Interview with remodeler Karina Neel

kr3-300x199Karina Neel talks about her family’s remodeling project. Karina and her husband Ryan own Nor Cal Legacy Builders in California. It is interesting to hear what a builder has to say when talking about their own remodeling project!

1. What was the most enjoyable part of the process?

The final product. It’s so fun to see every thing come together.  I also enjoy picking everything out, because I love shopping.

2. What was the most difficult/challenging part of the process?

Picking the “look”. There are so many directions to go. This time we went with what I call “country meets modern”. We picked some finishes that aren’t “popular” and so that was bold for me. But I knew it would all work out in the end.

3. After the project was over, what advice would you give a fellow remodeler?

Don’t skimp where it matters. If you really want a certain sink or countertop, go for it. It will pay off in the end result.

4. Did you set a budget? If so, did you keep within your original budget?

Yes and yes. We did all IKEA which allowed us not only to say with in the kitchen budget, but also get some extras.

5. Is there any decision you would change?

Not on this project. But I have in the past.

6. What was the most difficult decision to make?

Again, the “look”. I was scared to go with the white cabinets and the butcher block counter tops. It’s so not what people are doing, but I just liked the look.

7. Would you consider another remodel based on this experience?

Of course.

8. Was the timeline of the project the same as you expected?

Yes! We were redoing our entire house, so once we got to this part, it seemed like it went by quickly. That also had to do with some of the finishes we choose.

9. What obstacles came up, if any?

Well, since we went with IKEA I had to design the entire kitchen and order everything myself. I had a few miscalculations. But I was able to return the items and reorder. We had also gone with the butcher block counter top and ordered them well before we were ready to install them. Though we stored them weighted on a flat surface, there was some bowing that occurred. But with my husband’s mastery of the saw, he made it work.

10. What is your favorite room and why?

My kitchen! It’s the highlight of the house. I think it’s because it’s where I allowed the most style to come out

11. What type of floors did you use?

We used laminate by Quick Step, Hickory color
12.  Did you hire a professional installer or install them yourselves?

My husband and I did it ourselves.
13.  If you installed the flooring yourselves, do you recommend this?

We have done this many times. But I have to say, we learn something new every time. A trick of trade. If you are somewhat of a DIYer and have a simple space to floor (ie-not a lot of edges/closets…) you should go for it! Save yourself some mula! It is very rewarding.

Flooring 101

appia-antica-ivory-rustic-32x-32-inch1-212x300For those of you out there that don’t find floor covering fascinating and spend your weekends on Google to learn all you can about floors, here’s a run down of the basics. This information may help you understand about your options and what you need to know when you decide you want new floors.

1. The main categories of flooring are:


Vinyl or Resilient Flooring



Ceramic or Porcelain Tile

Natural Stone

To learn more about these categories and to see different styles see the information outlined on our parent site or just click on the link above.

2. Technology and design styles have had significant influence on flooring. Other than the basics flooring types listed above, there are also styles of cork flooring, bamboo flooring, glass tiles, stainless and other metal tiles, rubber tiles, natural fibers like seagrass and sisal and many others – even paper!

3. Not all floors are acceptable on all foundation types.  For example, most solid hardwood floors cannot be installed on concrete slabs. Be sure to know your foundation type before you start shopping.

4. Flooring is measured and sold either by the square foot or the square yard. Be careful when comparing prices that you are comparing apples to apples. If a hardwood tag says “$4 per SF” and a carpet tag says “$18 per SY” and you don’t see the one letter than distinguishes the two, you might think the hardwood is less expensive than the carpet.

5. Allow a retailer give you an estimate on your room size to determine how much flooring you will need rather than building your budget from your own measurements. For example, if you have a room that is 13′ x 13′ you will need different quantities for different flooring materials. Some items are sold by the box and carpet and vinyl are sold from a roll that could be 12′, 13’6″ or 15′ wide. Since you have to buy items that are sold by the box by the full box (and take the waste factor, pattern match and pattern repeat into consideration) and items sold on a roll by their given width you could need anywhere from 190 SF over 300 SF for a room that actually measures 169 SF.

6. Different floors are made for different lifestyles. For example: You may love hardwood, but if you have large dogs hardwood may not be the best choice for you. If you have dark hair, white bathroom floor tiles might not be the best choice for you.  If you have small children and pets, white carpet may not be the best choice for you.

7.  Keep transitions to other rooms in mind when choosing flooring. Floors have different finish heights and those heights can vary depending on your subfloor. Floors with different finish heights will need to be treated with a transition strip. Transitioning from a (low) vinyl/resilient floor to a 3/4″ solid hardwood floor can be significant. Transition strips are no big deal, if you know in advance to expect them.

8.  Keep resale in mind. Because floors like hardwood, ceramic tile and natural stone are costly and rarely need replacing due to wear, consider how long you are going to live in your home before choosing your floors.  Your favorite color may be blue, but a house full of blue floors may be a turn off to a potential buyer. If you do choose to express your style with a house full of blue floors, be sure that you won’t tire of looking at the same color after a while. However, I am definitely not suggesting choosing all beige floors for resale purposes!

9. It is important to consider maintenance. If you don’t like to clean, there are flooring options with very little maintenance that also stand up to heavy traffic and pets.

10. Floors come in a variety of different styles and that means that they also come with different budgets. Be careful when shopping that you don’t rule out a particular flooring type because of the first priced sample you see. There are some vinyl floors that are as expensive as a hardwood floor and there are prices ranges within each type of flooring that can be as much as $20 per square foot.

The floors in your home are a big decision. They take more wear and tear than most any other item in your home. Other than your walls, your floors consume the majority of the square footage in your home. Choose a floor type based on the fact that you will probably live with it for a very long time!