Jill Weinberg of Refind Interiors recently hosted a panel discussion on home remodeling at Pauline Grace’s showroom. Local experts in lighting, kitchen and baths, tile and stone, and home furnishings gave tips on how to successfully tackle a renovation project. Here are some tips I picked up from the panel:

Jill Weinberg’s pre-construction tips:
-Before you even start, flip through magazines and keep a file of looks you like.
-Determine how you want to use the space you’re renovating
-Prioritize and set budget.
-Build in a 15 to 20 percent cushion for those inevitable unforeseen costs.

Kate Solovio of Materials Marketing on trends in stone and tile:
-Natural stone tiles cut in an elongated plank size to mimic wood floors are the new hot thing (see photo).
-Also look for beveled and stainless steel tiles.
-Add interest to your room with bamboo and wood mosaics.

Community Home Supply’s Julie Bower on kitchens and baths:
-Go green!
-By January 1, 2010, high efficiency toilets, or toilets that hold 1.28 gallons of water per flush, will be required. Consider installing these and low-flow faucets.

Jeff Wonsetler from Lightology:
-Today’s standard lightbulb is being phased out for more energy-efficient version.
-Screw-in, dimmable LED fixtures are the future.
-Compact fluorescent bulbs are will soon be required, so don’t buy fixtures that won’t accommodate them.

Pauline Grace’s Megan Hinchsliff on design trends:
-There’s a lot of chocolate brown out there, and a bright, chrome yellow seems to be accent color of the moment.
-Vinyl is a popular right now—it wears like leather but is less expensive, and it’s easily cleanable.