Homework Zone

At Home ReBuilders, we have been asked to design all sorts of projects over the years. We have built glamorous doghouses, outdoor rooms, and a two story addition for an enormous pipe organ. People invest in their homes and many are committed to making their space a complete expression of their tastes and needs.

Lately we’ve been sensing a new trend and theme for a few renovations. We are currently designing a few projects for clients that have growing children. These teenagers are looking for a spot to do homework, set up a project, work on a computer generated school assignment. Gaming units are still a space consumer and the video game/movie watching zones are a priority. Can we design a spot for long legged teens to gather after a lacrosse game, grab a soda and digest the videos taken during the game? Absolutely! We’ve started identifying these zones as the teen lounge.

These spots take shape often on a second floor, maybe between a few bedrooms. Maybe the extension of the “jack and jill bath” becomes the “john and jane zone”. Some things to think about may be built in cabinetry or the addition of closets for storing audio visual equipment, ample outlets at desk height, lighting for work tasks, undercounter refrigeration unit, and room for comfortable furniture.

As advocates for our clients, we love to design very specific spaces but we also recommend thinking about your home resale and how your renovation fits into this equation. Can this teen lounge became a craft room for mom when the children leave the nest? Would this translate as a home office or hobby room for another buyer? Maybe this space can transition to a guest suite for out of town family.

One of the best things we get to do at Home ReBuilders is help people shape their homes to fit their live. Give us a call to discuss your needs.

Renovation Financing

Our friends at This Old House wrote up a detailed primer on renovation loans and we thought we would share it. There are many ways to go about securing financing for a renovation. You’ll also find some links on our website of local banks and contacts we have used and recommend. The best time to start thinking about financing is right now.

Until recently, borrowing money for a new kitchen, second-story addition, or other home improvement meant going to the bank, seeing a loan officer, and hoping for the best. Today, however, you have many more options. A mortgage broker, for example, can offer more than 200 different loan programs. And brokers are just one of the many lenders eager to put together a loan that fits your situation — even if your credit history is less than perfect.

That means you might be able to borrow more money than you think. But with so many competing lenders, loan options, and terms, it also means loan shopping can be as challenging as house hunting. You can skip all the confusion and land on the right lending program by:

1. knowing how much money you need and roughly how much you can get from the start
2. narrowing the myriad loan options down to the ones that match your needs and finances
3. concentrating on the lenders that are likeliest to provide the type of loan you want.

How Much Can You Borrow?

Whether you hire a contractor or take on the work yourself, begin with an accurate estimate of what the project will cost. Lenders will insist on a specific figure before they work with you. If you’re hiring a contractor, start with a firm bid, broken down into labor and materials. Then add on 10 percent for surprises. On work you’ll do yourself, compile a detailed materials list with quantities, costs, and an accurate total. Include permit fees and equipment rental. Then add a cushion of 20 to 30 percent to be safe. Once you know how much you need, how much will you get? Despite the promises and hype lenders make in their ads and promotional materials, how much you can borrow hinges on your credit rating, the loan-to-value ratio, and your income. These factors also help determine the interest rate, the length of the loan, and whether you’ll pay points. Your credit rating. The best rates and terms go to homeowners with an A rating — no late payments in the last 12 months and no maxed-out credit cards. One or two late payments or overdrawn credit cards probably won’t knock you out of the game, but you might end up with a higher interest rate and a smaller loan.
Loan-to-value ratio. To determine the loan amount, lenders use the loan-to-value ratio (LTV), which is a percentage of the appraisal value of your home. The usual limit is 80 percent — or $100,000 for a $125,000 home (.805125,000). Lenders subtract the mortgage balance from that amount to arrive at the maximum you can borrow. Assuming your balance is $60,000, the largest loan that you can obtain is $40,000 ($100,000-$60,000=$40,000). If you have a good credit rating, a lender might base your loan on more than 80 percent of the LTV; if you don’t, you might get only 65 to 70 percent. While many lenders go to 100 percent of the LTV, interest rates and fees soar at these higher ratios.

Your income. If you also have high expenses, a high income level might not mean a larger loan. Lenders follow two rules to minimize their risk:

•Your house payment and other debt should be below 36 percent of your gross monthly income.

• Your house payment alone (including principal, interest, taxes, and insurance) should be no more than 28 percent of your gross monthly income. The maximum debt-to-income ratio rises to 42 percent on second mortgages. Some lenders go even higher, though fees and rates get expensive — as will your monthly payment. However, a debt-to-income ratio of 38 percent probably is the highest you should consider carrying.

