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by - June 02, 2011

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(Not So) Extreme Makeover Keep up with the Joneses, without spending like them

by Trae Bodge A kitchen designed by Mise en Scène Design
Are you struggling to compete with your neighbors? Is your block overrun with construction crews who seem to be making endless tweaks to nearby homes? Not all of us can afford the latest and greatest in home design. In this tough economy we have to prioritize, so our non-urgent home updates have fallen to the bottom of the list. But never fear! We polled the experts and came up with some great suggestions for those of us on a budget.

Kitchen Cabinets
The kitchen is often the showpiece of a home, so it’s a great place to start. Home staging expert Hadas Dembo, of Mise en Scène Design in New York City, offers the following advice: “People don’t realize that kitchen cabinets are simply boxes with doors. There’s no need for a gut renovation: Your kitchen can look like it’s had a complete makeover by just switching out the front faces. IKEA is a good resource for this. To complete the look, Restoration Hardware sells great cabinet pulls inspired by designer brands at a fraction of the cost.”

Bathroom Grout
Dembo also offers a helpful suggestion for bringing back the sparkle to a bathroom. “If your bathroom tiles are looking grim, chances are it’s the grout that’s really the problem. Try using a grout coating such as Tile Guard. It restores grout lines to white and polishes the tile at the same time.”
I’ve had personal success with this!
matching pillows and table accessories in a living roomDecorative Accents
Interior designer Robin Baron, the president of Robin Baron Design in New York City, says that adding a splash of color can make all the difference. “Oftentimes, it’s a room’s accent colors that make the biggest impression,” she says. “To reinvigorate a tired space, switch out old accessories with those in a new, bold color. Start with the room’s existing color scheme and define a complementary color or a color combination that you’ve admired elsewhere. Take a color swatch and jump around town from Target to HomeGoods to secondhand stores searching for accent pillows, vases, bowls, and other accessories in interesting shapes and textures. In just one afternoon you can change the whole look and feel of a room without spending loads of money!”

Sofa Update
Jeanine Boiko from OneCheapB*tch, a craft and thrift-related blog, weighs in on one of the largest and most prominent pieces of furniture in the home: the sofa. “So your next-door neighbor got the latest Pottery Barn couch? Don’t get green with envy, beat them at their own game! So what if you can’t splurge on a new couch? Making over the one you have is relatively easy. In a word: slipcovers. Check out stores like Ikea, which offers inexpensive options in pretty patterns that will leave your old couch looking brand-spanking new. Throw pillows are another way to dress it up. Artisan sites like offer a ton of affordable pillow slips in all shapes, sizes, colors, and themes. When you find some you like, head on over to a craft store such as Michael’s for inexpensive pillow inserts.”

Realtor Gianna Botbyl, a star agent in Montclair, NJ, emphasizes the importance of grooming the home’s exterior. The Joneses are likely spending a fortune on landscaping, but we shouldn’t be intimidated. “In summer, a little landscaping and trimming goes a long way, as does healthy green grass,” she says. “In winter, make sure to removed any dead leaves, especially in the front and keep your walks clear of snow. These simple things give polish to any home.”

Tell us what budget-friendly ideas you’ve come up with to freshen up the look of your home.
Photo credit: Hadas Dembo, Mise en Scene Design, NYC

Trae Bodge is a beauty and lifestyle writer based in New York City.

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  1. You are on quite a roll girl and you deserve it!!

  2. Thank you for good ideas. Have you tried IKEA COUPONS


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