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Laying the foundation for a home remodel

by: VERN UYETAKE - The remodel of this Lake Oswego home, recently completed by interior designer Jason Ball, was successful thanks to careful planning.

Interior designer Jason Ball offers tips for staying on point with budget, design


From the small accents to the big picture, according to interior designer Jason Ball, it's the details that can make or break a home remodel.

Ball opened his interior design firm, Jason Ball Interiors, in 2004 after falling in love with the process during the remodel of his own Portland home.by: VERN UYETAKE - Ball recommends homeowners look search for remodeling inspiration by looking at one design element at a time, whether it be wall color or dining room tables.

Working on projects throughout the metro area, including many in Lake Oswego, his experience has taught him that careful planning is the key to any successful remodel, as little touches or big delays can quickly add up to over-budget, overdue projects.

Especially for homeowners remodeling for the first time, Ball said it is important to work with a professional with whom they are comfortable and can work closely with to determine the budget and scope of the project. This person can help point out potential stumbling blocks in what can sometimes be a confusing and frustrating process.

But whether they are working with a design firm or on their own, "My next best piece of advice is for the homeowner to really know what they want out of the project," he said, and to use this directive to guide all decisions throughout the remodeling process.

Homeowners should also keep in mind and budget those decorative aspects that will really make a space feel finished, whether it be window treatments, furniture, new lighting or accessories. 

I asked Ball a few more questions about the keys to making sure a home remodel goes according to plans; here are his responses:

Claire Oliver: What are the first steps you recommend completing for any homeowner considering a remodel?

Jason Ball: At the beginning of each project, we talk with our clients about what they want out of their space. What are the "must-have" features? What are "nice to haves"? And, how much do they want to spend? The answers to these three questions guide nearly every design decision we make throughout the course of the project.

Because the three questions feed into each other, we are able to have the discussion with our clients about the cost associated with wish list items. If a homeowner is approaching a remodel project on their own, it still behooves them to answer these questions and use the answers to direct the decision process at each step along the way.

CO: Are there any common mistakes you see in remodel planning?

JBI: I should say, "not hiring a designer," but I won't. The biggest mistake I see is homeowners not planning out the entire process upfront before starting the project. I've seen too many people get too far in to the process and then run into either a construction or budgetary restriction. Planning, whether they hire a professional or not, is key to ensuring the remodel process goes as smoothly as possible.

CO: Where should homeowners look for inspiration?

JB: When first starting a remodel project, I ask my clients to gather pictures from magazines and various websites. Houzz.com is probably the best known website right now. It's a site on which designers, architects builders post pictures of their projects to provide inspiration to homeowners. I have clients build their own "idea book" for their project to help guide the initial parts of the design phase. By walking through inspiration pictures, we are able to focus in on design elements part of their personal aesthetic. When going through magazines (still a great resource for inspiration), I have clients go through the same magazine multiple times, each time focusing on a different design aspect. The first time they might go through looking at color only, the second might focus on lighting, and so on. This focused examination method forces them to really take note of what they are most attracted to. I also have clients point out what they don't like. Again, this gives me a little insight into the client's personal design aesthetic.

CO: How can homeowners add their own personal touches into a remodel?

JB: The easiest way to add personal touches is to focus on the less permanent design elements - art, paint colors, window coverings, furniture and lighting. There are so many options available in today's design world that can be used to create nearly every style. By looking through magazines or online sources, homeowners will find styles or design elements to which they are personally attracted. These are the elements that should be brought into the home and be used to create a personal environment.

CO: What are the easiest ways to quickly and conveniently refresh a space on a budget?

JB: For those on a budget, the quickest way to refresh a space is to focus on the walls. New paint, wall coverings or art go a long way in transforming a space and giving a completely new look. I also recommend switching out drapery (or window coverings). For a slightly larger budget, recovering existing furniture with new fabric is another way to give a new, updated look to a space, and is a fraction the cost of new furniture. 

CO: What are the benefits of a home remodel in the long run?

JB: When my wife and I remodeled our home in 2001, we did it for the express purpose of making the home into a home we would want to live in for the foreseeable future. I believe this is the biggest benefit of remodeling a home. It gives homeowners the chance to take an existing space, evaluate it's function, flow, aesthetics and make the changes necessary to make the space into one in which they'd want to live.

Sometimes the changes are small (paint, art, lighting, etc.) and sometimes the changes are big (additions, moving walls, etc.). And, in nearly every case, proper planning of a remodel can lead to increased home values while making the space better.

My wife and I decided to complete a second-story addition on our 1908 Portland home. We continue to love the home we built for ourselves and can't imagine moving. The experience of designing and building a home also gives me a distinct perspective and insight into the process.

CO: Is there anything else about remodeling in general you can share?

JB: My biggest piece of advice to anyone undertaking the remodeling process is to have fun. While it can be a trying experience, if a homeowner follows the advice above, then the process can certainly be an enjoyable one. Surrounding themselves with trusted partners is key - let the professionals deal with the difficult pieces of the puzzle. It's what they get paid to do. The homeowner is then freed up to watch from the sidelines and watch as their dream becomes reality.

For more information, call 503-267-2352 or visit jasonballinteriors.com.by: VERN UYETAKE - Interior designer Jason Ball, sitting, and his associate show off the homes remodeled living room.



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