Where I Save and Splurge
Photography by Sarah Elliott
As a designer and homeowner who has recently nearly completed a 2-plus-year renovation, I am constantly asked where in the home to save or splurge. It is a deeply personal question as we all deserve to revel in what brings us the most joy. That said, budgetary constraints are VERY real and we are all required to make tough choices sometimes. Do function or aesthetics weigh more heavily in your world? How about comfort when it comes to the things you use daily? When we find ourselves at that decision-making crossroads, where do we place our heavy-hitting investment?
As for the renovation I mentioned, as many of you are aware, I have been engaged in a massive overhaul of a Greek revival townhouse in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn. Everything from the walls to the floors needed saving in this home as it had been stripped of its beauty and endured years of cheap renovations while being used as a multi-floor apartment building.
So, bring it back to life we did! This transformation included the garden apartment. The existence of this space was one of the crowning reasons we bought the home. At 25 feet wide and with enough square footage to become a 2-bedroom abode, the garden apartment was what made it possible to live in the townhouse in the first place. Our goal: transform this area into a spacious, clean, and modern home we could rent out, essentially paying for us to live in the upper three floors. I put my designer hat on and did some puzzle-solving special planning to make every square inch of space as efficient as possible so we could maximize rent dollars.
For me, the two areas of attention were an epic open-plan kitchen, (no shocker there!), and a bathroom with swoon-worthy aesthetics that would work well for a family. I knew most people would struggle with the idea of renting a 2-bedroom space with only one bath. With these zones in mind, it was clear where to focus my spending. Zeroing in on these spaces only made sense – I mean, we do eat and bathe daily, right?
So the big question was, how could I use simple materials in clever ways to stretch my dollars and elevate the quality of life in the space as much as possible? Here is how I did it – off-the-shelf 4×4-inch tile from Home Depot clad the bathroom, but to give it a modern edge, I used contrasting black grout. This economical choice allowed me to splurge on the Brizo Litze Collection Brilliance Luxe Gold faucet, shower system, and hardware. These golden fixtures acted as multifaceted jewels in an otherwise rather simple space! What I loved most about the their design were the brushed matte finish and cross-hatch detail. The treatment offered a bit of glam without being over the top. The simple yet stunning design of the fixtures helped bring refined style to the bath – I mean, what rental apartment do you know that includes a multi-functional hand shower!
The simple yet stunning design of the fixtures helped bring refined style to the bath – I mean, what rental apartment do you know that includes a multi-functional hand shower!
In the kitchen I chose to keep things minimal and sleek in a juxtaposed palette of black and white. The least expensive marble I could find at the stone yard was Carrera. The finish was honed and sharp-edged, and it was offset by an elegant matte black faucet. The Brizo Solna model is downright sexy and commands attention thanks to its simple, Scandinavian-inspired design. It is also highly functional thanks to its hidden pullout spray feature and smart touch technology. These features come in quite handy if you cook a lot, (ahem!). After all, we did live in this space and utilize this kitchen for four months while the rest of the home renovations were underway.
To sum up my splurge versus save advice, I say pin down what is most important to you and channel your energies and finances into those areas. Within these well-defined zones, ask yourself: what are the jewels that will elevate your space? For me these rooms tend to be the kitchen and the bath. These are the places I use more than any others. My objectives for these spaces are to make them functional, beautiful to look at, and overall “wow” a renter. I want them to scream, “choose me, choose me!!!”
With products that were environmentally responsible and aesthetically alluring, Brizo fixtures infused luxuriousness, eco-friendly elegance, and innovative technology into the rental apartment. I’m happy to report, the very first people who came to see the space immediately snatched it up! This glorious family, one we adore and who love their home, put in an application on the very day of their viewing.