Stretching the Decorating Budget

Use standard elements in custom ways.

If you purchase a typical 12” x 12” stone tile it’s possible to cut the tiles in order to create a unique pattern. In a foyer, you might start by outlining the space with a border of 6” x 12” tiles, then add three rows of 2” x 2” tiles and fill in the centre with 12” x 12” tiles. This creates the look of a pre-finished mosaic pattern at a fraction of the cost.

In the kitchen, select typical 6” x 12” subway tiles, but use them to create a dynamic pattern such as a running brick pattern (where tiles are staggered) or a more complex herringbone pattern.

Similarly, it’s possible to combine stock elements with custom elements. In a kitchen renovation select stock cabinetry for lower elements but upgrade to custom uppers. (Improve the appearance of items at eyelevel where the immediate impact is most noticeable). In the bathroom, work with stock cabinetry but opt for a stone countertop and custom hardware. In fact, replace uninteresting hardware wherever possible. Today’s choices are limitless with finishes ranging from pewter to porcelain, glass to nickel.

Mix and match at different price points

A sure-fire way to create an impression of greater spending power is to mix and match different price points. Choose good basics from affordable resources such as IKEA, Home Depot and Home Sense. Then toss in a few splurges such as a cashmere throw, decorative toss cushion and an artful display collection; kicking the whole room’s style quotient up a notch.

Embellish standard choices

Window coverings are often a great expense. Work with ready-made drapery panels and enhance them by adding trim. Hand-stitch or glue a flat braid or tasseled fringe along the inside leading edge of each panel, from top to bottom. Similarly update an ordinary lampshade with a ribbon border along the bottom rim.

Architectural enhancements such as crown molding and baseboards add depth and history to rooms. If your moldings are too small it’s possible to improve the scale by adding a narrow strip molding 2” above existing baseboards and 2” below existing crown molding. Paint the crown (or baseboard), the 2” gap, and the new strip molding as one unit and you’ll create the illusion of more substantial architecture.

Store bought shower curtains often ride high above the floor, creating an awkward view. Add a fabric hem at the bottom of a standard shower curtain to create a custom look.

Give a humble piece of art the appearance of value over-sized matting and framing. A small print surrounded by an 8” matte, has the presence of something more valuable. Consider investing in original artwork as well.

Seek out local artisan sources or art colleges to gain access to student showings where original works are affordably priced.

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