5 Things to Splurge On — and 5 Ways to Save Maximize style and your budget by focusing your decisions on areas that deliver the biggest impact

Yanic Simard

Interior design is all about balancing splurges and savings. “Splurge” statement pieces elevate the look, while “save” pieces fill out your design and rescue the budget (and often secretly do a lot of the heavy lifting). To help you know how to best spend your design dollar, here are five ways to splurge and five ways to save your way to a beautiful home.

1. Splurge: Statement Pendant Light

When renovating for resale, lighting is often seen as a place to save. Style preferences vary, so for-sale homes often stick to simple and functional lighting where possible. But when it comes to beautifying and personalizing your own space, a dazzling chandelier or pendant goes a long way toward elevating the look of everything else in the room.

Whether you prefer a cool modernist creation or a grand traditional chandelier, an eye-catching light fixture can be enjoyed from many angles, and it becomes a natural focal point that really makes a statement, even when the rest of the furnishings are kept simple.

Plus, a fixture with multiple bulbs enriches your lighting scheme, helping to eliminate harsh shadows in the rest of the room. Overall, it’s a worthy splurge.

Save: Functional Dining Table

A dining table is an important piece of furniture, but that doesn’t mean it has to be ridiculously pricey to do its job and look great doing it.

For a modern home, a white melamine or fiberglass table (like this Saarinen-style staple piece) will look sharp while letting elegant chairs or your statement light fixture bring the personal style. Tables can be an investment — depending on the brand, authenticity and originality of the piece — but versions can be found for under $500.

or a more traditional or earthy look, a sleek and simple wood table can be found at a reasonable price and can last for years, adding a little warmth in a neutral style you can accessorize in any way. Try a humble Parsons style with square lines or a similarly elegant form with uncomplicated legs that won’t compete with your seats.

Tip: Skip the super-low-end laminated tabletops that will need to be replaced in a year.

2. Splurge: Quality Countertops

How much you’ll want splurge here will depend on your tastes and budget. However, if you’re replacing or installing countertops, it makes sense to invest in a quality material that will stand the test of time so you can recoup some of that investment in the future. Select a durable stone like granite or quartz, a hardwood that has been properly treated or a mix of materials.

Again, while laminate may be tempting, it won’t likely last long enough for that short-term save to make long-term sense.

Save: Classic Tile

I won’t pretend that I haven’t designed homes with high-end tile. This can be a splurge area at times, with gorgeous results. But it’s also possible to get incredible looks with humble, classic subway tile, leaving plenty of your budget left over to put into other areas.

Whether in a kitchen or a bathroom, timeless porcelain tile can cost as little $1 per square foot to buy and install if you’re a handy DIYer. A classic brick layout like the one shown here always works, but you can also change up the installation pattern or the hue at little to no extra cost to make a personal statement.

3. Splurge: Splashy Faucet

An eye-catching faucet doesn’t have to be an outrageous splurge, but spending a little extra to get something above off-the-shelf grade will make the whole bathroom feel more special. Plus, a good rule of thumb is that it makes sense to splurge on things that you touch or interact with the most.

For extra style points, coordinate the faucet with a metal-edged mirror and a handsome light fixture to tie everything together.

Save: Minimalist Vanity

My client and I splurged on the tile shown here, then we looked at balancing the budget through our vanity choice.

In bathrooms, I often use relatively inexpensive vanities. Units with clean contemporary styling like this one work well in virtually any space, and they don’t have to cost much while delivering sleek style. Porcelain is a go-to, making a functional vanity top that coordinates with the other bathroom fixtures.

4. Splurge: Investment Sofa

A great sofa needs to be a lot of things: comfortable, stylish, and able to hold up to serious wear and tear. Getting all these things usually means investing a little, but it can be well worth it. If you spend a fair amount of time unwinding or entertaining on your sofa, it makes more sense to invest in one that will last.

Do you spend more time working at your home desk or entertaining at the dining table? Maybe a fabulous chair is a better fit for your life. Think about what piece of seating you use the most, and splurge a bit on quality construction and fabric.

