designs on the move

Interior Design blog

How to Balance Your Design Budget – Splurge vs. Save

by Suzanne M. Harvey

How to Balance Your Design Budget


PicMonkey Image_Splurge Quote copy

In a recent article I read, designers were discussing the most important thing they learned from their mentor.  I was struck by one designers statement.  “…pick the best thing for a space, no matter where it comes from.” 

This designer discussed how his mentor – a well known, well established designer would buy a piece that was perfect for the design whether it came from a high end showroom or a local resale shop.

It is easy to think you have to have everything from a certain brand / label / showroom.  It can be a trap for designers as well.  I say we break that mold!!

While I want to pick the best thing for the space, no matter where it comes from I also want it to fit the budget. Let’s face it, no one has unlimited funds (except maybe the 1%).  I love the challenge of working with a tight budget.  It really is possible to create a beautiful space on a budget. So how do you balance your design budget?  Three little words…splurge versus save.

A recent bath renovation is a prime example of this splurge vs save concept. There were certain must haves & the client was willing to pay the high price tag for them. But that also meant that I had to find ways to save on some other items to stay on budget.  And in the end the space is beautiful…and on budget!


Take a look at the space. Can you spot the splurge items? No? That is the point.  Great quality items can be found that are nicely priced.  A large portion of the budget was spent on the vanity.  The client wanted a vanity that had the look of a piece of furniture.  This piece is solid wood with self closing doors & drawers – quality, high end details.  This was an investment piece.  And the quality & look were well worth the price.  So where was the save in this bathroom…the mirrors.  These mirrors are from Target & were a steal at $29 each.  Budget balancing – SCORE!!!


How to Balance Your Design Budget

Another splurge in this bathroom was the metallic accent tile.  It was 4 times as much as the rest of the wall tile but we loved the look.  So the savings was found in a less expensive, more readily available wall tile.  The look is still beautiful & luxurious without busting the budget.  Everything in life and design is about balance…and by using the splurge and save you can balance your design budget with an extraordinary result.


The key for determining which elements are worth the splurge is that you need to love it, not like it.  You have to feel like you can’t live with out it and you will regret not having it. Otherwise it might be an area where you save instead.

It is your space & you want something you are going to enjoy for years to come. So my advice…when you find that amazing piece or tile or artwork spend the money. Just remember you will have to search a little for the saves to balance the budget. And don’t be afraid to shop anywhere to find the right piece for your next project.

PS – you don’t have to tell anyone which are your splurges and which are your saves.  It can be your secret! But truthfully I can’t keep these secrets to myself.




  1. Julie Kieras (@ayearwithmomdad) on December 12, 2013 at 10:15 pm

    THAT is a lovely bathroom!! 🙂 I love this advice! 🙂

Leave a Comment

New Reads!

Hot Off the Press