Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Design Lessons Part 1: Budget

There aren’t many of us (myself included!) who can easily afford “top of the line” on each and every purchase we make for our homes.  The design budget for my own home is one big reason for my frequent trips to the finest thrift stores that the Phoenix-area has to offer. 

Bragging rights are a close second. 

Each time I enter yet another musty, poorly lit store I’m hoping that this trip is THE TRIP.  The one where I stumble onto, what is for me, the Holy Grail of Secondhand Finds: a matching pair of THE most perfect upholstered chairs for my living room.  I know you're out there my babies.  It's only a matter of time until I find you. 

I’m talking so-retro-it’s-modern-again fabric in near perfect condition, expertly applied onto a solid wood frame with some truly one-of-a-kind lines.  Sigh.  A girl can dream, right?

A little something like these perhaps?

Back to the point of this post – determining how to spend those precious dollars.  Take this example:

I purchased a new sofa last year and it wasn’t expensive at all but it did take a decent chunk of my overall budget for the living room.  Since I planned on keeping it for several years, I bought the best quality I could afford.  I also made sure to select a style and fabric that I know I won’t get tired of anytime soon. 


I like to change up the look of my house from time to time and because of the clean lines and neutral fabric, this sofa will easily work with a variety of styles and color palettes.  Being in the design industry, it seems I’m falling in love with a different look and trend every few months.  Buying a new sofa every season isn’t realistic, but I can reasonably afford a yard or two of the “fabric of the moment” and sew myself a couple of new pillows. 




Now that I’m slowly working on finishing the rest of the Family Room I have to make some decisions about how to get the most bang for my remaining bucks.  Hence my thrift store and craigslist stalking for those accent chairs.  I also need to keep in mind that because my sofa is so simple & neutral, it’s not going to give me much impact.  So I’ll need to look to another category to add drama.

For me it is fabric, hands down, that makes the biggest impact in a space.  I would rather spend more on an outrageous Osborne & Little fabric for accent pillows (then sew them myself, saving even more $$$) and source less pricey options for art, lamps and accessories. 


But that’s me. What makes the biggest impact for you is probably different.  Maybe you couldn’t care less about fabric.  Maybe lighting or art is the star of the show in your home and you want truly gorgeous pieces like this one making all the impact:


The point I’m (hopefully) making is this: look at your budget objectively and make decisions about what category/categories mean the most to you.  Then go out and buy the very best you can afford. 

Invest a little more in that gorgeous fabric or a to-die-for chandelier then get creative for all the rest!  Scout out yard sales and antique shops for economical side tables that you can refresh and make your own. 

Part 2 of my "Design Lessons" series will continue next week.  Stay tuned!


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