I decided some time ago (about when some of the old vertical blinds started to go mouldy) that buying some new window dressings for my home, the Bake Lair, was going to be a priority. But when I asked around with some of my friends who've used professional window dressing companies... Well. I had three windows that needed blinds, and there was no way I was paying $1000 or more for the three. It represented a "convenience charge" to me - those companies get away with charging so much because they measure the windows, they supply the blinds, they cut them, they install them. It's a lazy tax, and like everyone else I'll pay for the convenience in some situations... but not this one.
I decided there had to be a cheaper way.
First up, I tried to figure out an easy solution. Ready to hang blinds that you can install yourself are great - unless your windows aren't standard sizes. I spoke to a certain hardware chain about having blinds cut to size. Summary: expensive, poor quality products, and they were going to ship them all the way to the Eastern States to be cut. Nope. I tried a curtain shop: reasonably priced but poor quality product, and they weren't even in stock. But here's where the curtain shop earned a place in my heart forever: they gave me the card of a woman who professionally cuts blinds to size.
I did find timber venetians that were sturdy and had a beautiful finish, but not at a specialist curtain or renovations store. I found them at Spotlight. Better still, Spotlight has sales on regularly where the price of blinds are slashed, so instead of $159 per window they cost $99 per window. Cost so far? $297.
My Dad and I took a road trip out to the woman who cuts blinds (I really can't make that into a proper job title!) and she cut the two sets of blinds that needed to be cut to fit, reduced the length of one set, and did some tricky cutting magic to make the set for the kitchen fit properly around the tile splashback... For $65. Bargain! I gave her $70 and she threw in the right kind of drill bit and screws, and plenty of advice on installing them.
We borrowed a drill, and my Dad and Perfect Boyfriend spent a grand total of an hour and a half installing them.
Total cost: $367.
You can see how great they look in the kitchen!
So sometimes there's not an easy way to save on what you want to renovate in your home, or you don't have the specific DIY skills required - even my Dad, who can do just about anything, wasn't game to cut the blinds. You can still find a way to save.
One thing I learnt from this experience was that small operators sometimes charge a lot less for the services you need. If you shop around, buy on sale, enlist the expertise of people who can undertake some of the DIY for you, borrow the equipment, and only pay for the services you really can't source another way, you can save a bundle.