Editor's note: This is the first of two parts. Q: We just made our last mortgage payment on our 1980s-era rancher in Pleasanton, Calif. We like living here. There's plenty of room for us -- especially now that the kids are gone -- and the neighborhood is great. Trouble is, with its wall-to-wall carpeting, off-white walls and skinny baseboards, it really looks drab and dated. And did I mention that the kitchen and both bathrooms are vintage original? Now that we've got some extra money, we want to spruce up the joint. Any advice on how to bring our place into the 21st century? A: We've got plenty of ideas for you, but because of the scope of this project let's talk about your bedrooms and living room first. We'll save the "wet rooms" -- the kitchen and bathrooms -- fo...
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