Tips for Decorating on a Budget

Decorating on a budget? Skilled labor and materials add up fast. You don’t want your project to become a financial burden. Each step should meet your re­quirements and reflect your tastes. Rule of thumb? It’s best to get structural needs figured out and accounted for first.

If you are calling in a contractor, three bids are­ recommended and request references. And, if feasible, visit a project the contractor has recently completed.

Trips to home centers, show­rooms, and furniture stores will help you establish a realistic figure. If the amount involved isn’t large and you’ll be able to pay it off in a month or two, the simplest way to handle it may be to put it on a credit card.

Remember, though, credit cards often have the highest interest rates. Talk to the employees at your bank, and use the Internet to explore every avenue from home-equity loans to refinancing. Check with the assessor’s office, too, to determine the selling prices of homes in your neighborhood.

Kitchen and bath upgrades can return as much as 70 to 90 percent of their cost at resale. However, experts caution that it’s not wise to invest so much that you significantly raise the value of your home above others in the area. Later, should you decide to sell, it could prove difficult to recoup the money.

If you’re handy, lessen expenses by performing a portion of the labor yourself. Discuss this with the contractor, and make sure it’s noted in your contract. Ripping up an old floor and hauling away debris are possible money-saving tasks. But use common sense, please: Dangerous materials, such as those involving asbestos or paint containing lead, should be left to the experts.

With all of today’s options, high-end materials are not the only answer. Keep an open mind, and when the price is too steep, find a substitute within the budget. Can’t afford handmade Italian tiles? Ceramic tiles that mimic their warmth and color are an affordable alternative.

Different contractors, a variety of fabrics, multiple furniture stores…It can be difficult to keep track of all the items involved in decorating a home. On the next page, learn how to organize your decorating project.

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