Save or Splurge

 In this tough economic climate, furnishings have become a luxury rather than a necessity. But we still want our homes to look their best.

So, how do you make the most of your money without compromising on style? The key is to know when to splurge and when to save.

Some furnishings are known as investment pieces for good reason – they are pieces that function as the centrepiece of the room and are designed to last for years. Then there are the decorative pieces, which can be replaced depending on your changing tastes and trends.

Sherrill Bushfield, senior interior designer at Woods Furniture and Design, says when buying furnishings the main element to consider is how you plan to use the piece. Quality is key, Sherrill says, but usually comes with a higher price tag.

“Where you invest your money really depends on the way you live,” explains Sherrill. “For example, the dining room table is usually an expensive item, especially if you enjoy entertaining or if the dining table evokes memories of spending time with your family. Then it’s a good investment. But if you’re never going to eat at the dining table, then it doesn’t make sense to spend that money.”

Sherrill says, generally, a dining table is worth investing in, as a high-quality table will last for many years. A dining table is a feature piece that can be adapted to suit different occasions and styles through the use of accessories.

In the bedroom, Sherrill strongly recommends investing in a superior mattress and box spring as, “You can’t put a price on a good night’s sleep”.

The best way to find the right mattress for your needs is to research: lie down on the showroom mattresses until you find the one you love. Sherrill believes bedroom furnishings should create a feeling of comfort and relaxation.

“The bedroom is pretty standard because it should always be a sanctuary,” Sherrill says. “This is not a place to save. You need to be able to totally relax. That can mean different things to different people.”

The bedroom suite should be the highest-quality you can afford. The rest of the room can be customised through colours and accessories, Sherrill says.

When it comes to the living and family rooms, most of us have been conditioned to believe that we should splurge on the former, but save money on the latter. Not so, says Sherrill, who believes investment pieces, such as sofas, should not just be for show. She believes the highest-quality sofa should be placed in an area that has high traffic, as it can stand up to the wear and tear. And quality is usually closely linked to price.

“If you have a living room and a family room, the highest-quality sofa does not have to be in the living room,” Sherrill says. “It should be in the family room where it’s going to get the most use.

The living room sofa should look good and be of good quality. The sofa in the family should be the highest quality because it needs to be a durable.”

Decorative items, such as accessories and area rugs, are usually not worth spending a fortune on, Sherrill explains, as they can date so quickly. However, Sherrill says the amount of money invested in accessories can depend on how long the client plans to live in the house.

“There’s a difference between a forever home and a home for five years. It’s worth investing in expensive, good-quality carpets if you’re going to have the home forever, but if the home has a smaller time frame, it will not be worth it,” Sherrill says.

“But whether the products are economical or high-end, it’s about getting the best quality for your money. Any good designer should be able to work with any budget and make the best choices with that dollar.”

In recent years, Sherrill says society has become more disposable, which means many people tend to change their furnishings after five to 10 years rather than investing in pieces that will last a lifetime. To this end, the age and lifestyle of the client will impact upon whether they choose the spend or save on their home.

However, regardless of your style, the size of your home or how you live, Sherrill says major pieces should be seen as an investment, worth splurging money on, while the decorations, such as lamps, throw pillows and rugs, should be less expensive, but good quality. The focus should be on value for money.

“There are so many elements that go into pulling a room together,” Sherrill says. “But it’s important to remember, you don’t want everything to be a feature.”

She gestures to the displays in the Woods Furniture and Design showroom, where bright, economical pillows add life to stunning, high-end sofas.

“You need to have the major features and then the supporting cast.” 


Sherrill Bushfield, senior interior designer at Woods Furniture and Design.