Where to Splurge and Where to Save on Home Decor

An Interior Design Budget Blueprint

Unless you were the winner of Saturday’s Powerball, you probably live on a budget and that budget likely dictates everything you do, from dining out to decorating. If you’re doing the latter, I have some tips for you as to where you should splurge and where you can save.

Splurge  

·       If it impacts your health, I suggest doling out the dollars.  This means buy the best possible mattresses, office chair and other oft used seating that you can afford. These are items you use every day and are critical to your physical self and well-being. 

 These original paintings by  Chris Foster  are some of my favorites.  They weren't cheap, but I adore them. Conversely, I picked up this table lamp at a consignment shop for $25.  Photo by John Valls. 

These original paintings by Chris Foster are some of my favorites.  They weren't cheap, but I adore them. Conversely, I picked up this table lamp at a consignment shop for $25.  Photo by John Valls. 

·       Statement pieces are the things that, if your house were on fire, you’d grab on the way out the door. This includes original art, vintage furniture, or that vase you purchased on your honeymoon.

·       It is indisputable that a large area rug can make or break a space. For this reason, I always recommend spending top dollar (whatever that means to you) on an area rug. Wool rugs are my favorite; they are beautiful, durable and wear well. That said, if you have kids and pets, I recommend nylon rugs. They are strong and stain resistant making them easy to clean.

Save

·       Like most designers, I LOVE pillows. The more the merrier.  I have so many pillows that I rotate them in and out according to my mood.  Consequently, I don’t like to spend a lot on them.  That said, I do like to buy good quality pillow inserts because I believe they look and lie differently than their less expensive versions.

·       Decent accent tables need not cost a decent chunk of change.  Homegoods, Target and other big box stores tend to have decent pieces that are perfectly fine for housing your books, a table lamp and a beverage.

·       Speaking of table lamps, lighting is an area where you can save some dough. This one is tougher for me because I love expensive lighting and in terms of physical heft, I do think you can tell the difference.  However, if you don’t pick up table lamps to determine weight like I do, then this is certainly an area where I suggest you save.

·       Accessories are the jewelry of a room, but very rarely will I spend a lot on these.  You can often find me hitting up consignment stores like Seams to Fit Home, Etsy, Tuesday Morning or even Goodwill for goodies like books, decorative boxes and candleabras. 

Looking for a better sense of what things actually cost?  Download my free budgeting guide here.

 

Getting on the Same (Design) Page with your Partner

A QUIZ FOR YOU + YOUR SIGNIFICANT OTHER.

 

One of the most frequent scenarios I encounter with my clients is this:

Partner A calls me to ask about my services.  We agree to meet, see the space, talk about goals and objectives and so forth.  After being assured that the Partner B doesn’t have any interest in the outcome of the space, I begin to design.  I return to present the design – generally to Partner A and B – and Partner B is none too pleased with what s/he sees.  An argument ensues. I have to scrap my design and at the client’s expense, go back to the drawing board.

This happens ALL the time.

Don’t assume your partner doesn’t care.  He/she DOES. They may not know how to articulate what they like or dislike, but they do have an opinion.  This questionnaire will help him/her find the words to describe their preferences and give you the tools to communicate them.

The other scenario I encounter often is that I am brought in to settle home decor disagreements - or worse, asked to side with the initiating party.

Take heart; much of the time, misunderstandings around interiors are more about communication of one’s needs for a space than an actual difference in style preference. 

By doing this brief exercise in advance, you can get to the desired goal a lot faster and avoid unnecessary aggravation.

INSTRUCTIONS:

Print out two copies of this post. Each of you will need to take this survey.  It is important that you do it separately so as not to influence one another’s responses. So much of interior design is intuitive and about feel, so have fun, answer honestly and don’t overthink your answers!

NUTS AND BOLTS

  • Which room(s) are you interested in addressing? (If more than one, answer the questions below for each).
  • How do you use the space currently? (i.e. watching TV, eating, sleeping, reading etc.)
  • Are you happy with the way it is utilized or would you change that in some way?  If yes, how?
  • Approximately how many hours a day do you spend in this room?

STYLE

How would you describe your preferred style?

  • Modern
  • Traditional
  • Transitional (between modern and traditional)
  • Eclectic
  • Rustic
  • Industrial
  • Other

How do you want it to feel? Circle the three that most apply:

  • Formal
  • Relaxed
  • Casual
  • Peaceful
  • Unique
  • Inviting
  • Happy
  • Minimal
  • Collected
  • Elegant
  • Other

How do you NOT want it to feel? Circle the three that most apply:

  • Formal
  • Relaxed
  • Casual
  • Peaceful
  • Unique
  • Inviting
  • Happy
  • Minimal
  • Collected
  • Elegant
  • Other

What is your biggest priority?

  • The way the room looks
  • The way the room functions
  • The way the room feels
  • Other

What colors do you tend to prefer?

  • Cooler tones (greens, blues, greys)
  • Warmer tones (oranges, reds, browns)
  • Neutrals (whites, browns, blacks)
  • Other

Which room(s) in your home do you most like and why?

FINANCES

  • How much are you willing to spend to make the space what you want it to be?
  • How will you be paying for the improvements (checking, credit card, bank loan etc,)
  • Are you willing to put in some elbow grease or do you want someone to do it all for you?

TIMELINE

  • When do you want the room to be done?
  • Are you willing to wait if you can get an item for less money?

VISUAL CHECK

Rank the following rooms in terms of appeal (1= your favorite 5 = your least favorite)

 Source: Houzz

Source: Houzz

 Source: Home Decor

Source: Home Decor

Don't like any of the rooms you see?  Hit the Web and search sources like Pinterest, Instagram and Apartment Therapy.  There is an endless sea of inspiration and ideas out there.  Don't be limited to what you see above.

All done? Sit down together and review your answers. Even better, work with an interior designer who can help review and decipher your answers and make the appropriate recommendations.

Lastly, CONGRATULATIONS on taking the first step toward understanding your personal style and learning how to marry that style with another person with whom you presumably live -- or perhaps you plan to live.


XO

KS