How to manage a successful remodel without mismanaging your budget? Angie Hranowsky offers words to the wise after overseeing her own top-to-bottom job: “My contractor said he could give me an estimate, but cautioned that with a house like mine, you never can be sure what you’re getting into,” recalls Angie. To keep on the safe side, Angie opted for a three-pronged approach: tackle the essentials first; keep a tight rein on all endeavors; and budget for the unexpected. And so she and her subcontractors proceeded step-by-step and tallied the cost as one project moved to the next. With the basics out of the way, Angie and Victor moved in and slowed down as their coffers caught up to the bottom line. The remodel took four and a half months; the spit-shine to camera-ready status? About a year and a half longer. More Bottom-Line Tips • Open shelving runs less than closed-door cabinetry. • Instead of replacing wooden floors, use a stain to match old floors to new. • Love a piece that comes in different sizes (like the capiz shell chandelier in the living room)? Opt for the smaller of the two if it works for your space. • Hunt for knock-offs. West Elm, Ikea, and Pottery Barn interpret popular vintage pieces. • Paint larger areas, wallpaper smaller ones.