Furnishing a home can be a major investment. Homes have many “needs” and even more “nice to haves”. And chances are the sum of all those things will exceed your budget.
However, as I said in another article “My new home: 10 easy tips to make it happen” , establishing a comfortable budget to invest in your new decoration and sticking to it is very important for your financial and mental health. Ultimately it is all about making choices, so the question that we often ask ourselves is where to splurge and where to save.
There are really no rights and wrongs when making your priorities. For example, I totally understand moments like “I fell in love with this piece and I simply need it” (we have all been there). So because of those moments, I will give you very practical and functional tips about how to decide where to splurge and where to save so as not to break the bank when designing each room of your home.
As you know I specialize in interior design for people who are nomads: Your home is the one you are enjoying today, but you might have a different one in a near future. So besides logical design tips, the fact of having a home away from home is one of the aspects that I am taking into consideration.
1.- Living room
Sofa. This one is easy: Just think about how much time you spend on your sofa and I am sure you will agree that here is one item that you should definitely consider the quality and durability of the materials. So the verdict is splurge at will.
Actually, I would even consider using a more affordable fabric on a good sofa than buying a cheap one: that fabric and look of the sofa can be always changed as time goes by but the quality can’t. Cheaper quality pieces many times are made of foams and plastics, which obviously don’t hold up over time and can also give off-gassing and VOCs.
Statements pieces. These are the pieces that really reflect your taste and personality and you will take with you when you move making your home feel truly yours. So splurge it is.
Just make sure to opt as much as you can for small pieces that can be easily adapted to different spaces and make a pact with yourself about the number of “eye catching” pieces you will have.
Rug. Fortunately, the development of the synthetic rug industry brought us amazing options that are a complete steal. And let’s be honest, who really wants to spend fortunes on something that’s going to eventually get soiled and need to be replaced? Your living room is where you are going to have guests and most probably high traffic. The last thing you want is to be always worried about the jewel piece you have on the floor. So here the verdict is a clear save.
Window Treatment. Window treatment is pretty much anything you put on your window, whether that’s blinds, shades, drapes, curtains, or privacy film. You can end up spending a lot of money on these things, especially if you have oddly sized windows that will need custom treatments, but the thing is there’s also plenty of affordable options. So in this area try to save.
Here two options to be considered.
Blinds – are “hard” window coverings, composed of slats or vanes that tumble down the blind as it is lowered or can be pulled across a window to stack lengthwise, to the side.
Roller Shades -made of plastic or fabric, the roller shades are panels attached to a rod that are sized to fit within the frame of the window. To let in light or see outside, you need to raise the shade, using either a cord, roller, or lifting mechanism.
2.- Dining Room
Chairs. Those chairs are destined to go through a lot! If you find chairs that you find comfortable and sturdy, grab them! Remember that chairs can be easily moved from one place to the other, if they are made of fabric they can be reupholstered anywhere and if you end up with a bigger table, you can always mismatch them up bringing a new and interesting look to your dining furniture. Chairs are an item to splurge.
Art. Although I truly believe that art does not necessarily need to be expensive, actually on the contrary, I love using creative and affordable solutions, the dining room usually is the place with the most premium wall for a piece of art and most surely is where any piece can be admired for longer. This is why I encourage you to let yourself get a bit crazy when choosing your piece for this room. Another area where I would recommend to splurge.
Table. This is one of the most overused pieces of furniture in a home. The dining room table is the place for meals, casual conversation and in many cases home office or the place for homework. Bottomline, no matter how sturdy they are, most probably it will end up stained and or worn out soon. So be wise and try to save.
Besides, (and this is my main point to be honest) dining rooms can have different shapes and sizes, making one specific table perfect for one place but totally wrong for another one. So if you invest a lot in your dining table, the next time you move and realize you need a different table, you will be devastated.
Dinnerware and glasses. The reason is simple: if it breaks, which being a nomad family most of the times it will, the heartache is significantly less painful. Vitrelle glass and or melamine for plates and stemless wine glasses are great options. Remember that what will make your table really amazing are the accessories you place on it such as flowers, candles and beautiful napkins. Another clear save.
3.- Home Office
Chair. No need to say that your back should be your highest priority, right?
Look at the other benefits: A good office chair, besides taking care of your back and avoiding future pains, will make you more comfortable and productive. Yes, being comfortable is key to getting work done so, don’t go cheap here: you are allowed to splurge.
