Tiffany Brooks, star of “50K Three Ways,” knows firsthand that running over budget on a renovation is one of the worst (yet most common) mistakes a homeowner can make. But the latest episode of her new show proves there are always ways to trim expenses without compromising quality.
In the episode “Double Trouble,” Brooks meets with two sets of clients hoping to make big changes in their homes. While one couple has $50,000 to fix up their kitchen and family room, the other has just $15,000 to improve their living space.
Brooks will need to pull out her best cost-saving tricks to design spaces that will make these clients happy. Here’s how she does it, which might inspire some upgrades around your own home, too.
Add glass fronts to just a few kitchen cabinets
Brooks meets with Steve and Lainie Epstein, who want to make some improvements to their forever home. They have a strict budget of $50,000, so they can’t renovate the whole house; however, Brooks presents them with three great options to renovate either the kitchen and living room, master suite, or basement.
Steve and Lainie decide that updating the kitchen and living room (and getting rid of the dated oak finishes) is the best investment.
“When I think about what we do on our daily life, we’re in those two rooms all of the time. And the oak, it’s kind of killing us,” Lainie says.
So Brooks plans to do away with the oak kitchen cabinets, but before she can install the new, more modern cabinets, Lainie asks for glass fronts, which are an expensive upgrade.
Brooks knows that Lainie and Steve can’t afford to put in all glass, so she upgrades only a few of the cabinet doors.
“I have a new challenge here,” Brooks says. “I’ve got to pick out the cabinets that will create the most impact, and for less than $1,000.”
Brooks ends up using glass fronts on the end cabinet and the smaller top cabinets. By using glass on just these few doors, it saves a lot of money. However, it’s just enough to allow Lainie to display her prettiest china.
Add butcher block counters for a convenient prep space
To give this couple an extra functional kitchen, Brooks decides to install a countertop island that is part butcher block.
“Steve and Lainie want that functional butcher block, but they don’t want their entire island covered in it,” Brooks says. “So we do just a section.”
She spends just $350 on the section of butcher block, which gives Lainie and Steve’s island the best of both worlds. The island benefits from both the elegant look of a marble slab and the function of butcher block.
Repaint your staircase for a new look
While Lainie and Steve don’t have the budget to redo the whole house, they do want to update the family room, which includes updating the oak staircase.
“One of their main complaints coming into this project is all of the red oak,” Brooks says. “This is an opportunity to get rid of it. Let’s make it light and bright like the rest of their house.”
Still, Lainie and Steve don’t want to spend too much money updating their stairs, so they decide to simply paint the steps and the railing white and replace the carpet runner.
While Brooks originally wants to refinish the steps, she agrees that the white paint ends up looking great. It’s modern, clean, and inexpensive.
Dull floors are actually trendy today
Meanwhile, clients Penny and Reggie Lawrence want to give their living room a refresh, so Brooks gives them three design options. They pick an elegant option with a fireplace and a window seat. However, one of the first things Brooks wants to do is refinish the wood floors.
Brooks has the floors done, but when the work is finished, Penny isn’t happy. She says that she wishes the floors were shinier, but Brooks explains that a subtler look is more on-trend.
“Everybody is doing duller floors now,” Brooks tells Penny, “but we can definitely add the gloss back.”
Penny says she prefers the old-school look, so Brooks adds the gloss. In the end, she says, it won’t change the look of the room too much.
“There’s a lot of design decisions that I stand firm on,” Brooks says. “Penny’s floors were not one of ’em. Having the glossier floors is not going to mess up the style of the room.”
A window seat with storage is a great use of space
One way Brooks improves this living space is by removing some of the bulky furniture and replacing one couch with a beautiful window seat. The seats save a lot of space, and add extra functionality thanks to storage under the bench.
“We have storage that spans the width of the bench,” Brooks points out. “The design of this space is totally functional.”
This upgrade proves that a space can have lots of seating without feeling crowded.
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