By Karen Corinha for The Sun Chronicle
I believe that there are attractive design solutions available at every price point. Let's face it, anyone can create a luxurious home with an unlimited budget.
Designers worth their salt do it by combining a client's personal taste and lifestyle with budget-minded solutions. The key to doing it successfully is knowing where to splurge.
Splurging is relative. Your splurging may be different than mine.
I had the privilege of redoing a bathroom about eight years ago in Concord where the homeowner wanted a spa-like bath similar to one she experienced at a Ritz Carlton. Every detail was perfect and the space was stunning. It was the first time anyone had spent over $100,000 for a bathroom on my watch and I oversaw every detail as if the money was my own. Now that is splurging! Every project has some details that should be carefully chosen and others that can be less selective. Here are a few of my tips when undergoing a project of your own.
Family room splurges
Say you are going to redo your family room. It is the one space that everyone hangs out in and it's the place where everyone watches TV together. This is one place where you should consider splurging on a nice quality piece of seating, a high-quality sofa that will stand up to daily wear. In this scenario, I would think about the sofa as being the one piece in the room that should not be skimped on. A carpet, side tables and accessories can easily come from a discount shop, but the couch or sectional should be a good brand. One of my personal favorites is a company in North Carolina that is a family-owned furniture business called Wesley Hall. They use quality fabrics and match patterns better than anyone else. You may notice that most of the couches you see in the catalog store displays are made in solid fabric. That is simply because it is easier to produce. It takes craftsmanship to match pattern well and uses a lot more fabric. Another important thing to think about when selecting a sofa is that for TV watching, the piece should be a little higher in the back than in a room without a TV. A sofa with a higher back can cradle your head and make for a more comfortable TV-watching experience.
I recently worked on a beautiful family room in Lakeville. The client removed everything from the space and wanted to start again. It was a very large room so they were in need of quite a bit: new furnishings, a carpet, end tables and a large coffee table. They used a projector TV setup, and this was to be the room they gathered to watch television. I advised them to splurge on the quality of the family room sectional, since they would be sitting on it every day. They also needed draperies, artwork, chairs, bookcases to hold their large collection of books and new lighting. We ended up selecting a beautiful oriental carpet as our design inspiration and matched with it a Wesley Hall sectional as our splurge pieces. A Sam Moore chair, end tables from One Kings Lane and bookcases on sale at Arhaus were chosen, and lamps from JCPenney completed the space. Their splurge pieces were really the carpet and draperies. They cost the most but also added the greatest amount of bang for our buck and tied the entire room's color scheme together. The sectional was Wesley Hall in a textured navy. The lamps were inexpensive but were perfect for the space. A few accessories from HomeGoods and the room was finished. The result was a beautiful space that reflected the client's tastes and worked well with the rest of their home. They were thrilled and that is all that really matters to me.
I work on a lot of kitchen projects, and they are so much fun. Clients are often overwhelmed with all of the many choices and how to make them work together. Splurging in the kitchen can mean different things. For instance, often it can be the backsplash tile that sets the tone for the kitchen and is the focal point. For some people it is the countertop. If you are planning a kitchen renovation, be sure to check out the new quartz products, like Cambria and Viatera from LG. (The colors and textures have come a long way and the patterns look like granite.)
The kitchen in the pictures atop this column is in a lovely home in Mansfield. The client chose a fabulous cabinet line called Candlelight. Not the highest price nor the cheapest, but well made and with all the bells and whistles. The countertops were Cambria and had a lot of color and sparkle. We let that be the focal point of the space but added a pretty tile backsplash and a glass detail behind the cooktop for a little pizzazz. The lighting was another interesting element - not expensive but stylish, and it worked well with the countertops and focal point of tile. The challenge is knowing how many focal points or splurges should be in the space. For many, it is the budget that determines that, but for others it can be a challenge. My advice is to consider what you want to notice first when you enter a room. In this kitchen, your eye moves from the counter to the focal wall of tile and then to the lights. They work well together, not overpowering each other.
Karen Corinha is an accomplished and regionally recognized interior designer who specializes in creating high-style, affordable solutions. She is also a regular columnist for The Sun Chronicle.