What is the bottom line in a design (or decorating) project? Is it simply the cost of all the items purchased? Or perhaps that plus what you pay for “design help”? What is the value of that help? A number of years ago a client presented me with his views on “cost and value” and, they are not the same.
Where does Cost/Value fit in? “Cost” is simply the amount that you pay for something. If you are not familiar with the products you are buying, all you will know is the cost. “Value” is the relationship between what you actually spend combined with the quality and (as I tell clients) durability of what you buy. If you are knowledgeable about the products, the value becomes much more evident because you know what to check out before you spend. Together with someone who understands what you need to buy, the value can be better examined.
In design, planning, construction and shopping, the numbers on the quotations and the price tags seem to get all of the attention. Only when we take those numbers, compare them with similar products and dissect the options, do doors open. There is no doubt that cost and value should both be considered for any kind of design, decorating, construction or remodeling project.
First, hiring a serious design professional should be considered. A Designer who has worked with varied budgets can be the resource to present you with viable options. If your expectations are unrealistic, this person should be able to allocate the funds you have to get you your best result. Engage the services of a real Designer (not a salesperson, and not a neighbor with a flair for color), and remember that in the course of assembling your project, you will likely save more than this professional will charge you. I would call that measurable “value”. You will get the advice and the work of someone who understands your project and they can save you what they cost.
When you buy from retail stores, please remember that their mark-up is nearly always 100% --or more. That allows stores to sell at (what they call) reduced prices. When my clients want to buy from retailers, I just remind them that what they are purchasing will likely just be replaced if/when it wears out. Should you want to buy for more than 5-10 years, the chain furniture stores will not have very much of that quality. If you are gentle with your home, it might last, but it probably won’t be economical to reupholster or refinish those items
There are ways to spend some more and keep things “forever”. Some family-owned, design-oriented retailers sell beautifully made pieces and they may discount to Designers as well, which can be passed on to their clients. There are always custom options through the Merchandise Mart or many (extraordinary) local craftsmen. Antiques exist because they were well made to start with! Upholsterers have a lot of business (for a slow economy) because they make good old things new again. The most valuable Oriental rugs are the old ones. They were hand-woven to last for generations. Maybe take time and look at consignment shops and at resale items.
Then again, you might need a Designer to find those resources for you, right?