With the unlimited decorative options available for concrete, it's easy to be like a kid in a candy store and want everything that appeals to you. However, the more decorative goodies you put into your project, the more expensive it will be due to increases in material and labor costs. Avoid temptation and satisfy your aesthetic sweet tooth by using just one or two simple decorative treatments. Here are examples of economical but elegant looks. Get more concrete design ideas.

1. For interior concrete floors, opt for a basic one-color stain application with a coat of sealer rather than more elaborate treatments, advises Bob Harris of The Decorative Concrete Institute and author of Bob Harris' Guide to Stained Concrete Interior Floors. "When the contractor proposes decorative sawcuts, contrasting stain colors or intricate graphics, this increases the labor as well as the material cost," he says. There are also economical alternatives when it comes to the products used. "Water-based stain, for example, does not require any labor-intensive cleaning and neutralizing, unlike acid stain," Harris adds. (See What Will I Pay for Stained Concrete?)

2. Instead of installing a stamped concrete driveway combining multiple colors and patterns, consider going with one integral color or one color of hardener. Another economical way to add decorative enhancement, says Harris, is to stencil just a portion of the driveway or stencil a decorative border. The same strategy can be used for patios. (See Stenciling Concrete.)

3. Use an economical but attractive exposed-aggregate or rock-salt finish for patios, sidewalks and other exterior pavements.

4. Polished concrete flooring is an economical alternative to marble or granite and will give you the same mirrorlike finish (see Concrete Polishing).

5. If you're building a concrete fireplace surround, take into account that intricate details and curves will usually boost the cost. Consider turning some curves in your design into straight lines, and minimizing small details. Simple, clean lines can create a dramatic focal point in a room. (See Ten Tips for Designing a Concrete Fireplace.)

6. With concrete countertops, the final cost often depends on the creativity and time required by the artisan to incorporate special details and unique designs, plus the cost of transportation and installation. Some things that can add to the bottom line include irregular or curved shapes, thicker 2-inch concrete, integral drain boards, custom edges and back splashes (see Concrete Countertop Pricing).