Home Furnishings and Decor: Where to Splurge and Where to Save

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If you are ready to start from scratch in giving your home or room a whole new look, you’ve probably started with a simple budget to list out all of your needs.  And ohmygoodness do those budget numbers start adding up FAST!  If you are appalled at the amount of cash you are about to drop, I’m sure you’ve wondered which furniture and decor categories should prioritize more budget allocation?  So with this post, I hope to give you my design and budget advice in a few major home furnishing and decor categories.  So let’s get started….which categories are SPLURGE worthy…..and which categories are SAVE friendly!

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CATEGORY #1 - SPLURGE VS. SAVE - CUSTOM DRAPERY 

Custom drapery would be a decor category that I would absolutely recommend SPLURGING on!  

Here’s the downside to store bought drapery:  I have found that it is difficult to find ready-made, store bought drapery panels that are the correct length and width for most standard windows.  If you have a wide window , just one store bought drapery panel on each side looks measly and sparse.  As for the height - most of the time I recommend handing a drapery rod right below the ceiling line or the crown molding.  So of course the drapery panel would start from this point, and then hang down to just barely grazing the floor…..finding this exact perfect length from a product already sitting on a store shelf - not so easy.  Store bought drapes can often have a sloppy look, because there is no pleating or gathering at the top of the panel that helps the drape keep it’s shape.  If you are using your drapery in a functional way (that is, you are opening and closing them for light and privacy control), it will be a daily struggle to re-shape your store bought drapery panels and get them looking picture perfect.

And here’s the upside to custom window treatments:  Custom drapery panels, will always look polished and pulled together - even if you are opening and closing them several times a day.  You are not limited on fabric selection, overall style, trims, lining, etc.  The price tag for custom drapery treatments is often steep - but you can save a bit by choosing an affordable fabric, and then jazzing up the style with maybe a solid tape trim running down the edge.  I tell my clients all the time, if we need to reduce the budget a bit, I would not recommend cutting the custom window treatments out - in every project, they really take the wow factor of the entire room to the next level!

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CATEGORY #2 - SPLURGE VS. SAVE - ACCENT TABLES

Accent tables are a great place to save some hard earned cash!  There are TONS of amazing online sources and big box stores that carry amazing looking accent tables at unbelievably affordable price points….I’m talking under $100.  Many of the designs are knock-offs of their more expensive counterparts, but in a well appointed room, no one will be able to spot it.  Accent tables could be a small round table next to a living room side chair, an end table next to your sofa, a nightstand, accent cabinet in your entryway, etc.  Basically, think of an accent table as any table piece that is not having heavy use everyday (like your breakfast table!)  Because of lighter day-to-day use, and the amazing array of affordable options in the marketplace, accent tables are a great category for savings!

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CATEGORY #3 - SPLURGE VS. SAVE - LIGHT FIXTURES

Light Fixtures are another budget area where I would recommend spending a bit more $$$.  They really make a huge difference in a room and are splurge-worthy.  And let me clarify - I’m not saying you always need to spend thousands on a dining room chandelier.  But I am saying you should probably spend more than $50 on the generic Home Depot dining room chandelier.  The big box stores are a bit limited in my opinion on light fixtures that look high end - they look boring and “builder-grade”…. meaning everyone on your block has the same ugly oil rubbed bronze flush mount light fixture in their entry, and you are looking for more out of life. ;)  For light fixtures, my recommendation would be to stay away from options that are safe and generic - those typically contribute to making a room feel cheap.  Instead, be a little risky and select an option that makes a stronger statement - b/c bold lighting selections are worth it!

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CATEGORY #4 - SPLURGE VS. SAVE - UPHOLSTERED SEATING

For your main piece of upholstered seating, let me explain - I am referring to your  main sofa, your husbands chair that he will plop down in every evening, your oversized sectional that your young children will play on - basically the soft seating pieces that will be utilized the majority of the time in your family’s living space!  For these main, heavy-use pieces, I do recommend considering them as more of an investment - they are splurge worthy!  A higher quality (and higher pricetag) sofa will definitely outlast a cheap knockoff by many many years.  I would not skimp here and buy the bargain basement sectional/sofa from a big box store - because it simply will not hold up over time.  There really is a huge array of quality levels when it comes to upholstered seating - from the manufacturing of the frame, to the quality of the cushion fills, to the durability of the upholstery fabrics, there are so many components in the overall quality.  I would advise buying a main upholstery piece with the expectation that you want it to last at least 10 years.  It might need to be reupholstered during that timeframe, but the frame of the piece should absolutely hold up for that length of time, if not longer!

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CATEGORY #5 - SPLURGE VS. SAVE - ACCESSORIES & ARTWORK

Accessories and artwork are a home decor category that you can SAVE a bit of money on!  I would recommend selecting accessories and artwork based upon an initial reaction of “I LOVE THIS AND I HAVE TO HAVE IT!” Luckily, I’ve personally experienced that feeling many times on items that are completely affordable!  If you want to fall in love with more budget-friendly options, here are a few of my favorite sources:  Minted.com (artwork), Flea Markets/Resale Shops/Consignment Shops (artwork and accessories), Target (accessories), Home Goods (accessories).

So now I’d love to hear from you - which of the 5 tips were a “lightbulb moment” for you?  Or maybe you breathed a sigh of relief - learning you could save a bit of money in a certain budget area you had not expected- which one was it?  Leave me a comment below! 

Lauren Thomas2 Comments