20 April, 2011


Does liking and wanting good design make you spend more than you should? Should you always spend less, invest your money, travel or give to those more in need?

Let's use the bathroom faucet as a test subject. Should I get cheapest bathroom faucet out there? The same one that I lived with for the last 7 years in my little brick house? The one that worked just fine? The one that grew a lovely green sludge I couldn't clean underneath the plastic diamond? The one that costs $49.99?

Or keep the $380.88 faucet I got for $100?

Because truly, the function is the same.

How much is too much? I can't tell you how often I question my wants in life lately. Do you really need more than a warm dry house, clean clothes, good food and friends and family?

As Mike and I are remodeling his family house on the farm, I am amazed at the cost and all the purchases required. And that brings up the question a lot. Do we need it? Should we get it? Are we being extravagant? This is partly brought on by Mike not really caring what we get, just as long as I am happy, and will I stop asking him if he thinks it's pretty.

I've been trying to cut costs to lessen my guilt, like going with Ikea for the kitchen (still not cheap!), finding fixtures on Ebay, and generally spending all my spare time online trying to get deals. But it is still expensive and it shocks me. But here is my confession...I don't get the cheapest faucets out there, (see above). Nope, I want the prettier ones and I work like crazy to find it cheaper than retail.

But why am I spending so much time finding and buying this stuff. To paraphrase Tom Shadyac, "Does taking care of stuff make you happy? We don't need to take more than we need." (Well, we do need a faucet, but is my life better because I got the prettier one?)

But what can I say, I do love a well thought out design. Here is a very beautiful kitchen I have in my inspiration folder, found over at for the love of a house.

I think this will be an eternal struggle, but would love to know your thoughts.


Joellyn said...

Oh, Patti, I can just relate a little too much. I know that having a beautiful home isn't the most important thing ever. So its good to keep that in perspective. But having a pretty home makes me HAPPY, and the process of achieving said beautiful home is FUN. Just like it is fun for my husband to watch a game on TV or drive a beautiful car, I guess. And I am much more motivated to clean and care for a home that I am proud of. That is my 2 cents.

I too try to find the middle ground between inexpensive and beautiful. Not always easy.

Show us more of your house ideas! Love that faucet.

chargerfan said...

And this is also my eternal struggle. Whenever Ben and I do any work on the house I inevitably pick the most expensive option because of design, but then sit there and try to talk myself into the more practically priced option that does the same thing. And when it comes right down to it I generally pick one or two things in the room that I think I will appreciated and admire the design of and the rest of it goes the financially practical route...as long as quality is there. So far I haven't regretted that strategy.

chargerfan said...

PS chargerfan is really Lauren...Ben's account was just signed in.

Anonymous said...

i think finding that faucet for $100 is a great compromise. from my experience (which is not much so far) i function better: i keep a cleaner home (and enjoy doing it), i invite friends over, i am more social, i am generally happier when i am surrounded by pretty things that inspire me. i don't think it's shallow to be this way. i think it's part of my nature and something i have to learn to embrace + manage within my means.

Wendy said...

In my experience, looking back the money I "saved" in going with the frugal option doesn't materialize. If I spend more up front it almost always results in better performance, longer lasting quality and finish, and no regrets. Usually. Of course, that is after lots of research on what is actually worth the money.

Lara said...

When we built our house I just knew we were going to live here forever and I wanted everything to be so cute but only five years later I can't wait to move out so we can have a whole different lifestyle without debt.

I agree with Lauren. Don't scrimp on quality but pick a couple beautiful things to spend money on remembering that things are going to look outdated within ten years anyway because even if you try to choose classic designs there will always be something cuter and newer than what you have.

Annie Traynor said...

Tough call. Though I'm not a designer, I still understand the dilemma. I'm going through the same issue with wedding planning. There are things that are beautiful and expensive, pretty enough, and just ok and it is hard to find a balance between all of them with my conscience and budget. But, in the one example of your faucet I would TOTALLY go with the pretty $100 one, no question.

susan said...

Patti...you inspire me. The fun is in the hunt! FInd what you like and never pay retail! lol i love stores like Nail and Hammer (lethbridge) and the ReStore (Calgary and Edmonton). Second hand and newly donated EVERYTHING you need for home improvement. ReStore is more fun because they are bigger but with either store and the internet..noone should ever pay retail again!

PS I'd be HAPPY to babysit if you and Mike wanted to make a weekend of bargain hunting ;)