8 Cheaper Alternatives to Expensive Interior Design Features

Renovating your home can be an expensive process. We all want marble counters, a walk-in wardrobe and a kitchen island. But the reality is, these design features can add up quickly. So what happens when you don’t have the budget for it? You can either do away with it completely or, even better, you think of more affordable substitutions. To help keep your budget in check, we show you the cheaper alternatives to expensive interior design features you can go for instead.

Open Concept Spaces
The alternative: Mirrors

An open-plan layout is great. Think bright, breezy spaces with flexible room and a sense of spaciousness. But in order to achieve that, you might need to hack away walls. And hacking walls don’t come cheap, costing anywhere from a couple of hundreds for a single wall to thousands for multiple hacking works.

Design: Fuse Concept

If you’re looking to achieve that open and airy feel, there are always wall mirrors which you can purchase off the shelf. Installing them on a wall that faces the windows will better reflect the daylight coming in, throwing light all around your space. For a more seamless illusion, get mirror panels that are thin and rimless.

Built-in Feature Wall
The alternative: Paint job

A customised feature wall is one way to make a big visual statement in your living room, but like all carpentry work, they tend to go for thousands of dollars, depending on the design and the materials used.

Design: The 80’s Studio

The cheaper alternative is to do a fancy paint job, which can be similarly eye-catching. Opt for a bold graphic print or incorporate a textural finish to your walls. Dulux has a range of Ambiance paints that you can also use to create finishes that look just like marble, velvet or linen.

Hardwood Flooring
The alternative: Engineered Wood or Parquet

For folks who want the texture and warmth of real wood underfoot, hardwood flooring is a natural (pun intended) choice. But cladding your entire home in hardwood flooring can cost a pretty penny—prices go for around $30 per square foot (psf).

Design: DistinctIdentity

If you want the feel of real wood but don’t want to shell out the moolah, consider engineered wood flooring, which costs about half the price compared to hardwood. Engineered wood essentially features several layers of core board (made from repurposed wood) compounded together with plywood to create a stable and sturdy material that is less prone to warping compared to hardwood. Buyer’s tip: To ensure that you engineered wood flooring lasts a longer time, get from a supply that has a thick top layer to ensure that it can be sanded down more than a couple of times.

If you aren’t particular about the long strip look of hardwood flooring, parquet is a good alternative. Parquet is essentially made of small pieces of wood laid together in a geometric fashion. It features the same qualities as hardwood flooring, but unlike its more expensive cousin, can go for as low as $8 psf, although the price depends very much on the type of wood you choose.

Marble Counters
The alternative: Marble-like laminates

Nothing says a dream kitchen like one that is decked out in marble counters. With their beautiful grains, they evoke an elegance, timelessness and an unparalleled sense of luxury. This natural stone counter is also a preferred choice for pastry chefs, who prefer having a constantly cool surface to roll out dough. Alas, they are one of the more expensive materials for countertops, going for around $150 per foot run (pfr). Besides the hefty cost, they are also difficult to maintain, susceptible to staining and knocks, and will require regular sealing.

Design: Fineline Design

For a much cheaper and less fussy alternative, marble-like laminates can look similarly sophisticated. Laminates tend to have a bad rep as kitchen countertop material as they aren’t able to withstand high heat for a prolonged period—but that’s nothing a trivet and a little precaution cannot solve. Also avoid using sharp objects like knives directly on the laminate surface as they can be scratched easily. Laminates for kitchen counters are mostly high-pressure laminates (HPLs), but if you’re looking for something that is a bit more resistant to water and humidity, consider compact laminates, which are a newer version of HPLs and come in thicker widths.

Kitchen Island
The alternative: Kitchen Trolley

Everyone wants a kitchen island in their cooking space. Great for adding extra prep space or storage, it’s a versatile addition to any kitchen. But like with all carpentry work, they don’t come cheap thanks to the labour and materials involved. Building a kitchen island from scratch can go for around $80 psf up to a couple of hundreds, which adds to an already expensive kitchen renovation budget.

Design: DB Studio

Consider instead an off-the-rack kitchen trolley, which goes for a lot cheaper, and is a lot more flexible since it can be moved around the kitchen or stowed away when not in use to save space. It can also double as a bar cart or a serving trolley when guests come around.

Shower Enclosure
The alternative: Shower Panel

Unless you are a stickler for a really dry bathroom outside the shower, shave off a few hundred dollars in your renovation by getting a single shower panel instead of a full shower enclosure. A full shower enclosure using tempered glass with sliding doors can cost around $620, while a single shower panel only costs around $400 or less, depending on the size.

Design: Styledbypt
Renovation: DB Studio

The single shower panel is enough as a splashguard in the right position. Plus, it ensures there is less cleaning involved with the smaller surface area.

Recessed Shower Niche
The alternative: Shower Shelf

Another cost you can save in the bathroom is to get a shower shelf instead of a recessed shower niche. Recessed shower niches may be trending and can keep things look less cluttered, but it’s a renovation cost you should forgo since it can increase your budget by a bit seeing as it may involve extra hacking and tiling works.

Design: Icon Interior Design

A simple shelf (or shelves) works to hold your bathroom amenities without the extra cost. Plus, if you have a small space, a recessed niche actually eats into your square footage since you will need to set aside extra space for the recess area.

Customised Walk-in Wardrobe
The alternative: DIY Walk-in Wardrobe

The epitome of a luxurious home, the walk-in wardrobe is a dream for many. But like with all carpentry work, designing and building one doesn’t come cheap—a customised wardrobe can go for $210 to $250 pfr.

Design: Urban Habitat Design

Think about doing it yourself, with modular systems like racks, drawers and shelves. Put them together and voila, instant walk-in wardrobe. Do away with wardrobe doors to cut cost, but if you are worried about the dust or the visual clutter, get curtains to conceal your closet.

This article was originally posted on Renonation.sg, Singapore’s leading renovation and interior design site.

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Author: Renonation

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