Transforming a house into a home often requires thought and care and stuff. Lots and lots of stuff. Those rooms won't fill themselves, after all. But with so many things to acquire, it's helpful to have some guidelines about where to splurge and where to pull back strategically. Especially given that we're not made of money (although smart budgeting and savings can help improve short- and long-term finances).
When it comes to splurge-worthy areas, consider these seven options. Get these pieces right and the rest will take care of itself.
A statement couch
Contrary to popular belief, a rug doesn't tie a room together; a couch does. It's the biggest piece of furniture in the living room, and one of the most important. Nail the couch, and everything else will fall into place around it. You want something firm yet plush, comfortable yet refined. Can’t find the dimensions you need? Consider a custom order—to get just what you need. You'll sit on it every day, so a bit of extra money upfront will pay for itself across a five or 10-year time frame.
A bit about bedding
You're going to spend the highest percentage of your life in bed. That's just a fact. So it makes sense to buy a high-quality mattress and invest in a few sets of exceptional sheets. (The place to save is on the duvet and blankets.) But let’s talk about what goes on the mattress. That’s right: your sheets. When it comes to sheets, long-staple Egyptian cotton is the best option for most people. It's versatile, cozy and lasts. For hot sleepers, we'd recommend considering linen. There's always silk, too, which is the most luxurious but also the most difficult to maintain. And while you’re at it: Don't forget about the guest room. You don’t want company to remember their stay as being uncomfortable.
Don't sleep on curtains
Big windows are wonderful. Big windows with elegant and lovely light-blocking curtains, now that's a vibe. Nice curtains will last forever, shielding you from the harsh outside world when necessary, hanging harmlessly in repose when you want that natural light. If you're moving into a new place, new curtains might not be a day one upgrade—it pays to get a sense of the space first—but they should be somewhere high on the list. Consider a new curtain rod, too. The little details make a big difference.
Effecient energy systems
This is a broad category with a wide swath of options and opportunities, but your solution will be determined by your specific living situation. Perhaps it means switching to an induction-stove, ditching natural gas for electricity. Or maybe it's investing in a heat pump for water. Installing energy-efficient insulation can lower energy bills over the long-term, while putting solar panels on the roof could, depending on the scope and size of the project, pay for itself over the course of the solar panels’ lifetime. Each of these come with upfront costs—although they get cheaper every year and government incentives help, too—but the splurge is worth doing, for yourself and for the world. Plus, induction ovens look cool.
Open the wallet for paint (and pro painters)
You could, of course, get the cheap stuff. It will cover your walls in a tasteful color, brightening a room or accenting a wall. But eventually you'll see. It will start to fade or scratch or take stains or just look, well, cheap. It's worth an extra 30 or 50 percent to get that thick, luscious coat—you know, the one that is easy to clean and lasts. You can get the guys at the hardware store to match the paint you picked, but we recommend springing for the good stuff. (You might need fewer coats, too, which will save time and money.) And, look, if you're going to spend the cash on the paint, do yourself a favor and hire a professional painting crew. They'll paint where they are supposed to and avoid where they aren't.
A cohesive and expandable sound system
There are a number of companies out there that make smart sound equipment designed to expand as needed. Maybe you start out simply with a soundbar for the television and a couple of surround sound speakers. Over time, add a subwoofer, speakers in the kitchen and home office and elsewhere. High-quality sound, simply controlled through an app on your phone. It’s time to ditch that bluetooth speaker that doesn’t hold a charge you got as a gift eight years ago.
Something uniquely you
We won't pretend to know what this is. Maybe it's a set of Japanese knives, a coffee grinder or espresso maker, the perfect ottoman for your feet, or a painting from a favorite local up-and-coming artist. The point is that it's your home, so make it yours. If something feels worth the splurge, it probably is. Trust yourself, pay the money, and enjoy. Life is too short to constantly say no when it comes to things you love.