Adding upgrades now can mean higher resale later

Wood tones and deeply saturated colors help create a warm look despite the size of these rooms.

Wood tones and deeply saturated colors help create a warm look despite the size of these rooms.

April 08, 2006|By ROSE BENNETT GILBERT - Copley News Service

Q: We have bought a house that is still under construction (should be completed by early summer), so now is the time to make important decisions, like whether or not to pay extra to have "beams" across the great room ceiling, or whether to choose hardwood (also extra) or go with ceramic tile. We're going a bit crazy just picking out little things like bathroom faucets and cabinet styles for the kitchen. Help us decide about the beams and floors - this house is costing a good deal more than we'd expected already.

A: Well, duh - and I don't mean to sound rude. Personality doesn't come cheap, especially in new construction. Nearly every home builder falls prey sooner or later to the "trade-up syndrome." And that's not necessarily a bad thing.

While you could have saved money by going with your builder's standard options - they're usually in the midprice range - you are paying extra to have the house customized to your taste and lifestyle. Because it expresses your personal preferences, albeit at a price, this once-standard home will ultimately turn out to be uniquely yours.


More good news: it will no doubt command a better resale price, too, thanks to that distinctive personality.

However, only you can decide how much that's worth right now.

Beams, even faux ones, evoke both a sense of the past and a feeling of warmth, stability and coziness because they bring the ceiling down to more human scale. That can be a great asset if your great room is two stories or taller. Color is another, less costly way to tame space - intensive color used overhead and on the walls.

Beams and color combine in the great room we show here. It won a Benjamin Moore HUE Award last year for the California design team from Moore Ruble Yudell. Between the wood tones overhead and the saturated color on the walls, the large space looks and feels warm and cozy, despite its inherent grandeur.

For much the same reason, you should think long and hard before passing up the chance to have hardwood floors installed now, when it's easier and therefore less expensive. Wood is warm; tile is cool. Both last practically forever. Both are relatively easy to maintain. The decision rests on your taste, your budget, and how much resale value occupies your thinking: hardwood floors are always an asset when you sell.

Q: My brother and sister-in-law spent a long weekend with us recently to celebrate their anniversary, and I couldn't believe my ears when I overheard her making snide remarks about the sheets in the guest room. Yes, they are some kind of blended fabric, and no, I don't iron them (or much of anything else). I do have two children and a job, so I don't feel guilty. What's the big deal about sheets anyway?

A: Like everything else in the modern home, bed linens are a matter of options. With so many other demands on our time and energy, not everyone wants to live with fine china and sterling silver, or example. Or make their own marinara sauce, sew the family's clothes, or wax hardwood floors. And that's understandable.

But other people find solace in such traditions, and a sense of accomplishment in practicing them. For instance, as a Southern-born woman, I like - honestly, like - to polish the silver. Seeing it gleam and shine somehow connects me to my foremothers - and to a long tradition of living with and loving beautiful things.

Others, like your sister-in-law, cherish fine linens for the bed. Not the generic "linens," which may not be linen at all but blends of manmades, perhaps with cotton, that look and feel far from the real thing. Yes, fine linens must be ironed - that's how you achieve their fabled crispness - and yes, they can be costly - but we're talking heirlooms here. Linens can last for generations (and beyond: the Bayeaux tapestry contains linen, and most old masters are painted on it).

In fact, flax, from which linen is made, is the oldest textile plant grown in Europe, which is still the source of the finest linens (we don't grow textile flax in the U.S.). Look for the label of The Masters of Linen, an association of industry professionals, that guarantees you are getting the real made-in-Europe thing in sheets, towels and clothing for your bed and yourself.

Or for your sister-in-law. Fine linens are perfect wedding or anniversary gifts. In Europe, in fact, they are the gift that's traditionally given to observe the 12th wedding anniversary. For more facts visit .

Rose Bennett Gilbert is the co-author of "Hampton Style" and associate editor of Country Decorating Ideas. Please send your questions to her at Copley News Service, P.O. Box 120190, San Diego, CA 92112-0190, or online at

The Herald-Mail Articles