Where to Save on Home Décor (and Where to Spend)

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I am about to confess to a luxury design heresy: You do not need the best of everything.

Now don’t get me wrong. You deserve the best of everything. It’s just that if you have the best of everything you own, then you’re going to own a lot less. (There are some people who make this decision, but I’ve never been much of a minimalist.) And while not every item in your home needs to be a showstopper, you really should have a few.

There’s something admirable about making a design budget and sticking to it. For most people, there’s something necessary about it, too. I’ve been putting together a furnishings budget for a client, and I’ve been thinking about which items I should spend the big bucks on.

But which items will really make the difference? Where do you need to spend money and where can you go with a cheaper option? When should you feel comfortable splurging? Here are a few things to consider.

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Think day to day: It’s a good rule of thumb to focus on items that you’ll use every day: the chair and lighting where you sit to read, the sofa where your family watches TV, the cabinets you’re constantly in and out of. If you love to cook, spend money on a range that will make cooking even more of a pleasure.

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Think quality. Spend money on items that need to be durable, such as floor covering for high-traffic areas, mattress in the master bedroom, the window coverings you’ll need to open and close daily for light control or sleep. And yes, the construction of the sofa.

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Think visible. Spend money on a great looking front door or a show-stopping wallpaper in your entry hall. Tuck the less expensive tables next to your quality sofa.

Think eclectic. You may splurge on the dining room table of your dreams — a must-have, if you love to entertain — but you may not need the set of matching chairs. You can make more of a statement with something pared-down that lets the table really shine. Some of the best designers made their reputations blending high- and low-design items.

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Think repurposed. That “inheritance” secretary from Aunt Susie? It might look wonderful holding a collection of white coral and white-covered books rather than the porcelain your aunt had in it. Take the antique and give it a new look, and save yourself a bundle.

Think value. Even the most expensive furniture will eventually get tired, but that’s not true for a great work of art. Pick a fabulous, stand-out piece that will make the room, and let your guests focus on that. They might not even notice that old sofa.

Where did you splurge in your own home design?


Mary Spalding is a Nashville based interior designer with over 30 years of experience. She has overseen countless home revitalizations, renovations, and restorations. She can be reached with your projects and ideas at mary@spaldingway.com.

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