House Doctor: Balance out big buys and bargains

A design strategy helps you decide which items are worth splurging on, and can help you adhere to a budget.

As I look around my apartment, I see opportunities to fill areas with small furniture and decorative items, and acknowledge places where I need extra storage. Iam also rethinking a couple of decisions that I made earlier in the design process. I am a few hundred dirhams over my budget because of a few choices I made over the past couple of months. I spent more on my Duxiana bed than I had planned because one area I refuse to compromise on the quality of my mattress. In fact, the bed frame itself was a bargain compared with the prices of beds I have seen in stores around Dubai and Abu Dhabi, so the entire purchase was worth the extra expense.

I also made the decision to pick up a couple of high-quality, classic furniture pieces from the Poltrona Frau showroom that were not in my initial budget. I did, however, make some strategic purchases, picking up large items while they were on sale and saving quite a lot in my big-ticket-item furniture budget.

I am not so rigid in my process that I can't recognise an opportunity to pick up great items at great prices, knowing that they will fit in with my overall plan. For example, while shopping at Bloomingdale's in the Dubai Mall recently, I came across two limited-edition, framed black-and-white architectural photographs, each discounted to Dh220 from Dh1,100 - a steal for two art pieces that fit well with my style goals. They were a deal I could not pass up.

Fortunately, the budget I established during the planning phase comprised multiple sections-furniture (major and ancillary), art, decorative items and accessories, rugs and window coverings, and miscellaneous, plus a 10-per-cent contingency of the overall budget- so I can keep track of where my money is being spent and make sure all purchases are accounted for.

In the end, the important lesson learnt with a design strategy is that a budget can be adhered to when a thorough plan and goals are established in the beginning. Over the past few months, I have spoken with many people who have been following my design journey, and on numerous occasions have been told that a fortune was spent trying to furnish a home but it remains unfinished or looks like it is filled with hand-me-down furniture, as much of it was acquired through random or impulse purchases. Not knowing how to proceed or who to turn to for assistance, quite a few readers thought it was a lost cause until coming to the realisation that they can develop a plan to move forward, using what they have as the basis for a final design.


Robert Reid is a professor of architecture, art and design at the American University of Sharjah.


Published: August 11, 2011 04:00 AM


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