Secrets On Design Spending and Saving-The Toronto Star Interview

Photo Credit: Anna With Love/The Toronto Star
Often home renos are an inspiration starting point for refreshing the style and design of a home. This also may mean getting rid of old pieces that no longer work in a new space and bringing in new pieces that do. So, assuming we’ve spent a lot on renos, we may not have a ton of dough leftover to splurge on design. So, let’s start there!
What décor pieces or furniture should we be looking at as investment pieces? In other words, items we should be viewing as long-term additions and definitely shouldn’t skimp on?
AF:There are a few go to pieces that I generally feel are worth investing a little more in while re-designing your home’s interior.
1. A beautiful and comfortable master bed. Of course the mattress itself should be the best you can afford but the overall look of the bed frame should be something gorgeous and timeless.
2. A stylish coffee table. Occasional tables are a good investment in general because they can easily float from room to room if your style changes. The best coffee tables in my opinion are ones with storage drawers or a shelf for display.
3. A piece of art that makes your heart sing. You should own one good piece that you keep from house to house that brings you happiness anytime you look at it.
On the flipside, in your experience, where can we afford to skimp (without losing aesthetic appeal, of course)?
AF: There are some great ways to save money but not compromise on design when it comes to a home renovation, here are some examples:
1. Tile. Using an inexpensive neutral colour tile that is installed in a brick or diagonal pattern is a great place to save-then punch up the design with one investment tile border or accent wall in a shower or entryway.
2. Interior staircase. Opt for simple paint grade railings with square spindles-this style will stand the test of time without breaking the bank.
3. Countertops. I love the look of stone countertops in kitchens and master ensuites but laminates have come a long way and are the perfect way to save in kids bathrooms-ask for a square edge with no backsplash for a more custom look.
What are your personal tricks for finding quality items that don’t necessarily cost a ton of money? Where should we be looking?
AF:I love to shop online for sales-outside of that re-purposing items with paint always creates a custom look on a budget. Consider using a vintage sideboard as a vanity or spray painting a gently used chandelier to give it a fresh facelift.
For those unaccustomed to perusing markets, vintage/antique sales or websites featuring pre-loved items, any words of advice for how to stay focused, narrow down a search and find that items that really speak to you?
AF:I always shop with a plan! Look online for inspiration rooms that have gently used or vintage pieces in their decor-keep the photos handy while shopping and make note of the “lines or bones” of a piece, don’t mind the colour as you can always paint it to matche your decor. Buy pieces that feel solid and ideally come from a smoke free environment as that smell is tough to get rid of.
When can we benefit from choosing a ‘project’ piece, perhaps a chair in need of new fabric or dresser that needs sanding and painting … or, for novice do-it-your-selfers, should they stay away from project pieces and leave it to the pros?
AF: Chairs and dressers are great pieces to start with if you’re a novice painter-they are generally easily available and inexpensive. Always clean your piece well and give it a light sanding to take off any grease or dirt before painting. If you want to re-upholster a sofa or refinish a solid wood piece to be stained-I find this is better left to the pros. 

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