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Designer’s Guide: When to Save and When to Splurge

Designer’s Guide: When to Save and When to Splurge

Designer’s Guide: When to Save and When to Splurge

We asked Homepolish designers Anna Kroesser and Amelia Strat of Kroesser + Strat how to shop smart for your space—when to splurge, when to save, and how to pull the perfect look together for your budget.

Photos by Sean Litchfield

When we saw the pics of the stunning four-bedroom, four-bathroom Noho triplex Homepolish designers Kroesser + Strat created, we were overwhelmed with things to love. The sprawling 6,350 square-foot space feels nothing short of effervescent—filled with incredible spots to entertain, relax, and really live. But we especially loved that the elevated bohemian aesthetic was achieved with a curated mix of high-end pieces and smart shopping choices from stand-by retail vendors.

“In all of our projects, we try to achieve a space that any and everyone wants to hang out in,” Anna Kroesser explains. “This isn’t necessarily their forever home, so we wanted to make sure they got a few stunning high-end pieces that they can take with them wherever they go, and some others that if they didn’t fit in the new space, it wouldn’t be devastating.”

But how do you know when to splurge and when to save?

It doesn’t have to be an all or nothing,” Anna says. “You can have a real statement, collectible piece in the same space as a CB2 side table, and ultimately the high-end pieces elevate everything in the best way.” 

We asked Anna to share her tips on how to master the mix and to divulge some of her favorite shopping sources.

As a designer, how do you balance where you select furnishings from? Why for this space did you think it was important to have a mix of high-end and more mass pieces?
When it comes to the more mass pieces, we have a rolodex of our go-to vendors: places we know have cool and beautiful pieces at a decent price point and that won’t fall apart in six months. If we find something via Instagram or Pinterest from a place we’ve never sourced from before, we’re careful to do our research to make sure the quality is up to par. While we don’t think our client is going anywhere for a while, it’s still a rental. We wanted the high-end pieces to be able to transition to any home they go to next without struggling to make them fit

You mentioned that your client and her husband “like to really live in their space and wanted nothing to be precious, while still looking and feeling amazing.” How does that mix play into that ethos?
The days of having a living space that’s only ever used for formal cocktail parties are long gone. Everyone wants to be able to have a space where they don’t have to worry about something getting damaged whenever they have guests over. For example, their dining tables are concrete, and concrete is porous, which is part of its beauty. The tables will take on those glass rings and age over time. To us, that’s an indication of a well-lived home.

Are there certain items (say sofas) work better from certain ends of the spectrum? Do you always splurge on one type of piece?
Sofas aren’t always our splurge item. In this main living area, the curved sofa is from Anthropologie and the coffee table is from Apparatus Studios which was three times the cost of the sofa. Sofas don’t always fit into a new space, so if a client is looking to have pieces that can move with them, we try to find pieces that are a bit more transient. We don’t always splurge on the same type of item from project to project—we push for what’s right for the client and how they’ll use the space.

Along those same lines, are there certain styles or material types you think you should only splurge on or vice versa?
In contrast to individual sofas, modular sectionals can definitely be worth the investment because they often have different configuration capabilities. Most upholstered furnishings are available in a performance fabric, which we always recommend from a durability standpoint. There are so many beautiful options out there that won’t need professional cleaning if someone spills a drink on it.

Lighting can go one of two ways, and we definitely did a high/low mix in this space. The very cool light in the den is from Bed Bath & Beyond! While the living room light fixture is custom from Italy via Property Furniture. We really see the value in splurging on a gorgeous statement chandelier or pendant, and we generally look for less expensive options for sconces and table lamps. West Elm, CB2, and Anthropologie have amazing lighting options that won’t break the bank.

If you are going to go high-end with one piece, what would you choose?
It really does depend on the space and the client, but a cocktail table, modular sectional or stand out chandelier would be our top three.

Do you have any tips for deciding if a piece is worth the splurge? Or if a lesser-expensive option will do?
We tend to find that a specialty splurge piece is like art. Art is so personal, and when you see a piece of art you love, you can’t stop thinking about it. That specialty piece should make you feel the same way. If you love it, you keep looking at it, then find a way to cut in other areas so you can splurge on that item.

A great way to save is with side or accent tables. There are great affordable options that can save you hundreds or thousands of dollars versus more expensive side tables.

Any tips or favorite places you like to shop for either end of the spectrum? (I know you guys loved the Montauk Sofa you chose for this project!)
Yes, Montauk is definitely a new found love for us thanks to our client. We are crazy for The Future Perfect. They have the most amazing pieces—it’s like a really well-curated gallery of furnishings. Not all projects will have the budget for their pieces, but it’s our first stop when we’re looking for something unique and special. West Elm and CB2 are tried and true- we’re always drooling over newly released pieces from them. Article is online only, but also a great source for modern and affordable pieces.

You can read more about the space (and find all the sourcing information) here.  Need some help hitting the high points of the high and low mix? Sign up for Homepolish to work with a designer.