Home Furnishings: When to Splurge and When to Save

Anyone can take a page of their favorite home retailer’s catalog and order every featured piece to replicate the space’s look. But, do you know how expensive that would be? As a case study, I went to my favorite mid-range, go-to home furnishing store’s catalog and flipped to a spread of a small to medium-sized living room. I added up all the pieces featured – no accessories, no textiles, no rugs, no overhead lighting, etc. – just the basic furniture pieces. Before tax and shipping, the total was $9,537.

We all have varying budgets but if I am spending $10,000 to furnish one small room, I would hope to at least have some throw pillows included. It may not be feasible for us all to order the complete spreads of catalogs but that’s the fun part of personalizing your home to reflect you and your style. Some of the most beautiful spaces are those which are collected and sourced from all over, mixing high and low end pieces. You don’t have to go full-on Swedish assembly furniture, but you also don’t have to max out five credit cards at members-only retailers. So, how do you know when to splurge and when to save while still achieving a high-end look? Take these three questions into consideration.

1. Is this a “forever” piece?

If you are in the market for something timeless and versatile that you won’t get tired of, it’s ok to be more lenient on the budget. If you are considering an item that is more trendy (i.e. vibrant color, loud pattern, unique finish), chances are, you may eventually want a change. Sacrificing on other home essentials because you had to have a set of cowhide chairs will sting in a few months. And then, you’re either left with chairs you don’t love because you spent too much on them to justify replacing them, or you are re-investing hard saved money into another set of chairs. If you are set on a statement fuchsia desk, consider thrifting it and giving it a paint job and hardware updates

2. Will this piece be used often?

If I am in the market for a piece of furniture that is going to have to be physically functional, I want to choose something that is going to last. Pieces with drawers that are opened and closed daily (like bedroom dressers) will need to withstand normal wear but I would consider a less expensive console table that is rarely touched. If you are working toward furnishing a living room, I would be ready to invest in a higher quality sofa but look to source more budget-friendly side tables.

3. Are there any factors that would destroy this piece?

We can’t be afraid to have the things we love in our homes for fear of having them ruined. Accidents happen but the reward of surrounding yourself and your family with things you love is often greater than the risk of accidents. But, as much as we like to think that our children respect our homes and our pets are well trained, don’t spend more than you are comfortable with if you would be heartbroken by its demise.

If after balancing factors such as budget, functionality and durability, and evaluating longevity factors you are conflicted, wait. The lesson- don’t fill a house with furnishings you can’t afford and don’t fill a house just to fill it. Putting deliberate thought into each piece will lead you to a personal, timeless home that can evolve as you, your style, and your family do.