Local designers offer spend-save advice

By Elisa Williams, Columbian staff writer

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Figuring out where to splurge on home decor and where to save is an art in itself.

Vancouver designer Tonya Lance, who offers three-hour makeovers as one of her services, offered her spend-and-save list.

Among the items that she suggests investing in are: upholstered pieces, side tables, dining tables and chairs. Also on the list are architectural elements such as countertops, flooring, fireplace surrounds, windows and hardware such as plumbing fixtures and curtain rods.

It’s not as important to spend for quality on less-permanent items such as throw pillows, accessories, lighting, area rugs, mirrors and even drapery panels.

The list even extends to artwork.

“Take some time to explore some developing talent,” Lance suggests. “With less-expensive art you have the freedom to change it out.”

Where you invest money can also depend on the room.

Jayne Sanders of Vancouver’s Sanders Interior Design, recommends investing in high-quality bedding.

“It really does make a difference in how the bedroom looks,” she said. That is also true of the draperies or drapery panels in the room.

How long you plan to keep the furniture also makes a difference.

“Well-built furniture is worth the investment … if you plan on keeping it for a long time,” Sanders said. “If you want to change your decor somewhat frequently, then I would recommend less-expensive furniture. Then you wouldn’t feel bad handing it over to your kids or the Goodwill in five or 10 years and buy new.”

In many ways it’s not the price of the item, but how it looks with what you already own and how it’s displayed.

A cluttered room will diminish the impact of all the items in it.

And, items that aren’t in scale can detract from each other, Lance explained, such as a tiny coffee table that’s paired with a large, chunky sofa.

“Scale is something people often don’t think about,” she said. “They can tell something is wrong, but they don’t know what.”

Being strategic with the finer items in a room can also elevate everything around it.

If you have an expensive Tiffany clock, for example, Lance recommends displaying it prominently.

There are common mistakes that Lance sees clients make when they’re trying to save.

“The biggest problem I’m seeing lately is people who are purchasing high-ticket upholstered pieces on the Internet. Most often it’s not refundable or returnable,” Lance said. “It can look completely different in real life than what you see online.”

There are also common pitfalls when spending a lot of money.

Sometimes when investing in high-end furniture clients believe they need to find pieces that stand out. These pieces tend to be trendier and can go out of style, Lance said.

“When you’re buying good pieces, look for clean, timeless lines.”