Paradies tree

Save vs Splurge: Pro Design Tips for Your First Space

Buying items for your first home is intimidating, especially if you’re short on space. Choosing pieces that are aesthetically pleasing and provide the best functionality is the ultimate goal. Since knowing the best way to spend your design dollars can be tricky, we consulted with three talented designers to get their take on design for small-space living. Read on to hear their ideas on where to splurge and where to save.

Julee Wray of Truss Interiors & Renovations

Julee Wray is the owner and lead designer of Truss Interiors & Renovations, an interior design studio in Denver that focuses on casually sophisticated spaces for everyday living.

What’s your design approach for small-space living?

Comfort and walkways always take priority in small spaces. To me, that means finding a few upholstery pieces that are deep enough to be comfortable sitting in them, and still having room to walk around your spaces. I take this approach over packing in too many small-scale pieces that make a space feel less comfortable and ultimately feel smaller by being cluttered. 

A comfortable and classic upholstered couch in an uncluttered room. Photo by Emily Minton Redfield.

Where to save: Rugs, lamps, art, shower curtains. 

Where to splurge: Sofas and chairs, wallpaper, bedding, ceiling and wall-mounted light fixtures, pillows. 

Tips for readers decorating their first space?

Be resourceful! There’s merit in giving some of your grandparents’ old decor and art a new life in your space, plus it tells a story. Go to Home Goods if you’re on a budget. Watch a YouTube video or seek out ideas on Instagram on how to style a shelf and coffee table well. Paint your walls if you can. Make your home feel collected and comfortable, after all, it’s your first personal sanctuary. Have fun! 

David William Schmidt of David William Interiors

David William Schmidt of David William Interiors is a full-service designer in Denver, CO, and Tuscon, AZ. He specializes in curating chic and welcoming spaces.

What’s your design approach for small-space living? 

Go bold. Don’t be afraid of color drenching a small room. By picking one color and painting all the walls, doors, trim, and ceiling it can make a small room look much larger. Lean into a small space by adding oversize furniture to make the illusion that it’s much grander than it is. Using large pieces like a bed, sofa, chairs or even oversized art will help further delineate a space. 

A bed with substance that gives grandiosity to the space. Photo by Hip Happy Studios.

Where to save: Items that will have more wear and tear over the years like rugs, pillows, blankets & bedding. 

Where to splurge: Staple pieces like a dining room table, sofa, or bed. Investing in these larger items will pay off in the long run. 

Do you have a favorite home retailer you’d suggest for first home finds?  

I am a big fan of At Home

Tips for readers decorating their first space?

Don’t feel like you need to buy everything all at once. Starting off with a blank canvas is a great way to make your new space your own. Your style may change, and probably will. Let your space grow and evolve with you. 

Candice Rogers of Candice Rogers Interior Design

Candice Rogers of Candice Rogers Interior Design is a full-service studio specializing in residential new builds and remodeling. Her work emphasizes how clients live and function in their spaces.

What’s your design approach for small-space living?

My design approach for small-space living is to maximize space and functionality while not sacrificing style and beauty. Decorating with a neutral color palette can make your small space appear larger. Pops of color can be added in with accessories and art. I recommend optimizing your layout for flow and openness and investing in good quality versatile furnishings. Ottomans with storage are a great way to add decor and extra seating. An antique secretary desk can be utilized for storage and a workspace.

A room mixed with commissioned art and an affordable velvet chair from Crate & Barrel. Photo by Steve Chenn.

Where to splurge: Investing in high-quality furniture enhances the aesthetics and longevity of your home. Splurge on pieces like a comfortable sofa upholstered in a performance fabric, a wood or marble dining table, or a luxurious canopy bed. Quality furniture is durable, comfortable, and withstands changing trends. These quality pieces can move from home to home and even be passed down over time.

Where to save: Decorative accessories like throw pillows, rugs, and accents inject personality and style into your home affordably. As decor trends shift, it’s practical to save on these items, updating them to suit evolving tastes and trends.  

Tips for readers decorating their first space?

Investing in original artwork not only enhances the beauty and ambiance of your space but is also a valuable long-term investment. Quality pieces appreciate over time, enriching your decor and potential financial portfolio. Art adds personality and ambiance, with studies showing observing art can bring joy and reduce stress through its visual and emotional impact. I suggest researching local art shows and galleries to locate emerging artists in your area.

Do you have a favorite home retailer you’d suggest for first home finds?  

I recommend CB2. Their selection of furnishings and accessories strikes a perfect balance between affordability and modern style. CB2 is renowned for collaborations with designers and creatives, ensuring diverse and unique decor collections.

Share Story

Related Articles