Home Renovation On a Budget: Which Popular Finishes Will Save You The Most Money?

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Playing Budget Home Reno | Paint vs. Wallpaper, Tile vs. Wood, Granite vs. Marble | ELLE Decor Designer
Budget Home Reno | Paint vs. Wallpaper, Tile vs. Wood, Granite vs. Marble | ELLE Decor Designer Aired August 27, 2020

When it comes to home renovations, there are so many decisions you have to make — and it can get pretty overwhelming. 

Well, if you're on a home renovation budget (aren't we all?), ELLE Decor designer Corey Damen Jenkins is making those decisions easier for you by picking the least expensive options for your walls, floors and countertops.

FOR THE WALLS

Paint vs. Wallpaper: Paint!

"Paint is a great medium to work with," Corey says. "It's easy to change out if you change your mind."

"It's also inexpensive," he continues. "The labor to put it on the walls is also less expensive."

Before you paint: "Before you commit to a certain color, you want to do a tester. You want to do something that is sizable on the wall. Do not use high gloss paint on the wall if you're doing that tester. Do a flat finish because [a high gloss finish] will show through when you paint over the wall later." 

If you still want to incorporate wallpaper: You totally can, Corey says. "That's one way to keep your budget in check — paint your walls, for example, a nice, inexpensive paint color, but then splurge by doing a wallpaper on the ceiling."

Look how gorgeous Corey's example looks:

corey damen jenkins paint wallpaper combo in library
Traditional Home Magazine/Meredith Corporation

FOR THE FLOORS

Tile vs. Hardwood Flooring: Tile!

"Tile's come a long way from the days of linoleum," Corey says. " [There are] lots of great choices. You can pull something that looks like wood, stone or marble — so I love what tile is looking like these days in the marketplace." 

And it can be really inexpensive! This tile, for example, is from Home Depot, the pro designer tells us:

corey damen jenkins bathroom tile
Traditional Home Magazine/Meredith Corporation

Wow!

If you still want to go with wood: "With wood floors, they're classic, they're warm. [There are] a lot of options out there. I always advise clients to think about the resale value of the house. If you're looking to sell the home in the future, I recommend going for something a bit more classic as far as the wood stain color. Go for a walnut [or] chestnut — something that's a bit more timeless. That way, a potential homeowner won't be scared away from your choice."

Take, for example, Corey's kitchen in Michigan — super classic!

corey damen jenkins wood flooring
Corey Damen Jenkins & Associates

FOR THE COUNTERTOPS

Butcher block vs. granite vs. marble: Granite!

"There are limitless options when it comes to granite," Corey says. "Some granite looks like marble and it's a fraction of the cost. In my professional opinion, I give granite all As as far as [being] the most versatile choice."

And look how stunning this granite is:

corey damen jenkins granite countertops
Corey Damen Jenkins & Associates

If you still want to go with butcher block: We understand — Rach loves butcher block! BUT just get ready for it to look not-so-perfect. (Rach doesn't mind!) "Some people might like what we call patina — that character, because it gets worn," the pro designer notes. "If you like your countertops to look perfect all the time, butcher block may not be the right choice for you."

If you still want to go with marble: Skip the kitchen (where you'll end up dealing with nightmare stains that don't budge) and try it in a bathroom or a walk-in closet, like Corey did here:

corey damen jenkins marble island
Corey Damen Jenkins & Associates

(Um, hello, dream closet!)

"Marble is beautiful but very costly," he says. "And of all three, it's probably the least durable. You think about spaghetti sauce, grape juice in a juice box from a kid — it can stain. [Marble is] porous; it absorbs."

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