Interior Decorating: When to Save and When to Splurge

Interior decorating is fun. But it can also be expensive. If you start to redo a room, it feels like the budget is never big enough for all the things you dream up. So, where should you splurge, and just as importantly, where can you save? Kathy Basil is the manager of our Hirshfield’s Design Showroom, and she has some great advice: “I do my investment piece first, and then I work from there.” Every room is different, but for a living room, Kathy suggests starting with the rug and the main piece of furniture — and saving on accessories.

When To Splurge

“You have a budget, and you spend it where you need to spend it and you save it where you need to save it, but every room, in my opinion needs to have an investment piece. Or a couple, if you can.”

“I want a great rug,” she says, “and I’m going to spend some money on this rug, because if I buy an inexpensive Olefin rug (made with a polypropylene fiber), it’s going to look good for a few months, and then it’s going to compact and collect every bit of dust around it. And it’s going to stop looking good, and I’m not going to be happy.”

Vanguard Furniture at Hirshfield's
Vanguard Furniture available at Hirshfield’s Design Showroom

Instead, Kathy suggests investing in a nice wool rug — ideally a hand-knotted wool rug — because it should look good for years and years. “I’m also going to invest in what I sit on a lot,” she says, “my sofa needs to be comfortable, and it needs to perform. It needs to not “ugly out” and get baggy cushions right away, so I’d invest in a good sofa.”

When To Save

You don’t have to spend big money on all of your furniture, though. “You can save on end tables, coffee tables, and lamps,” she says, and I’m still going to have an overall, very polished, finished look, because my rug and sofa look great, and the other pieces have great style.”

Vanguard Furniture available at Hirshfield's
Vanguard Furniture available at Hirshfield’s

“Cheap artwork can look really cheap and horrible. You can save on artwork by shopping estate sales where you can find some great pieces and reframe them.” She suggests looking for vintage, midcentury pieces, because the colors in midcentury artwork are also very popular today. “They usually need reframing, just to freshen them up and give them new life, but it’s fun to look for them. It’s like a hunt to find the right piece.”

You can also save money on mirrors, pillows, and other accessories — because you can change the look and feel of the room by updating them every few years. And you can use one of Kathy’s favorite tricks for expensive-looking window treatments:

“If you find a good-looking rod, you can put up nice stationary side panels on the end of the windows (instead of full curtains). They won’t function, but if you don’t need them for privacy, side panels do a lot to finish off the room, and you get a lot of bang for the buck.”

stationary side panels for your windows
Image by New England Home

Stop by and talk with us at any of the Hirshfield’s locations in Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota and South Dakota. We love to talk about color.

Since Frank and Elizabeth Hirshfield opened their first store in 1894, it has been our mission to do the best job possible meeting customer needs and solving customer problems. Hirshfield’s. People and products you can trust.

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