Save Here, Splurge There – A Designers Guide To Spending Right

My love for a Collected design aesthetic began through necessity, instinct and an innate ability to create something beautiful or useful from very little.  Throughout the years and several homes later, with more disposable income, I still find that some of my most inspired designs either begin with or contain at least a few thrift shop, flea market, auction, garage sale or bargain basement items.  It’s been a long time since those days of scrimping and making do, but being forced to stretch our budget to its complete maximum gave me some great insights on value and design longevity.

Prioritizing, making wise choices and the willingness to explore potential, wherever it might be, are foundational pillars of my design strategy.  I know that even at the high end, what budget may be right for some is entirely out of the question for others.  The fact is, every household is different, every need is different and every budget to meet those needs is different, but financial prudence and a regard for available and sustainable resources shouldn’t be concepts unfamiliar to any income bracket.  My goal is to provide you with the best whole design your money can buy, not necessarily the most expensive things money can buy—although some things are just not negotiable.  In the end, I want to give you a design that will last, that you love and will make your house your home for years to come.  Here are some of my strategies to elevate while staying financially straight:

Use What You Have:

  • I like to take inventory of items that you would like or definitely plan to keep and wish to work into your design.  This, of course, includes furnishings and décor that may need some attention, to one degree or another, but could, otherwise, be useful.  I, also, include notes on how and where they might be used and what would need to be done to make them work.  Unfortunately, sometimes a piece just doesn’t fit or is beyond reinvention.  At that point, it may be time to let it go or move it to another room.

Splurge or Save – Hierarchy of Investment:

  • Need to ditch the sofa, change or add lighting, replace the carpet, add a new feature?  I put a priority on quality base furnishings and materials.  In my opinion, these things are the foundation upon which all good design is built and, if done with this in mind, will remain relevant throughout many years of trending styles and changing tastes.  That isn’t to say that every piece of furniture you own should come from an Ethan Allen showroom or that you should only shop at that super high end tile store.  On the contrary.  For most, that’s just not an option.  But these should be your foundation elements like, sofas, beds, flooring, fixed lighting, or if you work at home, a desk or great office chair, for example, that will receive the highest use and visibility and you will, most likely, own for some years to come. I put these things high on the list based on the need for durability and design longevity.
  • Moderate or gentle use items, like occasional furnishings; chairs, side tables, sofa tables, lamps, etc. come in second.  Frequency of use (durability) VS cost are the things to consider here.  These are pieces that could go either way in price, but generally fall somewhere in the middle.  Coolness can also be a factor here.
  • Last in the hierarchy, generally, serves no other function than to sit (or hang) there and look pretty.  That is to say, accessories and other decorative items.  Statuary, some wall art, pillows, throw rugs and some occasional furnishings, etc. represent the smallest portion of your budget.  These items are more like pawns; valuable to the game, but more dispensable to your long-term strategy.

Making Those Dollars Work For You:

  • Research the many resources available to find deep discounts on quality.  Whether on line or on the move, I leave no stone unturned, no avenue unexplored.
  • I’m not saying cheap, but then again, I’m not saying not cheap.   Remember, cheap doesn’t always mean sacrificing quality.  Spend less on items that represent current style nuances, color trends or fads that may look great now, but have the highest potential for being here today and gone tomorrow.  In terms of investment, I believe these elements provide more flexibility.
  • Second hand doesn’t mean second quality.  Beyond your "keepers" as discussed earlier, many affordable, high-end quality items can often be found second hand or on consignment, being sold by those who wisely invested in their furnishing, but are ready to move on to something new.  A fact that further drives home the point that it is more economical to invest in higher quality goods is the potential for a return when you are over it.
  • Paint and textiles are great ways to incorporate color trends.  Colors preferences and palettes come and go.  Doesn’t it make more sense to invest a little in a few throw pillows or couple gallons of paint tinted in that trendy, hot shade of fuchsia you’ve been seeing in all the latest design mags than to be stuck with a big fuchsia sofa for what, eventually, will seem to be like an eternity in fuchsia hell?  Unless you have the kind of disposable income that allows for new furnishings every couple of years, spend more on the cake, not the icing.
  • Remember, cutting corners or sacrificing quality where it really matters just to save a few dollars in the short run, only ends up costing more down the line.  In time, cheaply made furnishings, flooring and the like will drive any great design right off the deep end, probably long before you’re ready to buy new again.  Like wearing a pair of worn shoes with a nice outfit, nobody wants to see that.

Allow me to demonstrate how, together, we can create a space that is beautifully and specifically created just for you, your lifestyle and your budget.  Give me a call or drop an email and let’s get started on YOUR Collected design today.


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