Things to splurge on (and things to cheap out on) when you’re renovating

Home & garden

This time last year, we were living out of one room in the middle of a fairly huge house extension.

By late autumn the whole thing was built however it has taken until very recently for us to get around to decorating the kids’ bedrooms and sorting the patio surrounding the house, making the garden accessible and usable once more.

Although it feels brand new, it has amazed me how some parts of our new extension are already looking a bit tired.

Obviously it usually follows that you get what you pay for; or at least you can’t expect something very very cheap to last you a long time.

However as not many are fortunate to have a limitless budget, I thought I’d reflect on some of the bits that, looking back, I would have paid out more for as well as some of the things that I would save on.

Things to splurge on:


Sweeping up - family room ideas

Solid flooring or a decent carpet will put up with the traffic; cheap laminate which costs more to install than buy will get marked and scratched and look horrid very quickly, and it’s not like it’s cheap to take up one small section and re-do it.

We went with a fairly cheap engineered oak wood flooring. I do think in retrospect we should have gone for something which was harder wearing as it does mark quite easily.


Shower head

Parents deserve the best shower pumps to wake them up after their glorious three hours’ sleep. If your shower feels like a hamster having a wee on your head then you’re going to regret not going for a better one!


Pay a tenner extra for the hard-wearing durable paint, especially in hallways and high traffic areas.

Paint quickly becomes scuffed and looks tired when it’s marked. Having a wipe-clean finish could save you in the long run. I wish we’d done this all over the house and not just in the kids’ bedrooms!

Fitted wardrobes

Fitted wardrobes

Not a necessity by any means, but I absolutely love our fitted wardrobes. Compared to the wardrobes we had before which had crud piled up high on top, they look fantastic and because they’re made to fit the room exactly we were able to get really deep wardrobes in an awkward space. They hide all of our clothes and will be very useful for squirrelling away Christmas presents.

And a couple of things to save on:


Family room ideas Storage Ikea Kallax

We got the majority of our furniture from Ikea and it absolutely does the job fine.

As I see it, unless you’re after timeless antique wardrobes or you put your cupboards and shelving through a lot of abuse then it’s likely that by the time they fall apart you’ll be bored of them or they’ll be considered dated anyway.

If you do have your heart set on designer sofas and solid wood cabinets then it’s fine to save up and get these as you go along and stick the cheap stuff on freecycle where someone will be only too grateful for it.


I got sucked into a wormhole with appliances when we needed to replace ours, and the budget slowly crept up in the classic ‘look what we could get for £50 more!’ way which usually sees me massively overspending on functions I really don’t need (‘Wow! This one you can put socks in halfway through a wash and it’s only £370 more than the original budget!’).

After shutting down the computer and considering it carefully for a while, I thought I’d save a few hundred and get basic models and you know what? They’ve been absolutely fine.

My advice would be to decide on the features you actually need and use; a 20 minute cycle is great to have, but the sock thing is probably not going to change your life.

Then filter the search and get the most energy efficient and highest rated you can for your money.

Read the reviews to make sure it’s not a duff.

Don’t start looking into the next price bracket; that way madness lies.

RugsRug cheap

If you have kids, buying expensive rugs is a foolish endeavour. In my experience they never quite recover from having things spilt on them. Of course rugs are a great way to protect expensive flooring and carpet but I definitely wouldn’t spend more than necessary. I think it’s much easier to replace a cheap rug than pay a fortune to get a more expensive professionally cleaned and worry every time your child has a glass of juice.

A really cheap rug may not look amazing but you can probably get away with sticking it in the washing machine!

What would you spend money on if you were renovating?

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