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Originally published Friday, September 20, 2013 at 8:05 PM

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Five simple home luxuries for less

Adding in little touches here and there can make a regular room stand out, and it’s an easy way to provide a bit of extravagance.

Scripps Howard News Service

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Even in these days of economic uncertainty, we’d all like some luxuries in our lives.

Sure, a home addition or kitchen renovation would be nice, but there are plenty of low-cost changes you can make to upgrade your home without spending a small fortune. Adding in little touches here and there can make a regular room stand out, and it’s an easy way to provide a bit of extravagance.

Here are five types of home luxuries that won’t break the bank.

Wine coolers. Wine cellars are big sellers in new homes, but there are space- and price-conscious ways to bring wines to the appropriate temperature in a snazzy way. “A unique wine cooler is one of those small features that really speaks to people,” says Molly Blake, a Yuma, Ariz., homeowner and landlord, who installed built-in wine coolers in her rental-home kitchens and her own home.

A wine cooler can also help sell or rent a home.

“My renters said it was one of the top three reasons they chose our house,” Blake says. “The coolers are not necessarily about wine, but more about small, inexpensive upgrades that show you are not just building or renting out a house, but a home.”

Wine coolers come in a variety of sizes. Tabletop coolers store up to 12 bottles at the proper serving temperature and cost around $100 to $150. Undercounter built-ins will run more — from $600 to $1,900 — but they come in 15- or 24-inch sizes and usually store 30 to 50 bottles of wine. Once the space under the counter is open, they’re easy to install. All you need to do is plug in the cooler and slide it into place.

Spa shower. The bathroom is the place where we like to pamper ourselves. Annette Denham, a kitchen-and-bath designer and general remodel contractor with Ultimate Kitchens and Baths in Gilbert, Ariz., says one idea is to switch out the regular shower head for a “rain” shower head. These are typically installed from the ceiling, but you can also install a rain shower head that attaches to the wall via an extension arm.

Another way to upgrade the showerhead without re-plumbing is to install a sliding vertical bar with a handheld showerhead, says Denham. “You can raise and lower it based on the height of the family member. The advantage of a handheld is that it’s easier to clean the shower or tub,” she says.

Indoor fireplace. Have you always wanted a fireplace in your house, but don’t have a chimney? Thanks to electric and gel fireplaces, you can now add one that gives off heat and flickering flames without the need for a flue, and for around $300 to $1,000.

“I’m seeing the trend with electric fireplaces,” says John Hoang, president of PortableFireplace.com. “Consumers are buying more, especially with wall-mounted units, after seeing them in restaurants and in places like Las Vegas.”

Sound system. Big, fancy houses often have elaborate screening rooms and intricate sound systems on which to play their movies and music. But a simpler solution is a “home theater in a box,” says David Berman, vice president and general manager at Stereo East Home Theater Design Studio in Frisco, Texas.

The simpler system provides five speakers, an amplifier and subwoofer for one room, starting at $299, though the better ones are generally around $1,000, he say.

Indoor bar. Carve out a space where bar furniture can be a novel conversation piece. Keep it simple with an old-fashioned bar cart stocked with your favorite spirits, Denham says. “That’s more of a luxury statement to me,” she says. “There are really nice bar carts in brass, stainless steel and glass.”

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