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Where Should You Splurge and Where Should You Scrimp?

We got a lot of comments and questions last week from our blog post, How Much Does it Cost to Furnish Your Home? Apparently this is a hot topic, because you had so many wonderful questions about where to invest your money and where you can save. Luckily, we have answers! We’re going to share some of your best questions and feedback below, and give you some of our best answers.

Don’t have time to read today? Here’s the rundown:

Sofa: Splurge!
Kid’s Furniture: Reuse and Save
Window Treatments: Splurge!
Hardware: Shop Around

I just want a sofa that’s going to hold up for a few years with my kids. I’m so sick of the stains and the sagging pillows, I’m willing to pay anything. Help!

This is one of our most common questions and complaints. A sofa or sectional is a big investment, and you really do get what you pay for. From the materials used in the cushions to the method of construction for the frame to the quality of the fabric, each detail matters. To make matters worse, the white sofa is on trend right now, but if you have kids or pets, it seems completely out of reach.

Image: Coddington Design’s San Francisco Victorian project

Let’s start with a quick rundown of sofa quality (which is another blog post in itself!). A cheap sofa will rely on coils in the seat and only foam in the cushions, which equal sagging after a year or two of heavy use. Well-made sofas will have eight-way hand tied springs and spring core seat cushions wrapped in a feather down mix or polyester fiber. Cheap sofas will have limited fabric options that will likely attract stains. High-quality sofa vendors will offer performance fabric options (pre-treated with stain and liquid repellant and made with fibers that are more likely to clean well), or they will give you the option to cover the sofa in your own fabric – and we’ve got a TON of great fabric options for you that are kid- and pet-proof!

Our best advice: invest in a super comfortable, well-made sofa that your family can enjoy for years and years, and be prepared to spend a little extra to have it stain-treated and professionally cleaned a few times a year. This will not only save you money in the long run by prolonging the life of your sofa, but it will also restore your mental state back to zen. You know that feeling when you have a sparkling-clean kitchen sink for a few minutes before someone throws in another dish? It’s the same feeling when you plop down into a freshly-cleaned, perfectly cloud-like sofa.

I want to have nice window treatments and I’m willing to spend a little more to make that happen, but why are they so expensive?

One area where it will be very difficult to scrimp is window treatments. If you want to have well-dressed windows – and we strongly encourage that you do – it is always best to have them custom sized to your exact windows, rather than buying standard length/width curtains and expandable rods from a retail store. You’ll end up with the equivalent of too-short or too-long pants (although hemming is always an option), rings that don’t glide easily across the rod due to the uneven surface, and a window that just looks off.

Image: Coddington Design’s Nantucket project featuring lusciously draped custom curtains

If a custom window treatment workroom is out of your budget, stores like The Shade Store or Smith and Noble provide excellent fabric options with lining (to give your drapes that sumptuous draped look or to achieve the perfect black-out room), sized to fit your window with hardware that will function like it’s supposed to, with added details like a pull rod, one-way draws, pass-through pins, and beautiful pleats (just say no to ring top curtains).

This piece I found on Wayfair is so cute and so affordable! Should I buy it?

Well, how do you value your time? Always remember: the cheaper the furniture (especially casegoods like dressers and bookshelves), the cheaper the materials used AND the more assembly and clean up required. Factor your time into the cost of the piece – if it’s going to take 2 hours to assemble a veneered MDF dresser held together with dowels and screws that cost you $500, plus another hour to unpack all the pieces, organize your tools, break down the heavy cardboard, haul off the styrofoam and cardboard to your garbage can where it will take up valuable space (and don’t forget the sweeping of the wayward styrofoam pieces and leftover dowels), and you value your time at, say, $100 per hour, wouldn’t you rather buy the solid wood, joint-construction, longer-lasting dresser for $1500 that comes white-glove delivery (i.e. no assembly required and no excess packaging to deal with)? If you’ve ever had the bottom of your IKEA dresser drawers give out, then I think I know what your answer will be.

Image: Coddington Design’s Los Angeles/Sherman Oaks project with custom colored dresser

I want my kids to have nice furniture that will grow with them, but I don’t want to spend a fortune on something that will just get destroyed.

In the early years, your child’s needs change just as quickly as their shoe size. There’s plenty of multipurpose furniture that will grow with them, such as a crib that will convert into a toddler bed, or a changing table that can double as a dresser, but what about quality? And style?

Image: A kid’s room at Coddington Design’s San Francisco Style project

Our advice: the kid’s room is a great place to mix gently used furniture that another family has outgrown with cheaper, temporary pieces AND higher-quality, more expensive options. (Keep in mind that you will likely be passing the same furniture pieces on in five years time, so choose wisely where you invest). It’s easy to purchase something trendy and pricey to satisfy your needs for a Pinterest-worthy nursery, but let’s be honest: your toddler will outgrow the calming nursery decor pretty quickly and decide her furniture looks better plastered with Minnie Mouse stickers and demand a princess castle bed (only to be outdone when your preteen demands something more “sophisticated”). If you mix your pieces depending on your needs – a high-quality timeless dresser, for example, paired with cheap storage furniture and hand-me-down beds that you will rotate out every few years – you will achieve function, longevity, and style without stretching your budget.

I found a cabinet knob that looks beautiful and it’s soooo cheap compared to something that looks similar from another brand. What’s the catch?

Lighting and hardware is a tricky one. You can easily break the bank on light fixtures and cabinet knobs but you can just as easily find stylish, functional, and well-made fixtures at steep discounts. This is one area where the price tag is often attached to designer brand names (just like in the fashion world). Look for keywords such as “solid brass,” “hand forged,” and “lifetime warranty.” Avoid items with descriptions like “one year warranty” (it may break quickly), “coated finish” (the finish will wear off with use), and “aluminum” (a cheap lightweight metal that’s not the best for hardware).

Have any other questions for us? We’d love to hear them! Drop us an email, or better yet, book your Discovery Call with one of our experienced designers and see how we can bring comfort, luxury, and ease into your home.


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