Yesterday evening, I was scrolling through stories on Instagram, to which I confess I’ve developed a mild obsession. One of my favorite designers was on with a candid talk on comments she’d received during the day about a particular product. Earlier, she had posted that because she’d gotten so many comments and questions about a particular faux fiddle-leaf fig tree, she decided not only to add it to her shop for purchase, but also is doing a giveaway for one of them. By the way, her shop only consists of her favorite things. When I saw it, I thought “oh that’s a cool thing to do” and “yes it’s expensive, but realistic faux plants are, so”…
It turns out that during the day, the comments began flowing in – some positive and excited, like she genuinely was when she posted it. Others were oddly negative and, although she didn’t share the actual comments, seemed to even take on an accusatory tone. As I watched her, I identified immediately with her situation. As designers, we are tasked with finding the best, the next, the coolest, the most beautiful. And if we’re worth our salt, we are good at it! That was the nature of her reply, which I appreciated so much the fact that she addressed it so well. Her area of expertise is “luxury home design,” so why then would anyone expect a $100 fiddle-leaf fig? Her job is to seek out and present THE BEST – and ya’ll, the best costs money. Period.
It’s a common issue in the home design & furnishings arena. We all want the best. We all want the good things. We all want comfortable, beautiful homes to come home to because, (dang it!) we work hard and need a soft place to land at the end of the day. And, let’s face it, because Houzz & Pinterest have made us want it even more. But while we want all the things, we may not all have the budgets for it. That’s totally okay too.
I’ve been blessed (sometimes I jokingly call it the curse) with the ability to single out the highest quality item in a lineup. It can even be the simplest one out of a dozen selections and I will pick the expensive one every time. To balance my champagne taste, I sadly only have a beer budget (okay, maybe rose budget, but still…). So over the years, I’ve learned to identify my ideal sofa, table, etc and then find the best quality look-alike that I can afford. I’ve built 5 personal homes, so I am always aware of budget allowances and overages. Yes, I may fall in love with an Lefroy Brooks faucet, but need to source Delta instead. I enjoy the challenge.
On Monday, Jason Oliver Nixon was on my favorite podcast. He is one of the partners & designers behind Madcap Cottage, which is developing into a lifestyle brand based on their super fun fabric & wallpaper designs. They have a very distinct voice and in their design business, serve a high-end clientele. He defined luxury as basically whatever you love and makes you feel comfortable. So whether its a $10,000 soaking tub or a $30 vase from Target, if it gives you a certain feeling and helps make the space more beautiful, then that’s luxury.
The issue arises for interior designers when we are tasked with interpreting budget, style and expectations. For most of us, the goal is to make a client’s space as beautiful and functional as possible within their budget because that’s what makes everyone happy. I always try to educate my clients on the different levels of products out there and I let them know from the beginning that I will spend their money as if it’s my own. I will always suggest the best quality product for the money and I’ll only suggest higher price items when I’m confident the splurge is worth it. And I’m sure, that’s what the designer on Instagram does as well.
Each of us, through furniture shows and kitchen & bath expos, curate a collection of sources that meet our clients’ needs, taste levels and budgets. All of the designers I know, also want our clients to still be happy many years down the road – not just when we “cut the ribbon” and give the big reveal. And sometimes, that means spending a little more for a quality item that will last.
In future posts, I’ll be exploring various furnishings with you. We’ll talk about construction, materials and quality. I hope it will help you decide when it’s time to save and when it’s time to pay a little more.
…till next time
PS: Everyone loves a little “high vs low” comparison. If you’d like to see some of those in future posts, leave a quick note in the comments below!