Amy Lenahan, Chicago Interior designer
Amy Lenahan
Design i Interiors

FURNITURE: "Scout (5221 N. Clark St., 773-275-5700) is my favorite source for used wood furniture that works seamlessly with today’s styles. Praha (3849 N. Lincoln Ave., 773-549-1227) stocks a mix of new and antique items, and the prices are great. The Web site Apartment Therapy ( has a column called ‘Scavenger’ that sorts through all of the less desirable items on sites such as Craigslist and eBay and gives you ‘Best of’ listings."

RUGS: "Leslie Hindman (122 N. Aberdeen St., 312-280-1212) auction house does great rug sales where you can get wonderful deals on high-quality Oriental carpets and other pieces."

ART: "If you can’t afford high-priced art, create your own out of personal photos. Professional photo houses such as Gamma Imaging (314 W. Superior St., 312-337-0022) and Pixel Mint (350 N. Ogden Ave., 312-733-8558) can take your photos, convert them to black and white, blow them up, and crop them in an interesting way. For a gallery-ready look, add clean white mats and simple black frames. Personal touches add soul to a home." 


Dian Keehan, Chicago architect
Dian Keehan

WINDOWS: "Replacing high-quality wood windows in an older house can be very expensive. I’m an advocate of aluminum-clad wood windows, which can save you labor costs and need a lot less maintenance. You can also keep the original windows but add low-emittance, triple-track storm windows. That way you’ll retain the vintage beauty."

GUTTERS: "For curb appeal, put copper gutters on the front of your house but save a lot of money by using aluminum in the back."

KITCHENS: "Don’t feel you need the latest gadgets. Every new idea or product becomes dated eventually-there was a time when everyone had to have a trash compactor, and now no one does. Stick with what works for you. If you want the large, professional-style stove, it’s cheaper to buy a six-burner cooktop and two wall ovens rather than a freestanding range, and I think the wall ovens-which are higher-are much easier to use. If you want the look of a built-in fridge, designing a deeper wall-and-wood surround to accommodate a conventional-sized fridge is thousands of dollars cheaper than buying a high-end built-in." 


Jenny Rossignuolo and Rose Tejeda-Navarre of Chicago
Jenny Rossignuolo (left) and Rose Tejeda-Navarre
Urban Source, 1432 W. Chicago Ave.,

UPHOLSTERY: "Often people will buy a moderately priced sofa and not think about the upholstery. Within a few years, it can start to pill and look threadbare. When you’re buying upholstered pieces, it’s worth paying for a high-quality covering."

DECORATIVE ACCESSORIES: "You can scrimp on vases, frames, anything you put on the mantel or bookcases. Light fixtures don’t have to be expensive; the placement and the quality of the light are more important than the cost of the actual piece. Source of Light (229 N. Damen Ave., 312-421-5841) has a range of affordable brands, and staffers are very helpful if you’re not sure what you’re looking for. We’ve also found great fixtures on the Web sites and have a huge range of options."

WALLCOVERINGS: "Make a huge impact in a living room or bedroom with a great wallcovering on one wall-you don’t have to do all four. An accent wall gives a room a dramatic focal point for relatively little cost.


Claudia Skylar, Chicago architect
Claudia Skylar
Mastro & Skylar Architects

BATHROOMS: "There are easy ways to save money when renovating a bathroom. For sinks and countertops, we’ve used white Corian, which is less expensive than limestone and easier to coordinate with tiles. The Tile Outlet (2434 W. Fullerton Ave., 773-276-2662) is a good source for inexpensive tile; you can cover a wall and inset a mirror for a very custom look. You can install a fancy, expensive tile on the outside of the shower, then inside use a plainer tile that’s actually easier to keep clean."

SINK FIXTURES: "You can easily replace sink fixtures, and there are plenty of affordable options (try Community Home Supply, 3924 N. Lincoln Ave.). But the shower valve has to fit exactly right, so don’t cheat there!"