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Courier Articles by Sandy Schultheis
Sunday, April 2, 2000

Remodeling Is Fun to Do-Or at Least to Read About

With the arrival of spring I'm thinking of going beyond spring cleaning and pondering the idea of remodeling my bathroom and kitchen and sprucing up the rest of the house. Sounds fun, or so I thought when I started looking for good books of ideas and advice. But the more I read the more I realized that this is going to be a major ordeal. I have no illusions that this is going to be easy or cheap, but looking at magazine articles and lavishly illustrated books I'm perplexed by the variety of materials available, and the number of decisions that have to be made,. Maybe the urge to remodel is just a phase and once I am really confused I will give up and live with what I have for a few more years.

The books I'm suggesting today are just a tiny fraction of the hundreds available through your public library and borrowing rather than buying them will give you lots more money to spend on your project.

The Bathroom Idea Book by Andrew Wormer (Taunton, 1999).

Just as the title states this is a book of ideas not specific projects. Are you dreaming of a bathroom lined with books, a shower large enough to hold an entire family or a tub that looks out on the blue Pacific (or Ohio)? A multitude of styles from Japanese bathhouse to Moroccan opulence to Swedish country are represented in this colorful and beautifully laid out book. The flaw is that the author doesn't give us any inkling of prices, but my guess is that most of these bathrooms are in the "way over $20,000 category". Still, even the budget minded planner may find inspiration in these pages.

Kitchens and Baths 1-2-3 (Merideth Books, 1999).

From the folks at Home Depot comes a terrific book. The layout is easy to follow, there are lots of color photos and step by step instructions on how to do things like plan projects,tear down walls and install kitchen cabinets. At the beginning there is a "renovation road map" that will give you an idea of all the steps involved. This book is a must for those seriously considering a remodeling project.

Cottage Style edited by Denise L. Caringer (Better Homes and Gardens, 1998).

Cottage style is one of the more popular trends in home decorating these days. It features worn painted furniture, straw baskets, flowered chintz, faux finishes and white wainscoting. The cottage style is cozy, feminine and often feels too busy to me but this book has been wildly popular in my library and I found some inspiration in the lush photographs. However I think I want my interiors to be easier to maintain and that means fewer dust-catchers (my late Mother's term for knickknacks).

Waverly Inspirations: Your Guide to Personal Style (Meredith Press, 1999).

Fabric stores are among my favorite places to browse (after libraries and hardware stores) and I found this book a visual feast of rich patterns and colors. If you like the traditional styles of Waverly fabrics you will surely find inspiration and some practical advice within these pages.

Mary Emmerling's American Country Details by Mary E. Emmerling (Clarkson Potter, 1994).

An older book which caught my eye at the library because unlike most decorating books it is small enough to be handled easily. The photos are small and laid out in a grid four to a page with text explaining the idea. So every page has a lot to offer an there are almost 200 pages of photographs. I particularly liked the mixture of the sublime and the ridiculous; an ornate antique mirror above a sideboard which uses a rusty Coke machine as its base. Lots of great ideas here.

Organized Living by Dawna Walter (Conran, 1997).

Oh how I loved to get organized! Cleaning drawers and closets gives me such a great feeling, but after a few weeks my efforts seem to no longer be noticeable. I guess organization is an ongoing process that has to be worked at constantly or it gets away from you. I have yet to find a book that keeps me organized but looking at the pretty pictures in this one is very inspirational with stunning color photos and helpful tips.

Sandy Schultheis is a librarian with the Evansville-Vanderburgh Public Library. The opinions expressed in this column are personal and do not reflect policies or official recommendations of EVPL.