Budget Bliss
Interior Home Improvements
September, 2008 - Issue #47
photography by Ted Dayton
Getting the most for your money is no longer just a bonus; it's a necessity. Local pros share insider tips on how to save cash without losing style.

Small Changes, Big Results

Rearranging a room can transform its look instantly - for free. Then bring the elements together with the perfect accent piece. A functional table chest that complements the colors of the room - while hiding your never-ending supply of remote controls - can provide major impact for little cash. Bliss tip by Bill Schneck of Ambience Furniture 288-2534

Import a Conversation Piece
Incorporating international styles into your home creates a unique look that lasts through fast-moving trends. You can find beautiful hand-carved, hand-painted teak pieces from India and Thailand close to home. A hand-carved teak bookcase for $600 will become a conversation piece you will want to keep around for a lifetime. Look for independent importers with genuine products so that you know you are getting your money's worth. Bliss tip by Jennifer Bruce of Rustic Revelations: International Home Decor 799-2833

Think Outside the Box
Soon-to-be moms usually start planning their baby's nursery around the obvious: the crib and changing table. Don't get caught up in buying expensive "big box store" furniture - know that your baby is eventually going to make teeth marks on the crib rail and pull, scratch and dent the changing table. Get creative - recycle an old dresser into a changing table. Bliss tip by Amy Montz of Icing on the Cake Interiors 414-6205

Instant Gratification
When your eyes are bigger than your pocketbook, look for remarkable values in custom slipcovers, upholstery and a vast inventory of decorative fabrics and leathers. If your furniture is past saving, get great-quality furniture at a discount price by purchasing a floor model. If you see something you like, take it right off the floor for a generous discount. Bliss tip by Scott Hazarian of Sofa Interiors 254-9090

Slip into Savings
Instead of buying a new sofa or chair, give it a fabulous facelift with a slipcover. Prices start at around $200, making slip covers a great budget alternative. In the end you will have a new sofa or chair for about half the price of a newly-purchased one. Bliss tip by Debbie Francis of Debbie's Sewing & Interiors 294-9894

Recycle Treasured Pieces
Don't replace your old furniture! In 90 percent of the cases, a reupholstered piece will be indistinguishable from "new," and will save you 40 percent or more compared to buying something from the furniture store. Bliss tip by Tom Fisk of Coming Home Fabrics 255-5023

Think Green

Basswood shutters help reduce energy costs due to their high insulation factor. They add beauty to any room and your heating and cooling costs will be less. Shutters are a window covering that will last for years, saving you money in the long run. Many window coverings save you money in the short run, but offer little insulation and can soon be in need of repair or replacement. Also, synthetic shutters are petroleum based and costs are rising. Basswood, which is a renewable natural resource, provides benefits to the earth as well as your pocketbook. Bliss tip by Marna White of CountryView Shutters 800-980-7838

Save Now
About 40 percent of the heat that escapes from your home leaves through the windows, and 50 percent of the solar heat that enters a room comes in through - you guessed it - the windows. Obviously, bare windows can translate into excessive utility bills. The most energy-efficient window treatments feature a honeycomb construction. The cells actually trap the hot or cold air, decreasing the intensity of the temperature as it enters the room. Offering greater energy efficiency, greater sound absorption and a radiant color palette, Hunter Douglas' Architella is the next generation of honeycomb shades that can potentially reduce overall energy loss by 30 percent. Plus, save $25 per window, now through August 31. Bliss tip by Tami Smight of Tami Smight Interiors 430-0127

Dress to Invest
When money's tight, every improvement to the home should be viewed through the lens of "investment." Shutters are the only window covering that will increase the value of your home, which is so important in this market. Still, you don't need to break the bank. Window treatments can be had starting at $99 per window, and home consultations are free. Bliss tip by Justin Dubberke of Budget Blinds 219-4284

Upgrade and Cut Costs
With energy costs constantly on the rise, why not upgrade your house to dual-pane low-e-three windows? They are guaranteed to pay for themselves in energy savings. Don't fall for the "big box" saving gimmicks that advertise below-cost windows. Most don't tell you about potential hidden fees, and they usually don't stand behind the warranty. Bliss tip by Shauntel Anderson of Action Window & Door 295-6905

Saving Time is Worth the Money
Our most popular product, the plantation shutter, is a fantastic investment. Our Alpine Plantation shutters will do an extraordinary job of cutting down on those high utility bills, but another unquantifiable savings is time. Shutters are almost maintenance free; they don't require regular dusting, like traditional blinds, and they are built to last. When you consider the lifetime cost of shutters versus cheaper, less-well-made window coverings that will require multiple replacements over the life of your home, folks come out "on top" financially when choosing shutters. Bliss tip by Krista Jaimes of Alpine Shutters and Window Fashions

Kitchen & Bath
Creative Backsplash Solution

Get the most for your money when remodeling a bathroom. Liners can run from $15 a linear foot to upwards of $100, but there are many ways to get the same look - or better - for a quarter of the price. I design liners with mosaic sheets, which cut the cost drastically and add a custom touch. And instead of purchasing a whole slab of granite for $1,000, opt for a remnant; they start at $300. Bliss tip by Heidi Gragg of Advantage Tile Stone Design 295-9821

