Unlike the homes in the magazines, most of us will never own a Schonbek crystal chandelier to tower over a twelve-seater dining table. In fact, these days we’re lucky if there’s enough floor space in our homes for a dining room at all! Multi-functional, small scale and affordable is the way many of us live. And as more people move into and vie for premium spaces in the cities, large spaces will continue to be an expensive option. We all want our homes to look good. But money, time and resources often limit what we can accomplish in our homes.
Consider the routine “Clearance Sale” sign hanging in store windows the same time each year. We are repeatedly tempted and set adrift in the often confusing sea of home décor when we see something on sale. Often eager to cash in on a good deal even though “it doesn’t go with anything else in the house.” But then we think, “But it’s on sale. And it’s such a great price.” While shopping the ‘sale’ sections keep these 4 words in mind.
Here are some Golden Rules for designing your plan and a home you’ll love over time while keeping your budgetary reality in mind:
What’s your plan for your home? Don’t have one? Consider hiring a professional, even if only for a few hours, to help you establish a long term plan and develop a list of priorities and “to do’s”.
Tailor your timelines to meet your budget requirements. Does your budget allow you to purchase all the items for your home at once? If not, take your time (which for many means months/years) and do it properly. Do it once: do it right.
Is your budget driving your timelines? Could your long term schedule cause your finished rooms to be out of style a year from now? Would you buy a shirt for $1000.00 that’s trendy today but you KNOW will be dated tomorrow? Not likely if your budget is a concern.
Dress your house like you dress yourself. Dress your home with classics. That’s where to spend your money. Consider buying furniture in the same way you would buy a great pair of black pants, or a little black dress or that pair of jeans you’ve worn day in and day out for 3 years. Spend more on classics and get good quality that will last for years to come.
Splurge (if you can) when needed. Is that classic sofa taking up more of your budget than you anticipated? You may need to compromise and spend more on those classic pieces that will last forever. Just remember: Do it right the first time and do it only once.
Don’t sweat the details of your budget. If you planned on only spending $1000.00 on a sofa, and end up spending $2000.00 because you’re buying a great classic, adjust your budget accordingly and plan on spending less on all those great accessories (which by the way are also chuck-able because they were so affordable!). Your bottom line can stay in tact while all the other numbers flex.
If you must buy trends but are on a budget, don’t break the bank on these items. When it comes time for you to get rid of it because the trend has passed, you won’t flush your money down the drain.
Make trendy purchases small, disposable ones: Things you won’t be afraid to get rid of like lamp shades, make-shift draperies and throw pillows. Buy colours you like, not what the colour trend is for that year. If you like it today and you liked it 10 years ago, chances are you’ll like it 10 years from now too.
Trends are called trends for a reason: Here today, gone tomorrow. If you must have some of this year’s hottest colours, put them on smaller items – toss cushions, throws and other accessories. A good rule of thumb: put classic neutrals on your larger, more costly items and change the smaller ones to follow trends or even to reflect seasonal changes.
Eclecticism is an art. If you’re not sure about mixing styles and patterns, and you’re making a major purchase, err on the side of caution and go back to your master plan. Stick with neutrals and classic lines. That bright orange leather slipper chair with the brushed metal legs on sale for $50.00…does it fit in with your French Country boudoir? Not likely, right? Don’t buy it (unless it’s for your modern home-away-from-home).
And if you can, shop a lot. Just to clarify, “Shop” does not mean ‘Buy’. Just shop (like when Mom used to take you into the city to “window shop” for all those amazing things we couldn’t afford). Shopping will help you recognize what a good deal is and avoid impulse buys. And it will help you be available when the good deals are available. Always check out the clearance items. Sometimes they’re junk, sometimes they’re goldmines.
If you can’t shop a lot, find someone who can or tell all your friends what it is you’re looking for. Ten sets of eyes are better than one! Use the Internet whenever possible to source new items before you spend precious hours scouring stores. Never buy an upholstered item without sitting on it first! Big mistakes can be made shopping on line for items that need to be comfortable. Find out return policies before you buy. Most custom pieces and window treatments can’t be returned.
Never (and I mean NEVER) buy anything without a first having a floor plan drawn up. If you’re handy, tackle the plans yourself. If not, a few hours of a professionals time is relatively inexpensive when compared to the alternative: buying a sofa and loveseat that don’t fit in a room.