Most of your time in the bedroom is spent with your eyes closed. However, that’s no reason for you to close your eyes to the improvement possibilities of the room. The same is true with a hallway. You spend little time in a hallway, yet hallways are probably one of the most heavily trafficked spaces in the home. Hallways serve to link one space to another and have a tremendous influence upon what is anticipated at the other end. They’re like the short subject before the major feature movie. For example, a long, dark hallway that has no windows or skylights may make the beautifully decorated bedroom at the end of that hall an unpopular place to be due to the unpleasant journey required to get there. On the other hand, a hallway with a skylight that reflects sunlight off warm, cheerful colors will act as an invitation to the bedroom beyond.
Small improvements, such as new wallcoverings, can have a major impact on the appearance of the bedrooms, and the hallway that leads to them. Large improvements, such as adding a bathroom to create a bedroom suite, installing a French door in place of a bedroom window, or adding a closet in a bedroom, not only add value to a house but make it a more comfortable place to live.
Small Bedroom and Hallway Upgrades
Installing closet organizers is an easy, inexpensive upgrade that increases storage space and maximizes the potential of an inefficient closet. Installing mirrored closet doors—another small upgrade—creates the illusion of space in a cramped bedroom. Small upgrades cost less than $900 and can be completed in a day or two.
By using patterned wallcoverings, you can alter the perceived dimensions of a room. For example, a wallcovering with a vertical pattern can make a long, narrow hallway seem wider and shorter. In addition, a wallcovering coordinated with the fabric used in a comforter or window covering can pull a room together.
Wallcoverings with light colors and subtle patterns or textures are the wisest choice. A wallcovering with a busy pattern can overwhelm a small space, and a dark wallcovering will absorb the natural light of the room, making it seem dark.
Select a wallcovering that’s compatible with the other colors and finishes in the room. For example, a light-colored grass cloth would work well in a room that has hardwood floors and is decorated with earth tones. Avoid gender- specific patterns, which could limit the use of the space.
Like painting, applying a wallcovering requires careful preparation. The smoother the wall, the better the adhesion and the less apparent seams will be. Sand textured walls first to re move high spots. Heavily textured walls will require a light coat of wallboard joint com pound over the entire surface.
After you have smoothed the walls, seal them with one coat of an oil-based primer. This will minimize the amount of moisture that’s drawn into the wallboard or plaster when you apply the paste. The primer will also facilitate removal of the wallcovering in the future.
Adding New Lighting
New ceiling lighting is one of the most popular upgrades that you can make to a bedroom. No longer does bedroom lighting consist of just a single fixture in the middle of the ceiling. To day’s lighting is an integral part of the decorating scheme. Decorative fan lights, recessed lighting, and track lighting are popular choices.
The most efficient design includes several switches, with dimmers, for controlling various lights. For instance, you might have one or two switches by the door for con trolling the main overhead light and perhaps a fan. A switch by the closet can control the closet light.
Decorative fan lights are attractive and functional. By supplementing the heating and cooling system, a fan light is an energy-efficient addition that will pay for itself in lower utility bills.
Recessed lighting is as versa tile as it’s attractive. It is especially popular in soffits, dropped ceilings, and hallways where head room is limited. Recessed lighting has a variety of uses. The fixture housings are universal; the trim is what gives a recessed light its versatility.
A low-voltage recessed downlight with a small iris can serve as a reading light over a bed. Two such lights on separate switches are even more practical. The addition of a dimmer switch will provide mood lighting, which enhances the usefulness of the fixtures.
Wall-wash and multidirectional recessed eyeball lights offer an abundance of light in an interesting, nontraditional way. Eyeball lights are particularly popular in hallways to illuminate one or more pieces of art.
Track lighting is surface mounted and requires the same type of electrical wiring con figuration as conventional ceiling-mounted light fixtures. A track light consists of one or more fixtures, called heads, which are attached to a rigid electrical track anchored to the ceiling. The heads are completely adjustable. Tracks come in different lengths and can be cut down or combined to fit almost any configuration.
Adding ceiling lighting to a room with attic space above it’s relatively easy. The attic pro vides space in which you can install the electrical wiring without having to remove much of the ceiling wallcovering. In fact, properly per formed, no ceiling patches are required for rooms where an attic exists.
