When most of us are designing the spaces in our home, we have a wonderful vision of what we want our rooms to look like. But, alas, we also have budgets. I’ve learned from decorating my own home that you can get the high-style look you’re dreaming of without going over budget. Here’s my trick:
Splurge and save
My friend Cynthia, whose well-appointed homes are featured in my books (above), is the queen of this design savvy technique: Splurge on a few pieces, save on the rest. She invests in one or two fabulous items, like a piece of art or a high quality sofa, that will be the style setters for the room. Then, she balances her budget with high-look, lower-cost furnishings and accents. I like to call these “cheater” pieces because they look way more expensive than they really are.
Where do you splurge, and where do you save?
This answer is different for everyone, depending upon your age and stage of life, decorating passions and how you use your home. Here are some examples of where you can splurge and where you can save to get the look you love in your home.
When it comes to upholstered furniture, I always urge people to get the highest quality piece they can afford, then scrimp someplace else. Why? Good furniture doesn’t just look great when you purchase it, it looks great for decades. That durability is a result of the quality workmanship that goes into investment sofas. The sand tweed sofa in the picture above features a kiln-dried hardwood frame and 8-way hand-tied coils. You can select the kind of cushion you want, from feather to firm. You have lots of choices in upholstery fabrics and trim details. Those are the kinds of options investment furniture offers you.
If you are just starting out in life, or you move a lot, or you have young kids, pets or a spouse who will be hard on your furniture, you may want your sofa to be your “save” piece. This slip-covered sofa at Nell Hill’s delivers a great look at a great value. It’s half the cost of our investment sofa, but you will probably want to replace it in 10 years. Until then, it will lend style to your space for little investment.
This wonderful spool chair is an investment piece that will elevate the look of the entire room and last for years. Offered by one of my favorite furniture makers, it’s expertly crafted and offers lots of design options. You can select how you’d like the wood finished – painted a myriad of colors or different stains. You can pick from 1,400 decorator fabrics, like this coral and blue urn pattern that I’m crazy about.
When I saw this inexpensive spool chair at market, I ordered a case because it’s a great cheater piece. It mimics the look of our splurge chair, but costs a great deal less. What do you give up? It’s an import piece and is only available in two fabrics. The quality does not compare with our investment spool chair. But look how we brought up the look just by adding a pillow made out of our coral and blue urn fabric!
Some people love to invest in fine accents to give their interior spaces a singular look. These beautiful butterfly urns are an example of a great splurge piece. Higher quality urns usually have a creamier, richer color, while less expensive urns appear a bit grayer. The higher quality pieces also offer more unique designs, like this butterfly motif.
These floral urns are lovely and about 20% of the cost of the investment urn. A lot of my friends and customers mix these cheater pieces in with antique china pieces and investment pieces like the one above.
It used to be that you could find fabulous looking lamps for a bargain. Not so much any more. In fact, I think lamps are getting tougher and tougher to cheat on. The lower cost lamps just don’t look as good. This beautiful china lamp is definitely a statement piece that adds oodles of style.
Because I am passionate about finding pieces that fit everyone’s price range, I have been scouting for lamps that are lovely but more affordable. I scored with this line of porcelain lamps. With their clean lines, interesting shapes and contemporary colors, they are a great pick if you want your lighting to be the place you save on your budget.
Here’s another great cheater piece. I love this chunky glass lamp! It’s fat and fun and will fit in with just about any décor. And, it’s a great deal.
Honestly, unless you just fall head over heels in love with a high end mirror, or an antique steals your heart, I’d advise getting mirrors that are affordable. They deliver all the look at a fraction of the price.
These lovely mirrors from Nell Hill’s are about the same price, and are often much less than you would spend on other artwork.
Next Week … Join me at our Fabric Event at Nell Hill’s on April 3-4! As a preview, in next week’s blog I’ll share my top 5 ways to use a few yards of fabric to remake the look of your home.
Jane Banks saysMarch 16, 2015 at 10:44 am
Want to receive the latest blog in my email inbox every week.
Carol Bottazzi saysMarch 16, 2015 at 4:23 pm
Thanks so much for your weekly decorating ideas. I used to live in Omaha, Ne. so I could
easily travel to your unique shops, but now I live in Minneapolis so traveling to Kansas is
not easy. I always look forward to all the new ideas and beautiful things for home decorating. I
even forward the information to my daughters to give them ideas! I am so glad that you offer
Thanks, Carol Bottazzi
Diana Beggs saysMarch 16, 2015 at 4:58 pm
I just love reading your blog!! I need to plan a field trip to Atchison!!!
Will you be doing a Spring Open House This year?
Mary Carol saysMarch 16, 2015 at 5:00 pm
Thanks, Carol. I hope you can plan a trip down soon!
Jane, I’m so glad you want to join the blog family! All you need to do is go to http://www.nellhills.com, and you’ll see a maroon box, right above my photo, that you can click on to register for the blog. It will come to you every Monday.
Mary Carol saysMarch 16, 2015 at 5:01 pm
Diana, come on down!! We have all kinds of fun events planned at the stores this spring and summer. Just click on the calendar page on our website for all the details: http://www.nellhills.com. Hope to see you soon!
Joan Whelan saysMarch 16, 2015 at 5:05 pm
How much is the starburst mirror and shipping charges?
Christy Whittaker saysMarch 16, 2015 at 7:23 pm
You recently asked what we would like you to blog about. I am a classic in my dress and somewhat in my home. I would love to learn more about table linens and setting a table. I
want to add more linens to my sparse collection but do not know what is practical when starting out. Do you match placemats, napkins, etc. to the decor in the dining room? I have a stripe on the front and back of dining room chairs and a leather seat. My table is on an oriental rug. Do I pick up the colors in those or what is the rule? Please help:) Also, I look forward to receiving your blog every Monday. Thanks!
Janelle Palmer saysMarch 17, 2015 at 9:40 am
I enjoy your blog. How can I buy from your store?
Mary Carol saysMarch 18, 2015 at 8:28 am
Hi Everyone! Here are a few answers to your questions …
Joan – I love this mirror too! Give us a call at 877-746-4320 for all the details.
Christy – so fun to hear about your growing interest in tabletop design. This is one of my all-time favorite things to do! First, let me invite you to our Spring Tabletop Event at both stores on May 1-2. You will get lots and lots of inspiration because the stores will be filled with gorgeous tablescapes, complete with the linens you mentioned. I hope you can come! I will also be blogging on this topic very soon – stay tuned!
Janelle, the best way is to come visit us, if you can! We have lots of folks who road trip and hit both our locations. It’s a fun girls weekend or couples getaway. If not, just about everything you see on my FB, Pinterest, Instagram and blog is available in the store. Just give us a call at 877-746-4320 or email me at email@example.com.