On her new HGTV show, “50K Three Ways,” Tiffany Brooks knows how to make homes look more luxurious on a tight budget. Sometimes this involves adding new features, but other times it’s about hiding what you’ve got.
In the episode “Modern Revival,” Brooks helps clients Greg and Ashley Day as they try to make their old home in Chicago a little more functional for their family of five.
“It’s a bit compartmentalized. It’s a lot of small spaces,” Ashley says of the wonky layout.
The Days have just $50,000 to update their Tudor house, so Brooks shows them three separate plans to make this house feel bigger. There’s one option where she’d turn the attic into an office and play space, another where she’d finish the basement, and a third where she’d update the kitchen and living areas.
Greg and Ashley decide to renovate the kitchen and living rooms, since they are where the family hangs out most often. Here’s how Brooks renovates these spaces, which contains plenty of take-home lessons you can apply to your own house, too.
Faux marble counters can look as good as the real thing
Brooks knows that one of the most important things in a kitchen is a great countertop. It needs to be durable, beautiful, and cost-effective.
She saves money by using a manufactured marble countertop instead of real marble. With those savings, she’s able to give the island a waterfall edge on one side, which adds some extra elegance to the kitchen.
In the end, these classy counters cost only $4,200, making it much cheaper than real marble while having a similar look.
“It adds an instant look of luxury, which makes this kitchen look like it cost more money,” Brooks says.
Look-alike materials can give your kitchen the right style on a budget—and no one needs to know it’s not the real thing!
Use a variety of paint colors
Brooks chooses a stunning navy color for Ashley and Greg’s new kitchen island, but when it comes time to paint the wall, she doesn’t want the space to look too matchy-matchy.
“I don’t want to do blue again—I’m going with a green,” she says.
She chooses a very light green, which brightens the space while still adding a bit of extra color.
Brooks loves the hue paired with the navy island: “They do look good together!”
Try laying tile in different directions
With the paint colors and countertop picked out, all that’s left to do is choose the right finishes. Brooks wants to give this house a midcentury modern look, so she picks a simple yet stylish white hexagon tile for the backsplash.
Still, she wants to make this kitchen look unique, so she installs this tile horizontally, “just to be different,” Brooks says.
This design proves that it may be a good idea to look at tile from different angles before installing it in the kitchen, the shower, or even the floor. Thinking outside the box could give your home a custom look, at no added cost.
A radiator cover is a cheap way to hide an eyesore
This old house has two radiators with old covers—one in the dining room and one in the family room. These dated radiator covers can be eyesores, but Brooks points out that they can be replaced easily. Right away, she gets to work picking a design.
She gravitates toward one pattern, saying, “I’m thinking about doing this hexagon pattern because I’m looking at doing that for a backsplash and this may be a really cool way to tie in the two motifs.”
Once the new covers are installed, they’re sturdy enough to be used as seats—plus, their clean white color and stylish pattern make them feel like they truly deserve a spot in this home.
Incorporate old and new furniture
To finish this renovation, Brooks pays special attention to the furnishings. After spending more than anticipated fixing some structural issues, she doesn’t want to break the bank by buying all-new furniture and decor, so she spends only about $12,000 on furnishings.
“By sprinkling in some new furniture, plus some antiques, and using some of the things that they already had, I was able to come in on budget,” Brooks says.
In the end, this mix of old, new, and already owned blend together seamlessly to create a beautiful living space.
A faux glass wall can make a room multifunctional
Ashley expresses a desire for a home office, so Brooks comes up with a plan to renovate the attic and put both an office and a playroom in the space, separating the two with a faux glass wall.
“The timber wall, ceiling, and the plexiglass divide this area and complement each other beautifully,” Brooks says. They also are a smart way to keep an eye on kids without hearing them, so it’s easier to get work done without distraction.
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