Rapid Fire Remodel And Design Questions From My Friends (And All My Answers)

Two of our closest friends are renovating their first home and they are IN IT. They recently came to visit for a few days and asked me all sorts of questions, mostly wanting my opinion based on my experience. I’ve probably written about all of these before but thought it would be fun to document how I answered them all casually right now, in 2023. Remember there are a million ways to do remodel and most of design is based on personal preferences, but I also LOVE giving my opinion for those open to it. So here you go:

Solid Wood Or Engineered Wood Flooring?

I am pretty team “engineered flooring” these days – it’s just gotten SO GOOD and is easier to deal with. Our Zena wood flooring is applied to engineered plywood to make it more durable (less warping and buckling). For my brother’s house we have Stuga (shell color) and it’s beautiful (not installed yet but the samples are so pretty). Most of the higher end ones you can still refinish up to four times. My two quick thoughts are stay away from the fake hand scraping texture and don’t go too dark and shiny – that usually means it’s a cheaper product and looks like it. But I love my solid wood flooring at the mountain house so much so either can be great.

Smooth Coat Walls Or Sprayed Orange Peel?

Smooth Coat

Orange Peel

This one is very based on budget as there is a huge price and time difference, with orange peel being SO much cheaper and faster. It’s essentially masking the drywall seams by spraying a bumpy texture on it, whereas smooth drywall takes weeks of mudding, taping sanding, over and over. Smooth wall looks clean, flat, pretty and higher end, whereas orange peel can look contractor grade. I’m a designer and my pickiness with finishes is extreme so I haven’t opted for the orange peel. But knowing the cost and price difference I would never come down against orange peel for most people. And honestly if I were on more of a budget in a future project (not my forever home) I would do a combination – I would likely do the rooms you care about (living room, kitchen, etc) in smooth walls (or light hand trowel if it’s common in your region – its not in Portland). Then in basements, TV rooms, kids’ rooms, playrooms, kids’ baths, etc – the rooms that you simply don’t care about as much, save some money and go for that orange peel. This is what we did at the Portland Project years ago and no one noticed the orange peel down in the basement (including the bedroom and the playroom). Additionally, stay away from rounded corner edges unless you are going for a post-modern vibe – instead opt for metal corner edges that look cleaner (especially with orange peel). Two of my best friends have an awesome house, all orange peel and their stuff is so cool that you do NOT notice it (nor were they going to pay to have the entire house redone). So if you bought a house with Orange peel walls and you feel bummed, just know that if you go more matte with your paint color and have cool art, no one but a designer will notice and then who cares?

Should We Hardwire In Speakers For Music?

I know this seems so specific but my brother and I talked about this SO MUCH as well. What he ended up doing is putting in speakers that can work with any system. I personally am scared of high tech permanently installed in houses because it can break or date the house very, very easily. But I’m probably the wrong person to ask because I don’t love loud music and I’m perfectly happy with blue tooth speakers when/where we are listening to them. Ken and Katie also don’t want high tech to break or date the house so he said this systems is so basic that it can work with Sonos and the machine itself can be updated. He’s also doing a very high end house, so I get having some smart features. If you listen to a ton of music all day every day I think it’s obviously a great feature. But wiring that through your house is also not cheap, FYI. Nothing is cheap 😉

Exposed Or Closed Treads On Stairs?

I like both! We exposed the treads in the OG Portland Project and our mountain house because the sculptural shape of the individual steps can look really pretty. I think it’s historically been the more classic and high-end look. Having an outer stringer that covers the edge of the stairs so you can’t see it is cheaper to execute which is why it’s more common in builder grade houses. It can look really pretty though. I loved how Chris Loves Julia and Sarah Sherman Samuel (obviously way more post-modern in design) did it in their respective entries.

Carpet Or Wood Flooring In A Kids’ Playroom Or Bedroom?

from: kid’s mountain house attic playroom

I love both. It really depends if food and paint are going to be involved because then definitely don’t go too light. I LOVED the carpet in our mountain house play attic (don’t forget the 1″ memory foam carpet pad). I love a cozy wall to wall, but if you have toddlers and you think they might rub their disgusting little marinara hands on everything then I’d go wood + washable rug.

What Paint Finish Do I Paint Everything?

There is so many ways to do this, but here are some general guidelines that we did (and ARCIFORM agreed):
Ceiling: Matte/flat as there might be more imperfections and anything with a sheen will show more imperfections.
Drywall Walls: Eggshell or matte. Eggshell is slightly more sheen and slightly easier to clean, but they are pretty close.
Door and Window Casing: I like this to be slightly more shiny than the walls, so likely satin or semi-gloss. I personally think that when they are painted the same color in a flat finish it looks like you only wanted to tape off once and shows no architectural/textural difference.
Wood Paneling (on Walls): Satin or semi-gloss. I think this is mostly for durability on the wood.
Bathroom Walls: I think flat/matte or eggshell is fine. I don’t love satin or semi on most normal drywall rooms, TBH.
Doors: Match the trim/casing (Again, I like slightly more sheen than on the walls even if the walls are flat and the casing/door are eggshell).

I have strayed from this many times, but this is off the top of my head what I would recommend right now.

So leave more of your questions in the comments and if you like this post I’ll do more like these. And just a reminder, you can literally break every rule, you can make anything work, your house is yours and shouldn’t be a source of stress. It’s almost all about personal preference and how you love to live in your own home (but if you like this post and don’t have my book yet, you could snag it where there is a lot of info like this in it).

Opening Image Credits: Photo by Kaitlin Green | From: Welcome To Our Bedroom + All The Upholstered Beds We Considered And What We Chose

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