The LTV determines how much you can borrow, and your debt-to-income ratio establishes the monthly payment for which you qualify. Within these two limits, the biggest trade-offs are interest rates, loan term, and points.

Interest rates. The less interest you pay, the more loan you can afford. An adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) is one way to lower that rate, at least temporarily. Because lenders aren’t locked into a fixed rate for 30 years, ARMs start off with much lower rates. But the rates can change every 6, 12, or 24 months thereafter. Most have yearly caps on increases and a ceiling on how high the rate climbs. But if rates climb quickly, so will your payments.

Loan term. The longer the loan, the lower the monthly payment. But total interest is much higher. That’s why you’ll pay far less for a 15-year loan than for a 30-year loan — if you can afford the higher monthly payments.

Points. Each point is an up-front cost equal to 1 percent of the loan. Points are interest paid in advance, and they can lower monthly payments. But if your credit is less than perfect, you’ll probably have to pay Loan shopping often starts with mainstream mortgages from banks, credit unions, and brokers. Like all mortgages, they use your home as collateral and the interest on them is deductible. Unlike some, however, these loans are insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) or Veterans Administration (VA), or bought from your lender by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, two corporations set up by Congress for that purpose. Referred to as A loans from A lenders, they have the lowest interest. The catch: You need A credit to get them. Because you probably have a mortgage on your home, any home improvement mortgage really is a second mortgage. That might sound ominous, but a second mortgage probably costs less than refinancing if the rate on your existing one is low. Find out by averaging the rates for the first and second mortgages. If the result is lower than current rates, a second mortgage is cheaper. When should you refinance? If your home has appreciated considerably and you can refinance with a lower-interest, 15-year loan. Or, if the rate available on a refinance is less than the average of your first mortgage and a second one. If you’re not refinancing, consider these loan types: Home-equity loans. These mortgages offer the tax benefits of conventional mortgages without the closing costs. You get the entire loan up front and pay it off over 15 to 30 years. And because the interest usually is fixed, monthly payments are easy to budget. The drawback: Rates tend to be slightly higher than those for conventional mortgages. Home-equity lines of credit. These mortgages work kind of like credit cards: Lenders give you a ceiling to which you can borrow; then they charge interest on only the amount used. You can draw funds when you need them — a plus if your project spans many months. Some programs have a minimum withdrawal, while others have checkbook or credit-card access with no minimum. There are no closing costs. Interest rates are adjustable, with most tied to the prime rate. Most programs require repayment after 8 to 10 years. Banks, credit unions, brokerage houses, and finance companies all market these loans aggressively. Credit lines, fees, and interest rates vary widely, so shop carefully. Watch out for lenders that suck you in with a low initial rate, then jack it up. Find out how high the rate rises and how it’s figured. And be sure to compare the total annual percentage rate (APR) and the closing costs separately. This differs from other mortgages, where costs, such as appraisal, origination, and title fees, are figured into a bottom-line APR for comparisons simply to get the loan.
Which Lender for What?

For a home equity line of credit, the best place to start is your own bank or credit union. Both usually offer lower rates to depositors. Check other sources to be sure. If you get a second mortgage, refinance, or opt for an FHA 203(k) mortgage, you’re better off talking with a mortgage broker. A broker has more loan sources to choose from. When looking for a broker, check with people you know, and check any references you get. Contractors are another source of financing, but be wary: It’s hard enough to choose a contractor and a loan when they’re separate. And be suspicious of contractors who emphasize the monthly payment instead of the total cost of the job. A borrower’s bill of rights. Article Z of the federal Truth in Lending Act makes sizing up lenders and loans easier. It requires lenders to disclose interest rate, terms, costs, and variable-rate features in a total APR, a bottom line you can use to compare loans. Here are some other rights to remember:

• If a mortgage lender does not disclose the APR, any application fees must be refunded. You usually get these disclosures on a form with your loan application. If any terms change before closing, the lender must return all fees if the changes make you decide not to proceed.

• You have three days from the day of closing to cancel. Inform the lender in writing within that period and fees are refunded.

Design Trends

Our friends at Houzz have compiled some ideas about trends in  residential home design. Take a look. We are fully behind some of them and have seen several hit our market place. The modern home is always evolving. And to get an idea of what it’s evolving to, look no further than what’s happening within its walls today.

