If you are decorating a room from scratch—perhaps because 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. This is 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 once you’ve detailed all the individual design elements, you will find that your budget total is not sufficient—that’s okay. You’ll either increase your budget, cutting out some of the items on your list, or you’ll split the difference. As you work through this process, you will encounter the inevitable question of which items are worth spending on and which are not. Even if you’re only doing a minor upgrade in a space, keep the following list in mind, and it will help you make the most-informed decisions.
Here are five items worth spending on and five you should save on.
Seating: Any item that is used for seating will receive 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 and constructed with time-honored woodworking techniques like dovetail joinery and eight-way hand-tied springs, and with minimal stapling. Upholstered pieces should be filled with quality natural latex foam or with 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. In order to have the highest durability and stain resistance, wall-to-wall carpets should be made of quality wools. Large area rugs, such as genuine Oriental carpets, are usually made to last for twenty-five years or more. Less-expensive copies will show wear and tear, will hold on to stains, will fade much more quickly, and will require replacement many times over.
Kitchen and bath: Kitchen and bath upgrades can add 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 Chagall worth its price in a room without lights?
One good piece: Every room needs a signature element, 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 the entire room’s look and feel, and if you truly love it, you will always find a place for it in any future home.
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 antique marts, and you can make your own simple pillow covers. Most home decor 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 decor: If you like to change out your decor to match the season, then it’s a great idea to go with lower-priced items. If used intermittently, lower-quality goods will not fall apart as fast.
Fabric: While fabrics used for seating and as window treatments should be durable to hold up to standard use, they don’t need to be made of the most precious silk or mohair. 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. Peruse online handmade-craft sites, such as Etsy.com, or check out what’s available on Ebay.
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 secondhand and vintage stores for solid pieces that may just need fresh paint jobs.
Originally published on Networx