Luxury for Less

Our 15 budget-friendly ideas will dress up your kitchen, great room and master bath without breaking the bank.

Luxury for Less

From realistic faux-stone countertops to innovative kitchen gadgets, home accents have taken on an opulent flavor. Our list of affordable ideas will have you on the road to extravagance in no time—with plenty of leftover money in your home budget.

The Kitchen

1. Classy Counters If there's only one area you can afford to update, consider the countertops. Stone and tile are especially luxurious. If they are out of your budget, you can still fake the look with laminate countertops.

2. Haute Hardware
Upscale hardware will give your kitchen a sophisticated flavor without costing a bundle of cash. For a touch of luxury, consider brass, nickel or chrome finishes. For extra sparkle, buy crystal accents that reflect the natural light in the room.

3. The Gourmet Chef
Stainless-steel and black finishes are showing up on everything from toaster ovens to refrigerators. If you want the look, but not the price tag, consider steel-finished appliances.

To continue the gourmet ambiance for less, check out online auction sites for luxuries such as an Espresso machine, instant hot-water tap or chiller, and several warming drawers.

4. Everyday Indulgences
Convenience is underrated—it's one of the most luxurious gifts you can give yourself in the kitchen. Affordable features such as pull-out shelving, cabinets with lazy Susans, hidden storage and self-closing doors will make a big difference in your daily routine.

5. Beautiful Backsplash
Go for it—fall in love with the most expensive tile in your home store. Then, incorporate just a few of these tiles into a backsplash design. And you splurge a bit with the tile, because you don't need as much as you would with flooring.

6. Walking on Elegance Step up to sophisticated style by revisiting your floor treatment. If your budget allows, consider hardwood or ceramic tile. If not, consider faux-flooring options such as linoleum or vinyl tiles that mimic wood and stone and are more affordable.

7. A Custom Look
Create a custom look by mixing and matching stock cabinet styles and colors, and adding glass doors. This is a budget-friendly choice since you can purchase surplus cabinets at discount stores or flea markets and finish them in a rich, textured paint.

8. Lighten Up
Just by changing light fixtures or bulbs, you can alter the mood of your kitchen to make it feel more opulent. Incorporate decorative fixtures and recessed lighting, as well as under-cabinetry lighting.

The Master Bath

9. A Day at the Spa
Incorporate a spa flavor in your bathroom with smaller touches such as multiple showerheads in lieu of a pricey steam shower. Granite, stone or ceramic countertops also are suggestive of a spa-like setting and more affordable because you're covering a smaller surface. Faux-stone countertops are another option.

10. Toasty Toes
Radiant-floor heating is one of the hottest (literally) trends in home design today. While it can be pricey to install it throughout your house, it's more affordable in a smaller space such as the bath. Since radiant heat often saves energy costs in the long run, it's worth the initial investment.

11. Cabinetry as Furniture
There's a trend toward having a furniture look in the bath. That means furniture bases with feet, cabinets on top of counters and open shelving that displays rolled-up towels and bath lotions."

Save money by opting for stock or semi-custom cabinets at home centers and supplementing with glass doors.

The Great Room

12. Architectural Elegance
Add splendor to your great room with subtle architectural details that won't break the bank. Decorative base molding is a great way to up the style ante for less as is adding a chair rail in the dining area.

If you'd like to incorporate handcrafted timberwork, this is the room to do it. Even if you can only afford just one or two striking designs, go for it.

13. Faux Finishes
By using little more than a few cans of paint, you can recreate opulent wall treatments such as Venetian plaster and marble for a fraction of the cost. Or try textured wallpapers.

14. Sophisticated Slipcovers
While paying off your construction loans, give your old sofas a new lease on life. with a slipcover. They're are available in infinite colors, patterns and textures. The myriad styles are a far cry from the basic, standard-issue slipcovers of yesterday.

15. Dressing Up
A great way to create instant splendor is with elegant swags of sheer fabric. Drape the fabric loosely atop each window and let any extra fabric cascade down the side of each frame. Arched windows or odd-shaped windows can be dressed with balloon shades, Roman blinds or roller shades.

Read the full story in the June/July 2005 issue of Timber Home Living.


Story by Stacy Durr Albert
Photo by Cindy Thiede