Economical Ideas for Home Design

Despite dropping property values, remodeling your home or designing a new kitchen or bathroom is still one of the best returns for your dollar today. Whether you are making necessary repairs, or are finally ready to realize the home of your dreams, there is no denying that sometimes unseen costs can add up. To make sure that you maximize your home’s potential, keep renovation costs low, and get the biggest return on your investment possible, follow some of these simple suggestions.

Seek Out Remnants, Odd Lots and Seconds

One way to get a great deal on high end material is to take a look for unused and close out items. Stone yards will often have pieces of marble or granite left over from a large job that you can get for a fraction of the cost of buying the whole slab. The best way to make use of this is to choose your countertop first in a kitchen or bathroom remodel. This way, you won’t be tied to a specific color scheme and you can use the natural beauty of the stone to act as your pallet. Pull colors from the flecks of quartz or from the veins to create a harmonious look.

Odd lots are left over materials from a discontinued item, or a large return. They aren’t always out in the open, so be sure to ask at any floor covering or plumbing showroom if they have any for sale. You can often get items for just above cost this way. Be sure, though, to purchase extra material in the case of wood, tile or stone. You don’t want to run short on the job, and discover that the remainder of the material has sold, or worse, need a few pieces to do repair years from now, and find that there are no sources left.

Seconds are ceramic or porcelain pieces with a small cosmetic defect, often unnoticeable to the eye. This could be a dimple in the glaze on a toilet or sink, or an uneven edge on some stone tiles. These defects in no way detract from the functionality of the piece, and with proper installation, will often be undetectable. Again, it never hurts to ask at your retailer if they have any returns to due to “seconds”.

Go Green and Save

As green building becomes more popular, more and more companies are offering eco-friendly products. These can include flow restricted faucets, low flush toilets and recycled materials. Some towns will offer a rebate of up to $100 for a properly installed low flush (1.28 gallon) toilet. A plumber will be required for the installation; check with your town for participation and guidelines.

In addition to the immediate saving, green products, which often cost the same as their traditional counterparts, can offer years of saving in the way of less water used annually. Check out Toto’s E-Max flush system for performance and savings, and Watermark’s water saving faucets.

Go Big and Accent Small

One way to add some life, color and design to a space is to use accents such as borders or inlays. To keep the costs down, consider using sheets of mosaic in glass, ceramic or stone. The sheets can be cut down into strips that can be used as borders, or strapping or cut into individual squares that can be used as inlays or patterns.

A traditional border may cost $30 a linear foot, and while a sheet of mosaic may cost the same amount, a 2” border will give you 6 linear feet from one sheet, thereby making your cost less than $6 a linear foot. You can also get as many as 36 2” squares from a 12” sheet to use as inlays, making the cost less than a dollar a piece. It’s perfectly alright to mix materials as well, strapping marble mosaic around a polished porcelain for a foyer floor, or using glass as a border with ceramic subway tile for a kitchen backsplash. Be creative, and don’t be afraid to think outside the box. If you really love a material, you can often find ways to use it sparingly and dress up an otherwise neutral space with a little bit of something spectacular.

Be Sure to Research

One way to keep your renovating cost low is to make sure that you give yourself plenty of time to get the project done in, and you do your homework. Talk to at least three contractors, keep in mind that if someone is pricing their work high, it frequently means they don’t want the job, not that they are the most qualified.

Talk to the sales staff at various showrooms. They know their product and can offer all kinds of cost saving advice; remember doing it right the first time can often save you the most. Be sure to comparison shop, and try to get the best value for your money. To truly make a renovation fit your budget, make sure that it doesn’t need to be repeated within the next 10 years.

Visit your local library and take a look at various home decorating magazines for ideas. Check out the ones that you like, and bring them with you to shop. Be firm, and up front about what you want, and what your budget is. This will save wasted time and effort, and will help the designer or sales consultant direct you to the products that will suit you best on the first try.