Deciding what to splurge and save on for your home can be tough. Because we move fairly frequently, I’ve always focused on splurging on things we can take with us – furniture, mirrors, etc. but there are, of course, exceptions to this. Below I will share my thought process on various categories and why they can be a spurge OR steal depending on your home and lifestyle.
You can take furniture with you to every home you live in, so I believe it’s worth the spurge to invest in pieces you really love. I have never regretted spending on things like beds, dining chairs, counter stools, consoles, etc. I heard a designer use the saying “buy what you love, and you’ll only cry once,” and that has really stuck with me. By purchasing pieces I really love for our last home, I was able to incorporate those pieces into our new home and love them just as much in this space. We had a lot of IKEA furniture in our first couple of homes, like many young couples, but over the years, I have come to see spending on home-related things to be a priority versus a frivolous expense. Especially now, being at home so much, investing in our home has never felt more important.
While I don’t mind splurging on pieces I really love, I always look for look-alike pieces when I’m shopping to see if I can find a similar item for less. For example, our dressers which we use as nightstands are a Target score, but I had to splurge a little more on Lincoln’s which is also the campaign hardware style to get the size and look I wanted. I also recently got some scalloped wicker lams from Home Goods that look identical to these ones that retail for over $800 apiece.
Lighting is tricky because most of the time, you leave it behind when you sell your home, so I think this can go either way and I went with a 50/50 approach in our new home. We did take one light fixture (Lincoln’s RH Baby & Child chandelier) with us to our new home (it was listed as an exclusion when we sold our home), but the rest stayed. I have some mixed thoughts on this because we purchased ALL of the light fixtures in our new home – none were included in the price of the home/provided by the builder. I was able to save on Harper’s fixture and our kitchen pendants, which are a dupe for a pricey designer version and I splurged on our dining room fixture and haven’t regretted it for a moment.
The other argument for “save” is that there are so many light fixtures now that are so close to their designer counterparts (like our kitchen pendants!) If you’re renting or in a shorter-term home, you can save on ceiling lighting and opt to splurge on a special lamp that you can take with you (I love this Kelly Weartsler one). Because our home is open concept, I felt it was worth it to spend a little more on some standout lighting pieces in our main living area. I figure if we move again, I can list the ones I really love/want to take with me as exclusions or learn to let go, haha 🙂
My first wallpaper experience was with Serena and Lily’s feathers wallpaper in or kid’s shared bathroom in our previous home. It was the gateway drug of wallpaper because now I’d wallpaper every darn wall in our home if I could! Wallpapering smaller rooms (our master bath and entryway, for now) has been by far one of my favorite investments in our home. I feel JOY every single time I step into our bathroom and every time I catch a glimpse of our entryway. Wallpaper (both the actual paper and the labor for installation) is expensive, but the visual impact is something that simply cannot be replicated in any other way. For a lower cost option, you can try DIY peel-n-stick wallpaper. That way you can save on the wall prep and labor aspect of the install. There are lots of great option on Etsy.
In general, I think mirrors are a place where you can save because there are so many fantastic options at Home Goods, Hobby Lobby and Target now. However, I have been able to score some pretty fabulous mirrors on sale from Serena & Lily, Wisteria, Ballard Designs, Anthropologie and Pottery Barn, so I do recommended waiting for a 20-25% sale if you’re really attached to a pricier one. I love using mirrors as décor throughout out home – above dressers and consoles especially. They reflect light and can add texture and interest to any space. The mirrors in our home range from $30 to over $1000, but most are in the few hundred dollar price point. I think mirrors can really pack a design punch in bathrooms and powder rooms, so I’m very pro using fun and interesting mirrors in as many spaces as possible!
All of the cabinet hardware in our home is from Rejuvenation, which is probably considered a splurge since you can get hardware at Home Depot for a few dollars per piece. Because we went with unlacquered brass in our new home, quality was an important consideration. We used the same hardware in a polished chrome in our last home, and the family that bought that home specifically pointed out in their offer letter how much they loved the kitchen hardware, so it can make a difference in the overall look and feel of a home. I purchased hardware from Home Depot for our master bath in our last home and ended up taking it all back and purchasing the hardware I was really wanting and there was simply no comparison – the price difference was about twice the cost per piece (something like $9 per pull instead of $4), but in the grand scheme of things, it was so worth it. I heard a designer say that lighting and hardware is the “jewelry of the home” so I’ve always kept that in mind when splurging on it. You really DO notice it and it’s a high-touch item, so how it wears and its weight are important.
Rugs were always a place I saved because there are so many fantastic options on Wayfair at Target, Amazon, Rugs USA, etc. I did splurge on our living room rug, but rugs are a place where you can go high or low and it works. Especially when it comes to natural fiber rugs like jute and sisal, there are really great deals online. The one warning I have here is check the return policies of the sites you order rugs from. I have had to return one because the color of the rug did not appear in person as it did online. I got lucky because they actually sent the wrong rug to me, but many websites don’t have generous return policies on rugs and there is a significant cost to ship it back, so do your homework. Just as an example, when I was sent the wrong rug, it would have cost me $81 to ship back a $300 rug, cutting significantly into my refund had it been the right rug that just didn’t end up working of my space. Another thing I do with rug sizing is use a tape measure and painters tape to have a visual of how large the rug will be in the space. You can read all about how to choose the right rug for your space, here.
