Some imitations just make sense: Lumber giant Weyerhaeuser sells a fast-growing natural eucalyptus hybrid under the brand name Lyptus. Sustainably harvested in plantations in Brazil, the clear-grained hardwood looks and feels remarkably like mahogany. It's sold as toungue-and-groove flooring and in planks and sheets for cabinetry and millwork. (Visit Lyptus.com to find a distributor near you.)
Instead of hanging a painting on a bare wall, accent it with a rich, velvet curtain background. "Curtains just create a great, calming energy in which you feel very shrouded and comforted, making for a luxurious and restful environment," says Framel. "And being able to put a really great pop of artwork in front of that textural colored backdrop has a lot of impact."

But why scale back a project or forgo that Viking range? No, what you need to do is get your dream at a price you can afford. And not by cheaping out, either. With some strategic thinking about design, materials, and timing, you can cut costs without cutting corners. On the following pages, we'll show you the ways, from the big (knock down the house and start over) to something as small as choosing a wall sconce over a recessed light. But another universal truth about renovations is that every little thing adds up. So save a little here, save a little there, and pretty soon you're talking about real money.


Any good contractor will have no problem providing references, and copies of liability insurance before a job begins. Don’t rely solely on client testimonials, search out actual customers that can give you a firsthand account and answer any questions you may have. For any project, ask to see before and after images of a contractor’s prior work, and most importantly—trust your gut and know which questions to ask.
For bathrooms, overhead lighting is very important.  As for ambient options, you can always consider the use of a sunken track lighting, frosted glass fixtures, or even rice paper. Likewise, perimeter lighting is also capable of creating both soft, ambient glow, as well as useful light. It’s also highly advisable to consider using pendant lighting. Something like this allows the scattering of light into the direction that it gives the illusion of a beautiful centerpiece ceiling.
Sure, your eyes may want the most modern, chic couch in the showroom. But your back may not. "In my experience, it's really better to test out seating and take the time to look at the dimensions," says Sharon Blaustein. If you're tall, for instance, you might want to opt for a depth of between 40 to 42 inches for a sofa (rather than the standard depth of 36 inches).
If you're doing your own project, slash your materials-delivery fees by picking up goods yourself. No pickup truck? For about $400, you can purchase a nearly new single-axle utility trailer online, which you can tow behind your SUV. Get one just big enough to carry 4-by-8 sheet goods flat. Use it for a half-dozen trips, and it's paid for itself. Find trailers for sale near you via eBay Motors, or try your local classifieds.

It's time to start thinking of transitioning your decor from Christmas to winter. Winter is such a peaceful, quiet and beautiful time of year. It's about snuggling in warm blankets, drinking hot cocoa around a fire in the hearth, enjoying time with family and friends. Just because the holidays will soon be over, doesn't mean that the fun has to stop. Grab a mug and listen in.
Until a few decades ago, all bathrooms were small—most were no larger than 5 feet by 8 feet, providing just enough room for a tub/shower combination, vanity, and toilet. You might think that the smaller the bathroom, the more challenging the remodeling, because how can you create openness and space without tearing out any existing walls? Luckily, homeowners who plan to work with what they’ve got may find that smart choices in colors, fixtures, and amenities can make a small bathroom look and feel larger than its actual square footage. We asked Joe Maykut, a product manager for Sears Home Services, to share with us the design tactics that work best for homeowners stuck with small bathrooms—and boy, did he deliver. If you’re itching to remodel your bathroom, the following eight tips will help you make the most of your small space.
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