Spa Day, Everyday
Manufacturers like California Faucets provide every item you need to turn your shower into a spa-like experience, and they can be purchased "a la carte," so you get just what you want and nothing more. Choose from body sprays, rain heads, shower heads, hand-held kits and steam shower systems. Your "dream shower" could be as close as a couple of hundred dollars away. Bliss tip by Eddie Glenn of My House Plumbing and Hardware 254-2875

Design on a Dime
When choosing a design for your kitchen, avoid cabinets that are different than stock sizes. For instance, if a customer wants to have a particular part of the kitchen look more like furniture, the depth of the cabinet might be 26 or 27 inches. This is two or three inches more than standard. It offers a deeper counter, but the cost of the additional depth may be several hundred dollars. The counter top and the drawer material as well as the wood all would be more expensive. Try to keep within stock depths to get more for your money. Bliss tip by David West of David Bryan Woodworks 312-1964

Put Your Money Where Your House Is
You might be in need of more space and functionality, but buying a new house now could hurt you and your pocket. Start a small remodel project that will get the most results. Remodeling your existing kitchen and/or bathroom will not only give you more space but will add value to your home. You could add little things to create more space: shelving, pull-out drawers and frameless custom cabinets. This way you get the most out of your existing house, and your money. Bliss tip by Nick Oz of Dannick Design 775-7430

Paint, Moulding & Stairs
Painter for a Day

With an entry level service, called the Painter-for-a-Day Program, you can maintain your home starting at $550 a day. A lot can be accomplished in eight hours. Use the PFDP to paint a bathroom, bedroom, tall living room or just touch up the baseboards throughout your home. It's the little details that often produce the biggest results! Bliss tip by Joshua Abramson of A.Allbright Painting

Affordable Addiction
You can change the look of your home by painting or adding crown moulding to just the room your family spends the most time in. Instead of spending a few thousand, you can spend a few hundred - but still notice a big difference, especially if it's the room in which you will be doing most of your holiday entertaining. Bliss tip by Jon Green of Mint Condition Painting & Moulding 251-5521

Do It Yourself
For under $500, you can add a custom feeling to your home by dressing up your ceiling with crown moulding. For the home owner that is a DIY'er, with the proper tools, a simple crown is something that you can do yourself in a weekend. Bliss tip by Virginia of SCV Moulding & Design Center 295-6905

Ascending Beauty
The first thing you see upon entering most homes is the staircase,
so if yours is outdated, it can really have a negative effect on the rest of the space. New staircases can get costly, but refinishing is an excellent alternative. Painting the balusters, or even replacing them with iron and refinishing the golden oak wood handrails and skirts with a rich brown stain, equates to a gorgeous "new" staircase without the price. Refinishing a staircase handrail and skirt starts around $850, about half the price of entry-level replacements. Bliss tip by Fabian Varela of American Fine Finishing 775-2706

Finishing Touches
Creative Clean-Up

Declutter your house on the cheap. The best solutions for storing larger items are clear plastic containers, so you can easily identify what's inside. You can often find these on sale at discount stores. Avoid unnecessary expense by being creative and using old checkbook boxes, paper clip boxes and other small boxes to act as drawer dividers. Egg cartons and ice cube trays are a great way to sort hardware like screws, nails, nuts and bolts, too. Bliss tip by Bob Farkas of The Clutter Wizard 298-9100

Grounds for Greatness
Rugs are a great way to kick your decorating up a notch. They add a burst of color and texture; plus, they can draw attention away from - and protect - older carpet. Rug manufacturers are continuously bringing new and innovative technologies to their process to reduce cost and create amazing new looks. Many rugs are affordably priced between $200 and $500. Bliss tip by Ben Griffiths of Brent's Carpet One 255-3337

Reflection of Perfection
A mirror is an affordable addition to your home and often the ideal finishing touch. We suggest beautiful, embellished, old-antiqued beveled mirrors, which are priced under $100 for a 39-inch by 51-inch size. The quality craftsmanship and detail make them impressive additions to a room. Plus, mirrors reflect light and can make a room appear much larger. Bliss tip by Teri Seigner of Real Deals Home Decor 753-9033

Guiding Light
Holiday entertaining is right around the corner and now is the time to add those final touches that really are "wow" inspiring. Sparkling European crystal chandeliers and table/floor lamps feature hand-woven string shades and come in many styles. The look is timeless, elegant and unique - and majorly impressive. Where else can you get something so special for $450? Bliss tip by Natasha Gagarin-Hussain of Simplese 260-3377

Inspired by Color
Give a room a whole new look this fall by building a color scheme around one chair or piece of art. For example, use a burgundy chair as a launching pad for autumn hues - colors that blend with burgundy yet distinguish it as the main color. The remainder of the palette can come from a new accent pillow on the chair. You can use these colors on painted walls, throw rugs or accessories to give your room a fresh new look without spending a lot of money. Bliss tip by Ginger Green of Consumers Furniture Gallery 259-9609
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