Fantasy remodeling is way more fun than fantasy baseball. We all do it - tear out pages from glossy magazines depicting the kitchen (or bath or sunroom) we wish we had. Often, the pictures have little relation to our actual homes or budgets.
My pile of inspirational clippings, for example, includes lots of glass-walled living rooms that look out onto swimming pools with desert views. But I don't live in Palm Springs, I live in Westwood, Kan. Even if I put in a glass wall, there would be no desert and no palm trees.
You'd think architects and designers would discourage this kind of daydreaming. But many encourage it. That's because even if the design ideas you tear out are pie-in-the-sky, they reveal important information about your favorite colors, materials and styles.
Still, once you move out of fantasyland and into real remodeling planning, it's time to step away from the magazine racks. Instead, ask around to find acquaintances or friends of friends who have recently completed a similar project. Most people will be flattered that you want to see their recently completed projects. Ask questions about what they'd do differently, what was worth the money, and what wasn't.
A friend of mine is remodeling her kitchen. She's been saving magazine photos for the entire 10 years I've known her. But touring a recently redone kitchen opened her eyes to critical design issues. For instance: Drawers are easier than doors in below-counter cabinets. And new molding should match existing molding.