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When it comes time to choose new light fixtures, appliances, and other allowance items, homeowners often rely on a thick portfolio of pictures clipped from magazines and brochures collected at home shows. Unfortunately, most of the products they find are too expensive, too hard to install, or utterly experimental, so choosing even one of them can impair your ability to coordinate the job. Frequently, we contractors make things worse by sending clients to our favorite showrooms armed with nothing more than a list of allowance prices. Dazed and confused by a bewildering array of carpet samples and plumbing fixtures, they spend hours picking out items they like, only to discover the prices have put them way over budget. They may choose to