Ready to finally tackle some of those home improvement projects that you’ve been putting off for months? Or perhaps you know your home needs some changes but you don’t know where to start? Well, neighborhood home renovation expert Jeff Strong of Urban Strong is here to help.
Featured in recent Dallas Morning News and Dallas Business Journal articles, Urban Strong has restored homes in Oak Cliff for five years. Jeff Strong has developed a reputation in the area, having restored dozens of homes throughout north Oak Cliff with both a vision for the future and a sensitivity to the past. His knack for renovation combined with modern design is showcased in his revival of the South Dallas gem on South Boulevard, just blocks from Fair Park.
What is Strong’s main piece of advice for improvement novices? “Be creative and keep it simple,” he says, explaining that homeowners can make a big impression with some simple changes.
Be Brave with Interior Paint
Paint can change the outside of a house for sure, but it can also turn around a boring or dated look inside a home. Besides considering the oft-employed red dining room approach, Strong suggests shaking things up even more: “Consider painting white or off-white trim a mid-tone or dark color.” He recommends Benjamin Moore’s Black Bean Soup or Sherwin-Williams’s Black Bean, for instance, combining the bold trim with a neutral wall color. Strong says that a darker molding can add a look of sophistication without much expense.
“Just be sure to tape well,” he recommends, and you can complete the project in a couple of days.
Give Your Cabinets A Face Lift
An easy way to make a big change in your kitchen, Strong says, is to alter the look of the cabinets. There are many ways to approach this project, from inexpensive repainting and hardware modifications to professional refacing. These options remain much less of a financial commitment than replacing cabinetry altogether.
“Look through magazines to get some ideas,” Strong suggests. “You can create a really nice look by painting lower cabinets a slightly different color than upper cabinets.”
And cabinet refacing can give homeowners an entirely new appearance. “Even putting in a glass door or two can help add some elegance to your kitchen,” Strong states.
Changes in room lighting can make a big difference in a home’s atmosphere. Strong suggests adding numerous smaller light sources rather than one bright light in a room: “I like the softer effect.” From updating light fixtures to adding recessed lighting, Strong explains that a handyman can often complete straightforward wiring. “Even adding a dimmer can enhance a room’s feel. And for simple wiring like that, you can rely on a handyman or even do it yourself,” he explains.
Strong has a lot of experience working with older and historic homes in the area, and he loves incorporating antique pieces in his projects. “My favorite location for period lighting is www.rejuvination.com,” he shares. “They have an amazing selection of older-era and replica fixtures, and you can search by time period or style. They include a wide price range so almost anyone can find something there.”
Be Bold in the Bathroom
“The bathroom is the easiest room to make big changes for little money,” Strong says. Replace sink hardware or add sconces, he recommends, or consider trading a cabinet sink for a pedestal model. Even mirrors and paint colors can make a big impact in these smaller rooms.
“As long as you don’t retile or move plumbing, it’s easy and inexpensive to transform your bathroom into a whole new place,” Strong explains. His latest technique is putting older, wooden pieces of furniture in bathrooms as cabinetry. “They add a rich, substantial feeling to the room,” he says.
Improve First Impressions
What’s the first thing
you see when looking at your home? Your front door, of course, and Strong says a new one can make a big difference. From stripping and staining, to repainting, focusing on the front door can really give your house a face lift.
“Consider looking at salvage yards for a new door to restore and hang,” Strong advises. “Of course many Oak Cliff areas have historic guidelines, but you can often find very well-kept, historically accurate doors to enhance your home’s charm.”
Strong’s final word of advice: “Know when you need help.” When in doubt, he says, call a handyman. These all-purpose workers can fix things beyond the average homeowner’s reach, and they can tell you when you might need further professional consultation. Considering large-scale changes like moving walls or gutting a kitchen? “At least speak with an architect or kitchen designer,” Strong suggests, “to help you understand your project and make the best decisions possible.”