While many people are pouring more money into home improvement projects, here are a few simple tips to help you pinch pennies without sacrificing style


I am the proud owner of a brand-new car. As much as it pained me to say goodbye to my car of 10 years, I’m excited to start 2014 in a safe vehicle. This was the first time I’ve shopped for a new car and, surprisingly, I was not as blindsided by add-ons as I would have guessed I would be.


Considering the car I gave up had no handles on the inside, dents on the exterior and a newly lit check engine light, this should come as no surprise. I didn’t choose all the bells and whistles and went for the basics instead. While going down the list of options and checking “no” next to almost every one, I couldn’t help but think about the home.

So often we hear about where to invest, such as in kitchens and bathrooms, but what do we do when we want to skimp? Surely all the bells and whistles are not completely necessary. When remodeling your kitchen or bath, save some costs and consider these options:

Skip the tile backsplash. You can achieve the same look with paint. With a stencil, a couple of different colors and a steady hand, you can add a vibrant pattern to an otherwise plain space. Make sure to scrub the walls clean before starting, and use kitchen or bathroom paint that’s designed to resist mildew growth and that will stand up to high moisture.

Go for a single sink (or at least a single basin) in the bathroom. Two separate sinks double the cost, not only for the additional finishes and larger vanity, but also for the plumbing. A single sink or a basin with two faucets will allow you to save on costs and also on space — both on the counter and underneath.

DIY. Leave the hard stuff to the pros, but tackle what you can on your own — or with the help of family and friends. Be realistic about your skills, and realize that DIY in this case isn’t limited to tearing things down and operating fancy tools. You can also create your own artwork, accessories and linens.

Add an accent wall. This will allow you to break up the cost of tile. You may opt to do an economical tile for the majority of your space and to splurge on a small accent wall. Or, you might try the reverse. Use the more expensive tile for most of the room and opt for a less expensive glass tile as an accent.

Have a comment or question for Joanne? Email thefixisinhawaii@gmail.com.