Springtime Encourages Residents to Renovate Homes and Yards

Photo | Kristy Crawford John Thomas and his wife, Angela Davis-Thomas, just finished an overhaul on the kitchen in their Villages of Urbana home. The duo enjoys home projects and is planning several this spring, including new floors in their home and a rock retaining wall in their backyard.

Photo | Kristy Crawford
John Thomas and his wife, Angela Davis-Thomas, just finished an overhaul on the kitchen in their Villages of Urbana home. The duo enjoys home projects and is planning several this spring, including new floors in their home and a rock retaining wall in their backyard.


The old adage says spring is the time to clean. But for many home owners, the weather warming up and a tax return check in the mail also mean the opportunity to bring fresh life into the house with renovations, decorating projects and time to tackle the lawn.

“When you remodel you get excited — it’s going to be new life in your home,” said Donna Dorman, client services manager at Dorman Home Remodeling, Inc., in Frederick. She added that the summer and fall are also terrific times to remodel.

Angela Davis-Thomas and her husband, John Thomas, just finished an overhaul on their kitchen and are about to tackle a springtime home project: new hardwood floors in the entire downstairs and part of upstairs. The Villages of Urbana couple said they love to get their hands dirty and work together.

“My husband and I love to do everything ourselves,” Angela said. Their home was in pre-foreclosure when they purchased it about seven years ago. “Rather than output a lot of the money having contractors do it, my husband is handy and what we can do, we do ourselves,” she said.

Their first project was the laundry room, which turned into what the duo laughingly calls “the Taj Mahal of laundry rooms.”

“I have multiple sclerosis, so there are a lot of things that mess with my equilibrium,” said Angela. “John redid my laundry room for me so I could have a chair in there. It became a major project.” Angela chuckled, adding, “Everything John does becomes a major project.”

John knocked out a closet to create more space, hung a chandelier, tiled the floors, installed a front-loading washer and dryer, and added a folding station. John even added a recliner for Angela. “It’s my favorite room in the house,” she said. “I love it.”

Angela said she feels lucky to be married to such a handy man. But John, a CTO for Northrop Grumman, does know his limits and contracts out what he doesn’t think he can do on his own, she said.

Elizabeth “Beth” Starrs, who runs Studio Starrs Interiors out of her home studio in Ijamsville, said this is the way to go. “I encourage people to try painting, tile, back splashes — but if they realize they are running into too many questions and they are stuck, they should definitely call a professional before they make an expensive mistake,” she said.

Angela said John taught her how to cut tile last fall, so she cut the Italian tile for the backsplash in their kitchen. John installed new appliances, completed the backsplash and installed lights under the cabinets. They hired experts to cut and install the granite countertops.

Donna Dorman said that if home owners are not sure where to begin or don’t have the time to do work themselves, a firm like Dorman Home Remodeling can help individuals “self-discover” their vision for the space. “I suggest investing time in the design portion,” she said. “You have to have a very good, solid plan.”

If you are thinking about the increasing or retaining the value of your home, the master bathroom and kitchen are good projects to tackle, she said. Dorman added that these projects help when trying to compete with a brand new house.

With the warm weather arriving in Urbana, John Thomas also plans to use the temperate days to put in rock retaining walls in the backyard. John Smallwood, who just launched his full-service landscape business, Lusher Gardens, in Dickerson, Md., encouraged residents to prep their yards for the upcoming season by mulching flower beds to keep down weeds and using a pre-emergent fertilizer in the yard to cut down on crab grass.

“A lot of homeowners tend to over fertilize because they want the quick results,” he said, adding that he begins each new property with a soil sample to get a base for properly treating the yard.

Starrs added that if home owners are looking for inspiration inside or out, websites like Houzz and Pinterest offer a myriad of photos that can help launch a project.

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