum to remove any excess dust from the vanity. If primer isn’t included in your paint, you’ll have to prime the wood before painting – it’ll help the top coat adhere to the wood and will help the paint last longer. Let the primer dry completely, which can take anywhere from one to ten hours. Read the manufacturer’s instructions for recommended drying times. Once the primer is dry, apply either the stain or paint. Once the paint is dry, apply a polyurethane finish designed for the bathroom. Let the polyurethane dry completely before reattaching the cabinets, drawers, and hardware.

Home Appraisal vs. Inspection

If your bathroom is newly remodeled and your home is ready to be put on the market, it’s time to understand the key differences between a home appraisal and a home inspection. While home inspectors and appraisers look at some of the same things, the two professionals have distinctly different purposes: one determines the current value of a home, while the other seeks out any potential flaws or defects within a home prior to a sale. Although both generate reports that are crucial in the home-buying and –selling process, each one has a very specific purpose.

What is a Home Appraisal?

Typically ordered by lenders, a home appraisal is used to determine a home’s market value. The lender hires an appraiser to visually inspect a home for improvements or deficiencies which may impact the home’s overall value. From there, the appraiser takes the home’s location, square footage, and the selling prices of similar homes into consideration and helps the lender determine how much to lend against the home. This way, a lender is confident that they’re not lending more than the home is actually worth, which can result in a negative equity situation.

The focus of home appraisers is to determine the value of a property. The appraiser considers the age of the house, quality of the roof, mechanics, and the type of foundation when coming up with a number. Typically, appraisers give more value to homes with swimming pools, beautiful landscapes, or high-quality bathrooms with tiled showers and marketable bathtubs. Some appraisers may use a standardized value list for home features, while others make judgments based on their experience.

What is a Home Inspection?

Home inspectors make a detailed investigation of the home without making any assessment of the worth of the property. Things like water damage, mold, and termite damage are pointed out during an inspection, and any deficiencies in any of the home’s systems will be noted on an inspection report. As a home seller, it’s important that everything in your home is in working order. If you know your air conditioner doesn’t work or that your water heater is failing, this will be noticed during an inspection.

Although a home inspection is not required in most closing processes, it’s highly recommended and should be prepared for. If possible, plan to be present at the inspection. If the inspection report includes area that need attention, you can either renegotiate the price or take your home off the market and fix the issues. Either way, home appraisals and inspections will help you determine the value of your home and decide which areas of your home need improvement.

Five Budgeting Tips for Your Bathroom Remodel

So, you want to remodel your bathroom but don’t want to break the bank? Join the club. Although the cost of a bathroom remodel varies depending on location, materials, age of the house, and what kind of renovations have already been done, a typical bathroom remodel can set homeowners back by an average of $15,000+. With that type of investment, it’s important to stick to a budget the best you can. Here are some budgeting tips to help you minimize the costs associated with a bathroom renovation.

Purchase Items Yourself

When it comes to bathroom fixtures, like bathtubs and vanities, you can save some cash by purchasing these items on your own. While it might be easier to hire someone to purchase these items for you, you can save thousands of dollars on your bathroom renovation by finding your own deals. Online retailers are a great place to start – in many cases, purchasing directly from the factory can save you up to 70 percent and includes free shipping. If you’re going for a vintage look, try estate sales, auctions, and Craigslist – you never know what treasure you’ll be able to find until you take the time to look.

Ditch the Professional Painter

Whether you’re a DIYer or not, performing some of the work yourself is a great way to save on labor. When it comes to painting, it’s a time-consuming (and expensive!) act that most people can do themselves. Once you’re in DIY mode, think about what other parts of the renovation you can do on your own: demolition, removal of popcorn ceiling, and installation of smaller fixtures often top the list of bathroom renovation projects that are suitable for even the least-experienced individuals.

Don’t Relocate Fixtures

One of the major costs in a remodel is moving fixtures. Not only does repositioning fixtures require a lot of extra materials and plumbing expertise, but it’s a time-consuming act and you’ll be shelling out extra on labor costs as a result. If you keep the same floor plan, you’ll save up to $2,000 on plumbing costs alone. Then, there’s the cost of the fixtures themselves: if that exquisite glass vessel sink is a must-have, then pick a standard no-frills toilet or tub to make up the difference. While it’s certainly acceptable to splurge, don’t splurge on everything- especially if you’re trying to stick to a budget.

Donate Your Trash

While this won’t save you money right off the bat, donating your “trash” will give you a little bit extra come tax season. Before you begin a remodeling job, invite the local Habitat for Humanity chapter to remove materials and fixtures for later resale. About 85 percent of a home is reusable, so you’ll save space in the landfill, collect a charitable tax credit for the donation, and help a good cause. The average cost of trashing bathroom fixtures is about $100, and the cost to donate is nothing and includes a tax deduction – so why wouldn’t you donate?

Make Decisions Early

Start walking the aisles at the hardware store or home improvement center months before you call a contractor for an estimate. This way, you’ll get a good feeling for what you want in terms of fixtures, design, and appliances. Additionally, you’ll know their cost and have an idea of what number the contractor will throw your way. If the number seems too high or low, let the contractor know. If you’re absolutely clear about what you want from the get-go, your contractor will be able to give you a better estimate and, once the demolition and remodel gets started, you’ll be able to better stay within budget.