Whether you’re renovating your home, building new, or furnishing it from floor to ceiling, your best design budget is a balanced design budget. Why?
Because even though every design detail is important, they are not all weighted equally. Some pieces are worth a high investment; others are not. Some pieces have drastic differences between quality levels; others are more similar. You’ve probably already seen these differences in action in other areas of your life. Your wardrobe, for instance, might contain a mix of moderately-priced and high-end pieces. Or your bar cart might be stocked with good quality staples and your favorite top-shelf brands.
So when it comes to your home, what is the right mix? Which are your investment pieces and where could you conserve a bit more? Come find out…
3 Budgeting Rules of Thumb
1. Know your priorities.
Budgeting is personal. While the “invest” items I’m sharing below are the most value effective in our professional opinion, it is equally true that your own priorities and preferences may differ. That’s okay! Following your interests will stand you in good stead. This is also why we spend a great deal of time in the beginning of your project discussing your goals, lifestyle, and what’s most important to you.
2. Budget early and often.
Smart budgeting is never an accident. It takes constant refinement. That’s why we discuss your budget during your discovery call, refine it during the initial consultation, and polish it again when outlining the scope of work. Then, during the schematic phase, we create an investment schedule in multiple ranges, broken down by room, for optimal budget balancing.
3. Invest in expertise.
Hiring professionals will always feel like a splurge, and in my opinion, it is the best investment you can make in your entire project. In my 10 years in the field, I have seen many instances where low-quality work or inexperience resulted in costs that exceeded what it would have taken to hire an expert in the first place. Building a great team always pays off — and you’ll be happier, too!
Alright, now that you have some general insights, let’s get down to brass tacks.
Where to Invest
The Home’s Structure: The value of a home lies largely in its physical structure, which is why this is not the place to scrimp. Making changes down the road, especially after construction starts, can be extremely costly. Instead, work with an interior designer (and an architect, for new construction or large renovations) to build flow, functionality, and style right into the original design plans.
Millwork: Custom millwork can include built-ins, paneling, wainscoting, banquettes, and more. As fixed features of the home, these elements add value, unique character, and at times, essential functionality and storage. It is also well worth investing in millwork that customizes each space to your ideal living experience.
Statement Lighting: In many of our designs, statement lighting helps carry the overall style and feel of the room. There’s nothing quite like a head-turning fixture to create a particular vibe or add grandeur to an entryway, great room, or kitchen. Worth the splurge!
Upholstered Furniture: We always recommend investing in quality upholstered seating for your home, especially for those pieces you plan to use every day. Investing in sofas and chairs that are well-constructed, durable, and comfortable will result in them staying around for the long haul. (Note: It is very rare to find this level of quality in ready made, retail pieces. As a standard practice, we always source from to-the-trade vendors who prioritize quality, comfort and style.)
Window Treatments: In general, window treatments provide privacy, light control, temperature control, and they make a room look finished. But, like upholstery, custom window treatments are far superior to their retail counterparts. They do all of the above to a higher level, fit perfectly to your window, and are fully customizable stylistically. Plus, they look far more luxurious.
Faux Trees and Plants: If your residence is a part-time vacation home (or you don’t have a green thumb), faux plants are your friend…but bad faux plants are not. Cheap fake plants are easy to spot and will drag down your whole aesthetic. Invest in realistic looking greenery, and you’ll reap the benefits in every season.
Where to Conserve
Appliances: With such a wide range of options available, high-end appliances aren’t always necessary. If you’re looking to conserve, this is a good place to do it. We often offer recommendations to our clients and let them select and purchase appliances on their own.
Tile: Whether it’s backsplash in the kitchen, shower walls, or your entryway floor, beautiful tile is a great area to conserve. Yes, it does play an important role in your design, but there are plenty of cost-effective options that will still look just as stunning when installed.
Hardware: Splurging on knobs and pulls throughout an entire house can add up quickly, and it isn’t always necessary. Like tile, there are so many options available that it’s possible to get a high-end look for less.
Area Rugs: Yep, you can conserve here, too. There are many high-end area rugs out there, but it’s also easy to find a great area rug at a reasonable price. Sure, it may be machine-made rather than hand-knotted, but it will still give you the look and durability you need.
Wallcoverings: Wallcoverings are another element we recommend saving on, as many wallpapers can look high-end even if they aren’t high-cost. Using a practiced eye, professional installation, and a beautiful composition with the other elements in the room, we can create an elevated look without the splurge.
Art: We love original art and think it belongs in every home, but saving on prints, especially for a gallery wall, can go a long way in conserving the budget without compromising on the design. In most of our clients’ homes, we infuse a mix of moderately priced pieces with a few standout originals to create an art collection you’ll love.
My final advice to you when allocating your investment is to stay true to yourself, what you love, and what is most important to you. Remember that you are the one who will be living in your home, surrounded by your selections. Each space should inspire you to live authentically and vibrantly. After all, that’s what you’re really investing in.