To install recessed light fixtures in a room with attic space above it, purchase retrofit recessed light housings. Cut a small hole in the ceiling for the housing, and anchor the housing to the surrounding wall board with the special clips provided with the lights. Run the electrical wiring in the attic and connect it to the housing before installing it into the hole. Install the fixture trim after completing the painting or applying the wallcovering. It retrofit fixtures are installed properly, no wallboard patches should be required in the ceiling.
If an attic doesn’t exist and there are several recessed fixtures to install, it’s best to re move all the wallcovering in the areas where the work will be performed. The steps involved in installing this type of recessed fixture may make this a medium upgrade. Purchase recessed light housings de signed for new construction or for remodeling before the wall board is installed. Such housings are meant to be attached to wood framing above the ceiling. Again, the trim is installed after the wallcovering is in place.
Replacing doorknobs is a home improvement that results in immediate satisfaction because it’s quick and easy to do and because this seemingly small upgrade can make a striking difference in the appearance of a room. It’s best to shop at a specialty store that deals primarily in door hardware; the selection found at home improvement centers is usually targeted at the replacement shopper rather than someone who wants to upgrade. Be aware that top-quality door hardware, especially solid brass as opposed to brass plate) or hand-painted porcelain, can be expensive.
Before deciding on the quality of replacement hardware, consider your neighborhood. The best return on investment in homes in modestly priced neighborhoods is from hard ware with good-quality mechanisms and heavy plating, as opposed to solid brass hardware, which can cost almost 10 times as much, or light plating, which is only about half the cost, but which scratches easily and quickly becomes dull.
Replacing a doorknob is simple. However, since not all knobs are constructed exactly alike, it’s wise to take the old knob assembly (including the bolt) to the store to ensure a proper match.
Fixing Squeaky Door Hinges
It’s easy to fix squeaky door hinges so that the doors operate smoothly and quietly when they are opened or closed.
For years, sewing machine oil and graphite have been the lubricants of choice for door hinges, but neither is the best solution. Sewing machine oil attracts dirt and will eventually turn the hinge black. Graphite starts out black, stays black, and stains at the touch.
For the best results, lubricate hinges with an oil-free silicone spray. Many brands are avail able; some are labeled food grade. The product, which is odorless and colorless, can be found at hardware and automotive stores.
Installing Mirrored Closet Doors
Mirrored closet doors are a popular upgrade that are as decorative as they are functional. In addition to being more useful than a short mirror over a vanity, a fully mirrored closet door helps create the illusion of space that makes a bed room or hallway seem much larger. A mirrored door also makes a room brighter by reflecting natural light.
Mirrored doors are available from home-improvement centers and can be installed by most handy homeowners in an afternoon. Most doors come with a head track and a base track. Both should be cut to fit the width of the opening. Attach the head track to the framing above with screws. Attach the base track to the floor framing with screws unless the floor is concrete, in which case use lag shields or wedge anchors.
Quality mirrored doors are a better investment than inexpensive ones; they have substantial frames that withstand use and abuse and track systems with high-quality rollers that slide smoothly. One of the best ways to gauge the quality of a mirrored door is by its weight—the heavier the better.
Installing Closet Organizers
Insufficient closet space is one of the single biggest home owner complaints. Most older homes would benefit from more wardrobe space, more linen space, and more space for coats in the entry hall closet.
Although additional closet space may seem to be the ultimate solution, closet organization systems are a cost-effective alternative that should be explored first. More often than not, the problem with closet storage is not insufficient space but poor organization.
For example, a closet that contains only one wardrobe pole and a single shelf above it uses less than half of the total available space. You can re move the existing shelf and pole and install a new system in its place.
Make a wardrobe inventory before installing a new closet organization system. This will assist you in designing the new configuration to best serve your needs. A double-pole arrangement (one high pole and one at a middle height) is excellent for short clothing, such as suits, sport coats, skirts, shirts, and slacks. This configuration liter ally doubles the space per linear foot of area.
Adjustable shelving to accommodate items such as handbags and sweaters is an integral part of any organized closet. Custom shoe racks will also help to tidy up the floor.
Prefabricated closet organization systems are easy to install for the do-it-yourselfer. Among the most popular is the ventilated, or wire-rack, construction, in which the wire is coated with white vinyl. Many of the hardware stores and home-improvement centers that sell these systems will also assist with the design. A wire rack system for an average sized closet can be installed in about a day.