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HOME RENOVATION, BEN WATTS–STYLE The photographer’s laissez-faire attitude toward life didn’t preclude him from buckling down and getting serious about his remodel. Here, his top tips on negotiating the famously murky process. watch your budget “It’s important to educate yourself and know the right prices for things. If you don’t take the reins, the horse will run wild.” find someone who’s enthusiastic Your contractor or interior designer should want the job; don’t put up with someone who takes too much time to return your calls. And check in at multiple points along the way. “You hope that you’re working with people who are thinking along parallel lines, but never underestimate someone else’s imagination; there could be weird decisions made [if you’re not paying attention].” bounce ideas off someone you trust In Watts’s case, his former partner, Jeanann Williams, helped drive many of the design decisions, down to the minutiae. “Even her choice in pillows and linens— things I wouldn’t normally even think about—I certainly notice and appreciate.” preserve the good stuff Old structures come with a lot of character and materials that could be repurposed for a more contemporary look. In his guesthouse, Watts reused wood from an old balcony as interior paneling. let your passions guide your design The look of your home should develop organically; allow your personality and tastes, however eccentric, to inform your aesthetic decisions. left A pergola-shaded outdoor dining table is an ideal spot for a casual buffet. right, from top An antique propeller adds a pop of color to the patio. The pool house, as viewed from the backyard. 174 Lonny Lonny 175