The cost of everything seems to be going up right now, and we’re all watching our budgets. But there are smart ways to save a few dollars, and then there’s false economy. This week, we’re exploring where to save and where to spend – starting with your home.
The cost-of-living crisis is real, but if you’ve recently moved or need to redecorate, there are ways to do so without breaking the bank.
It’s still possible to live the good life with a beautiful home by working out where to save and where to splurge.
We asked some experts how they recommend people economise – and where we absolutely must spend money – when making their house a home.
* How to make a statement in your hallway
* Six tricks to make any small room feel much bigger
* Loud and proud: Why we’re (still) loving the maximalism trend
* How to renovate your kitchen on a $5000 budget
Save: Paint the things you have
Designer Evie Kemp is known for her love of bright colour and maximalist styling. She says the biggest way you can make a decorating statement, while saving money, is by using paint.
“Paint is so affordable for the transformation it provides – whether it’s painting a whole room, or just painting a piece of furniture.”
She says DIY in general is “the way to go when it comes to saving money in decoration”. “The more you can DIY, the more you’ll save for your splurge.”
Splurge: Soft furnishings
The splurge should be on curtains, soft furnishings and bedding – “always money well spent”, Kemp says.
“These items are really the icing on the cake when it comes to decorating, so if you’ve saved money in other ways, a beautiful cushion and custom-made curtains can elevate the whole room.”
Splurge: Statement pieces
Though she says where to splurge is really up to the individual, “personally I like to splurge on the things that really excite me – the statement pieces, the things that I feel really make me happy”, adds Kemp.
“I save money where I can with the practical – mostly by shopping secondhand or getting creative with DIY.”
Save: Unframed art
Donna White, from Donna White Interior Design, says savings could be made on artwork by buying an unframed piece, something they love, from a gallery outside the main centres.
“I would always buy the best I could afford,” she says. “Art is important. But buying unframed art means you can keep it until you can afford to frame it properly at a reputable framer.”
She also recommends people buy good quality limited edition prints, if they don’t have the budget for original art – this Georgina Hoby Scutt piece, Wild Bright, a limited-edition giclee print on archival cotton rag paper, costs $270 compared to $2000 or more for an original.
Splurge: Floors and benchtops
Splurges should always be on “horizontal surfaces”, White says. “It’s worth spending on good flooring, good benchtops. Horizontal surfaces get so much use.”
She recommends, for instance, Dekton countertops, by Consentino – benchtops that are “really user-friendly” and resistant to stains, scratches and heat.
Save: Clever-but-cheap storage
While having a professional organiser come to your home can cost from hundreds to thousands of dollars, Liz Bradley, from The Tidy Lady, says there are ways to save, particularly for those who are not afraid to take a DIY approach.
One of her favourite products to recommend is a kitchen or bathroom cupboard turntable with high sides. “They’re great for deep cupboards, shelves and benches; they make things more accessible and it’s fun to use them.”
Splurge: Containers which last a lifetime
Simple plastic storage tubs with clicking lids are “wonderful for storing things that need to stay rodent-proof, clean and dry no matter where they’re stored”, says Bradley.
For pantry storage, if people are willing to splurge, she recommends Tupperware products.
A seven-piece kitchen set retails for $244. “You’ll quite likely never have to replace these, but if you do, they have a 50-year guarantee!”