Doing up your home, but don’t want to spend a bomb? Here are a few substitutes to get you going:
INSTEAD OF: False ceilings to cover wiring
GO FOR: Exposed electrical trunking – just let all the wires hang out. This is why so many hipster cafes are opting for the industrial look: It’s cheaper, and gives any place a retro feel that’s not too try-hard. It’s more of a hassle to clean than a false ceiling, but it’s (literally!) a small price to pay.
YOU SAVE: UPWARDS OF $3,500
INSTEAD OF: Tiling over a concrete or cement floor
GO FOR: An acid stain application, which brings out the natural texture of concrete or cement. You’ll get a marble-like result that looks just as finished as a tiled floor and is just as easy to care for, according to Li Yongyu, a designer with a renovation contractor – no special cleaning agents required. The plus: It goes better with modern, minimalist decors than tiles do.
YOU SAVE: ABOUT $1,500
INSTEAD OF: Luxe materials like timber and marble
GO FOR: Laminates or tiles. These are cheaper and easier to maintain than the real thing, and you won’t be sacrificing much in terms of looks either. “The trade-off between looks and cost has narrowed over the years, as substitutes are looking more and more authentic,” says architect Hsu Hsia Pin. But you’ll need a trained eye to choose a good one – so do your research first.
YOU SAVE: ABOUT $5,000
INSTEAD OF: Hacking and retiling floors
GO FOR: Overlaid finishings, which go over existing tiles. Hacking is labour-intensive and will bump up costs, says Yongyu. He estimates savings of about $5 per square foot if you opt to overlay. Overlaying does reduce ceiling height, though, so William recommends selecting the thinnest overlays possible – vinyl tiles are a good bet.
YOU SAVE: UPWARDS OF $6,000
INSTEAD OF: Wall tiles for your kitchen
GO FOR: Washable paint, suggests interior designer William Chan. He points out that, though most people assume they need wall tiles for the kitchen, tiles aren’t actually necessary – what’s necessary is a surface that’s easy to clean. Washable paint gives you exactly this, while costing about half as much as tiles on average.
YOU SAVE: ABOUT $2,000
By Yeoh Jo-Ann, Her World, August 2014