The question I am most frequently asked when it comes to renovations and home makeovers is what our budget is, how we stick to it, and how we even establish it. I believe in full transparency, which is why I shared a cost breakdown of our past kitchen renovation. But I’m also the first to say that we often don’t even have a budget for projects because they can be so nebulous for us — especially since my job is to document these projects along the way! I’m also fortunate enough to be given product in exchange for coverage on social media, which helps a TON with renovation budgets. But there is one really big factor to consider: when to splurge and when to save on home decor. And no project has made that delicate dance more obvious to me than our cabin!
My Rules for When to Splurge and When to Save on Home Decor
How much value does it add to the space?
Truly, the biggest thing I learned from my first house is to evaluate whether something adds value to your home. Is it worth the time, effort, money, energy?? This is also tied to resale value. A good example of that with our new cabin are the interior doors. I hated them so much… they felt way too traditional and were not my style at all. But there are over 10 doors in this house! It would be insanely expensive to replace them all and wouldn’t really move the needle in terms of resale value or perceived value to anyone else but me. Not worth it! So we painted them green, gave them new hardware, and moved on. And you know what? I hate them less now that they are a color I absolutely love.
Is it a trend or a classic?
It’s like when you’re getting dressed! I’m personally not the most trend-forward person and instead prefer to invest in pieces that might be considered more classic. I just find it really hard to justify spending a lot of money on something that isn’t going to be in style in a year — especially when it comes to my home where I don’t want to be constantly changing things out and updating.
How long have you wanted it?
A good example of this is the pendant in our dining room. Ever since industrial design school, I have loved the modern simplicity of the Nelson saucer bubble light and wanted one. Our cabin feels like the perfect fit for it because of the MCM aesthetic, but also the drama that it lends to the space. Plus, we finally have the ceiling height to pull it off! I have wanted it for a looooong time, so we splurged.
Then, on the flip side, in our upstairs landing area, I wanted a light fixture that feels related to the other lighting in our open space. But I also didn’t want to spend a ton of money since the space isn’t exactly high impact like a dining room is. So for that area, I saved money by finding a similar style for a fraction of the cost.
What is your gut instinct?
I trust my gut when it comes to a LOT of decision making — and not just for decor. Often during my design process, I like to take a step back and evaluate just how strongly I feel about an item. Usually I already know the answer!
Wait for a sale
As annoying as commerce emails can be, it’s the best way to know when a company you like or an item you want is on sale. Sign up and keep an eye out for the big sales, especially if you can hold out until Black Friday. That’s how we got our custom window coverings in the living room for 40% off! They were still very spendy, but definitely not as big of a blow to the bank account as they could have been.
Can you find it used or pre-owned?
Another way to save money and be more eco-conscious is to check if you can find the item you want on sites like Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, OfferUp, Poshmark, etc. Just like waiting for something to go on sale, you may have to play the waiting game. And you’ll definitely have to do some digging. But if you’re patient, this could be a great way to save money on home decor AND potentially score some truly unique pieces.
Don’t forget: it’s an evolution
And lastly, I know here on the internet and social media it can seem like a room is either a before or an after. But that simply isn’t true. Our homes are meant to evolve and grow with us. It doesn’t all have to done right this minute or all at once. Instead, slow it down, enjoy the ride, and work at your own pace.
What other factors do you keep in mind when you’re decorating and trying to decide when to splurge and when to save on decor? I’d love to know, so leave a comment!