Dear Claudia: I have been living in my house in Ahwatukee for the last seven years. I fixed it up back then, but now it’s looking outdated. I have a minimum budget of $1,000 to spruce up my living dining room. Without seeing my space what do you recommend I should do within my budget?

Answer: Certainly a living and dining room can be spruced up with your budget, especially if you do it yourself. Since it’s a minimum budget I would use the same furniture. First, start by making a list of what you like, the pieces to keep and what you want to get rid of. Draw a floor plan of the room to scale, also the furniture, but cut them out, this way you can place the furniture pieces on the room floor plan. It’s a simple way of finding out another placement for your furniture that you might like.

Once you decide on the furniture placement and get rid of all the things that were not attractive to you anymore, make a list of what can be bought with the budget. This is some of the things I recommend to add or change to the décor, choose one or several of them depending on the price: area rug, lighting, accessories, decorative pillows, mirrors, window coverings, artwork and potted plants. Lastly, a new color of paint on the walls can help brighten up the space and give it a new look.

I wanted to share that one of my favorite architects is Frank Lloyd Wright; he influences me to study architecture and continue my education in interior design. One of my famous quotes is “less is more only when more is too much.” When making a decision of what to use within the budget make sure that it’s something you are going to like for many years to come.

Dear Claudia: I would like to change the counter top of my kitchen cabinets to granite to spruce up my kitchen. Since I am spending thousands of dollars I am hesitant. What is your recommendation?

Answer: It is always a great investment to completely remodel a kitchen; I believe it’s wise to remodel the entire kitchen at once. Not knowing all the other details of the existing kitchen such as how old are the cabinets? Is the layout of the cabinetry functional? Do you like the layout of the cabinetry? Are the cabinets in good condition? Do you like the cabinetry stain? Do you like the wood or the door style?

Most likely, if you answered no to one of these questions; you should consider replacing the cabinetry before investing in a new granite counter top. A well designed kitchen that is functional with a great layout and design is timeless and will be liked. Since granite counter tops are very popular they will just add to enhance the kitchen design.

Lastly, sometimes it’s wise to wait to remodel the entire kitchen. If you decide to change your kitchen cabinets, depending on the kitchen layout and design, you might like to have two different granite slabs. This is a great look that enhances the design of the kitchen. Take a look at for ideas.

• Claudia Dabdoub is a resident of Ahwatukee Foothills and owner of D’amore Interior Design Studio. To ask a question for an upcoming column, reach her at (480) 751-9938 or

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