Bravo’s Jeff Lewis offers best tips for winter home projects

NORTH HOLLYWOOD, CA - MAY 22:  Television Personality Jeff Lewis arrives at Bravo Media's 2013 "For Your Consideration" Emmy Event at Leonard H. Goldenson Theatre on May 22, 2013 in North Hollywood, California.  (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
Jeff Lewis is known for flipping out over the details of home renovations. In fact, his Bravo reality TV series, now in its eighth season, is named just that: “Flipping Out.” But the Los Angeles-based designer knows what he’s doing when it comes to home decorating and remodeling — and he’s offering his best tips for your winter home projects.  (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
HUNTLEY, IL - AUGUST 19:  John Calendo hangs vinyl siding on a newly-constructed home August 19, 2008 in Huntley, Illinois. According to the U.S. Commerce Department new home construction fell in July with builders breaking ground on 965,000 units, the lowest level in more than 17 years but, still more than the 950,000 units analysts had expected.  (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
1: Learn how to work with contractors Before starting a renovation project, Lewis recommends meeting with at least three different contractors to compare options and prices. Ultimately go with the contractor you feel most comfortable with, Lewis says, but also study the bids — and read between the lines. (Getty Images/Scott Olson)
white meter tool forming a house and engineering tools
1: Learn how to work with contractors Lewis says he recently worked on a pool project in La Jolla, California, and was reviewing the bids of three different contractors. All of the businesses came in with different budgets, but one contractor’s was much more detailed than the others’. “Even though he was more expensive, what I realized was that the other guys had excluded probably 12 different items,” Lewis says. “Sometimes a contractor will come in and they’ll give you a low number, but they’re missing a lot of things and they’re going to end up hitting you with change orders, which is going to push you over budget.” (Thinkstock)
RICHMOND, CA - JUNE 26:  A construction worker uses a saw to cut wood as he builds framing for a new house in a development June 26, 2006 in Richmond, California. A report issued by the U.S. Commerce Department stated that sales of new single-family homes were up 4.6 percent in May. The median price of homes sold in May slipped to $235,300, down 4.3 percent from April.  (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
2: Don’t be afraid to bring in new contractors  If you’ve done a renovation project in the past and were pleased with the work, there’s no harm in bringing in the same contractor. However, Lewis likes to shake things up every few years. “I always try to keep my contractor pricing in line, but even if I’ve used someone for the past five years, I will always eventually bring in a new person. It keeps everyone’s prices in check,” Lewis says. (Getty Images/Justin Sullivan)
Beautiful Kitchen Countertop, Cabinets, and Island
3: Select and purchase the materials yourself  Often times, contractors will give allowances for specific materials, such as tile and countertops or appliances. Lewis says one way to save money — and get what you want — is to take the material allowance out of the budget; just ask for a bid on labor. “I can guarantee that allowance is not going to cover what tile choice you’re going to make,” Lewis says. Instead, cut costs by purchasing the tile you want yourself and have it delivered to the house. “Any time you can cut the contractor out of the process, it’s going to save you money. They want to buy the tile because they want to mark it up,” Lewis says. “Plus it’s a lot more fun going to a store and picking out what you want, versus the contractor bringing you four choices and saying, ‘This is what your allowance will afford you.’” (Thinkstock)
Spacious living room with modern decor
4: Small changes can make a big difference   Sure, a new kitchen, a spa bathroom and a mudroom addition will enhance the look of your home, but you don’t need to undergo a massive project to update your space. Lewis says small updates can make a big difference. Even adding a plant or rearranging your coffee table can freshen up a room. “Taking off all those old People magazines and bringing in some beautiful coffee table books and some accessories and a couple of candle sticks and a plant and bringing in a new throw to put over the old sofa, bringing in a rug,” Lewis suggests. (Thinkstock)
Interior room detail
4: Small changes can make a big difference If you’re looking to rearrange a space, consider moving your furniture away from the wall. “I always like to float the furniture in a space and then maybe anchor it or define it with a [smaller] rug. That way, rather than spending $600 on a 9×12 rug, you’re spending $200 on a 5×6 rug.” If you’re worried moving the furniture away from the walls will make your space look too small, Lewis says it’s time to talk about editing a few pieces out of the room. You don’t need eight chairs and a sofa in the living room, he says. Keep it to a few, and adjust the space as needed. “You can bring those chairs in when you have company. You don’t always have eight people over.” (Thinkstock)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - MAY 28:  Stephanie O'Brien inspects the kitchen in a home for sale during an open house on May 28, 2013 in San Francisco, California.  According to the Standard & Poor's Case-Shiller index, U.S. home prices surged 10.9 percent in March compared to one year ago, the largest gain since 2007.  Phoenix, Arizona recorded the largest gains with prices spiking 22.5 percent and San Francisco, California was a close second with gains of 22.2 percent.  (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
5: Investing in a remodel? Don’t go too modern Taking on a big project? Want it to last at least twice as long as it’s going to take you to pay for it all? Lewis says stick to clean, classic designs and stay away from anything that’s too trendy. Ideally, he says, a new kitchen should still look “new” a decade later. “If I just redid your kitchen and you have to redo it in four years, I failed you. I need to get you at least eight to 10 years out of that kitchen,” Lewis says. That doesn’t mean you can’t make a few minor updates during the span: refinish your cabinets or swap out the hardware. “But I think you have to be very careful about prescribing to the latest thing,” Lewis says. (Getty Images)
Gold Taps and Marble
5: Investing in a remodel? Don’t go too modern If you like the current trend of “modern farmhouse” and reclaimed materials, you’re in luck. Lewis predicts the look will stick around for a while longer. “I like it because it’s kind of a throwback to an earlier period. And I think it really warms up a space. It also adds layers,” he says. Copper, rose gold and brass metals are also on trend — especially for hardware, he adds. (Thinkstock)
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NORTH HOLLYWOOD, CA - MAY 22:  Television Personality Jeff Lewis arrives at Bravo Media's 2013 "For Your Consideration" Emmy Event at Leonard H. Goldenson Theatre on May 22, 2013 in North Hollywood, California.  (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
HUNTLEY, IL - AUGUST 19:  John Calendo hangs vinyl siding on a newly-constructed home August 19, 2008 in Huntley, Illinois. According to the U.S. Commerce Department new home construction fell in July with builders breaking ground on 965,000 units, the lowest level in more than 17 years but, still more than the 950,000 units analysts had expected.  (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
white meter tool forming a house and engineering tools
RICHMOND, CA - JUNE 26:  A construction worker uses a saw to cut wood as he builds framing for a new house in a development June 26, 2006 in Richmond, California. A report issued by the U.S. Commerce Department stated that sales of new single-family homes were up 4.6 percent in May. The median price of homes sold in May slipped to $235,300, down 4.3 percent from April.  (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Beautiful Kitchen Countertop, Cabinets, and Island
Spacious living room with modern decor
Interior room detail
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - MAY 28:  Stephanie O'Brien inspects the kitchen in a home for sale during an open house on May 28, 2013 in San Francisco, California.  According to the Standard & Poor's Case-Shiller index, U.S. home prices surged 10.9 percent in March compared to one year ago, the largest gain since 2007.  Phoenix, Arizona recorded the largest gains with prices spiking 22.5 percent and San Francisco, California was a close second with gains of 22.2 percent.  (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Gold Taps and Marble

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