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Planning is needed before renovation


Q: We're about to undertake a major renovation of our home. Walls are coming down, the kitchen and bathroom are being redesigned, recessed lighting is being installed, and we're adding new furniture.

We're pretty certain of what we want done, but we're unsure about how to proceed. What's the proper sequence in a complicated process like this? Where should we start, and what should follow after that?

A: What your project really needs is a good coordinator -- someone who can orchestrate all its various facets.

As a first, even more essential step: Devise a sound plan.

The plan should be visual and written, showing exactly which walls will be demolished and where new ones will be located. That will help you determine room sizes that are appropriate for their respective functions. Once you know how large each space is going to be, it should be easier to sketch in the placement of furniture, cabinets and lighting.

At this stage, you'll also need to decide on the surfacing materials for walls, floors and ceilings. Flooring is especially important: Where different materials meet doorways, you must be precise about their thickness.

What I -- as an interior designer -- consider the fun part doesn't come till near the end of both the planning and renovation process.

Unfortunately, you have a long way to go before you get to pick out the pretty stuff -- colors, fabrics, furniture styles and decorative accessories.

Because of your project's complexity, I'd consider seeking professional help. From a designer, not a psychiatrist -- though if you decide to do the whole thing by yourselves, the latter's services may well be necessary.

Remember: Timing is everything. Carefully schedule the plumbers, electricians, carpenters and painters.

A project like yours is difficult enough without having everyone bumping into one another.

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