Caroline Browne

Interiors | Where to spend & where to save

part one

Most people have some sort of budget in mind when starting an interiors project, an idea of how much they are able, or willing to spend overall. But with so many demands on that budget that it’s often difficult to decide where to spend most effectively and where savings can reasonably be made.

Here’s my guide to where it’s sensible to focus most of your budget and in my next journal entry I will be sharing my advice on where you can make savings.

Buy cheap, pay twice

You have probably heard this old saying, which is true in many areas of interior decoration. We all want to avoid false economies, and the inconvenience of having to replace things soon after they were bought, especially if they are part of the fabric of your home.

From the floor up

Flooring is the part of your home that gets the most wear so quality materials will really pay off. If you are choosing wood, remember that solid wood can be sanded time and time again to remove any wear and tear. A solid wood floor really is a floor for life.

Engineered wooden boards only typically have a 3mm top layer of real wood which will be worn away with time and by sanding, revealing the unattractive central core.

It’s also definitely worth paying for a specialist flooring fitter as it’s hard to put right any mistakes later.

Bathroom flooring will likely get quite wet so has to be durable; stone or porcelain tile is ideal but avoid vinyl which will lift and curl.

Show your home in its best light

As I explained in my last journal entry, great lighting can make a huge difference to how your space feels and functions. It therefore makes sense to plan ahead and spend generously here to get the best functionality and maximum effect.

Lighting is also devilishly difficult to change, and will involve all sorts of expensive rewiring and redecoration if you want to add or reposition lights, sockets and switches later.

The heart of the home

The kitchen is often the most used area in a modern home so it makes sense to spend a good proportion of your budget here.

Choose a simple kitchen that won’t date quickly and avoid fashionable finishes and colours. A white or cream kitchen is always going to look good and can be updated and accessorized relatively easily as fashions change.

Spend time planning your perfect layout and be prepared to pay for specialist or additional design services. A carefully planned and professionally installed kitchen will be a joy to use and well worth the initial cost.

Buy the best quality kitchen worktops you can afford as this is the part of your kitchen that will get the most wear and tear so it needs to be durable and long-lasting. My favorite is composite stone which comes in a huge range of colours, textures and prices. I also often recommend natural granite; colour choices are more limited but quality and value are excellent. Avoid real marble as it’s porous and will stain.

Always buy the best quality kitchen and bathroom taps that you can afford. I like Hansgrohe and Franke. Cheap taps never work as well or last as long.

The importance of storage

Central London

Built in storage is expensive but will give you so much more space than freestanding furniture as it can be built to make the most of the full wall height and width and tricky spaces. Creating an architectural look in this way will also make your room feel less cluttered than having separate pieces of freestanding storage furniture.

Built in furniture represents good value if you plan to stay in your home for several years and it can also be customized to your own personal needs and requirements.

Sweet dreams

We spend a third of our lives in bed and sleep quality is vitally important to our wellbeing so it makes sense to spend generously on your mattress. Manufacturers recommend changing your mattress every 10 years so think of the cost as a per night spend; every £1000 you spend is less than 30p/night! My favorites are Vi-Spring and Duxiana.

Many manufacturers offer a money back satisfaction guarantee once you have bought their mattress and some such as Duxiana are showcased in hotels around the world to try before you buy. What a great excuse for a mini-break!

Spending a bit more on good quality bedding just increases the sleep and wellbeing benefits. The White Company and John Lewis are my go-to suppliers for duvets, pillows and bed linen. I can highly recommend The White Company goose down duvet which is beautifully light and cosy and their goose feather and down pillows. I love John Lewis 800 thread count Egyptian cotton bed linen which is gorgeously soft and silky, and not too expensive.

Are you sitting comfortably?

It’s worth investing in upholstery; buying a classic, quality sofa will last many years and be really comfortable. For durability, look for a hardwood frame that’s glued, screwed and dowelled, with feather-wrapped foam seat pads which will give support and softness and feather-filled back cushions for a luxurious feel. I love Wesley Barrell, for their excellent quality, longevity and after sales care.

Fabric is also important; linen and cotton mixes are timeless, stylish and hard-wearing. Choose a loose cover style in a darker shade if you’re prone to spilling and fabric protection is a must if you have small children or pets!

Frame your windows

Ready-made curtains never have the same luxury look or longevity as custom-made ones. For the amount of work involved, handmade window treatments are definitely worth the investment. Choose interlined curtains if your home has draughty windows-they will pay for themselves in terms of energy savings and comfort. Blackout lining is vital if early morning light wakes you or your children too early. For a timeless and stylish look, choose a plain, neutral coloured linen and have them made to fall to the floor.

Check back soon for my top tips on where to save!

Photo credits; Image 1 AH Peck Flooring, Image 2 John Cullen Lighting, 5 The White Company, 7 Sue Whimster Curtains