Tag Archives: budget

Painting Power

If you are trying to make a huge impact on your interior design project with a teeny-tiny budget, paint is your friend.  Continue reading

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Minimum Investment, Maximum Impact

Not every interior design project needs to start from scratch.  On one of my recent projects, my clients were happy with their master bathroom and kitchen backsplash tile.  However, they wished they had added more detail to the tile when they built their home originally.

That’s where I came in!  Instead of tearing all the existing tile out (why would we, when it’s in great condition, they still like it, and it’s expensive!) we simply removed specific tiles and replaced them with glass accent tiles.

Now, there was still a fair amount of noise and mess involved with the project, and not all of the tiles removed from the walls did so in one piece.  Since the homeowners had extra tiles stashed in their basement to replace any casualties, we were set to give the kitchen and master bath a fresh new look!

The bathroom tiles are glossy, contemporary glass mosaics.  The kitchen backsplash incorporated rustic glass tiles with slate.  When I get photos of the kitchen backsplash, I will be sure to post them for you.

For minimum investment of time and money, my clients are in love with their home all over again.  Let me know what you think – gets your wheels turning doesn’t it??  This could be done in your home, too!

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Curtains For Me

I FINALLY got around to making a little cafe curtain for my newly-repainted bathroom.  If you recall, I removed the wallpaper in this bathroom during the summer, and painted Sherwin Williams “Vast Sky” on the walls.  The window used to be covered with a very sad, very dusty vinyl mini-blind – leftover from the previous owners of my home.  Just last week, I finally completed the cafe curtain:

My bathroom window - finally pretty!

If you have never made a cafe curtain, you may not realize that they can be a little bit of a pain – at least for those of us who are not gifted seamstresses.  I can sew a straight line (barely), but adding a lining to this curtain made everything more complicated.  I have a new appreciation for my drapery workrooms, and will never complain about pricing!  What they do is so specialized, and it’s something I cannot do for myself (or at least, I don’t want to do it myself).  That, alone, makes their labor charges well worth the money.

I used a fabric from Greenhouse Design (link on the right of my blog), and I just LOVE it!  My mom calls it a Dr. Suess fabric – and I can see why.  The brightly colored, but stylized floral pattern is outlined in black – much like the illustrations in a Dr. Suess book.  Since the art of Dr. Suess is some of my all-time favorite stuff, that’s just fine with me.  This tiny little curtain adds so much personality to my little bathroom, at a minimum of cost.  One yard of fabric was all I needed, along with a $8 tension curtain rod.  Let me know what you think!  Design on a budget can still be fun!

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Color Trends for 2010

Cooler temperatures and shorter daylight hours have us spending more time indoors as fall creeps toward winter. Taking some time to refresh your home now will leave you yearning for those cozy days of December!

The colors to watch for in the upcoming year incorporate many of the tones and textures we have been seeing in fashion for the past several seasons. Believe or not, even the current economic climate has an effect on color trends! Look for four main color groupings in interior home fashion for 2010.

As the economy struggles, people look for a reminder of better times – nostalgia for the “way it was” The reuse of our existing furnishings and fixtures in new ways has been a popular trend. People like to recycle items instead of simply throwing them away. Decorating with flea market finds, and discovering treasures from days past have been common themes in recent months, and this trend will continue well into the new year. Several time-honored and time-worn colors reflect this theme perfectly; look for Smokey Blue, Caribbean Coral or Interactive Cream from paint company Sherwin Williams. These tones are mellow and aged, evoking a sense of a treasured heirloom.

Throughout the country, people are looking for ways to simplify their lives. From books on controlling clutter, to the explosion of yoga classes available today, we want to slow down, relax and create a sense of calm in our lives. Look for this trend to show itself through the continued move toward the gray palette. From warm, putty grays such as Sherwin Williams’ Enigma to cool, steely grays like Magnetic Gray from the same company. This trend does not leave gray to its own devices, however. Look for grays to be paired beautifully with warm tones, such as Butter Up, a gorgeous soft yellow from Sherwin Williams. The mix of warm and cool tones keep this palette interesting, soft and sophisticated, not loud or brash.

