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Furnishing your Home: Where to Save & Where to Splurge

Furnishing a home? Here five key pieces of advice from Katie Boylan, Interior Designer for The Dragas Companies, to help new and prospective homeowners decide where to save and where to splurge.

  • 01.08.2019

Furnishing Your Home: Where to Save Where to Splurge


Furnishing a new home is an exciting and sometimes stressful investment. Budget-friendly home decor is sometimes hard to find. So how do you know you’re shopping smart and getting a good deal? Here are five key pieces of advice from Katie Boylan, Interior Designer for The Dragas Companies, to help new and prospective homeowners decide where to save and where to splurge.

Getting a designer look on a budget.

“Start an idea board,” said Boylan. “Looking through magazines and Pinterest can help you narrow down your style, which can make shopping and decision making easier.”

Boylan also recommends choosing the rug, curtains and other upholstery first to make selecting a coordinating paint color easier.

From there, add some character. This can be done gradually over time by finding different artwork or incorporating a staple piece such as a funky chair you found at a flea market. Just avoid getting items that could be considered too “matchy-matchy.”

Common money-wasting mistakes.

Buy classic, not trendy. Decor trends come and go, so be careful not to use them for your main furniture pieces. Instead, pick classic pieces for your main home furnishings that will outlast current trends. If you’re going to buy trendy, Boylan suggests sticking to accessories that can be easily switched out.

Next, buy multifunctional furniture. Going for a storage ottoman instead of a wooden cocktail table may not only save you money, it’s also a great way to maximize space and makes for a comfortable place to rest your feet. The last money-wasting mistake to avoid is shopping aimlessly.

“I don’t buy anything without first having a plan,” said Boylan. “Knowing exactly what you need and what you’re looking for will help avoid impulse purchases. The last thing you need is to waste both time and money buying items that don’t fit your space or the look you’re going for.”

Where to spend when furnishing your home.

Boylan recommends spending money on upholstery pieces that get the most use. Buying a quality living room sofa that will withstand the wear and tear of kids and pets is important. Choose more neutral colors for these pieces, so when you want to freshen up your space, you can easily swap out pillows and accessories and not have to do a complete overhaul.

It’s also okay to spend a little extra for furniture that’s functional to your lifestyle. “If you know your kids are going to be doing homework at the kitchen island, then invest in comfortable bar stools,” said Boylan.

Design rules you didn’t know you needed.

“Before you go shopping, measure your space,” said Boylan.

Drawing a to-scale diagram of the room you’re shopping for, with the furniture laid out, can help you better visualize the space when you’re out shopping.

Looking for a new rug? Just remember bigger is better. Not only is a bigger rug typically more cost effective, it can also make your room look more spacious. “A rug is meant to ground and define your space, not chop it up,” said Boylan, “If you’re in between sizes, it’s always worth it to go up. ”

The last rule to keep in mind when designing on a budget, is to ask a trusted friend for their opinion. Another set of eyes can be the encouragement or help you need to set you on the right path.

Take advantage of buying new construction.

Furnishing your home is more than just picking the right pieces, it’s about harmonizing the space to compliment the layout and style of the house to fit your needs. Homebuilders are keenly aware of what the modern family needs from a home, working closely with architects and designers to make sure those needs are met. If you want an open layout, a large kitchen, and lots of closet space, buying new construction could be your answer.

“You have the ability to customize your home so much more with new construction,” said Boylan. Whether it’s lighting fixtures, cabinet style and finish, preferred flooring or adding crown molding—buying new construction gives you the opportunity to customize your home, saving you both money and time before you even move in.