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Beauty & the budget.

Kitchens and baths are still a new home's strongest selling points. But today's buyers seek a budget-minded blend of value and style. So why waste money on extravagant finishes and frivolous floor plans?

The kitchens and baths we feature this month are at once elegant and ever so practical. Taken from homes both large and small, they deliver maximum impact at a surprisingly modest cost.

PHOTO : WINDOW WALL A 16-foot-long green-house window links the kitchen, nook, and family room in this compact, 1,682-square-foot home - a $960 (installed) feature that's worth its weight in sunshine. An extra-wide plant shelf runs the window's length; it's tiled to protect against drips.

PHOTO : TOUCH OF ELEGANCE A round-topped window is a stylishly inexpensive way to dress up a kitchen. This one in a $244,900 production home in Atlanta cost the builder a mere $205. Note also the breakfast bay and sun porch.

PHOTO : WORK TRIANGLE This wedge-shaped island gives new meaning to the term "work triangle." Fabricated of rift-sawn white oak with a polished-granite countertop, it comes complete with a vegetable sink and secondary cooktop, with space left over to prepare - or eat - something delicious. The two-burner unit costs around $600; the sink with goose-neck-spout faucet adds another $420.

PHOTO : OPEN BAR Feed the breakfast crowd at a shelf-style peninsula. The open approach costs far less than building a peninsula out of cabinetry, and it makes a small kitchen look larger than a solid unit would. There's plenty of knee space under the open bar, too.

PHOTO : PERIPHERAL VISION A corner-hung kitchen cabinet has mullioned glass doors both front and back. The two-sided design captures light and views via a window wall in the family room, overlooking a golf course.

PHOTO : A CUT ABOVE Hard maple butcher block tops this island to the tune of $18.80 a square foot (compared with $12.50 a foot for a good grade of laminate). Cooks like having this handy chopping surface at their fingertips, especially next to the vegetable sink. Over time, knife cuts may show, however. So to keep the island looking new, the cabinetmaker on this job recommends giving buyers a separate slab of butcher block to use as a cutting board.

PHOTO : PITCHING HORSESHOES A horseshoe-shaped island with a vegetable sink adds 16 square feet of work space to this kitchen. A cooktop would work equally well here, because there's plenty of room on both legs of the "U" for food preparation.

PHOTO : HIGH AND MIGHTY A row of high, square windows brings light - and a designer look - to the kitchen of this 1,668-square-foot model. The windows brighten up that otherwise-dead space above the cabinets.

PHOTO : SUN DAY BRUNCH Add a $15,000 sunroom to this roomy breakfast nook for a kitchen that's truly the heart of the home. The builder reports that virtually all buyers take the sunroom option, which is offered in all four models. Builder's profit on the sunroom is close to 30 percent.

PHOTO : SUN PLACE SPECIAL A greenhouse nook transforms this kitchen into sun place special. The glass bump-out costs about $1,000 more than a conventional breakfast bay, according to the builder, and is sure to be a memory point with prospects - especially on sunny days.

PHOTO : MEDIA WALL What an efficient place for the kitchen television: above the wall oven and in plain view of the cook and cleanup crew. Simply give the oven casing extra height for a small TV. Also note the art frieze along the ceiling perimeter - 36 examples of the owner's artwork.

PHOTO : GALLEY GLAMOUR Galley kitchens often get a bum rap. But in a small home, they can be a marvel of efficiency. Take the kitchen in this popular, 1,681-square-foot ranch, targeted to young buyers. The galley layout consumes a minimum of floor area, but it angles slightly to add extra counter and cabinet space. Above-cabinet cutouts add a contemporary touch. The home sells for $121,900.

PHOTO : SUNNY SINK A greenhouse window adds extra sunlight, shelf space, and outdoor views, at a nominal cost. In this modest, 1,809-square-foot home, the greenhouse costs only $300 more than a conventional window (the price includes extra tilework), so the builder includes it as a standard item.

PHOTO : SOMETHING OLD, SOMETHING NEW This new master bath brings the best of past and present to a renovated 1896 Victorian. The fluted mouldings and dentils came from a supplier specializing in Victorian woodwork; the medallions are exact replicas of originals found elsewhere in the home. Installed cost of the decorative moulding (excluding crown moulding) was around $1,500. The owners spent about $4,200 on marble for flooring, countertops, and the shower. The open towel shelf is inexpensive to build - and it's convenient.

PHOTO : INDUSTRIAL GRADE Glass and steel give this custom bath a slick, stylish look. The vanity is 3/4-inch-thick glass (cost: around $1,000). The towel bar is actually a vinyl-coated steel handrail (an inexpensive shower rod would work well, too). Mirrors hang in front of the bathroom's window wall. The built-in cabinets are red oak.

PHOTO : BOLD MOVES Colorful tile patterns are an inexpensive way to dress up a bath. The builder of this 2,650-square-foot townhome estimates that it costs only $200 more to pattern the handset ceramic tile than to use a conventional monochromatic design.

PHOTO : SAFETY SEAT Well-designed tubs have low, wide surrounds that allow bathers to enter from a safe seated position. This custom design features a handy built-in seat. The surround is topped with granite, but any surface material can be used.

PHOTO : SECRET GARDEN The tub in this master bath overlooks a private garden - a colorfully landscaped strip planted against the home's privacy wall. It's a memory point that's perfect for small-lot homes. A butt-glazed corner window gives this tub extra drama, but a low-budget picture window could provide equally private garden views.

PHOTO : BACK TO BACK Though these back-to-back lavs are in the master bath of a $780,000 home, the concept works at any price range - especially in two-lav baths that are square rather than long and narrow. The arrangement allows a couple to use the lavs without getting in each other's way. Also note the vaulted ceiling and greenhouse window.

PHOTO : TILED FOR A CHILD A playful mix of tile colors and shapes brightens this wedge-shaped children's bath. The eclectic design features odd-lot and discontinued tile styles that kept costs to less than 25 percent of comparable pre-designed patterned tile. The tub enclosure is reflected in the vanity mirror (which sports its own colorful tile border).

PHOTO : MIRROR, MIRROR An indented vanity makes it easier to get close to the mirror for applying makeup. It's a simple enough convenience, but it's rarely done. The makeup vanity in the master bath of this 2,270-square-foot home is centered between the lavs for extra elbow room when shaving or brushing teeth.

PHOTO : FIRE AND WATER A shower, tub, and two-way fireplace share a wall in this master bath, creating a warm and intimate annex to the master suite. The tub's surround is low and wide to give bathers safe tub access. Builder's cost on the fireplace (which comes standard) is $1,374.
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Title Annotation:kitchens and baths
Author:Bradford, Susan
Date:Mar 1, 1992
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