Design Lesson

Design lesson: Balancing the budget

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Design Lesson

Design lesson: Balancing the budget

Regardless of budget, when it comes to renovating, there's only a certain amount of money available. That leaded glass front door may be worth the investment, but it's only possible if the overall plan incorporates some more modest choices. In other words, splurge on a stone countertop in the kitchen and you might have to forgo the gas fireplace in the bedroom. Staying on target involves a delicate balancing act between where you can spend big and where you need to save.

Dos and don'ts
DO replace an unattractive backsplash with well-priced ceramic tiles. Popular today are three- by six-inch subway tiles in bright white, butter, celadon and pale blue. Lay tiles in a brick pattern (staggered from one row to the next) or a dynamic herringbone pattern.

DO choose natural materials when possible as they're perceived to be of greater value. When the budget is limited, however, consider synthetic options that resemble their natural counterparts; for example, linoleum to mimic tumbled marble or a laminate countertop instead of granite.

DO replace an existing standard window with a gracious bay window. Add a window seat or banquette to gain valuable storage space.

DO trade an inelegant interior door for a glass-paned French door. The see-through solution allows light to travel between rooms for a feeling of spaciousness.

DON'T try to save by using inferior-quality paint. With painting, the largest investment is the labour; a superior product typically provides coverage in fewer coats and is easier to maintain.

DON'T rely solely on pot lights, puck lights and table lamps to illuminate rooms. Decorative sconces, library lights, lanterns and chandeliers improve atmosphere.


Image courtesy of Pottery Barn.

DON'T overspend on custom crown mouldings and baseboards. Instead, fake it. Choose a standard crown and baseboard, then install a 1⁄4-inch applied moulding two inches below the crown and two inches above the baseboard. Paint the entire area -- from crown or baseboard to the new strip moulding (including the two-inch section of wall) in a single colour.

DON'T resign yourself to a popcorn ceiling when a smooth one is what you crave. Instead of removing the granular surface, hide it with a sheet of drywall. It's an opportunity to fix lighting inefficiencies, too, as the new drywall will cover any damage to the ceiling.

Kimberley's 5 affordable kitchen cabinetry upgrades
1 A clean coat of paint and new hardware give tired cabinets a fresh start.

2 Exchange a pair of solid cabinet doors for glass-front versions to create a custom look and bring decorative dishes and glassware into the spotlight, as in this kitchen by interior designer Lara Neal of Toronto.

3 Consider applying wood moulding to the face of slab-front cabinets (those with a totally flat appearance) to create a panelled look.

4 Stretch your budget by combining stock cabinetry for the lower sections with custom cabinetry for the uppers, where the impact is more immediate. Or use stock cabinetry everywhere, except as part of a focal feature like a decorative hood over a range or glass-front cabinets above the sink.

5 Enhance the impact of dishes on display in glass-front cabinets by adding patterned wallpaper behind the shelves.


Image courtesy of Pottery Barn.
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Design Lesson

Design lesson: Balancing the budget