Managing your budget when designing a space can be tricky. The following smart-spending tips, however, can help you keep the process fun and efficient

In last week’s column, I shared some photos and tips from the designing, remodeling and decorating of Sayumi Bridal at the Waikiki Beach Marriott. This week I have a few more tips you can apply to your own business space.

The challenge with any remodel is knowing what to spend your dollars on. After all, most of us are on a budget. Unless you’re doing a complete gutting with all-new finishes, what do you touch and what do you leave alone?


Last week you saw the reception area of Sayumi Bridal. For most businesses this is where customers get their first impression, so it’s definitely where you want to spend a major part of your remodeling budget.

The ceilings in the reception area were dark and outdated. We wallpapered them, but did not feel it was necessary to spend the money to do the same in the makeup and dressing areas.

So what to do with all the heavy molding, trim and paneling there? The easiest and most affordable solution was to make them disappear. We did that by painting all of it the same color: white.

Before, the contrasting ceiling made you look up. Painting it the same color as the walls made it “disappear.” At the same time, we drew your eye downward with features we wanted to showcase: our beautiful new floor and the pops of apple green on the accent wall and in the drapes.

Lighting can also make an impact, so use it to make a statement when you need to. We devoted a good part of the budget to beautiful new light fixtures that replaced the old halogen in the reception area. But in the makeup area we left the ambient ceiling lighting alone and chose to update the all-important task lighting with functional wall sconces.


To summarize, it goes without saying that if you have a leaky roof or weather-worn flooring, obviously these need to be addressed in your remodel. But for updates, consider what areas and features will need to make the biggest impact and focus your budget there.

Then look at features you don’t want to draw attention to. Think of affordable ways to make them blend in or disappear, and give people something to look at: a punch of color or texture, or an impactful piece of art or furniture.

Not all of us can do 100 percent of the fix. But by keeping some of these tips in mind, your remodeling dollars will go a lot further.

Cathy Lee is president and designer of Cathy Lee Style and Cathy’s Marketplace, a furniture and accessories showroom with design services at 1110 University Ave. She recently opened reStyle Hawaii, an affordable, style-conscious consignment warehouse with upholstering and repurposing services at 420 Keawe St. To find out more, go to