1. Two-tone kitchen cabinets. Keep upper cabinets white or neutral for a clean, timeless feel, then go crazy with the lower cabinets by playing with various wood tones and deeper colors to take your kitchen in two different style directions.
2. Outdoor fabric used indoors. Outdoor fabrics are becoming increasingly hard to distinguish from traditional indoor fabrics, and many Houzzers are bringing them inside, where their durability makes them perfect for high-traffic dining room and living room furniture, as shown here.
3. Colored stainless steel appliances. Black stainless steel is making a buzz on Houzz. In a poll, nearly two-thirds of Houzzers say they would consider the dark alternative to shiny silver metal.  Not into the darkness? Head to the light with Whirlpool’s Sunset Bronze finish.

4. Extra-large-format tile. Large-format tiles (such as 12 by 24 inches) have been making an appearance in kitchens and bathrooms for some time now, but be on the lookout for extra-large-format ones. Just how extra? Try 31 by 71 inches, like the ceramic Ann Sacks tiles shown  on a fireplace surround project by Pangaea. That’s almost 3 by 6 feet!

5. Bidets. The separate bidet unit in bathrooms never really took off in America. But since manufacturers began creating combination bidet and toilet units, like the Toto version shown here, they’ve been catching on. According to Houzz data, 5 percent of renovated master bathrooms now include bidets.

6. Deep kitchen drawers. Houzz data shows that ease of storage is the top kitchen priority during a remodel. And while deep drawers have been creeping up to replace lower kitchen cabinets for a while now, they’re only getting better — and more affordable. Dividers and inserts let you organize any shape or size of dish, pan or utensil under the sun, and there are even clever options for deep corner drawers, and drawers under range tops and kitchen sinks.

7. Formal dining rooms. Not everyone takes the leap to turn the dining room into an office or media room. For homeowners who entertain frequently, a designated space for gathering for special meals isn’t negotiable, and they’re pouring attention into these rooms.
8. Niche appliances. Looking for a little added luxury in the kitchen? Steam ovens promise to cook food more thoroughly and healthily than microwaves; warming drawers give cooks a little wiggle room to deliver hot meals to family and guests; induction cooktops save space and are safer for homes with young kids; and kimchi refrigerators offer fans of the popular Korean condiment a chance to make their own at home.

9. Workhorse islands. Kitchen islands provide additional workspace, but they’ve taken on so much more than that. With deep storage, prep sinks, room for seating and more, workhorse islands are becoming the central feature in modern kitchens.
10. Statement mirrors in bathrooms. So long, medicine cabinets. Hello, statement mirrors. Think large wood-framed beauties, backlit modern marvels and ornate vintage gems that boost style in a bathroom.

11. Barely there kitchens. As kitchen layouts become more open, spatial identifiers like walls of cabinetry and full-size appliances fade away, leaving behind airy, fluid spaces that serve multiple functions while looking barely there.



12. Living rooms that ditch the tech for family. With so much screen time throughout the day and night, homeowners are looking for a calm respite where they can read a book, chat with friends and family or just sit quietly. Thus, the rise of living rooms devoid of digital distraction.
13. Kitchens that embrace openness and raw materials. The inherent simplicity in open shelves and raw materials plays a big part in the barely there kitchen we mentioned earlier. Embrace these, and the rest will follow.


