You’ve decided to give your home a modern look: How do you start?

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Decide what you want

Do you want a full remodel, some light updating, or something in-between? Putting your thoughts on paper is best. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy.

Who will do the work?

Will you or a contractor do the work?

You can save money and assure quality by doing it yourself. In fact, some work, like demolition, does not require very much skill.

If you take this path, you can find tool ideas on the Products page.

If you go the contractor route, will you hire a general contractor to coordinate the job or act as your own general contractor? Most people hire a general contractor.


Next, develop a rough budget. You can get an idea of what things will cost by searching on the Internet. Angie’s List® (now offering free and paid memberships) is one source. Consumer Reports (limited access for non-subscribers) is another.

Many online renovation cost calculators produce overly high estimates. You may want to avoid them.

Talking to a contractor or two is another way to go.

Tip: Add 20-25% to your initial budget to account for cost overruns due to surprises and add-ons.


If you are like most people, you will use one or more contractors when you update or renovate your home. Finding and managing contractors is not something most people do every day.

If you do your homework, you can increase the chances of your job going smoothly. Our Contracting Guide e-book can help you do so.

Product selection

Next is selecting products. Many can be found online. You will need to find local sources for some things such as countertops.

You can find product ideas throughout this website. Go to the Products page for a full listing.

Tip: If you will be responsible for selecting and/or providing products, be sure to do so in a timely manner or costly delays may occur.

Supervising the work

Once everything is lined up, you will need to supervise the work if you are using a contractor.

A hands-off approach is not recommended, including because the contractor cannot know exactly what you want until the job unfolds.

Part of supervising the work is inspecting it to make sure everything was done properly. Our Contracting Guide e-book includes guidance about this important task.

What to focus on

Interior-wise, important things include lighting, doors, windows, countertops, cabinets, and if present a stair rail and a fireplace mantel.

Exterior-wise, siding and painting can make a big difference.

You do not have to change all of these things; each on its own will make a contribution.

Before and after

To give you an idea of what you can do, here are some before and after pictures of our once traditional looking house.