Originally posted on August 17, 2010 at 7:05 PM
First time homebuyer? New apartment? Wanting to redecorate? Anyone who wants
to eventually fill or refill their home has to decide when/where to spend the
bucks. Here are some tips I’ve picked up so far:
1.) Mix the cheap & thrifty in with the high quality &
expensive to fool the eye into assuming everything is high-end. I
mean, if you’re that rich, go ahead and buy whatever you want for every piece
of furniture in your house… but most of us aren’t. My philosophy? Allow
yourself to buy one “love it” piece per room—one splurge that isn’t necessary
but that you absolutely adore—and fill the rest with “compromises.” (Bonus:
make that piece one that you can take with you if you move, i.e., not the
2.) For the big pieces, go neutral (sofas, large desks,
tables, countertops). This will give you use of your most costly items for
years and years. That orange sofa might look cool now, but trust me, you’ll be
sick of it in 5-10 years. Go for a gray, beige, brown, or soft green and toss
some bright orange pillows on it instead. Or opt for the orange ottoman!
3.) If you can afford it, choose quality on pieces you have to touch.
Bedding, towels, cabinet hardware, and your office chair are worth a few extra
dollars if they’re pleasant to use. But the side tables, material of your cabinets,
accessories, and light fixtures you generally leave alone, so you can skimp and
never miss a beat.
4.) Don’t buy black furniture unless you love to dust.
5.) Don’t pay for headboards! Upholstered headboards are
super easy to make and cost about $50 as opposed to $300, and they can be
adjusted to suit any style room. (Just google “how to make an upholstered
headboard.) Bonus? You can lean back to read in bed! Don’t have $50 to drop on
a headboard? Buy a piece of fabric/poster/paint you love, hang it over the bed,
and trim it out with small molding from a hardware store for less than $10 if
you play your cards right.
6.) Don’t throw it out yet! Have a piece you’re sick of?
Before you toss it, consider giving it a crazy re-vamp. A fresh coat of
brightly-colored paint can make an old piece seem new and fun again. Plus,
painted furniture balances solid wood-tones for a more interesting roomscape.
This even works for odd objects such as ugly vases or statuettes you don’t
like. Even strange shapes, when painted in a solid, modern color, can create a
bold contemporary statement. Or paint several pieces all white for a country-
or beach- style room.
7.) When in doubt: throw it out! In general, we all have
too much clutter in all of our rooms. If you’ve looked at a piece, can’t think
of a way to fix it, and hate it… give it away for someone else to use. Clutter
in the home is clutter on the spirit.
8.) Buy expensive materials for small projects. A good
example of this is using granite on a small bathroom countertop. Although
granite is high-end and brings in the big bucks when it comes time to sell, if
you have a 30 inch counter and buy pre-fab, you can cover it for as little as
$150! This is worth it as buyers and viewers appraise it much higher in their
9.) Buy cheap materials for large projects. A good example
of this is using laminate instead of granite on a large kitchen countertop.
Covering an average kitchen in granite could cost upwards of $2,500 easy. If
you choose laminate look-alike instead, you can cover those counters, get a
backsplash installed, and buy a new sink and faucets ALL for less than that.
Remember, you’d still have to buy those things with the granite, too.
Of course, none of these rules are rigid. If you can afford granite in the
kitchen and live in a nice neighborhood, the pay-off will likely be worth it.
But overall, these are the things I would suggest to any person who is working
on filling a current or future home one piece at a time. Best of luck!