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The Home Edit: Spend vs Save
How’s your week going? The wildfire smoke haze has descended upon us here once again, marking the return of air quality alerts and keeping ourselves primarily indoors. On the plus side, what we feared was going to be a major car repair (or possibly a car replacement) for my husband’s car turned out to be something small. That rarely happens with car repairs. At least, it rarely happens to us.
Without a stressful and expensive car-shopping weekend in our near future, we’re thinking about picking up the loose ends of some of our unfinished home reno projects. For those who are new here, we bit off more than we could chew during the COVID lockdown and have been slowly trying to finish the many home projects we started.
If we’re listing stressful and expensive things, surely a home reno ought to be on the list. Being without a kitchen sink for two weeks (or longer) is nothing if not stressful. And if renovations were inexpensive, we’d be finished by now.
Budget is an unfortunate reality when doing any type of home project. No matter what your budget is, there are always going to be areas where you weigh the budget option versus the pricier option.
We’ve managed to complete a number of home projects on fairly tight budgets. If you’re wondering how to blend less expensive items with investment items and keep the look elevated, check out my list below to see where we usually save or spend.
Curtain rods - No one ever sees your curtain rods if they’re hidden inside draperies. $18.99 Target rods, please. If the rod is properly supported by the correct number of brackets, you’re not going to encounter any sagging. As far as finials go, this might be an area where you choose to spend a bit more, especially if you’ve saved money by buying less expensive rods. There are also lovely finial options for $50-60 at Pottery Barn or Crate & Barrel.
Picture frames - I think every single blogger and IRL friend I’ve ever spoken to about picture frames uses the budget option. Of course I’d like to have things professionally framed - I remember going to the framers as a kid with my mom - but there are plenty of good picture frames out there for under $100. Unless the picture is large and a major focal point in your room, using less expensive picture frames is a great way to save some of your budget.
Rugs* - *This is only in the ‘Save’ column for now. Down the line, the plan is to invest in genuine Turkish or Persian rugs, but investment rugs are not practical right now with a young child and two young, claw-happy cats. In addition to figuring out when to splurge and when to save, I think it can be hard to decide when to buy an item that’s a ‘placeholder.’ I try very hard to be sustainable and waste as little as possible, and buying something with the intent to replace it doesn’t really fit that ethos. That said, my go-to store for rugs for the past few years has actually been Wal-Mart! Four of the rugs in the house are Wal-Mart rugs. They’ve held up extremely well, especially considering that they were under $200 each. Even the six-year-old dining room rug, which is vacuumed frequently and clawed daily and has heavy wooden chairs pushed and pulled over it multiple times per day is doing just fine.
Artwork - We’re fortunate to live in a community with a tremendous local arts scene. It’s been easy for me to find affordable and beautiful work at galleries, art shows, and arts festivals. Etsy and Unsplash also have an amazing range of high-quality digital images. You can buy (on Etsy) or download for free (on Unsplash) a high-resolution image file or pack of files for less than $7 and have the image(s) professionally printed on archival paper or canvas. Mostly, I try to support local artists, but for specific projects like a botanical print gallery wall, the digital images are a great resource.
Paint - My topic for last week’s home edit! Just put down the big box store brand paint. Don’t color match your favorite high-end paint at Lowe’s. You will never regret buying Farrow & Ball, Sherwin-Williams, Benjamin Moore, etc. The colors are more vibrant and resist fading. The paints don’t chip as easily. They hide the brushstrokes. I could go on for days.
Lighting - This is actually part of the reason I leapt into the fray with a ‘Save vs. Spend’ post. So many posts of this kind feature Amazon knockoffs of Serena & Lily lighting. This is such a bad idea for so many reasons. The Amazon lights look much prettier online - in reality, they are gold-toned plastic. I fell into the trap of buying an Amazon picture light for over our fireplace. It definitely looks like plastic up close and no longer actually works. Toward the end of our kitchen reno, with very little budget left, we ended up buying a $30 light from a big box hardware store. Like the Amazon picture light, the cheapie kitchen light didn’t last a year (thank you, warranty!). Lighting is also a major focal point in a room and naturally draws the eye. Don’t draw anyone’s eye to gold-toned plastic.
Building materials (decking, wood, etc.) - Higher quality materials will raise your home’s value. Make sure you (or your contractor) source lumber from a lumber yard and not a big-box store. We’ve also found that composite decking and vinyl for outdoor elements are well worth the extra investment. These materials make a tremendous impact on the visual feel of your home and the lifespan of your project, so this is not the place to save.
Pillows - Our downstairs furniture was neither a save nor a spend, so the right accessories are pretty critical to elevating it. I took forever to add throw pillows to our living room because I didn’t want anything that looked like a cheap, stiff throw pillow. I’m still planning to add a few more pillows, but am excited to finally have something on the sofas - I went with dupioni silk pillow covers over down inserts. Down (or down alternative for the allergy prone) really does work wonders for making a space feel more luxurious.
Where do you spend and save when decorating your home?
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