Indulge Yourself! Top Products For Affordable Luxury

Let's face it, sometimes in our harried existence it's the little things we do for ourselves that mean the most. Completing a simple home improvement project that does nothing more than add a bit of luxury to a busy life can pay big emotional dividends. Here are some favorites that can deliver beauty on a budget.

750 Fireplace by Rinnai – Few things says luxury better than a cozy fireplace. But

Let's face it, sometimes in our harried existence it's the little things we do for ourselves that mean the most. Completing a simple home improvement project that does nothing more than add a bit of luxury to a busy life can pay big emotional dividends. Here are some favorites that can deliver beauty on a budget.

  • 750 Fireplace by Rinnai – Few things says luxury better than a cozy fireplace. But traditional fireplaces are anything but luxurious to operate, and those that have been converted to gas logs are huge energy wasters. A better option is the Rinnai 750 Fireplace. Rinnai, the world’s largest manufacturer of gas appliances, is better known for their efficient tankless water heaters. That same passion for efficiency is evident in the 750, which has a direct vent design and a seven-stage burner that delivers just the right amount of gas to satisfy the set temperature. Designed to have the exact look and feel of a traditional hearth fire, Rinnai’s 750 operates at the push of a button on a full function remote – talk about luxury, you don’t even have to get out of your chair! The unit is available in a choice of color and trim options, interchangeable fronts to complement any existing décor or planned interior design project, and a child lock-out feature for safety. Available for $4,000.
  • Pegasus Vessel Sinks & Faucets – Vessel sinks, which are mounted on top on vanities, are a fast growing trend in upscale bath design. Pegasus, The Home Depot’s exclusive brand for faucets, sinks and bathroom cabinetry offers these upscale looks at a very downscale price. Pegasus glass vessel sinks are designed as functional works of art, and coordinate with a variety of bases to add new style to any bath environment. The various color shades and designs can bring a bath everything from warmth and comfort to boldness and elegance. Theses sinks offer beauty and durability with scratch-resistance, tempered glass and a 2-year warranty for a great price, ranging between $199 and $369.
  • TinLook™ Ceiling Tile by Armstrong - Some may say that nothing in a home could be more un-luxurious looking than a fiber ceiling tile. However, they’d be wrong – very wrong. Armstrong’s TinLook line of mineral fiberboard tile comes with a classic white vinyl paint coating that’s moisture-resistant — making the product ideal for kitchens. Add a touch of faux paint and the TinLook tiles instantly look like real tin, bronze or silver. This high-end look comes at a fraction of the price or the real thing and installation is easy with Armstrong’s tongue-and-groove design. The line includes eight distinct patterns and retails for about $2 per square foot.
  • Custom Cellular Shades by Levolor – If I asked you what one product would help you save energy, sleep better at night, keep your kids safe and make your home look better, shades might not be the first thing that jumps to mind. But those are exactly the benefits of Levolor’s new Custom Cellular Shades. First, their exclusive fabrics and patterns are beautiful, with a rich color palette that will satisfy the most decorating styles. But, on the more practical side, the cellular design delivers an insulating effect that keeps you comfortable. They block out 99% of available light helping you sleep better at night, and the cordless lift system means no dangling cords for kids or pets to get tangled in. I also like the fact that you can order up to 10 free swatches online. Prices for the custom Cellular Shades vary depending on window size, fabric and option selections and retail location, but range between $86 - $250 for an average window.
  • Copper Woodburning Firepit by The Home Depot – As more and more Americans extend the use of outdoor spaces into the colder months, products like fire pits make that a very comfortable option. The Copper Woodburning Firepit is a sturdy yet beautiful pit with a shiny 35” copper bowl that is supported by an intricately designed cast iron base. A mesh cover to protect against sparks is included. Fire pits are ideal for a cozy gathering with both family and friends. We use ours to toast marshmallows all year ‘round. Available for $333, including shipping, at (Internet/Catalog #100401918) or in store (SKU # 446129).
  • Woodright Windows by Andersen - Windows play an integral role in home construction. They can improve a home’s energy efficiency, boost resale value, enhance architectural design and provide essential day lighting. But while today’s windows are more efficient than ever, finding one that offers a classic look with efficiency has been near impossible. Enter Andersen’s Woodright line of high performance windows that are constructed with traditional styling. The sash joints are made to resemble mortise-and-tenon construction. But hiding behind that classic look is Low-E4™ glass, the next generation of energy-efficient low-maintenance glass. Low-E4 glass, when activated by sunlight, reduces water spots and makes the exterior of windows easier to clean. It also is 41 percent more energy efficient in summer and 35 percent more energy efficient in winter than standard dual-pane glass. Woodright windows are available for $400 - $450 and come in maple, pine and oak.
