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Money-saving tips from Linnea Mielcarek and John Howley's Romanesque industrial 'loft'

February 12, 2011

Even big-budget projects often employ money-saving strategies — sometimes to compensate for unexpected overruns, sometimes to allow for splurges in finishes, fixtures or furnishings. Regardless of the reason, the strategies can work for projects large or small. Some of the cost-conscious moves in Linnea Mielcarek and John Howley's house:

Floors: The floors sport a smooth, cement-like finish called Dex-O-Tex for "a continuous surface indoors and outdoors to the deck," architect Janice Shimizu says. "Poured concrete would have been super-expensive. Dex-O-Tex is durable, non-combustible and cost-effective."

Cabinets: Kitchen cabinetry, including units that form the island, are from IKEA. "We had a kitchen-raising party with friends," Mielcarek says. "We gave each couple a cabinet to build and then had dinner brought in." She and Howley built the bathroom cabinets themselves.

Counters: Mielcarek and Howley scoured Craigslist for Caesarstone remnants for the kitchen. The engineered quartz counters, Mielcarek says, were sold by a fabricator for less than half the retail price. With cutting and installation, the cost was only $1,500.

Fixtures: Buying the bathroom sink and shower hardware from big-box home improvement centers allowed the couple to splurge on a luxury or two, including an Ingo Maurer chandelier.

— Emily Young

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