One of my favorite sayings is ‘quality is remembered long after price is forgotten’. There is so much talk these days about saving money, and that’s a good thing, but we should remember another saying when choosing certain items for our home…’cheap is dear’. I think we’ve all experienced buying something simply because it was inexpensive, only to rarely use it, it falls apart, it doesn’t look right or it just doesn’t work.
We are in the process of moving as I type this, and as I go through our belongings deciding what to keep, I’m reminded of how long I’ve had certain things and how well they’ve held up and have given us pleasure over the years.
Here are ten items I think are worth saving up for, and when possible I’ve indicated some budget friendly alternatives.
1 – Mattress
By far the most important piece of furniture in your home. There is no one size fits all when it comes to mattresses. Some like firm, some soft and some in-between. Know what works best for your body. If you sleep with someone who has different needs, there’s a mattress for that too.
Alternative: At our weekend cabin, we bought the most inexpensive mattress available for a spare bedroom in the basement. It was a queen size and I think we paid less than $400 for it, if that. We bought a mattress topper to make it a little softer and everyone who has slept in it has commented that it was comfortable. Of course, it’s rarely used but if you buy a mid-priced mattress and use a topper, that should suffice for a few years, maybe more.
2 – Kitchen countertop
The counter top is the work horse of the kitchen. Choose wisely, and you’ll never have to replace it no matter how long you stay in your home. Solid surfaces will outlast any one of us. Granite isn’t the only option by a long shot. Corian, marble, concrete, limestone, soapstone and lava stone (pictured above) are some of the many options available. We have silestone and I like that it doesn’t have to be sealed or maintained in any way, but admittedly it doesn’t have the natural look of marble or granite.
Alternative: Butcher block is a great look and with proper care, will last for many, many years.
3 – Upholstered furniture
Sadly, many pieces that you’ll find today are not very good quality. You really have to do your homework when shopping for upholstered pieces. It’s easy to get lured into buying a beautiful sofa because you like the lines and the fabric, but it’s what you can’t see that matters.
Alternative: Older pieces of furniture that you might find at estate sales or second hand stores are probably of much better quality than what you would find in most stores. If you like the lines, consider having these pieces reupholstered.
4 – Window Treatments
Some windows are difficult to cover with ready made draperies or shades. If you have a situation like this, spend the extra money and have them professionally done. The installer will give you options for the style window you have, and if you choose neutral colors, you can have your coverings for many years.
Alternative: If you sew make your own, or buy ready made and have them embellished.
5 – Linens/Towels
I have a confession. The towels that we have we’ve been using for over 7 years. And here’s another confession. Same goes for our sheets. And I don’t plan on replacing them any time soon. There’s no need to because they still look and feel great. Remember when 250 thread count was considered luxurious? It still is, if the quality of the fiber is high. Don’t get fooled into thinking just because something has a high thread count it’s superior to something with a lesser thread count. This is a case of ‘let your fingers do the talking’.
6 – Rugs
A good rug will last for years, and can make or break a room, but if you’ve shopped for rugs lately, you know how expensive they can be. A good quality hand loomed rug can cost hundreds if not thousands. Yikes! Sometimes you can get great quality rugs on line. I managed to buy a nice one from Overstock not too long ago, and they are just one of many resources available.
Alternative: I recently bought a $59 rug from Ikea and painted it. You don’t have to be artistic, just patient :).
7 – Art
I thought about whether or not to include this item in this post. There are so many lovely pieces of art available for a fraction of the cost of gallery art, but if you are looking for investment pieces, buying one of a kind artwork will pay off in the long run, and look great in your home.
Alternative: Check places like ebay and etsy for art pieces from up and coming artists. Feeling ambitious? Make your own, and no, you don’t have to be artistic. I promise.
8 – Fixtures
So how cool is this faucet??! You don’t want to buy cheap faucets that will end up leaking after a year or two.
Alternative: I managed to get some great bathroom fixtures on ebay for our cabin at about half of what they would have cost retail. Shop around and know your brands.
9 – Cookware
I love Calphalon, but there are many people who swear by All-Clad or copper. It’s tempting to buy inexpensive pots and pans because the expensive ones are, well, expensive! It’s not easy to shell out $300 for one pot.
Alternative: I like Farberware for a good, middle of the road brand. They’ll last for years and provide even cooking and aren’t too heavy.
10 – Computer
Maybe this isn’t exactly a household item, but a good computer with sufficient storage and speed will make your life easier and a lot less frustrating.
So there you have it. That’s my top ten list. Do you have a different list? I’d love to know!
Photos sourced: bhg