14. Surprising backsplash and countertop pairings. You could play it safe with white subway tile and granite countertops, but sometimes safe is so boring. Instead, consider a different combination, such as a brick backsplash with concrete countertops or yellow ceramic tile with butcher block.
15. Fully decorated living rooms that don’t go overboard. How do you know when you haven’t decorated enough, or decorated too much? Designers pay attention to scale, light, function and more to strike the right balance.
16. Special kitchen features. Sometimes a kitchen needs that one special element that takes it from a useful space to a vital one. Here, a dining table on casters allows various seating arrangements for casual family meals and large parties with friends.
17.  A sunroom is a top dream space for many homeowners. Even those who don’t have the luxury of having — or adding — one are finding ways to carve out a special sun-drenched corner in their homes.
18. Punched-up white kitchens. White kitchen walls and cabinets — and even countertops in many cases — is a trend that will continue for years to come. To avoid a too-sterile look, however, many designers and homeowners are learning to punch up an all-white space with smart, colorful details through tile, floor-to-ceiling bookcases, raw materials and more.
20. Mixing modern materials in the kitchen. Looking for something a little more lively than white cabinets and granite countertops in your kitchen? Consider mixing several modern materials, finishes and colors. Here, butcher block countertops get broken up with soapstone near the stove and Carrara marble on a nearby baking station. These mix with olive-green cabinets and stainless steel appliances for an eclectic, sophisticated look.
21. Attention-seeking bedrooms. A can of paint will certainly transform the look and feel of a bedroom, but to take the sanctuary to the next level, you’re going to need bolder ideas. Here, a rustic wood wall and ceiling feature warms up the otherwise contemporary room.
22. Bathrooms that feel more like living spaces. Graphic wallpaper, ornate chandeliers and furniture-like pieces turn sterile spaces into ones that feel a lot more like home.
23. Fireplaces and fire features. New advances mean you can have all the ambiance without the smell, pollution or hassle of traditional wood-burning fireplaces. Plus, fireplaces are making a comeback as living room focal points in lieu of the dark void of a TV screen.
24. Farmhouse entryways. Stripping away the need for fancy flourishes or decor for decor’s sake, farmhouse style gets at the root of function. That’s why the style makes sense for mudrooms, where simplicity in storage and durability in materials are paramount.


Renovation is hot in Atlanta once again and people are looking to increase the size and living space of their homes. We are often asked whether additional space is best acquired by building on with an addition or building up with a second story.
The answer, like just about all things relating to renovation, has some complicated variables. The answer may depend on the goals of the addition, style of the house, access to the new space and the land around the existing home. Often in Atlanta’s intown neighborhoods where the lot size can be smaller and city demanded yard setbacks strict, building up is the way to go. Building up onto or creating a second floor maintains the yard around a home, often a premium. Also, when designed with care, a second floor addition can create an added charm to curb appeal and often provide a better resale value.
The next question to consider is cost effectiveness. The trickiest part and often the deciding factor in the up or out debate can fall to the stairs. If the stairway to the new space can be worked out without having to reverse the basement stairs and moving too many walls then building up often saves the cost of foundations and landscape disturbance. One must keep in mind that most second story additions require the reframing of the old ceiling joists to allow for floor loads. This is something typically done with a separate diaphragm system for ceiling and floor joists and has the added benefit of sound proofing, reduction of overall second floor addition height and minimizes the potential of plaster cracks.
In the end, our design staff is experienced with both vehicles to increase the size of your home in a way that is both practical financially and pleasing aesthetically.

Cabinetry Finishes

White kitchens have long been the dominating look of choice for many homeowners embarking on a kitchen renovation. White cabinetry has captured the top spot in the field for years and the crisp, clean painted finish has surpassed the stained cabinetry of previous decades.

There does seem to be an movement toward softer greys and paler colors in cabinetry. Swedish and Belgian looks are popular with their muted tones and simple details. Accented with bleached oaks and wood finishes, these kitchens can create a soothing place for family life and meal making.

BLOG gray cabintery         BLog, grey cabinetry

Dramatic colors also seem to be a trend. Navy cabinetry as base units seem to be a hot trend with white wall cabinetry or open shelving creating a counterpoint. A high gloss finish on the cabinetry can also create some drama in the space.

Blog, navy cabinetry

Kitchen renovations can be one of the more costly home remodeling projects and have one of the largest returns on your investment. Being current on trends can ensure your space will look fresh and new into the years ahead.

Storage Solutions

When you first move into your new or renovated home, you wonder how you are going to fill up the large, empty space. Pretty soon life takes over — and before you know it, you are wondering where all of that space went.

If you find yourself struggling to find room to store everything you’ve accumulated over the years, see if these storage options might work for you.

Before you invest a lot of time deciding where things should go, look through your closet, files and drawers to determine what can be thrown or given away. For clothes, it is a good rule of thumb to get rid of items that you have not worn in more than 12 months.

A lot of your household financial documents and papers may be available online through the provider company’s website. If that is the case, discard old financial statements or bills that you can more easily access electronically. Invest in a paper shredder for these documents to protect your identity and accounts.

It is very easy to allow cabinets and drawers to become cluttered over time, especially when you have to do a quick cleaning of your home when you have surprise visitors. Declutter those drawers periodically to keep from accumulating outdated flyers, menus, magazines and newspapers. This will open them up so you can store more day-to-day items that you need to quickly reach.

