Remodeling (and Disposing of) Your Living Room

Once upon a time, the living room was the gathering place of friends and family. Every part of our time at home seemed to center on a space so important to our home that we named it after our primary task: living.

Today, much of the work of a living room has been turned over to the family room or den, a space carved out or given over to a large screen TV, movie-quality speakers, and multiple game devices and streaming services.

Our living rooms have become more formal. They are our house in it’s Sunday Best clothing.

The decision to redo the living room should keep this in mind. Here’s a guide to how to decide what to keep, and how to dispose of the rest.

The couch: Every living room has at least one multi-person couch. Large, dramatic, with distinct features that helped form the character of the room, sometimes it is the first decision made in a space, and all others happen around it. Is it in good shape, though maybe a little work. A good re-upholstering is often expensive, but slightly cheaper than a whole new sofa. But it is is heavily scratched or dinged, perhaps from a pet years ago, or another piece of furniture placed too close, it needs to go.

If you must dispose of your couch: consider giving it to a second-life furniture outlet like St. Vincent DePaul. Often these places will send a truck and a couple burly folks over to your house, and for a small price you can save yourself the big work, and know it’s going to a second home.

The carpet: The carpet in your living room was the most used feature especially on the corners or pathways where people walk while passing through. If it is not worn, and If the colors still work for your new vision, keep it. Otherwise, it’s got to go.

If/when you dispose of your carpet or rug: There really isn’t a second chance for carpeting or a rug. Think about renting a Big Daddy Dumpster for your project, it just got big.

Comfortable chair: This was likely, at some point, matched to the couch. It should face the same fate. Keep it and reupholster it if you can.

If you must dispose of your comfy chair: Donate it, unless it is too badly damaged to re-use. In that case, throw it in the dumpster.

Window treatments, art, and wallpaper: I hate to say it, but they’re the most likely casualties of the decision to remake your living room. They did what they needed to do, but they were unique to their location. For the most part, they’re difficult to remove in a way that preserves them. And no one can use them again.

When you dispose of curtains and wallpaper: Dumpster.There just isn’t a second life for them.

What Size Dumpster Do I Need?

One of the biggest challenges in doing a major remodel project around the house is finding the right size dumpster. This is because there are so many variables.

There are lots of sizes to choose from.

They are built on a scale that is difficult for the average person to visualize.

Most people rarely need to rent one, so we have no experience.

It is hard to imagine how big your project will look when it is dumped in a dumpster.

We are going to try to demystify the process a bit.

Garbage Bags

You’ve probably already looked at the website of a local dumpster dealer and you’ve seen a picture of an average scale human standing in front of an average scale dumpster.

This is meant to be helpful. Really it is. However, we seldom think of our garbage as being scaled with our body.

Instead, we are much more familiar with the size of a garbage bag. We handle those frequently. We have a sense of their size.  So in order to help you visualize it, we are going to explain it in terms of garbage bags.

Your dumpster choices will be marked in terms of “cubic yards” or “yd³”

On average, 1 cubic yard looks about like a medium size dresser, or about 6 trash bags.

Your smallest dumpster choice, the transition point where it makes more sense to rent a dumpster than to put it out in your own trash can, is 10 cubic yards. So this is about 60 trash bags.

  •             10 yd³ = 60 trash bags
  •             15 yd³ = 75
  •             20 yd³ = 120
  •             30 yd³ = 180
  •             40 yd³ = 240

Pickup trucks

OK so maybe garbage bags aren’t how you think. Maybe you are a do-it-yourself kind of person who understands what it means to throw a shovel in the back of a pickup truck, or what it means to load the pickup truck with mulch or dirt.

And besides, it does get pretty challenging to think about size in terms of 60 garbage bags.

Let’s measure in pickup trucks.

  • 10 yd³ = 3 pickup truck loads
  •             15 yd³ = 4-5
  •             20 yd³ = 6
  •             30 yd³ = 9
  •             40 yd³ = 12

This is an especially helpful measure when you are imagining each of those pick up truck loads being driven to your local dump. If it’s right around the corner three trips is no big deal.

However, if you’re like most folks who are doing a big fix-it-up project around the house, the local dump is NOT right around the corner.

And the further away it is, the more time and effort it adds to your project to haul everything there yourself.

Now you’re loading, driving, unloading, driving back … multiple times. And this is time added to the work of demolition or removal.

Many people might even choose a 10 yd³ dumpster to avoid that pain and hassle of even one or two trips to the dump.

Also, you should round up, and get the next biggest size if you are unsure. No one is judging you for not wanting to make any more trips than you have to. Or making no trips at all.

We hope this guide helped you with your project.

Big Do-It-Yourself Projects

Home prices are skyrocketing and the housing market is struggling to keep pace with demand. In this market, many homeowners are choosing to take on major renovation projects around the house.

 

These major projects probably require a contractor, though the handiest of fix-it people might try to take these on themselves.

 

Here are popular projects based on the value they add to your living space.

 

Basement renovation:  few renovation projects add square footage as efficiently as a basement remodel. There are lots of ideas for how to do it, but full agreement on why: usually the infrastructure is in place for an economical expansion. Better yet, basement renovations often yield high returns on the investment. Homeowners who later sell often realize more than 70% return on their investment in a basement.

 

Kitchen renovation: kitchen renovations are among the most complex, costly, and time-consuming projects a homeowner can take on. At around $100 per square foot, they can really set a homeowner back. Nationally, owners report that they only return between 50% and 60% on their investment in a sale.

 

A kitchen remodel almost always means working with electricity and water, so often the work involves coordinating multiple professionals and managing their schedules. Unfortunately, many homeowners must plan to leave their house for a period of time for a kitchen renovation.

 

Adding a room: Adding new space can be an attractive way to renovate your house. Adding a mudroom, breakfast nook, or even a full guest room over the garage, can be accomplished without adding expensive foundation elements. There are lots of ideas for where and what to add, and a wide range of costs. Picking the project that will be most useful for your family is important.

 

Renovating a bathroom: Bathroom renovations can be almost as powerful as kitchen renovations in shaping your quality of life. There is not another room where you are certain to visit at least twice a day, and no space knows you as intimately. Making the space larger, warmer, and adding storage are common adaptations. Expect a bathroom renovation to return nearly 70% on investment, according to Zillow.

 

 

Remember, despite information about the return on investment, there are even better reasons to take on these renovations. They simply make your space better.

 

More than one homeowner has taken on a major renovation to prepare for a sale, and decided to stay. They found that their new space was better than any house they might find on the market.