Value Engineering A Polished Mix

- Wednesday, May 22, 2019

“Gregory, you know we only have this much to spend, how are we going to realize these wants on our list?” Many times while working with clients this all-important question about budget comes up.

“Well,” I usually reply, “I’m quite adept at value engineering. In fact, I do it for myself all the time.”

If keeping a handle on the budget is important, and let’s face it, most of us need to adhere to one, a professional and experienced interior designer can guide you making choices while not losing sight of the bottom line. Unlimited budgets are a rare thing in real life, and, quite frankly, I find rooms filled with only precious, rare, expensive things to be rather stiff and museum-like. Fine for an exhibit, but not exactly what you want for your own home. The secret is knowing where to splurge and where to save, or as I say, get the best bang for the buck.

If you can swing it, try to invest in at least one well designed, quality piece of furniture or accessory that you really love. This could be an antique, something new, or have custom made to your specifications. Splurging on something special will elevate other items in the room in your eyes and those who spend time there. Its that mix and match of authentic character with budget-friendly that results in a sophisticated, nuanced, and layered decor.

Be cautious about spending too much on super-trendy items that may quickly go out of style in a few seasons. Search for timeless objects instead. Believe me your investment will more than pay for itself over years of use.

Budget is relative to each individual, of course. You could spend $250 on a special, hand embroidered silk pillow or you could spend $25 on a mass-market cotton-velvet solid-color one. And, there is nothing wrong with having the two of them sitting side-by-side on your sofa. The embroidered one will be that much more special by itself (instead of a pair) and will dress-up the bargain filler. You get a great look and still haven’t blown your allowance. 

I bought a nice round dining table a long time ago. Its a transitionally-styled piece that has a beautifully grained pie pattern wood veneer top with an inset contrasting accent band around the perimeter. The legs are gracefully arched and discretely modern and the stain color is a classic medium brown that is neither gold nor red and goes with most everything. I paid a lot more than I thought I would ever spend on a table but you know what? I still love it after 18 years and cannot tell you how many memorable dinner parties have been held around it.

So while I splurged on the dining table, I economized on some other elements in the room (dining rooms have a lot of  components so the tab can add up quickly). I scored big time on an unusual square Persian rug bought at an auction for next to nothing. The bold pattern woven in bright hues of turquoise, orange, lime, and gold adds depth and interest to the room (it is also immensely forgiving for spills - an added bonus). 

I found a set of 8 Parsons-style chairs with exposed wood frames on a close-out sale that was too good to pass up. Their original ivory faux-leather upholstery has since been replaced with a more chic but still subtle ocelot patterned ultra suede. An ornate crystal chandelier (another splurge) casts a sparkly glow overhead while a pair of simple buffet lamps found at HomeGoods (yes you read that correctly) illuminate the top of a cherished 19th century Sheraton chest.

It all mixes together to create an eclectic ambience that is sophisticated and studied yet inviting and timeless at the same time. Stylish without being precious.

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