Weigh needs, wants when purchasing furniture

In part two of my series about decorating your home, I’m starting with where the majority of your budget will be spent, furniture.

Furniture is the foundation of the design in any room and will be the most expensive portion of your design budget. When shopping, we can get caught up in the excitement of buying and don’t always think everything through. We need to consider what we truly need, what we really want and what will actually fit in our homes. It is important to spend some time preplanning your furniture purchases so that you will not overspend, or buy something that you don’t need, can’t use or won’t fit. This step is one of the most important but the most forgotten.

To start, let’s look at decorating ideas for each room and then what was bought and spent.

In the living room, make the upholstery your impact pieces. If you are afraid to make a color or pattern commitment on a large piece, select the neutral color from your color scheme and put the impact into the pillows and accents. The living room and the dining room are more for show than for everyday use so this is where I would go for the look versus the quality.

In the dining room, spend the money on the chairs instead of the table. You can re-cover the cushions to match your color scheme; it is easy and inexpensive to do yourself. An inexpensive table can be given a wow look with a great floral that won’t break your budget.

The family room and kitchen nook are where we spend our time, so I would invest in the best quality furniture you can afford. If you can’t afford the best sofa, get a good, heavy durable fabric and purchase a sturdy nook table and chairs.

For your master bedroom, I recommend that you wait and get exactly what you want, when you can afford it. This is a room where the furniture gets very little wear and tear, so it can almost last forever.

Instead of the traditional matching nightstand, use a secretary. Place a small chair in front of it and now your nightstand also functions as a desk with additional storage. Use a 30-inch round decorative table and a small chair. There will be plenty of room for the functional bedside items you need, along with a place to sit, write a note and have a cup of tea.

Also, I don’t recommend buying the whole matching suite of furniture. I know that it’s the easy way out, but having five or more pieces in the exact same style and finish is predictable.

For your secondary bedrooms or accent pieces, consider consignment shops, yard sales and furniture clearance centers. You can find great prices on pieces that might just need a little touch up. If you have children, look for pieces that can grow with them instead of ones that are very juvenile in design.

Let’s go back to my model home example that was designed for $15.50 per square foot and look at what the furniture cost in each room and what pieces I purchased. Our overall budget for the home was $49,430; I spent 45 percent on furniture, so my furniture budget was $22,244.

Entry: 1.72 percent or $383 for a decorative console table.

Living room: 13.97 percent or $3,107 for a sofa, two upholstered chairs, coffee table and two side tables. This was a fairly small parlor living room so the furniture needed to be smaller scaled and therefore was less expensive.

Dining room: 16.80 percent or $3,737 for a wood table, four side chairs, two arm chairs and a buffet piece. I splurged a bit more in this room since the living room was smaller.

Nook: 3.24 percent or $721 for a 42-inch round iron and glass table and four iron chairs with upholstered seats.

Family room: 19.10 percent or $4,249 for a sofa, two upholstered chairs and matching ottomans, sofa back table, coffee table and two side tables. The room had a TV niche so I didn’t need a TV unit.

Master bedroom: 23.52 percent or $5,232 for a queen mattress set, wood poster bed, dresser, two bedside chests and an iron bench.

Master retreat: 5.86 percent or $1,303 for a chaise, TV armoire, table and two leather arm chairs.

Guest bedroom: 3.33 percent or $741 for a full mattress set, bedside chest and a bistro table set.

Loft: 8.36 percent or $1,860 for a love seat, chair, ottoman, TV armoire and a pub table with two bar stools.

Girl’s room: 2.12 percent or $472 for a twin mattress set, dresser and nightstand.

Boy’s room: 1.98 percent or $440 for a twin mattress set, chest and nightstand.

Do keep in mind that this is a model and I did not spend a lot on the mattress sets, which should be an investment consideration in your budget.

Your furnishings are the largest percent of your budget and are investment pieces no matter how little you may spend on them. Take your time during this step and plan your purchases because they are not items that you will quickly replace or change out.

Shop with your budget and inventory list and try not to impulse buy here. If you have an impulse, do it with an accessory piece that should not break your budget.

Next in my series will be window treatments. Visit www.GMJinteriors.com and look under “Ask Gail — Columns” for previous articles in the series.

Gail Mayhugh, owner of GMJ Interiors, is a professional interior designer and author of a book on the subject. Questions may be sent by e-mail to: gail@gmjinteriors.com. Or, mail to: 7380 S. Eastern Ave., No. 124-272, Las Vegas, NV 89123. Her Web address is: www.GMJinteriors.com.

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