Who: Ryan Paget
Where: Lawrence, KS
Moxie Measure: Ryan, a high-school teacher, knew that creating his dream kitchen for just $15,000 would be one of his toughest assignments yet. So instead of relaxing during his summer vacation, he hunkered down with some how-to books and schooled himself in construction. Looking for a thrifty alternative to a stone countertop, Ryan decided to make his own out of concrete. He built a 12-foot-long wood mold for the slab top, then invited his dad over to help him mix and pour the concrete. After smoothing and leveling the surface with a trowel, he let the concrete cure before using a diamond polishing pad to give the counter a mirror-like shine. He did us proud.
Who: Kim Vela
Where: Littleton, CO
Moxie Measure: How to get the look of swing-out carriage-style wood garage doors when your budget only allows for steel overheads? With paint, of course. Or so thought this young mom, who tried in vain to get a pro to faux finish her doors with a raised-panel-and-cross-buck motif. When none were willing to take on the project, Kim resolved to do it herself. After trolling the Internet for step-by-steps and refining her design and color palette on a sample panel offered up by the garage-door retailer, she seized the precious hours when her twin 2-year-olds were napping to work on her doors. The project took about five months, but the results are so realistic, even the neighbors were fooled.