DRAPERIES & WINDOW TREATMENTS
I will start off by saying that ALL window treatments are pricey simply because they add up – especially if you have a lot of windows. When you add up the hardware drapery and shade, you’re looking at several hundred or up to a thousand or more PER window. Window dressings complete a room – you just can’t leave windows bare for light filtering, privacy and design reasons, but there are cost-saving ways to get the look without spending tens of thousands. I got quotes from a well-known window treatment store, but found I could get a similar look for half the cost by using Select Blinds during a 40% off sale they had. I spent a little more on panels for our bedrooms (see our Pottery Barn curtains here) since we needed blackout curtains in 9ft length for those rooms. I was able to re-use panels from RH Baby & Child in Lincoln’s room and was able to sell the buffalo check blackout panels from Harper’s previous room on Facebook – so I did recoup some of that cost.
Downstairs, in our main living space, we needed 12 (yes, TWELVE!) curtain panels, so spending $120-$180 per panel at Pottery Barn wasn’t ideal and they didn’t even carry the 118 other than via heir custom offerings, which start at $248 per panel.
ALL INFO ABOUT OUR CURTAINS IN OTHER ROOMS IS HERE.
So I did a little googling and remembered we had used IKEA RITVA panels in our last home. A good friend of mine has them in her home too and at $49.99 for TWO panels, the price cannot be beat. It’s very difficult to find non-custom panels in 118 inch length from any retailer so these IKEA panels are a steal and they look fantastic if they’re hung with drapery pins and rings.
Those were my splurge items – my drapery hardware is from West Elm and even on sale, it was quite a cost. I went back and looked at my transaction receipts and for all of our downstairs windows (8 windows total, encompassing our living and dining room) and for all of the drapery rods + rings (10 per curtain panel and they only sell them in packs of 7), the cost was $929.96. It was slightly more than this because we also borrowed drapery rings from a previous order that were leftover from our master bedroom curtains. Let’s say just under $1000 for the downstairs. I also paid about $250 in labor to have it all installed, including mounting the drapery rods, installing the drapery pins and spacing them on the curtains and installing the rings and so on. The professional installation was worth it to me to have it all done perfectly and by a person who specializes in draperies, I think it gave it a more custom look overall.
Because I saved by ordering my woven roman shades from Select Blinds, I decided to splurge on one roman shade for our kitchen window in Schumacher’s Pyne Hollyhock fabric. I don’t even want to share the cost of that one shade, but let’s just say designer fabrics and the labor to make a roman shade aren’t cheap.
HOME DECOR & STYLING ACCESSORIES
I LOVE Target and Home Goods for inexpensive decorative objects. I purchase all of my coffee table books on Amazon. This is definitely a save area for me, though in recent years, I have invested in some pricier ginger jars (like ones from Cailini Coastal and Lauren Haskell Designs) as well as pillows in designer fabrics.
Original art can be so pricey, however, I think it’s important to have special pieces in your home that mean something to you and make you feel happy when you look at them. I currently have two pieces being made that I commissioned from Katie Chalk and have prints from Maren Devine and Teil Duncan. For comparison’s sake, a print can cost between $100-$300 depending on the size (plus the cost of framing on top of that) versus an original painting which can run $2000-$4500. I have always purchased prints and had them framed via Framebridge or I find smaller artists like Katie who can create affordable original pieces. Check Instagram for local artists near you. I also have a larger piece coming from Katherine Freeman that I’m so excited about!
I have recently become more enamored with designer fabrics which is a blessing and a curse. I’ve been able to find some great look alikes on etsy (like these leopard pillows) but I do think pillows are worth investing in since they really add color, pattern and texture to a space. I’ve also seen beautiful pillows at Home Goods and Target, so if you like to change things out seasonally (I don’t, but many do!) there are fantastic affordable options out there! Little Design Co. is a favorite source for pillows as well!
What have you splurged on in your home? Where do you like to save? Leave me a comment and let me know!
OAK trim raised six panel doors
This is a really fun post, and your home really reflects a timeless quality to it! I also believe in buying high-quality items that will last a long time, but my budget can limit what we get and when. I would rather buy something second-hand (or use hand-me-downs) and “make due” for a while until I save up to buy what I want. (Case in point: we are saving up for a total kitchen renovation! Everything is really dated, but it is still functional. I could probably due a budget renovation now to make it look better, but ultimately, I would rather wait and have more options.) I realize my habits aren’t for everyone, but I like reading about what other people do!
Why do you always say ‘home’ vs ‘house’ it sounds quite silly and makes your sentences very awkward to read
You can google “house vs. home” to learn more.
Erin C Villasenor says
Great post! Your parasol lamps find is unbelievable! Can’t wait to see your kitchen roman shade. I splurged big time on mine too–but not one regret 🙂
I splurged on custom drapery in our last home and listed them as an exclusion, unfortunately the buyer insisted that they be included in the house. They would not have worked in our new house anyway. I always save on rugs since we have 2 boys and 2 dogs. That way I don’t feel guilty replacing them frequently.
I tend to splurge on mirrors, dining chairs, counter stools and lamp. I agree with your thought process that these can easily transition to a new home.
Sandiya Elrod says
Hi! Can you share the contact info for the professional you used to hang your drapes? I’m also local to Houston. I have about 11 windows in my house and would love to pass the IKEA pleat job off to someone who knows what they’re doing.
Please email me