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How to shop mindfully for home design

Updated: Aug 20, 2020

Designing a new space doesn't always mean that you have to buy every little thing that goes into it. This is the case no matter how big or small your budget is. Spending on some things and reusing other things you already own will give new purpose to an old item and stretch the value of your money on the things you buy new. Since I'm currently redoing a room in my home to become a home office, I thought it would be the perfect time to dive into the buying side of things.

Let's get started with the look and feel for my new home office design.

And here's the same board with info that'll tell you that it's a healthy mix of pre-owned items and brand new ones.

With my home office as the background, I'll now dive into my tips that I personally followed for this particular interior project:

+ Quick Tips:

1. DO spend on quality furniture

2. DO spend on at least one statement-lighting

3. DO spend on wall paint

4. DO save on rugs

5. DO spend on greenery

6. DO spend on artwork and frames

1. DO spend on quality furniture

Furniture are usually big ticket items and rightly so. They are used more frequently and have a high functionality to them. The spacious desk for the home office is brand new and sits at a higher price point. It is worth spending more on it because I envision myself having a tonne of books, stationery and other things scattered on my desk for work daily. I need it to last at least another 5 years. I bought mine online so I made sure it had the best reviews, was made of solid wood and came from a highly reputed manufacturer.

Spacious Writing/Computer Desk

Of the three furniture items in this mood board, two are pre-owned. That by itself allowed me to buy one high quality piece instead of multiple lower quality furniture. The oak-stained chair used to live in my bedroom and now it'll be moved to the office. The sideboard served as a TV stand but will now be used for office storage.

Office storage solution

Accent chair turned Office chair

As with anything, there is an exception to spending less money on some furniture. Take for example, the sideboard. It is from Ikea and very affordable. Since it will have very little contact except when I need to grab some supplies, it will remain largely untouched. When things won't be used in high frequency, it is still okay to buy on the lower side. I've had this sideboard for three years now and I feel the quality is good enough for a few more.

2. DO spend on at least one statement-lighting

Lighting is a huge statement and can really elevate the interior. I have two lighting fixtures here, the globe-like ceiling shade that is pre-owned and the table lamp which is brand new. I've had this $5 shade from Ikea lying around without a purpose for a few months now. I simply bought a pendant fixture from Home Depot and made my very own statement semi-flush mount ceiling lamp.

While I saved on this one, I spent on the table lamp. It is a large size and has beautiful hand-made ceramic etching detail on the lamp base. Since it will be placed at eye-level or lower, it'll get a lot of looks and play a big beautiful part in the overall visual of the space. If you don't have a ceiling lamp option like I did and needed to make a buying choice between a table and a ceiling fixture, I'd recommend that you spend on quality ceiling fixture.

Large Table Lamp

3. DO spend on wall paint

Walls are like canvases in the room and wall colours make any space more wholesome. Regardless of what colour you end up choosing, going for a high quality paint manufacturer will certainly have a huge impact on the longevity of your wall paint and your health. Yes, I did mean health. Low grade paints or ones with VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds - unhealthy chemicals released into the air) are not good to your and your family's health.

Always look for Zero VOCs in paint and ask your paint manufacturer about its implications. Buying smartly is also making smart choices for health. My go-to manufacturers currently are Benjamin Moore and Sherwin Williams and I personally use their Zero VOC paints.

White Dove and Crystalline from Benjamin Moore

4. DO save on rugs

Rugs are one of those items that can go from very inexpensive to high-end prices. While I'm a huge fan of rugs made of luxury materials like silk, I'd much rather buy a mid-range priced rug for a space like my home office. It is not that the space doesn't deserve a luxury rug, but rather because expensive rugs require more maintenance.

I'd much rather do that work for a space like a living room than a space where I see myself working all day by myself. That doesn't mean any compromises on quality, clean-ability and durability because this rug needs to work really hard, especially since I am known to knock drinks over while working :D

Mid-range vintage rug

5. DO spend on greenery

Every space needs a plant or lot of plants! They can make any space feel more inviting and cozy. I'm a big fan of putting a single indoor tree in every space I design. For this project, I bought a weeping ficus tree that 10 inches wide. Plants are great for decor and aren't too expensive. Buying from a reputed nursery or garden centre will give you more options from a decor point of view. If you're plant-shy because of maintenance, simply get one healthy plant, having at least one is better than having none at all!

Weeping Ficus tree

6. DO spend on artwork and frames

If you can do your own artwork then all the power to you, explore what can come out of your creativity! You're already well on your way to some savings. That said, whether or not you create your artwork, the frames that you put artwork in are just as important. Beautiful art needs a suitable resting space so invest in quality frames, they'll have a big design impact. For my project I used solid oak frames. If you cannot create your own artwork, then build up your collection slowly. Make one purchase after another so it doesn't overwhelm you through your bank statements. Planning your artwork is a smart way to designing well with quality pieces.

Graphic Art by Sha Lalapet

That rounds up my pro tips for smart buying for your home. Hope these tips come in handy! Let me know what you thought of this post. Leave a comment below or find me on instagram @shastudioinc/

Have a lovely rest of your day! :)

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