Our quest to simplify also leaves us longing to explore our roots. The simplicity of ancient tribes, such as Native American, African or Aboriginal cultures, is reflected in both the colors and the patterns of the upcoming year. Geometrics and tribal patterns will dominate fabrics, in hues reflecting the mystery and enduring qualities of these cultures. Look for Red Tomato, Oceanside and Rookwood Amber from Sherwin Williams to get a good feel for this trendy palette. These are rich, comfortable tones, reflecting the earthy qualities of these far-away places.

Anyone watching the news today longs for some good news. As the economy begins moving forward again, our spirits are lifted. This feeling of hope and optimism about the future is reflected in the last major color palette for 2010. Think of colors that make you happy; how about Fun Yellow, Summer Day, Verve Violet or Animated Coral from Sherwin Williams? These vibrant, fun tones will brighten your day, and make you feel like you are on a perpetual vacation when you incorporate them into your spaces. Just how do you make these trendy new hues work in your home? The key is in moderation.

When fixing your home up this fall, do not fall into the trap of thinking you cannot be trendy without spending your entire budget on a whole new decor. By simply adding a few punches of these hot new color tones to your space, your room will take on a whole new look. For example, that buttery yellow leather sofa you bought 5 years ago? Add some crisp, gray linen pillows and a faux mink throw, and your tired sofa of yesterday bursts into the new year with style. Or, the bedroom with safe beige walls? Bring in a new piece of art incorporating tropical tones or an antique side table in distressed green or blue hues. How about adding a rug to your wood floors, both to warm the space as temperatures fall, and to add texture, pattern and color to your room? Bring in a rug with rich reds and blues in an African or Native American motif to spice things up a bit. Paint the old armoire collecting dust in your attic, and bring it into your family room for extra storage. Add texture to your windows by installing woven wood shades and incorporating a colorful valance or drapery panels to add warm to your space. A new, eye-popping lampshade could be just the thing to add pizzazz to that tired corner in your living room. Mixing the old with the new is the key to bringing the latest trends to your home without spending a ton of money. And, you will get a one-of-a-kind look that no one else can match.

Check out the paint colors I mentioned at www.sherwinwilliams.com, as well as coordinating fabrics and trims at www.robertallendesign.com. A little paint and a yard of fabric can go a long way to creating that cozy winter getaway you desire – even on a budget.

Get the print version of this article in the October/November 2009 issue of Valley Women & Beyond magazine, a free publication found in the St. Croix and Mississippi River valleys of Minnesota and Wisconsin.

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When to Reupholster?

I am often asked about reupholstering furniture.  Especially in this time of budget-concious and green living, clients (and potential clients) are curious about having their existing furniture reupholstered, instead of replaced.  But, does reupholstering always make sense?

I have found that reupholstery is not always the most cost effective option for redecorating a room.  Labor costs and fabric quantities add up, and clients aren’t always prepared for the final costs involved with reupholstery!  For example, the “average” sofa costs about $2000 to reupholster.  This price can vary dramatically, based on the style of the sofa, whether cushions need to be replaced, the repeat of the fabric, etc.  Obviously, one can buy a new sofa for less than $2000.  However, one can also find many sofas that cost well over $2000!

There are three main reasons I recommend reupholstery of furniture.  First,  if your furniture piece has sentimental value, or is a precious antique, it is almost always worth reupholstering the piece.  These types of pieces cannot be easily replaced, so the costs are easily outweighed by the sentiment and memories attached to the piece.  Image014

Likewise, if your furniture piece is of amazing quality, it is almost always worth reupholstering.  For example, a sofa which originally cost you $5000 15 years ago, is well worth reupholstering for $2000.  To replace that $5000 sofa today with a piece of comparable value, would probably cost you more than 3 times the cost of reupholstering your existing piece!

