When I browsed through the images of this New Milford, CT home renovation from architect and designer Donald Billinkoff, I was very pleased to see how he redesigned the space to integrate into the natural surroundings. Built in 1968, the original home was a bit stuffy, with small windows and heavy carpeting, but Donald’s decision to tear down walls and install huge windows has totally transformed the character of the space.
To keep the budget in check, Donald sourced almost all of the furniture from Target, Ikea and similar retailers; left floorboards unfinished, cement walls exposed, and chose simple, industrial lighting elements. Not only does this keep costs down, but the organic, understated look compliments the home’s surroundings. Overall, this home is a stunning example of how to utilize raw materials and natural light. —Kate
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Basic Steps: Of primary concern was opening the house up on the interior so space flowed from room to room but also to open the house to the surrounding landscape. Having never been renovated, the house was quite dated: bathrooms had olive green fixtures, wood valances had florescent lighting behind them, floors were covered in carpet, etc.
My advice: Establish a budget that includes a contingency. There are always unexpected expenses when you renovate. Also, a well-developed set of construction drawings with detailed specifications reduce the contractor’s ability to add costs for things he claims he did not expect. Everyone involved starts a project with good intentions, but a clearly defined scope of work and a detailed proposal from the contractor will go a long way toward keeping everyone happy all the way to the end of the job.
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