Splurge vs. Save | Designers Sound Off

Proceed with careful consideration as you begin the seemingly dangerous mission of acquiring investment-worthy furnishings. The search may seem daunting—what is the best investment furniture for your home? Rest assured, HOME has polled the experts in and around the Roanoke Valley, and they are willing to share their insight and expertise! These talented individuals also offer advice on where it’s best to save money furnishing and accessorizing your home. Realize you are investing in your quality of life, and comfort is worth the investment. Technology is expensive and rebooted every couple of years, making a considerable expenditure unworthy all too soon. Instead, invest in a gorgeous piece of furniture that you will love and enjoy for decades to come.

ELAINE STEPHENSON
Elaine Stephenson Interiors
Elaine Stephenson of Elaine Stephenson Interiors suggests where to begin before purchasing investment piece(s). “It is important to know how you want the room to feel, and the centerpiece of the room will set the tone. Invest in an anchor piece like a beautiful rug or a clean-lined sofa that you will love for years to come. Antiques are, thankfully, coming back into the focus of design. A mahogany antique chest is always a welcome addition to a room. It provides warmth, great storage, and weight.”

Elaine suggests splurging on lighting, “Good lamps are crucial to a room scheme, like a good pair of shoes is to an outfit. They finish the room.” Her budget-friendly tip—“You can save on occasional tables. Get pretty books at a second-hand bookstore. Well-priced accessories are also fairly easy to find.”

ANDREA REID
Reid’s Fine Furnishings
At Reid’s, we always recommend investing in quality upholstery for seating used daily. Sofas and chairs that are eight-way handtied, and have solid hardware frames will stand up to constant use. Today, there are also many ‘performance’ fabrics that hold up well, even with children and animals in the home.”

Andrea also offers, “Another important investment should be solid wood chests, dressers, and nightstands.” It’s important to keep in mind that, “Since these pieces are used every day, the drawers should be dovetailed, center guide, and side-hung, if possible. This level of quality ensures that the drawers will open and close very easily for a lifetime of use.”

“Other pieces worth splurging on are interesting accessories, lamps, chandeliers and art. Why have a standard, plain ginger jar lamp or candlestick lamp, when you can find a beautiful lamp or chandelier to set off a room, like a jewel.” Andrea agrees with Elaine Stephenson’s perspective regarding lamps: “I look at lamps as illuminated art.” She goes onto say that the same consideration goes for art. “If you truly love a painting or an unusual accessory, go for it. It can make the room.”

Pretty upholstered pieces that are not going to get heavy use can be purchased quite reasonably and work well in a foyer or living room. Therefore, this is where you can save money.

ELLIE PROCTOR & MEREDITH DRAPER
Ellie Proctor Antiques and Fine Things
Ellie Proctor and Meredith Draper can agree with the concept that a beautiful antique chest of drawers can ground a space and easily move from one room to another. They like to “incorporate timeless pieces into contemporary design because trends come and go, but a classic will last forever.”

Fine European antique lighting never goes out of style, and both women agree that investment pieces are not limited to furniture. Throughout their shop, one can find bronze sculpture, antique leather-bound books, a pair of Chinese jars or an antique tole lamp.

Ellie adds, “Investment pieces have ‘staying power,’ and will stand the test of time.” Other items Meredith and Ellie deem “splurge-worthy” include: English bamboo, antique rugs, antique boxes or humidors, antique Asian screens, and anything silver or brass.

JODI SHIRKEY
Designers II & Tate Interiors
“In general, every design project has a budget. This budget may or may not be realistic. For the best-desired results, I advise clients to prioritize their needs and spend the money where they can achieve the most impact. A single purchase of a key piece can carry an entire project. A customized, unique one-of-a-kind piece can be that key. In regards to case goods furniture, it could be the material elements, style, or the finish used that make it unique. Upholstery furniture can also make that impact by being covered in an exclusive, wonderfully designed textile fabric. The furniture can be art to a room and just as important as the art on the wall.”

VALETA PITTMAN
Halifax Fine Furnishings
“We suggest that our customers not compromise on the structure of a nice quality sofa.” Valeta adds: “The variety of fabrics available at significant price differences means one can often find a fabric that looks very good, at a reasonable price point.”

“A beautiful decorative chest can be a lovely addition to any room and offers versatility and good storage. It truly could be an investment piece.”

“Never underestimate the effect of a pair of great lamps that provide impact in both the quality of the light it provides and the value of a dramatic accessory.”

SUZANNE SELLERS HOUCK
Houck Asset Verification
“There’s always a market for quality.” Suzanne believes all purchases should be “passion purchases.” If you love it and it speaks to you, then based on your taste and preferences, you should splurge and enjoy your purchase. “These days small, unique, and very high-end, top-of-the-market, museum-quality pieces are what’s popular.” She advises smart expenditures to include copper, natural artisan wood with natural patinas and garden objects. Suzanne adds, “Custom pieces by living designer artisans hold strong appeal.”

EVAN BERDING
Evan Berding Custom Furniture & Woodwork
“Furniture resides in an interesting place between art and utility. Yes, it serves a functional role, and because of this, it is easy to define what furniture “does” as only that. Recognizing that it can, at its best, do more than serve a practical purpose, it begins to move back and forth between something useful and something else entirely. It can catch your eye the way a favorite painting will, or it can remind you of another time the way a song might. As with an artist composing a song or a painting, the maker/designer will put their voice into the work, and you will know if it speaks to you. Look first for that connection when considering a piece to invest in and try to see past current trends. Instead, find work that resonates with you in some intangible way. If you are going to have this piece forever, it should not only look good this year, but it should still appeal decades from now. And in that respect, there is something else to consider when thinking about investing in furniture and that is time, both the destructive and constructive forces of time. Time is going to impart some scratches and dents to furniture (as it does to us) so you will want to make sure the piece is built to withstand our hectic lives. A quality piece—built with select materials using timetested construction—will not only weather daily use but grow more meaningful and beautiful with it. This patina of use is a record of the lives we lived around this furniture. When the piece is then entrusted to the next generation, it is not only the furniture itself but this history that is passed on.”

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