Save: Fun Side Chair

Once you have a great sofa anchoring your living room, you can add oodles of interest by mixing in inexpensive side chairs and accent tables. Look to vintage and secondhand shops for pieces that will work with your sofa without exactly “matching” for a relaxed but sophisticated look.

You can also use classic midcentury modern designs to get timeless style at a reasonable cost, especially if you use contemporary reproductions instead of originals. Introducing metal, wood or fiberglass will diversify your texture palette while generally costing less than upholstered pieces.

5. Splurge: Elegant Drapery

Some items in the home come in standard sizes (such as bedding). Unfortunately, windows are not one of these things, which means getting a perfect window treatment will require at least a little tailoring.

Embrace elegant drapery as an area in which to splurge, and get properly sized panels (which add a strong sense of polish) in a sumptuous fabric. Whether you prefer a simple solid or a wild pattern, the indulgence of a custom-selected fabric makes the entire room feel high-end.

Save: Discount Linens

While window treatments demand some customization, basics like bed linens and towels come in standard sizes and rarely need to be purchased at full price. Keep an eye out for sales, nabbing basics whenever you can.

The same can be said for pillows and other small accents. Often, terrific styles will be discounted at season’s end or through online specials.

Pick up pieces as you go, and you can achieve a personal style without investing too much in these little details — even though they can really make a big difference.

When You Just Need a Little Design Guidance

There are several ways you can work with an interior designer. We recently looked at full design servicesand requesting design plansas options, but sometimes those are far more than you need. If you’re looking for just a bit of direction to set you on the right track, a design consultation might be ideal for you.


There are two main types of design consultations. The first is a request for something specific, such as paint colors (called a color consultation) or window treatments. 


The other type of design consultationis a broader request for input on an entire room or several rooms. In this type of consultation, designers deliver ideas that draw on everything learned from design education and practice that may apply to your project needs. (We call it a brain dump.) 


What you get is a lot of information specific to your project, such as furniture layout and retail sourcing suggestions, and thoughts on window coverings, paint colors, artwork, lighting, floors, rugs etc. This meeting is intensive, and you should be ready to take notes. Think of it as a chance to toss ideas around and get professional input before you get out your credit card or start taking down walls.


This is great for the person who is pretty comfortable with style and is handy around the house but would like a professional opinion as guidance. You gain the confidence that will send you off in the right direction.


What will it cost?For a specific consultation (paint or window treatments, for example) you can expect to spend about $150 per hour and up (many designers will do a color consultation on a single room for less), depending on how experienced the designer is. 


For the second, more intensive option (the brain dump), the cost is higher. You can expect to pay anywhere from $300 to $750 and up, depending on the designer’s experience. What you’ll get, though, can help you avoid some costly mistakes and really hone in on where your money will be well spent.

What to expect:Typically a consultation will last an hour or two. Once you have put to good use those suggestions, you can always request more help on an hourly basis. Think of it as a chance to gain access to our experience, our education and our expertise and tap into the tricks of the trade — all packed into one session (or several if you like).


Over the years, I've been asked a lot of questions about interior design. Here are some of the most frequently asked:

Why should I hire a designer? And can I afford one?

I initially started doing my own home renovations. More than once, I have learned the hard way that I what I thought was the right choice wasn’t and I ended up needing things redone, having projects delayed, and going way over budget. As a designer, I am now able to help my clients avoid pitfalls and wrong purchases that actually make it more expensive and time consuming to complete a project on your own, never mind saving you headaches and sleepless nights. 

How long will my project take? 

Each project is unique. In my work, it is important to me to keep communication open and transparent about timelines and the work needed for each project. Occasionally, setbacks can happen, or your ideas may change, I will always work with your deadlines and honour your budget, keeping you informed every step of the way. 

What if I’m not sure where to start?

I'd love to discuss your ideas with you, even if you are just beginning to think about a design change. My professional consultation services can help guide you through the process and save you the headache of managing your renovation alone. Please don’t hesitate to contact me with your design inquiries!