5 Home Décor Items to Spend on and 5 To Save On

A designer explains what's worth investing in.

Posted by Linda Merrill | Oct 10, 2010
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If you are decorating a room from scratch, perhaps you’ve moved to a larger home and have empty rooms to fill, it’s vital to establish a budget for decorating the empty space. Part of creating a budget is figuring out exactly what you need in the room, based on the functional needs of the space, and what you feel you will be spending on each item. By comparing this detailed list with your total budget, you will quickly see where you need to make adjustments.  Perhaps you will find that your budget total is not sufficient once you’ve detailed all the individual design elements, and that’s okay. You will either simply increase your budget, cut out some of the items on your list, or most likely, split the difference.  As you work through this process, you will come up to the inevitable questions of which items are worth spending on and which are not.   Even if you’re only doing a minor upgrade in a space, having in mind the Spender/Saver list may help you make the most informed decisions. Here’s a list of 5 items worth spending on and 5 that are good to save on.

Spend On:

Seating: Any item that is used for seating receives a great deal of wear and tear and should be of sufficient quality to withstand use and, at times, abuse. Chairs and sofas should be made of first quality, kiln-dried hardwoods with time honored woodworking techniques, including dovetail joinery, eight-way hand tied springs and minimal stapling in the construction. Upholstered pieces should be filled with quality natural latex foam, or down and feathers and the cover fabrics should have high durability ratings. All of these items, while not inexpensive, will result in long lasting furniture that will more than pay for itself over its lifetime.

Flooring: Quality hardwood floors with high durability finishes will withstand years of use and can be refinished. Wall-to-wall carpets should be made of quality wools for durability and stain resistance. Large area rugs such as genuine Oriental carpets are made to last for twenty-five years or more. Less expensive copies will show wear and tear, hold onto stains and fade much more quickly and require replacement many times over.

Kitchen and bath: Kitchen and bath upgrades can ad value to the home and are often worth spending on. Good drawers with self-closing features, functional storage options and beautiful looking cabinets, appliances and fixtures will be eye-catchers and are worth the added expense.

Lighting: Good lighting is usually the last element we think of, but a great lighting plan will take an average looking space and turn it into a high-end showplace. Additionally, or even more importantly, good lighting will significantly improve the functionality of a space, making it work for you. Finally, a beautiful design plan will be overlooked if the lighting is poorly executed. After all, is a Van Gogh or Marc Chagall worth the price in a room without lights?

One good piece:  Every room needs a signature element; that one piece that is noticed and admired. It could be nearly anything from a piece of art to an antique chair or a small sofa. This key element will raise up the look and feel of the entire room and if you truly love it, you will always find a place for it in any future home as well.

Save On:

Throw pillows: Open up any shelter magazine and you will be treated to beautiful examples of throw pillows that cost upwards of $300 and more. Beautiful fabrics and trims can really add up. However, if you love an assortment of pillows, the total cost can really add up as well. Beautiful vintage fabrics and remnants are always available at fabric stores and antiques marts and you can make your own simple pillow covers. Most home décor stores have aisles of lovely decorative pillows that are a fraction of the cost of high-end custom pillows. Swapping out pillows is also a great way to quickly change up the look of a room and budget friendly options will make this more doable.

Seasonal décor: If you like to change out your décor to match the season, then it’s a great idea to go with lower prices items. Since they will be used intermittently, lower quality goods will not fall apart as fast.

Fabric: While fabrics on seating and window treatments should be durable to hold up to standard use, they don’t need to be the most precious silks and mohairs either. A basic, durable fabric can be moderately priced and can always be dressed up with coordinating trims or pillows.

Artwork: If you’re a collector, then price becomes a different conversation. But if you’re simply looking to dress your walls with interesting pieces, then you can do so without breaking the bank. Local arts associations often have member art sales where one can find beautiful works for great prices. Create your own gallery by framing black and white photographs of your kids, your pets, your garden-whatever strikes your fancy. Frequent online handmade craft sites such as Etsy.com or peruse what’s available on Ebay.com.

Occasional tables: Unlike seating, tables receive somewhat less wear and tear and while they should be of decent quality, it’s possible to find nice pieces at great prices. Check out second hand and vintage stores for solid pieces that may just need a fresh paint job.

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