When looking to update your home — or even just one room — it can be very easy to let budgets run out of control. Flicking through design magazines and browsing in stores, you can get carried away looking at fancy polished marble surfaces and expensive hardwood furniture. However, it pays to remember that there are plenty of affordable options that look just as good and often perform better practically. Take, for instance, wood counters for kitchens. They look beautiful, but one slipped knife or pan scorch and the counter is stained forever. As such, businesses may not be pushing these options so much in their catalogues, but you should definitely still consider them for your home.
These days, real wood flooring and the aforementioned polished marble are extremely popular. Everybody wants that sleek, simple look, but these are not the most affordable options. Besides, the upkeep for both real wood and marble can be a nightmare. Instead, consider sheet vinyl. Vinyl can be printed with a vast array of designs, some of which do imitate real wood, tiling and expensive-looking patterns. As such, you don't even have to compromise on the look you're aiming for. Aesthetics aside, however, vinyl is extremely durable, versatile and easy to clean — and it certainly won't break the bank.
If you are looking for a real wood finish, either for surfaces or furniture, there are plenty of ways you can achieve the effect of expensive woods with cheaper substitutes. Dark woods such as mahogany and ebony are always popular, but consider replacing these expensive materials with red alder. It's much cheaper and holds stains and colourants very well; you can easily achieve the rich, dark brown of mahogany with this much more affordable material. Other good options are black walnut and balau, but you can always speak to an expert at a woodshop to find a good local alternative if you're struggling.
Sticking with alternatives, if your heart is still very set on marble, then you may find a friend in polished granite. Granite can be exceptionally pretty and can be found in a very wide range of colours. It may not look identical to marble, but it gives a very similar effect, and it won't set your bank balance back nearly as far. However, white granite is really soaring in popularity recently, so if this is an alternative you're interested in, snap it up fast before the trend raises the price!
In short, there can be many advantages to digging deeper and looking beyond current decorative trends or classic options. Not only will your home still look beautiful with these substitutions, but they'll be easier to clean and keep looking fresh.