  • Classic Craft Fiberglass Door by Therma-Tru – First impressions count, and having a great looking front door counts not only in “curb appeal” but in making your home secure and energy efficient. Class Craft fiberglass doors by Therma-Tru do both. First they feature Accugrain technology making them absolutely indistinguishable from real wood. But more important than style, fiberglass doors are eight times more energy efficient than real wood and far more secure. Classic Craft doors, featured at Lowes, are available in a variety of styles including Mahogany, Oak and Rustic collections, as well a new American style which was inspired by America's Craftsman architecture of the early 1900s. Besides strength, beauty and energy efficiency, a recent study showed replacing your front door could increase the perceived value of your home by as much as $20,000. Considering that a solid, six-panel, pre-hung, Classic-Craft door can be had for around $550, installing one makes both dollars and sense.
  • MODe Flooring by Armstrong – MODe flooring is a high-end collection of Luxury Vinyl Tile that combines installation options, durability and exceptional design flexibility. MODe, short for “My Own Design expressions,” offers considerable latitude for self expression with the ability to show all the flair your comfort zone will allow. MODe features a unique easy-down/easy-up option that provides a choice of installation methods and allows homeowners to simply update their floors according to their changing tastes. Available in more than 80 designs, MODe offers looks that not only replicate natural materials, but allow you to flaunt your style with designer colors and patterns that can be mixed and matched. MODe is also a high performance floor with a nylon infused aluminum oxide wear layer that resists scratches and improves gloss retention to keep the floor looking new longer. MODe is available for $3.49 - $4.00/sq. ft.
  • Savvy™ Kitchen Faucet from ShowHouse by Moen - Move over chrome. Nothing says "luxury" in the kitchen quite like new hardware finishes like Oil Rubbed Bronze, weathered Antique Nickel and Brushed Bronze. They are all featured in ShowHouse by Moen’s luxury brand Savvy collection of classically styled faucets and accessories for upscale kitchens and baths. Soft, elegant curves are characteristic of the collection and are carried throughout the traditional scroll handles and overall faucet design. Brushed Bronze, the latest addition to the collection, is a soft-textured, warm and golden finish that reflects the reemergence of gold tones in home decor, particularly in traditional design. Prices range from $400 to $540.
  • FashionWall Metallics and CarbonTech Decorative Wall Panels by DPI – These high tech wall panels bring the look of heavy metal to home offices, exercise rooms, garage remodels, workshops lofts and urban contemporary spaces without the heavy price tag. Surprisingly realistic brushed stainless, carbon fiber and titanium styles draw on the strength of DPI’s Signature S2S hardboard, finished with an acrylic polymer topcoat to give them a long-lasting, attractive look that is virtually maintenance free. Each 4 foot by 8 foot panel covers 32 square feet and has a suggested retail price of $25 – $30. DPI also backs its FashionWall collections with a limited lifetime warranty on wall panels that are installed in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Cultured Stone by Owens Corning – The combination of affordability, availability and consistency of color of manufactured stone veneers makes the possibilities endless for luxury loving consumers. But while manufactured stone veneers offer a great breadth of colors and textures, they are affordable at about half the cost of natural stone. Not only does Cultured Stone increase the perceived value of your home, you can customize improvements as your budget allows. For instance, one of the hottest trends in remodeling today is the creation of an outdoor living space for cooking and entertaining. Using Cultured Stone veneer, you can start by building a retaining wall this year, add a built in barbecue a few years later, and so on. Because the product is manufactured it is affordable, and the stone you use in the future will match perfectly with the stone you use in the past.

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    Note: Tom Kraeutler is the Home Improvement Editor for AOL and host of The Money Pit, a nationally syndicated home improvement radio program. To find a local radio station, download the show’s podcast or sign-up for Tom’s free weekly e-newsletter, visit the program’s website at

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