I have written before about my buddy Earl who did such a bang-up job painting my living room. The reason I still enjoy the solace of that room is the incredible attention Earl paid to the little details. All the paint lines are perfect – I’m not exaggerating. There are only clean, crisp lines butting different colors together - perfectly straight - with no overlap. Such a talent. Because of this, I experience the room's ambiance,  not its flaws.

You may think I’m being overly dramatic but the thing is, I’m probably not all that different from most of your female clientele. When all the dust settles, how your project “feels” may far outweigh everything else. After all, your clients  have to live in that room.

On an earlier job -- before I found Earl -- I was so upset when I saw a previous color peeking out from behind an electrical outlet in my kitchen.  Every day I would see that sloppy job because the outlet was right next to my kitchen sink. You can imagine how often I would grumble at that painting company. It imprinted their name on my “Do Not Use EVER AGAIN List.”

See, here’s the thing – I can paint that poorly myself, and many homeowners look at the annoying little details and think that exact same thing. Pay attention to how the project feels. It’s a big picture thing. Then look closer to find out why it feels the way it does.

I am now having new hardwood installed in my dining room and kitchen. I purchased some quarter round for the finishing touch and learned a good lesson. There is a big difference between quarter round and shoe mold! (Okay, I’ll admit not knowing this even though I've worked in this industry for 14 years and was married another 14 years to a contractor.) Shoe mold’s slightly narrower profile and flexibility is a far more attractive finishing touch then rigid and bulky quarter round. Details.

I was told I should return the quarter round for shoe -- which I did -- and, wow! Aesthetically a much simpler, cleaner finish. Now, if I had large gaps to cover, quarter round would have been the ticket.

So here’s the point. Every day I am thankful for Earl. You may think those nail pops are a minor detail, but trust me, they are not. Those “little things” are the difference between a great referral and a destructive, aggravating annoyance. —Kathy Shertzer is office manager at DuKate Fine Remodeling, in Franklin, Ind.