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They’ve fallen through structural beams, they’ve had to call the police to remove a crazy contractor, and they’ve turned four decrepit gun shops into four vibrant private homes -- one of which was for themselves. (Did we mention they had seven kids along the way?) Husband-and-wife team Robert and Cortney Novogratz know renovation (the heartache! the triumph! the blisters!) and have documented it all in a fresh new tome, Downtown Chic: Designing Your Dream Home: From Wreck to Ravishing ($45, Rizzoli). In it, the Novogratzes, otherwise known as New York–based Sixx Design, chronicle many of their rags-to-riches turnarounds of some decidedly unfashionable spaces, from a Chelsea townhouse (condemned) to the aforementioned gun shops (should have been condemned). They plainly and wittily share their advice on everything from how to hire the right contractor to collecting art to properly installing a trampoline -- all with an edge on saving time and money, two highly precious commodities these days. Here, exclusively for American Way, Sixx Design shares some no-nonsense tips and answers a few questions on how to save money -- and your sanity -- while renovating your home.

Things to Consider before You Renovate

Stylish spaces are great, but if they don’t function, renovating them is a waste of time and money. Take time to think about how you use the various rooms in your house, and adapt your plans to suit that reality.

Don’t be too trendy -- shag carpeting is still waiting for a comeback.

Expensive doesn’t always mean best.

Blogs We Frequent

Oh Happy Day!


Desire to Inspire

How to Flea

The great stuff sells before six a.m., so get there early, before the dealers snatch up the best things.

Negotiate. You can always walk away and come back later.

Be sure to bring the measurements of the spaces you are furnishing, and bring a tape measure when shopping.

Old Good Things

Using vintage pieces in new spaces is very distinctive.

Great old light fixtures can be rewired to today’s codes.

New glass can make old windows functional.

Collections for the Wall

A decorating trick we go back to time and time again is grouping similar objects on a wall. Just remember -- one element should be consistent among all the pieces of the collection -- whether size, color, or subject.