Splurge vs. save, Interior Design edition

Regardless of your budget, where to put the money and where to save the money in home design is always the big question! Through our years of experience (especially when designing luxury spec homes), we’ve seen countless times where is worth putting that extra dollar and where isn’t. Any developer’s dream is to save where possible while creating a home that will draw as much intrigue and attention as possible. This knowledge has pushed us to write this blog post so that you so you can dive into your project with financial confidence! 

Splurge: Architectural Details /  Save: Materials 

Our first note is for the overall structure of the home. It pertains to kitchen layouts, fireplace layouts, archways, wall treatments, etc. Putting the money towards a unique fireplace layout with budget friendly materials will go much further than a basic fireplace layout with more costly materials would. Similarly, putting the money towards a uniquely designed kitchen hood with a cost effective backsplash will go further than a standard kitchen hood with a more costly backsplash material. You can reference some of the greatest designers of the century and will notice that they always pulled in unique layouts and architectural details. They may have still used more costly materials, but they also might not have. We don’t know the price that was spent on their materials, but we do know that they put intention into the structural details!


Now let’s dive into the general splurge vs. save list..

1. Main area light fixtures. We like to call lighting and cabinet hardware the “jewelry” of the home since it can dress up or dress down any space. Pulling in a crystal chandelier will have a different impact as a rustic wood chandelier would. In turn, pulling in a larger, more expensive chandelier will have a different impact as a smaller, less expensive one will in the home’s Great Room. 

2. Cabinetry. This one can easily go both directions, so let’s get into the specifics shall we? The quality of your cabinet box is up to you, but what we recommend doing is splurging on the beautiful finishes and door styles. Cabinetry covers a bulk of the home, so make it beautiful! A stained cabinet will do something special to any room; as will a unique and beautiful cabinet door style! We’re not opposed to a standard shaker door style here and there, but we do highly recommend mixing and matching your cabinet door styles through the house, rather than using the same door style in every room. 

3. Countertops. This recommendation doesn’t necessarily pertain to the guest bathrooms of the home, but is primarily relevant to the main areas (namely the kitchen) of the house. It’s easy to find a beautiful, cost effective quartz countertop for your secondary areas, but choosing a bold, veiny, natural stone countertop for your Kitchen will propel your designs beautifully! If you want a statement worthy kitchen for example, then we highly recommend splurging on a beautiful countertop! 

4. Wall treatments. When we say to splurge on your wall treatments, we are referring to the QUANTITY of wall treatments used in your home design. If you’ve read our blog post, “Client Wishes Looking Back”, then you know our opinion on this. We firmly believe that adding wall treatments through a bulk of the home will elevate it above the “builder grade” homes. These can be done in the form of wallpaper, millwork, venetian plaster, or even accent wall colors. Whatever the method be, we recommend splurging on the quantity of wall treatments used. 

5. Light fixtures. Like with wall treatments above, this is another area where we are referring to the QUANTITY, rather than the quality. Light fixtures, like wall treatments, in the seemingly “unnecessary” areas will elevate the homes designs drastically. Adding the extra picture light, accent wall sconce, reading sconce, or decorative pendant will aesthetically add a lot to the home. They don’t need to be expensive fixtures, but the addition alone will elevate any space. Plus, they can often take the place of an art piece, in turn saving you money in that area. 

6. Upholstered Furniture. This is another item that could be seen as a “no-brainer”, but still needs to be said. Items that are going to receive a lot of wear and tear, like sofas, sectionals, rugs, and chairs should be splurged on unless you want to replace them time and time again. Look for ones that are built to withstand the constant impact!


1. Cabinet Hardware. Cabinet hardware is one of the big areas where it is easy to save money. The quantity of knobs and pulls that needs to be purchased is high, especially for the kitchen, so using more budget friendly (while still stylish) pieces will do your pocket book some good! 

2. Secondary decorative lighting (ie: guest bathroom fixtures). We mentioned light fixtures twice in the “Splurge” section of this post, so let us clarify why we have it here also! Light fixtures in areas like guest bathrooms and closets don’t need to be more costly. First, they aren’t seen as frequently as ones in the Great Room and Kitchen are. Second, it is much easier to find cost effective yet stylish options that are convincingly luxurious for these spaces. Splurge in the main areas, but save in the secondary areas! 

3. Door hardware. Door hardware, albeit frequently used and seen through the home, isn’t an item that needs to pull the eye. They are accent pieces that are primarily used for functional use, so saving a buck while keeping them functionally sound is the way to go here! 

4. Tile. This item may be a bit surprising since tile is such a primary factor in home design, but there are some beautiful, cost effective tiles out there that can look just as luxurious in the home as the more expensive ones do. Plus, with the quantity of tile used, saving on product cost can make a big impact on that invoice! Our primary recommendation is that you splurge on the installation pattern while saving on the product (ie: splurge on a basketweave installation pattern with a cost effective product). 

5. Wall treatments. We also listed these above in relation to the QUANTITY of wall treatments. This time we are discussing the product treatments themselves. For items like millwork, it is easy to use a more cost effective treatment in contrast to a more expensive one. For example, using a box treatment that uses little actual wood panels on top of the drywall will be must better for your pocket book than a treatment that fully covers the wall in wood. If the full wall is to be painted either way, then no one will be able to tell that the backing of the treatment is actually the drywall! Another example is wallpaper. Though wallpapers in general are getting more and more expensive, it is still possible to find a beautiful product that is less expensive than others. Do some digging and find the right one that will give you the desired savings! 

6. Case Goods. Products like side tables, coffee tables, book shelves, console tables, etc. will receive much less wear and tear than upholstered items do, and in turn, are a great place to save a dollar! Plus, it is easy to find stylish, yet budget friendly options for these. 

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