A Central Ohio builder and decorator share tips for finding the right contractors for a home project-and tell us why they love working together.

When home renovations call for serious problem-solving, it helps to really trust your partner. That's why Todd Schmidt of Renovations Unlimited has a "go-to" decorator: Tracie McGarity of Acquisitions for the Home. Together (and for more than 15 years) they've tackled total home overhauls to room additions and plenty of projects in between.

"I just have the greatest respect for Tracie," Schmidt says. "She's a good listener, she's creative, current with trends and she makes it work for our clients."

Part of the duo's success is attributed to their attention to trends. While Schmidt favors universal design-the big-picture process of designing for multiple generations under one roof-McGarity appreciates the trend toward more simplified, de-cluttered and peaceful spaces.

As it's increasingly common to see grandparents living with their children and grown children living back at home, the traits of universal design help meet everyone's needs. Schmidt integrates private suites and common areas into his floor plans, bringing together family members while also offering privacy. He also uses age-specific finishes, varied lighting levels, wider door frames that can accommodate wheelchairs and tall countertops that are also adaptable for children by incorporating a concealed stepstool. McGarity then decorates the spaces with relaxing neutrals and elements that boost warmth.

Schmidt and McGarity agree first-time renovators should select a team that works best for them-and for the project type. Looking to renovate a master bath? Don't judge a builder on his or her deck, then. Love an interior designer's style? Talk with them about several past projects to get a feel for their overall aesthetic and how they most enjoy to work. Both Schmidt and McGarity suggest homeowners seek out strong referrals and interview each team about the size, scope, interpretation and pricing of the project. Perhaps most importantly, they insist thorough planning and scheduling prior to demolition is critical to avoid living amid the dust and debris.