If you are looking to replace old, worn-out furniture in your home, buy pieces that also can serve as storage. Consider a coffee table that has drawers or an ottoman that can open up and double as a spot to store your blankets.

In closets and in the kitchen,use all of the space that is available to you. Often home owners are giving up valuable square footage if they don’t install cabinets or shelves that go up to the ceiling. Store items that are either out of season or that are rarely accessed — such as holiday decorations — on the higher shelves where they are out of the way. This will free up the lower shelves to allow you to get to the things that you use on a regular basis.

Bed risers can be found in home design and improvement stores in different shapes, styles, textures and colors to complement your current bedroom furniture. They are inexpensive and not only give you added storage space, but will also give your bedroom a new look. By simply raising the height of your bed a few more inches, you can gain a lot more storage space that is also hidden away.

Bath Renovation

Bathroom remodels don’t have to be big, messy, expensive and painful. If you have a standard bathroom that has seen better days, a renovation can be easily within your reach. The key to a smooth bath remodel is planning. When a wise person said “the devil is in the details” one wonders if they were talking about home renovation!

The first step is to think about what doesn’t work in your space. That’s probably the easiest part and on the forefront of your mind. But maybe think a bit deeper. If lack of storage is something you struggle with, identify which specific items you can’t find homes for. Pill bottles, make up and small toiletries are best stored in medicine cabinets or drawers. If piles of clothes and stacks of towels are something you trip over, look to robe hooks, hamper storage or additional shelving.

Often a bathroom’s function is not the problem but the dated wallpaper and ancient accessories make getting ready in the morning a drag. Cosmetic changes can be a snap with the right experience and tools. If all of your plumbing locations and major fixtures are good enough to stay, fresh “make up” is easy. Small changes like paint color, new lighting fixtures, towel bars, shower curtains and window treatments can make a huge difference without huge upset to your home.

Now if tile needs to be replaced and your plumbing fixtures need to be replaced, start looking for brands, models and styles you like and are in your price range. It’s easy to say, “Replace my toilet” but it is always smoother if you have a clear idea of the model you like and its price tag. Is it in stock and available? Does the lavatory faucet that you have your heart set on have a coordinating shower set? Does it matter to you if all of your plumbing fixtures are the same? Information for home renovation has never been easier to access. All major plumbing brands have good websites with model numbers and specification. Big box stores can be a good source of ideas for materials either in person or on line. Internet sites such as Pinterest can provide endless inspiration for renovation.

Probably the biggest key to success in a bath renovation is your contractor or handyman. Find someone reputable with a good reputation and who has plenty of experience. And make sure you like them. They’ll be in your home, working on some intimate areas!

Design Trends

This is a post we created a year ago. Interesting read and these design trends just seem to be hotter.

We’ve been in the home renovation and design business for quite a while and we’ve see trends come and go. In fact we’ve been around long enough to see a few things start coming back in fashion. Brass plumbing fixtures? Big news in the 80’s and then they were the first things to go and be replaced by chrome and nickel fixtures. Well, they are making an appearance again, this time with a bit of an aged patina.

One of the latest trends that we have seen over the last few years is shiplap siding as an interior wall treatment. We installed this treatment in a display project we did at Phipps Plaza a year or so ago. It seems to be in all of the shelter magazines now and we’re big fans. The wood can read as warm and farmhouse with a nod to vintage style. It can also be a fantastic almost sculptural element to a clean lined contemporary space. The wood isn’t cheap and there are a few installation methods to consider but nothing creates a sense of permanence and stability in a home design like wood. Most typically we see this treatment painted out in a crisp white but we’ve seen a few bold choices painted in inky saturated hues creating the ultimate moody space. A classic installation is done in mudrooms and kitchens or breakfast spaces but the element is beginning to pop up in more formal spots as well. Start looking, it’s soon to be everywhere.

Want the next trend? Concrete and patterned tile. We typically have advised big ticket renovation materials to stay on the neutral side. You don’t want something expensive and hard to replace to be something you tire of and want to replace when the trend isn’t so fresh. However, we are smitten with these and it seems as though a lot of designers are as well. Now we wait for the bold clients.

concrete tile

Moving out during a renovation

So you are thinking about a large scale home renovation? Fantastic. Transforming your house into the home of your dreams can be incredibly rewarding and a great investment. The process can be challenging of course and construction can feel traumatic. Many homeowners, particularly if their renovation is encompassing areas of their entire home, decide living elsewhere for the construction is the way to go. If you are debating adding the potential cost of a rental onto your renovation, ask yourself a few questions. How tolerant am I of a mess? Does anyone in my family have allergies? Do I have high strung pets? Will I have either a kitchen or a bathroom to use? Although, our professional staff does an incredible job of making your home livable and trying to keep dust and mess down, renovation can be an ugly business. So if you decide moving out is best, here are a few things to think about.

