Last week I introduced the 7 layers of Design by Christopher Lowell and we covered paint. I like his process in that it helps me to remember all of the little things that I’m supposed to remember to get a finished look in my home. However, I often times do not follow his order exactly. One reason is that bargain shopping sometimes does not lend itself to doing things in order because you cannot control when you’re going to find that perfect bargain. Secondly, sometimes doing things out of order will save you money in the long run if you know that following steps might damage previous steps. For example, changing your flooring can damage your newly painted base boards. And for these two reasons I jumped to flooring without finishing the painting in my Music Room Sitting Area.
Hardwood Flooring on a Dime:
I love my finished hardwood floors. They’re easy to maintain, they can handle the chaos and spillage of my kids, my dog, and my husband. And I got quite the bargain saving me a few thousand dollars when I had them installed in my entire downstairs. Here are a few rules that I followed to make this happen.
When first shopping for your new flooring
- It is a good idea to have a general idea of what you are looking for.
I knew when I started that I didn’t want carpet or tile. I already had those, and I wanted something different. So when I began my search the choices were scored and stained concrete (a popular option at the time I was re-doing my floors), bamboo, cork, or wood. I quickly ruled out stained concrete as I realized that although beautiful, I believed that because the option was so popular in my area, they would eventually age the house the same way pea green screams 1970′s. I ultimately decided against cork mostly because I was worried than in my part of town, cork might hurt the resale of my home as people here view it as “weird” or “too modern.” I did think long and hard about going with bamboo. I liked the idea of going with a product that was more eco-friendly, and although I knew that it could be viewed as “weird or modern,” I had seen it done before where people were more accepting of it because it did resemble a traditional hard wood floor.
- Exhaust all options, ask many, many questions, and take your time.
So when I first hit the stores I had narrowed my choices down to bamboo or hard wood. At the time bamboo unfortunately only offered a few options. I quickly realized that although the options were beautiful, because I was so limited in color choices I couldn’t find one that would work with some of the woodwork that I already had that I wasn’t going to change. Plus, at the time bamboo was a far more expensive option than hard woods. Because of these two reasons I ultimately eliminated bamboo.
When it came to wood, however, I had a lot of price and color choice options. Because of all of these options, I had a really hard time narrowing down what I wanted. After going to several stores multiple times, talking to several installers, and even researching having floors made from scratch, I ultimately decided that I wanted a manufactured dark, hand-scraped, wide-planked look, a usually high-end expensive look.
- Have a set budget and stick to it.
Once I settled upon a look it was time to set my budget. Now I know many would say to set the budget first. But sometimes I think you have to do some research first to understand what a reasonable budget is. Sure you may have to stop in the middle of the process and save more money, but ultimately this is your home. Big choices like flooring shouldn’t be made quickly, and you shouldn’t scrimp on the important permanent features of your home. With that said, it is important to know that I usually set my budget way below what I can actually afford, and it is always the bare minimum that I think, after doing my research, I can get the product for. In this case I found the cheapest hard wood option out there (albeit the ugliest hard wood option out there), did some calculations, and decided that cheap, ugly option price was what I was going to pay for my more beautiful, high end item.
- Do not settle.
After you do your research, pick your product, and set your budget, now is not the time to worry about driving your spouse, your friends, the installers, or the guys in the retail stores crazy.
- You have done your research.
- You know what you want.
- And you want to pay less than anybody else. Period.
Those are the only three things that should be in your mind when you are in the final stages of picking your flooring.
And guess what happens when you do this? Some sales person having seen you in their store for the past month coming in and out, humming and hawing over your decision, will remember about that one special bargain that he has just for crazy shoppers like yourself. And that is exactly what happened to me.
One bright sunny morning I went into one of the flooring stores that I had been visiting for a couple of weeks. The sales guy said, “I’ve been thinking about your budget problem. I think I have a solution.” And out comes this beautiful sample of hand-scraped, wide-planked, dark hard wood floors. You see this store also supplies several of the high-end home builders around town. And this sample? Well this sample was from a bulk shipment from a local high-end home builder who called it “his most popular pick.” Because they buy so much of this flooring for this builder I was told that they could just add my order for my one home to his larger bulk order, and I could get the builder’s price. And the builder’s price? Well remember how I told you I used the cheapest, ugliest flooring option to set my budget? Well that’s price I got for this beautiful, high-end option minus another 2%.
Next up? Decorate on a Dime: Trim and Molding
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Kelly Kinkaid, professional blogger and freelance writer, enjoys writing about such topics as stretching a dollar, personal finance, diet and fitness, and living a life well lived. She spends all of her spare time in her many roles including but not limited to soccer, basketball, swimmer, band, and piano mom, runner and wife. You may contact her via e-mail kellyology(at)gmail(dot)com.