Light. Lighting that is too bright can have many negative effects on productivity and health. Harsh and bright lighting –particularly fluorescent bulbs– has been linked to causing migraines and eye strain. On the other hand, dim or dull lighting can be just as bad a problem. A poorly lit room makes the eyes work harder to focus and see properly, causing headaches and eye strain. Make sure to understand how much light you need in the place where you decided to put your desk. Make sure you have the correct lighting: Splurge here.
Table. Once again, my point is the size and shape. What can be a perfect solution for one room/corner can be totally wrong for another place and in the case of the office, you don’t even need to move address to change your home office from one place to another. So you should save.
Storage. I know I am getting repetitive but the thing is storage is probably the most property and lifestyle-specific area of furniture, meaning it changes as you move from home to home and interest to interest. There is no doubt there are plenty of beautiful bookcases and cabinets out there, but it can be very frustrating to blow your budget on one, only to find that it doesn’t fit in your new place, or doesn’t hold for the new needs of your new business or job. Make sure to save.
Mattress. If the sofa was an easy “splurge one”, the mattress is the easiest. Despite of the fact you can’t see under you bedding, the mattress can be the key for a good night sleep and here I rest my case. This is my biggest splurge of all.
Window treatment. This is the room where a custom made drapery can make the entire difference. Do you need a blackout option to sleep well? Do you think motorized shapes that can be opened with a button touch from your bed could help you waking up in higher spirits? Do you have close neighbors and a privacy option together with a blackout option is essential? Well… a good life is also made of these simple daily pleasures, so here is where you need to be generous with your window treatment selection. The verdict is splurge.
Bedside tables and nightstand. A great way to save on bedroom decor is with bedside tables and nightstands. Those items, because of the small size and usage, allow you to be very creative. For instance, they don’t need to be very sturdy so cane and wicker can be an affordable options, not to mention tables and chairs, together with vintage suitcases and floating shelves that are perfect and affordable solutions for whoever does not need storage beside their bed. Try to save if you can.
Art. This is obviously the most private room of any home and this is where the art can get really personal. Here is “the” place to get really creative and explore different ideas such as:
- The pages of a colorful calendar
- Pictures and family photos
- Completed jigsaw puzzles
- Pieces of patterned fabric, wallpaper, or wrapping paper
- Yours or your family’s own creations
- Small keepsakes of any kind, mounted in a shadow box
This is an area where you do not need big bucks to have memorable and meaningful pieces of decor. Be creative and try to save.
Showerhead. Few things can be more invigorating than a good shower and the perfect showerhead will ensure lot only less waste water but will give you a better water pressure and will certainly be easier to regulate. Definitely worth the splurge.
Light. A bathroom needs a good light, and a beautiful design piece can totally change the look of an outdated bathroom. If that was not enough, in case you are renting, you can always take it with you when you leave the place. Perfect piece to spend a little bit more right? You should splurge.
Mirrors. Obviously a good size mirror is crucial for your beauty routines but the good news is that a mirror does not need to be expensive to fulfill its function. There are plenty of affordable options out there, so save.
Walls. I mean save with whatever finish you decide to use on your walls, let it be tiles, paneling or painting. Considering the size of this room, here is where you can even be courageous and go for one DIY.
Hardware. Stylish hardware can make a huge difference to the look of a kitchen, and can be a more limited investment than cabinets. Actually, whenever you have nice countertops, interesting light and perfect hardware, nobody will look at your cabinets. Go for splurge.
Backsplash. Here is another item that can completely elevate your kitchen, make it easier to clean and does not require a major renovation. Considering that backsplashes cover a small area and that they can be easily replace, I always encourage to splurge in some bold choices here!
Counter stools. Sometimes, some items have a wide variety of selection which makes that category one where you can find great pieces at affordable prices: Counter stools are one of them. It is relatively easy to find kitchen stools that look high-end at affordable prices pretty much everywhere, so this is surely one piece where you should expect to save money. To cut costs, look for metal or wood options that aren’t upholstered and easier to clean.
Tables. As I shared before, you should consider to save some money on your dining room table, then in your kitchen table even more. This is where the battle takes place every day and you want the most practical, easy to clean solution and usually those are the cheap ones!
So splurge or save. Even Warren Buffet goes through these decisions while investing. It is all about making choices. At the end of the day, just as your wardrobe is made of parts of trendy fast fashion pieces and long wear investment ones, your home can and should be an artful mix of high, low, and whatever there is in between. The secret is the right balance.
I hope this guide can help you in the direction of high-low home heaven and feel free to adapt as necessary for your own home, budget, style, and priorities.