Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Transcend Your Budget....

gerund or present participle: transcending
  1. be or go beyond the range or limits of (something abstract, typically a conceptual field or division).
surpass (a person or an achievement).
surpass, exceed, beat, cap, tower above, outdo, outclass, outstrip, leave behind, outshine, eclipse, overshadow, throw into the shade, upstage, top...
When the reality of your budget for your new home, or remodel, comes crashing down on you......use it as an opportunity for transcendence. 
In other words, it's an opportunity to out-whit your budget!
When your builder or contractor tells you "No. That's not in your budget", make it your personal mission to Tim Gunn your way to what you want.
You may not end up with the exact thing you envisioned, and you may very well have to do most of the heavy lifting on your own, but when it comes to making your dreams a reality, you can't just let go that easily.

When it comes to the very large sum of money that you are indeed spending on your house, it's your moral  duty to challenge any "No" that comes your way.
Otherwise, why are you bothering with a custom home?
Why would you NOT try to get the most bang out of every single buck??
My best friend since 8th grade, Jessica Bailey, was the first to say to me,
"If you don't A-S-K, you don't G-E-T"
She was SO right!

Scenario 1:

What if your flooring install quote comes in over budget?
Did you A-S-K what the cash price would be?

What if the new cash price could include something fabulous like herringbone floors in a small area???

You would be pretty darn happy that you A-S-K'd!

Scenario 2:

What if you fell in love with a particular sink that costs over $600?!?
It's just so beautiful AND functional AND it comes with a cutting board!
Did you A-S-K to speak with a rep about blogging or posting a review for a discount?
 You could even submit some dialogue and a few pictures of the fabulous set up you would use for a YouTube video that will demonstrate and promote the crap right out of every feature hat smart and fabulous sink has to offer.

Don't forget to wear your long skirt, collared shirt, and pearls!!

images via Shabby Apple.

I NEED one of these skirts!
Expert tip: you can totally get away without shaving your legs for a few days with a skirt this long!
You didn't hear that from me!

 Scenario 3:

What if you absolutely died over an antique spider style chandelier at an antique store, but it was about $150 over your limit??

Did you A-S-K the dealer if they would give you their best price based on the fact that it probably needs a good cleaning, possibly new wiring, and it has been hanging around their booth for far too long??

 Antique store owners are always calling dealers for their best prices.
Why not have them do their job?!?
That's why they are there.
If they give you any lip, then they don't deserve your money.

Even if the dealer says no, or comes back with a price that is still a little too least you tried.

At the very least, you will have a comparable price if you see something similar somewhere else.
Then, you can use the new price you got as leverage when you say, "wellll, they had a very similar chandelier at such and such and they had it priced at $_____(insert whatever number works best for you).

Stack the deck in your favor.
No one else is going to do it for you!

Strong and determined, Florence Broadhurst

A good builder or contractor should want to make your dreams happen just as much as you do and should be motivated to pull some strings for you whenever there is an opportunity.
Too many of them forget that they actually WORK for YOU and YOUR best interest.
They get all caught up in their own bottom line, forgetting that a huge part of their own future depends upon YOUR happiness. A great builder/contractor realizes that when your dreams happen, theirs do too.

So go out there and A-S-K and see what you G-E-T!

Monday, April 27, 2015

the B word....

The word "Budget" is a very important word in my world.
It can be limiting, but very empowering, depending on how you look at it.
We'll get to the B word when building a new house later, but would you ever guess that about 90% of my clients NEVER tell me what their budget is for their projects??
 It's totally true.
How does a designer work without a budget?
I just assume my clients are like me.
Should be a safe assumption when someone hires you based on your work, right?
I spend where I need to for quality and longevity, and spend less where I can be creative.
I admit, I have run into problems when clients do not share the same obsession with throw pillows and overly expensive objects made of acrylic or lucite.
For example:
Ice buckets... with clear legs...



Clear knobs and handles.....

