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The art of illusion

30 November 1999 Reporter

Decorating your new home doesn’t need to cost you an arm and a leg.

Making your house a home doesn’t need to break the bank. There are many ways you can deck out your home beautiful on a budget... you just need to know where to start.

Importantly, don’t get drawn into believing that only the finest fixtures and fittings will do. With a little diligence you can always find a cheaper option for almost everything – and you may not have to compromise on quality.

For building materials, furnishings, and a host of other items, see what the auctions have to offer as there are always bargains to be had.

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Alternatively, why not get involved in your local council’s ‘freecycle’ initiative.

In a bid to reduce landfill, the federal government created the OzRecycle Community. Instead of throwing good quality items away, owners can give unwanted possessions to the community program. Home buyers can post an ad to the ‘Items Wanted’ category on the program’s website www.ozrecycle.com; if another community member has what you are looking for they will be in touch. Since its launch in 2007, thousands of items have been given away for free, including pianos, books, artwork, antique furniture, fridges, stoves and even clean fill for building sites.

You may not find exactly what you are looking for, but if you are happy to make one or two compromises along the way you’ll be sure to end up with extra cash that can be spent on those luxury items – like the latest flat-screen TV.

REAL OR FAKE? Another way to save your dollars is to opt for imitation products. Quality imitations offer homeowners the perfect opportunity to save money. Better yet, some imitations can look just as good as the real thing, with only experts able to spot the difference.

While purists may denounce the very idea, a ‘fake’ is not necessarily a bad investment. Some actually improve on the original thanks in part to increasingly sophisticated manufacturing techniques.

Take lookalike granite laminate for example. It looks like the real thing, and is just as wear resistant, but is literally a quarter of the cost.

Starting from around $100 for your standard 200cm x 50cm bench top, imitation granite laminate will give you that champagne effect on a beer budget.

However, if you prefer the real thing, be prepared to shell out upwards of $300 for a bench of similar size. Another imitation that can save your bottom line is lookalike wooden venetian blinds. You can now purchase lookalike wooden venetians from Bunnings for standard size windows that will suit any décor and budget.

For $60, for example, cash conscious buyers can get basswood timber look venetians for a window measuring 60cm x 210cm. Meanwhile, the real deal will set you back more than double, with prices starting at $175 for a window of the same size.

At the end of the day, it is vital that you shop around before making any decisions. And don’t hesitate to ask for discounts wherever you go – most places offer substantial savings for cash transactions.

The art of illusion
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