Renting can be costly. Do you have friends or family that can take you in? Don’t ask your best friend to house your family of five plus dog. Those things never work out. But sometimes people can be creative. Know anyone with a lake house? In-laws going to Florida for the winter? Tread lightly, this could be fraught with danger.

If your renovation is going to be messy for a smaller period of time you can think about a holiday. Confirm you have open communication, wifi, and cell service wherever you head so you are available for questions that may come up back on the job site.

It can be a huge help and benefit to all to pack away as much as possible from areas that will be effected by renovation. Sheetrock repair alone can be messy business. And this is where some help will be of use to you – you can ask movers to come and pack professionally. Packing should also include anything of significant value, and sentimental value counts as well.

Moving out is not just about finding an affordable place. You also need to think about what you will do with your subscriptions, will you be changing your address, will you terminating  the phone and internet providers and transferring to your rental?

Plan ahead, have realistic expectations and keep your eyes on the prize!

Paint Selection

When you are undertaking a renovation, whether large or small, there are so many decisions and details to attend to. One of the design selections clients often defer until the very end of a renovation is paint colors. Choosing just the right color for your home can make all the difference in your final result. A misstep on paint can make a terrific renovation and space look less than its best. Here are some tips on paint selection. Our designers are always available for consultation.

It’s difficult to tell what a color is going to look like on your wall from a small paint chip, so many manufacturers offer sample containers of their colors. Depending on the manufacturer, you can buy sample containers in quarts, pints or even smaller sizes, and they range in price from $3 to $8. They’re a wise investment that will prevent you from wasting money on a color that isn’t right. And because colors can change dramatically under different lighting conditions, instead of rolling the sample onto the wall, roll it onto white bristol or tagboard. You’ll be able to move the sample around and view it under all the different lighting conditions in your home.

Paint companies have gone to a lot of trouble grouping colors into “families” and “collections” and “concepts” and “schemes.” Basically, these are combinations of complementary colors that may not occur to you until you see how well they work together. Take advantage of all the research already done for you by color experts. Find brochures at paint stores and go online to paint manufacturer websites, houzz.com and Pinterest, where you’ll find hundreds of examples of interior and exterior paint color combinations.

Base your color choice on the permanent furnishings in the room or the features on the exterior of your home. Inside, the flooring, rugs, artwork, blinds and upholstery will suggest a color direction. Outside, factory-finished materials like the roof, gutters, fascia, soffits and brickwork are existing elements whose colors rarely change but should play a role in determining your paint colors. The landscaping is another important factor. Select colors that fit in with the surrounding palette. If you have brilliant-colored spring-blooming trees or a sea of green foundation plantings, choose colors that will complement them.

Because ceilings are seen in shadow, the color often appears darker than the same paint on walls. If you want the ceiling to match the wall color, buy ceiling paint one or two shades lighter than the wall color. Or instead of buying another gallon of a lighter shade, save money by diluting the wall color you have with 50 percent white paint.

When you choose a color, you have to choose its sheen, too. Most paint companies offer flat, eggshell, satin, semi-gloss and gloss as options. Glossier finishes offer greater durability and are easier to clean, but they emphasize any wall imperfections. Flat paint will do a much better job of hiding imperfections, but it’s easier to damage than high-gloss. Flat finishes are generally best for ceilings and low-traffic areas like living and dining rooms. Glossier finishes can withstand moisture and grease so they’re good for trim and cabinets and high-traffic rooms like kitchens and bathrooms. If you love the way flat wall paint looks but you wish it were more durable, try mixing it 50/50 with eggshell paint. The paint will still offer a non-reflective look, but the eggshell will add some durability to the finish.

For the best results, spend at least $40 to $50 per gallon of paint. Paint is made of solvents, pigments and resins. Better-quality paint will be more concentrated with finer pigments and higher-grade resins, so the final product will have a more even color and durable finish. It’s tempting to try to save money up front, but better coverage ultimately means fewer coats and less paint to buy. Even reputable brands have a range of paint qualities within their product lines, so do your homework and buy the best you can afford.