Things to Spend On Vs. Things to Save On

Things to Spend On Vs. Things to Save On

In this day and age we seem to want it all, and we want it now!

It’s an utter obsession with instant gratification and a need for on-demand speed! With just a click of a button we have almost anything right at our fingertips. But when it comes to designing your home, it’s not always that simple. In fact, most things have to be done in stages and phases. There can be long lead times, delayed deliveries, items damaged in transit….all of which means patience is key!

It’s hugely important to start by making a list and then breaking it down. Decide what specific areas and items are of value to you, and separate them from the things that you can hold off on (it’s definitely better to do it right later down the road over doing it fast!). Once you’ve got that covered, its crucial to pinpoint the key areas where it makes sense to spend, vs. the areas where you should aim to save. I sat down with Kristen and Laura to pick their brains on the best areas to save vs. spend, and they offered some sage advice!


EK: It seems like it can be pretty overwhelming to cross everything off of your wish list at once when it comes to designing your home. Do you have advice on where to start?

KM: Start with researching images on Pinterest or in shelter magazines that you like. Try to find an aesthetic or look that you keep coming back to or keeps catching your eye. That usually tells us what you are really drawn to and what your true style is. Then from there, start breaking it down into manageable parts. Are you wanting a fabulous rug that sets the tone for the room? An amazing wallpaper or rich paint color? Graphic patterned Drapes? Let that be the starting point for you, and work toward those inspirational images piece by piece.

LB: Having a roadmap for your whole home, or the rooms that need design help, is the best way to get started. That way, when you work in phases, your home will be continuous when you finish. For instance, if you know what your foyer will look like once it’s complete, it’s much easier to make decisions on the living room off of the foyer in advance. Your home will flow in style, color, and design. I definitely recommend researching images on Pinterest or Houzz so that you can hone in on your own personal style that fits with the architecture of your home.

EK: What are the top three areas you suggest putting your money during the design process? (i.e. Window Treatments? The Master Bedroom? Lighting?)

KM: I am a big proponent of original art to bring personality and uniqueness to a room. It doesn’t have to be pricy but it completes a huge part of the puzzle in spaces. And don’t be afraid to go big. Second, good lighting can make or break a room. You pay a small price to add varying layers of lighting by adding a recessed floor outlet under your sofa to hide lamp cords, or add library lights to highlight your bookshelves, even adding recessed lighting only requires a little bit of patching and painting and is not the nightmare you might think it is. And put dimmers on every major light switch. The third area would be in good window treatments. You may have to phase this in over time because it is a high dollar investment in some cases, but good drapes elevate a house, especially if you have invested in your dream home or forever home- there is no substitute for quality here.

Middleton Stairway Shot

Statement Artwork and Layered Lighting

Living Room Shot

Statement Artwork and Layered Lighting

LB: Depending upon budget, I always recommend spending more money on the architectural elements of your home along with custom draperies. In areas that are used more often, such as the kitchen, family room, and bathrooms, a little extra planning, thought, and quality of materials goes a long way. Custom draperies or architectural window coverings take a home from average to extraordinary. I would rather see a simple linen custom drapery that is made for a window with proper hardware rather than an embroidered silk panel that was bought at a box store and retro-fitted to a room. It’s very difficult, and usually impossible, to successfully buy store-made draperies for a home.

Middleton Blue Bedroom

Architectural Window Covering

EK: Do you have any tips on where you can save, but still get the look of high end?

KM: With window treatments, you can substitute for pricier fabrics when you use an inexpensive solid fabric like a linen or a lower priced solid silk. And with good fabrication and a fun trim, an inexpensive fabric can look like a million bucks. Also, changing out your pillows for good quality ones is an easy way to bring personality, quick change, and updating to a room. You can also get crafty and hot glue a fun trim to the bottom of your chairs or sofa, or even your shower curtain- a great way to get the high-end, custom design look for next to nothing.

Cliffton Bedroom Shot

Window Treatments: Simple Solid Fabric with a Great Decorative Trim and Bold Hardware + Custom Toss Pillows

LB: Every item in your home can be high-end or of the best quality. When budget does not allow for that, I usually suggest buying furniture for less important rooms from affordable retail stores. If there are any areas you like to “DIY”, go for it! Painting old furniture, changing the hardware, reupholstering dining seats, refreshing pillows, painting a room, etc. can go a long way in saving money and updating your look.

EK: What types of items can be put on the back burner for updating down the line?

KM: If you are starting with a clean slate, window treatments, artwork or wallpaper can be phased in later but you must try to get to these- it’s so important to achieve that inviting, completed look or wow factor you are going for.

LB: When starting with a blank slate, obviously the most important item is furniture. But, maybe hold off on the unique piece in the hall that needs a bit of research and/or extra budget. The last thing you want to do is pour money into something bad. So, if you can’t afford all of the furniture and décor at once, don’t delay the process by buying junk in the meantime to fill a space. Otherwise, you may never end up with your dream room or home.

Philadelphia Style Mag Image Used

EK: What are the non-negotiables for designing your space? (i.e. what are the must-do’s that should never be skipped)

KM: See above- Artwork, window treatments and lighting!

LB: Definitely quality draperies or window coverings (if needed), properly scaled furniture, and a style that speaks to and achieves the homeowner’s dream.


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