You love your home, but lately it seems so Ö well, drab and
boring. Redecorating can add a new look and feel, but how should you
spend your money? Local design experts give their advice about the
best places to spend ó and when it makes more sense to save ó if
youíre considering making some changes.
Save: A kitchen face-lift is one of the best improvements
homeowners can make. In fact, even a minor kitchen update returns more
value than any other home improvement project. "If youíre on a
budget, hold off on some of the more expensive details like an
imported tile backsplash, says Molly Madsen, co-owner of Affordable
Bath & Kitchen in Greenfield and Mequon. "Your kitchen can
still look fabulous without it and you can easily install the tile
several months later without disrupting anything," she says.
Splurge: Good quality countertops are an investment in the future,
Madsen says. "Countertops are one area of the kitchen where I
advise getting the best you can afford. It will pay off in the long
run," Madsen says.
Save: One of the biggest budget busters in a kitchen remodeling
project is appliances. To avoid buying new appliances all at once,
choose the one that is most out of date and then add others as your
Splurge: On the other hand, you may save enough on your electric
bill in the coming years to pay for the new appliances. For example, a
new refrigerator can use 40 percent less energy than an older model
ó and thatís a big savings. Look for Energy Star appliances. And,
do your homework. "You can pay for the name on the door, but you
can also get the same functionality from appliances that donít have
high-end names," Madsen says.
Save: Custom cabinetry can cost a fortune. "Instead of custom
cabinets, stick to plain stock cabinets. Or, keep the cabinets you
have and get more mileage out of them by painting them and updating
the hardware," Madsen says. "You might be surprised at what
a difference it makes."
Along those same lines, when you purchase new cabinets, you can
save by adding accessories after the fact. "Itís much cheaper
to buy cutlery trays and other things after market," Madsen says.
"And, if you wait, youíll have a better idea of where
linens are a relatively inexpensive way to update your
Splurge: People donít update their bedrooms very often, but they
are sometimes the rooms that most need it. "Spend your money on
quality furniture, even if itís only one piece," says Jadi
Bachman of Bachman Furniture in Milwaukee. "If youíre on a
limited budget, get a good quality bed and wait until you can afford
the dresser and night stands. This also goes for the living room. You
use your bed and your sofa every day so it definitely pays to buy
something that doesnít wear out in a year or two," she says.
Save: If you just want to make some quick improvements, simply
change whatís on the bed, advises Melissa Strowig, manager at West
Bend Furniture & Design in West Bend. "Changing the
comforter, pillows and other accessories can make a world of
difference," she says. "Use colors and fabrics that make you
feel relaxed and comfortable."
Splurge: When it comes to carpeting and area rugs, you usually get
what you pay for, advises Caroline Taylor, designer and owner of
Heritage Carpet and Interiors in Hartland. "Installing new carpet
is one of the most effective things you can do to improve a room. Worn
and dingy carpeting takes so much away from a room," she says.
Save: Create a new look by painting just the trim in your room. Or,
add wainscoting to the walls for a tailored look. "There are a
lot of small things you can do that create a big effect," Taylor
new chair to a living space can make an immediate impact
without breaking your budget, design experts say.
Splurge: "Multifunctional items are a great investment,
especially if you are short on space, living in a condo or small
house," Bachman says. "You can buy an ottoman/coffee table
that also serves as a storage piece. We even sell a sofa that has
storage space underneath," she says.
Save: To make a statement without spending a lot, consider adding
an accent piece such as a new chair or a desk. "A new occasional
chair or decorative table chosen correctly can make a real
difference," says Claire Hochrein, owner of West Bend Furniture
Splurge: Painting is one of the best bets for a quick makeover for
any room, Taylor says. "Changing your wall color creates instant
results," she says. "Your color choices should be influenced
by the type and amount of light coming into the room. Different
exposures enhance certain colors. For example, northern light casts
more of a blue tone. You can create a mood with the colors you
Save: Window treatments are a budget-conscious makeover when
redecorating your room. Spend little money for a lot of impact in any
area of your home, especially the bedroom or living room, Strowig
says. "You can spend as much or as little as you like on window
treatments that can add real beauty to your room. Decorative rods and
blinds are still very much in style," she says.
Save: If youíre thinking of recovering your older furniture, you
might be better off spending the money on new furniture, says Bachman.
"Recovering furniture now costs about the same as buying new. Itís
worthwhile exploring the option," she says.
Save: One of the least expensive updates you can make to any room
is to simply rearrange the furniture. "Pull the furniture off of
the walls," says Bachman. "Everything does not have to be up
against the wall. Try floating the couch away from the wall," she
suggests. This also works in the bedroom. Try placing your bed on an
angle to give the room a completely different look.
faucets and tile are three areas to focus on in a bathroom
Splurge: Bathroom updates are one of the smartest changes a
homeowner can make. And, small improvements can have a big impact,
Madsen says. Whether in the bathroom or the kitchen, donít skimp on
the quality of the faucets you install, Madsen advises. "You use
your kitchen and bathroom faucets more than anything else in those
rooms, so you want to invest in something thatís high quality,"
Save: You donít have to buy the most expensive brushed nickel or
bronze finish faucets. "Chrome is back in style and it is
attractive and so much more economical than nickel or bronze. Many
people like it just as well," Madsen says.
Splurge: The right lighting makes a big impact in any room, but it
is essential in a bathroom or powder room. "The right light
fixtures are important; they can enhance your bathroomís theme and
make a dramatic improvement," Taylor explains.
Save: If you can only afford to do one thing at a time, focus on
what is most visible. First, replace the sink and vanity, then the
floor and then the tub, according to experts.
Splurge: Speaking of replacing the floor, tile is the way to go,
Madsen says. "You should get the best quality ceramic or stone
tile you can afford, but there is a wide range of prices, so it makes
sense to shop around."
One final word from these designers: Take advantage of the advice
of experts when youíre ready to make some changes. "Iíve seen
it so often ó people donít know how to choose colors to work
together," Taylor says. Bachman concurs. "I really advise
taking advantage of design services," she says. "For
example, if you purchase a new bedroom set or other furniture, we
offer our complimentary design services to help you select colors or
fabrics. And a designer can help you work your new pieces in with your
existing dťcor, which can be a valuable service." m