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How to spend less than $75,000 and completely change your home.

I promise this is no infomercial!

Last summer, I purchased a property with my partner, Mark English, that straddled Sonoma and Napa. The inside and outside were the product of a 1970s over zealous homeowner with a tighter budget than he wanted to admit. Parts were completed, others not and most of the style choices were an abomination in my strict modernist handbook.

These were my rules (or guidelines or trips) for how to spend under $75,000 and still get a fab new interior.

1. You will need to spend money. Some costs are unavoidable:

  • The walls and ceiling were first. We removed the trim and molding and then the walls were floated (this is when you apply a sheet rock mud on top and then sand). We wanted to flatten them out and then paint all the surfaces.
    • cost: $10,000

This was a big expense, likely our biggest, but it also covered the most space. The walls had a terrible knock down texture. By re-coating them and then painting them all white (no off white or egg-shell, we went bleach), the house looks very chic. Most importantly, the ceilings–which were only 8’5” tall–now seem much taller.

2. Think cost-effective: Floor models and Ikea.

We especially took this to heart in our bathroom.

  • In our bathroom, we used IKEA sink and cabinet models. The cabinet is flushed out to look built-in.
    • cost: $700                 


  • We used fluorescent lights behind the mirror, it provided a very inexpensive way to light the bathroom
    • cost: $250 (including installation)


  • In the kitchen, we grabbed a floor model faucet. It was half price!
    • cost: $850


3. Use smart, durable materials:

  • The white floors are Epoxy. The coat costs less than $5 per square foot
    • cost: $5,000

Epoxy is usually used in garages but it’s a great material and very affordable. And if white doesn’t suit your aesthetic, it comes in many other colors. We had the material cover 1.5” concrete. The trick is in a paint application, so you’ll need to find someone who knows how to apply the product. Other than how affordable it is, Epoxy is easy to clean and feels really nice under bare feet.

  • For the shower/tub area, we put cultured marble (from SYNMAR) surround for shower tub area.
    • cost: $2,500 (including installation)

Culture marble is the poor man’s Corianand in pure white–it is very nice. just stay away from the fake marble colors and textures stuff that looks cheap.

4. Don’t be label-centric!

  • The sliding door is Italian hardware, that easily hides the cheap refrigerator and oven. This is essentially the same stuff Boffi uses, but much less than a $10,000 bill from Boffi.
    • cost: $2,000

  • The cook-top is the “Renzo Piano,” made by SMEG. Phenomenal cook-top and a steal for the price.
    • cost: $1,200


  • The sink is Kohler stainless steel
    • cost: $800

5. Lastly, think small to make big impressions:

  • Since we didn’t use the Corian in the bathroom, we used it for some of countertop in the kitchen. No fancy back-splash – we just used a paint in a semi gloss finish.
    • cost: $ 2,500

Five months into paint experience, the painted Corian has shown almost no wear.

  • To save money, we opted out of any upper cabinets over the sink. Instead, we had made one big storage cabinet that now holds the oven, refrigerator and the pantry.  
    • cost: $8,000 (excluding sliding door hardware, which was mentioned in the previous section)

7 Comments Post a comment
  1. sweet little remodel : )

    July 19, 2012
  2. Gunther M Liedl #

    Great job, and very nice looking for this kind of budget.

    July 19, 2012
  3. vivi #

    very smart + looks great!

    July 21, 2012
  4. Chris Hixson #

    Great job, Anne! I can’t show this to Mitchell, or he’ll kill me for what I spent on our recent renovations. I could have saved the money and put it into the “Someday we’ll have Anne design a guesthouse fund.” Cheers!

    August 7, 2012
  5. Emma #

    Great ideas! Thank you!

    March 21, 2014
  6. Greeat reading your blog

    February 2, 2023

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