I have, and will, spend way too much money on throw pillows and shiny, clear objects.
I have a problem. I'm working on that.
Not really.
After all, a great looking home is a mix of highs and lows.
When EVERYTHING looks like a million isn't very interesting.
It gets boring. Really fast.
Do you ever look over the pages of Veranda or Elle Décor and think, "WOW! I'm so impressed with what they could pull together with such little money!!"
You don't.
It doesn't leave a lasting impression on people when you can pull together a million dollar look with a million dollars. Duh. With the budget sizes for the projects that get into those magazines, it better look freaking perfect and interesting or else someone has some splainin to do.
More people tear out pages from magazines and pin images on Pinterest where creativity and desperation drove someone to create something beautiful and unique due to budget constraints.
BUT what if you have the taste of someone with a billion dollars and your budget is not even in the same solar system as the people who actually have a billion dollars?
You get creative.
You do things yourself.
You sweat and work hard for what you really want.
Since deciding to build a house, and subsequently going through two home plans, we have come to some clear budget realities. 
One of them being, I clearly can't have all the clear things that I love.
Or can I??
Sometimes a compromise is all it takes.
We will use my first selection for cabinet knobs as an example:
My price was going to be something like $11 each.
Let's say I need at least 12 of them. That's $132.
Not terrible, but once things start adding up, it IS terrible.
I surprisingly found something that I like even more, for less $$:
$6 each
That's half the price of my first pick!
Did you think I would just give up?!?
My first choice in drawer pulls:
Restoration Hardware $18 each.
I need about 25 of them
That is $450!!
Then, I found these....
$8 each.
That is a $250 savings!
The savings for these little compromises in hardware selections add up to about $300.
If a small compromise on a small thing like hardware can easily add up to $300 imagine what other compromises can add up to! Especially when it comes to larger things like cabinets, counters, windows, doors, flooring, and tile.
If kitchens and bathrooms suck up the largest chunks of the budget, then
each seemingly small upgrade on each layer, will easily add up to big dollars.
We will use my kitchen design as an example.
At first, I was drooling over these cabinets...
.....who wouldn't???
There are not one, but TWO, upgrades you are seeing here.
1. An edge that costs more to make because it requires an extra step.
2. Inset fronts.
Each of these upgrades can drive up the cost of the cabinets by 10%.
That means each of these two layers was adding 10%.
This look is very similar:
 It is an overlay cabinet front with very little reveal between each front, which gives the appearance of inset cabinets.
Let's say my "upgraded" kitchen cabinets came in at $17,000.
Then, add the 10%** for each upgrade and these cabinets really cost $20,570!!
**remember you can't just add percentages.
So, if you can compromise and still achieve the look and save $3570......and add that to the $300 savings on hardware, you already have $3870 off the ever increasing total for the kitchen.
We haven't even gotten to the really big things yet.
This was our previous kitchen layout:
LOTS of cabinets! LOTS of counters!
BUT what if you don't want to spend tons of money on cabinets??
How do you fill the space?
My first solution was to spread things out and add a desk area.
Then, I realized that with my office about 4 feet away, I wouldn't even use it, or love the fact that in reality, it would just be an expensive place for the mail.
The estimated cost for the desk area and cabinets surrounding the refrigerator was $4315.
Then I saw this beautiful piece of cabinetry:
And I was like, "who needs a refrigerator anyway?!?!"
Just kidding.
I did think to myself, "welllll, we have that old fridge in the garage...."
I decided to keep the fridge and played around with the layout and moved it to the other wall by the stove. Then, I ditched the desk idea.
It just so happened that the Restoration Hardware Outlet was having a 40% off sale and this cabinet, which is about $4800 online, was marked down to $1450!!
I had to punch a few customers, but it was all mine in the end! 
So, that area by the fridge and the desk that was going to cost $4310 plus the cost of the countertop (at least $300) for the desk, is now down to $1450 AND moving the fridge to the other side removed even more cabinets and counter!
Now, my cabinet quote that was about $17k has now gone down to about $13k by making this change.
The best part is that this beautiful cabinet is way better than my original plan!
No compromise necessary!
Had I not been open to that change, and if my husband did not push me to see the potential, I would have glanced right over that opportunity. In my mind, my kitchen design was done and I had no place for that big thing.
A previous blog post came to mind where I had talked about leaving space in your kitchen for furniture pieces.....way to listen to your own design advice, genius!
To further reduce my cabinet budget, I took out about three and a half feet of cabinets and counters to the left of the sink area.....just enough room for another furniture piece!
Maybe I will incorporate a found plate rack.....
....and put paper plates in it!
Or my squirrel collection!
The opportunities are endless!!
It may take me awhile to find the perfect piece ..or for it to find me, but if a unique kitchen, that IS within budget, is the final result, then it's totally worth the wait!
Just know that you don't really have to settle for things that you don't want. You may have to compromise or look at different options but you never have to invest in things that you don't need or love.
You just have to be creative and give it time to work out.
I will reread that last sentence as a reminder to myself a few hundred times before the days end because although beautiful things are happening, this house building thing is just taking waaaaay tooooo long!
Till next time...