Third, if your existing furniture fits just perfectly in your space, it often makes sense to reupholster the piece, rather than to find something new.  If you have been furniture shopping recently, you have noticed that furniture has gotten really LARGE overall.  Overstuffed sofas, chairs-and-a-half and ottomans are all huge, and often not scaled to most family homes.  If you have a small-scale sofa that fits perfectly under your living room window, you may not be able to replace it easily with a new sofa that fits as well.  So, even pieces of less quality may be worth reupholstering, rather than beating your head against the wall trying to find an equally perfect piece for your room!

If you are unsure about whether your particular furniture pieces are worth reupholstering, and you wonder about the costs involved, contact an interior designer.  A designer can help you figure out the best options for you, help you select fabrics that will enhance your spaces, and arrange to have the entire project taken care of for you.  The fun thing about reupholstery, is that you can select several fabrics to be used on one piece, add fringe or other trims, add nail heads – the options are endless.  It’s definitely worth the investment.

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Beautiful Countertops on a Budget

Countertops are one of the easiest, and most common, changes that are made in kitchen update projects.  Clients are often interested in upgrading their current countertops to quartz, granite or another solid product.  (Check out my earlier post on the differences between granite and quartz countertops for details on those options.)  However, what if your budget does not allow for a complete upgrade to stone?  Well, you have a couple different options to consider.

First, you could use stone on an accent area only, with a lower-priced counterpart on the remaining portions of the kitchen.  For example, put granite on your island, as that area is most easily seen by guests, and most often used by the homeowners for tasks such as meal prep, homework and conversation.  Likewise, quartz could be installed only on the raised portion of the kitchen island or peninsula – your “snack bar” area.  Again, this offers a punch of color, pattern and “upgrade” without requiring the budget for installing a stone product throughout your entire kitchen.  Generally, I try to find a coordinating laminate that is different from the stone; trying to match a real stone with a laminate is not a great idea – the imposter will always be detected when put up against the real thing.

A second option is to use plastic laminate on all your countertops.  Laminate is beautiful in its own right, with thousands of patterns available.  New finishes now make it look even more like real stone, but without the “cool” feel and the extra-hard surface that stone offers.  Again, with the amazing laminate patterns out there, I don’t often feel the need to use laminate to replicate real stone; let laminate be laminate, I always say.

I just found a new laminate, however, with an amazing look!  Formica just came out with a new laminate option called 180fx.  With a HUGE pattern repeat, and the swirls of real granite, this is a fantastic option for a kitchen upgrade on a budget!  If you select the right edge profile detail, I think the average person would be hard-pressed to determine whether this is laminate or real granite.  Check it out and let me know what you think.  Upgrades and updates can be made on any budget, with the right products!

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Cheap Eats

If you, like me and every other family in America, are trying to cut costs wherever you can, food is a great place to start.  I have found some fantastic websites that can help you do just that.  If you are looking for some frugal recipes and shopping tips, check these out:

http://www.5dollardinners.com – this mom can literally feed a family of 4 for under $5 each night!  She is a savvy shopper and knows how to eat well for less.

http://www.debtproofliving.com – Mary Hunt is the author of the Cheapskate Everyday newspaper column, and has tips on saving money throughout your everyday life.  However, she also has archives of some great recipes that save you time and money.  Make-ahead mixes, like a biscuit mix, are great alternatives to more expensive store-bought brands.

http://www.hillbillyhousewife.com – Tips on all kinds of saving!  And some fun recipes, too!

http://www.thegrocerygame.com – This site will show you the weekly specials at your local stores, plus match them up to coupons and tell you where to find them!  There is a small charge to use the resources, but you save more than that each week with coupons!

http://www.thesneakychef.com – This isn’t really a frugal site.  But, I think many of this author’s recipes lend themselves to budget cooking.  For example, when cauliflower is on sale, you stock up and cook and puree it for use in future recipes.  It stores really well in the freezer until you need it.  Plus, as an added bonus, your kids get veggies into their tummies without knowing it!  🙂

What great frugal cooking sites have you found?  I would love to hear about your favorite finds – I’m always looking for new ways to save a buck!

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