Is Decorating Frivolous or a Wise Investment for Home Owners?

Disclaimer:  This is more of a philosophical post and targeted at home owners mainly.  I’d love to hear your opinions.

What do you think?  Frivolous or Wise?

So many times, I hear my well-intentioned, sweet friends talk about how they could never decorate as it’d be selfish and they shouldn’t spend money on “things.”  I know where they are coming from and truly, charity is a great thing.  However, is there also wisdom in making your home look nice, especially if you own.   It’s not always frivolous.  In fact, it can be done with deliberate intent, on a budget, and as an investment.

I also see staging clients want to do the bare minimum, which is understandable.  But, let me walk you through why that may not always be the best plan of attack/best choice.


I talked about how decorating is an art form and an expression of who you are way back when I first started my blog, but this post is different.  It’s about how it can be monetarily wise.


Three Reasons Why Decorating Your Home is Wise:

1. Decorating can lessen stress when selling.  If you decorate from the beginning, just after you purchase a home, you not only get to enjoy it while you live in it, but you don’t have to stress about getting your home ready for sale at the last minute.  Sure you can wait to decorate, but then you aren’t enjoying items while you live there (making the most of your investment), and you are stressing to get it all done in time to put the home on the market.  Why do it all at once at the end and have someone else enjoy it?

2.  Decorating can reduce the time your home is on the market when selling.   I think of decorating as an investment.  It simply helps you sell your home.  And, yep, 90% of us will eventually sell our homes.

A decorated home simply sells faster.  If you don’t decorate your home, there is a much higher chance of your home being on the market longer and costing you more in carrying costs, especially if your circumstances are such that you have already moved.

What many do when selling is “test the market” for a few months to see if they can avoid doing anything to their home and sell for a higher price.  The result?  All of the potential buyers that see the house during that time rule it out and never come back to see it once it’s truly staged.  You lose them.  And, in the end, you lower your price more than you wanted.

Now, you may be thinking – we didn’t have to stage/ decorate any of the other properties we sold.  There was a time when you could generate multiple offers on the same day your For Sale sign went up.  Not now. Buyers are picky and they have a lot of homes to choose from.

3.  Decorating Makes a House Feel More Like a Home.  Nesting is something we all have a tendency to do, no matter the budget.  It makes our house feel like a home.  Even from the time we were children, we would set up our bedrooms in a way that made us feel comfortable and at ease.  Decorating your home is along the same lines.  It has a clear psychological affect and can make you feel like you have that safe haven and a place that makes you smile.


And, if you choose to decorate or stage using a decorator, keep in mind:

1.  A decorator can save time and money.  I know, that sounds counter-intuitive. However, when making selections for your home, it can be more expensive if you make purchases that are either not worth the cost or won’t last, or you have to keep going back to buy something else to try.  If nothing else, a decorator can save you with all those gallons of wrong paint. A decorator offers assistance and direction so time and money are spent wisely.

A decorator can save you time by planning out the space, helping you find the right pieces, and even shopping for you in some cases. Most decorators offer as much help as you need – a one hour consult for a minimal fee all the way to a complete installation.

If selling a home, keep in mind, rarely do staging costs exceed the first price reduction. And that doesn’t even factor in the monthly carrying cost of the home.

2.  Decorators think outside the box and give a fresh perspective. We aren’t seeing the space daily and can easily walk in with a unique perspective for the space.

If selling, you may be thinking, we can clean the carpets and de-clutter without someone telling us how. Yes, you can (and should) do this, but it is a tiny piece of staging. Staging encompasses other things like traffic flows, highlighting architectural features, updating, and appealing to your target market.

3.  Decorators teach you. A good decorator will be willing to explain things like scale, proportion, color, size, texture, etc. so that you are empowered to do more yourself in the future, should you want to. They also challenge you to consider elements that you may not have chosen otherwise.

4.  Decorators help with space planning. Determining the best furniture layout for a space is critical to a space. Sometimes you need fresh eyes and perspective.

I saw a great article recently on the top reasons not to stage your home (sarcasm).


I know I’m focusing a lot on staging, but the idea is to decorate at the beginning, and avoid a lot of staging at the end.  It’s much wiser, more cost effective (things can be slowly found on sale), and you get to enjoy it as you live in your home!

If you ask me, it’s wise to decorate your home. HOWEVER, I would never advise going in debt to do so or buying beyond your means.  If you have a very small budget, get creative!  There are lots of diy projects out there that cost very little.


What do you think?  Is decorating wise, mainly an artistic expression, or just frivolous?  Where is the line?  What about with rentals?



  1. I definitely agree with your points. It was SO frustrating to re-paint everything and get new carpet & tile only to be selling. When we were buying, I remember walking into a house that had been owned by a decorator. I wanted to buy up the whole place AND all its belongings. And being in a rental now, I do want to have a welcome, cozy feeling and to know that my place creates a warm environment for guests. It’s frustrating to feel like the place looks a bit chaotic. Suffice it to say, in a rental, I’m definitely torn…leaning towards the not decorating, as you know..aside from items that will come with us. Hey, maybe you should post about wise purchases for renters that plan on buying. ;)

  2. I think decorating is a beautification minstry. When things are beautiful and in harmony it creates a stress-free homey want to sit and relax vibe. It benefits everyone who enters as long as the host is loving.
    It can be done affordable and with good stewardship.

  3. I totally agree with you. We had to sell a home right in the middle of the market crashing and homes not selling for several months or even past a year. Our house actually sold in two weeks! The realtor told us it was all due to our house being properly decorated. And, just as you mentioned, we got to enjoy our house being decorated all along not just right before a sale. That house too was done on ZERO budget :)

  4. I think each person has to find this balance for themselves. I have never been fond of decorating a house “all at once” because the most comforting and comfortable homes to me are those whose decorative items have a story. “We purchased this on vacation in New Orleans” and “My friend brought this back for me from Rome” etc. Those kinds of homes where everywhere the eye lands there’s a small story being told. But that’s me. I try to decorate my home with heirlooms from my family and the kids and I love to pore over old books and antique shops on vacations.

    One of my daughters has a highly-decorated bedroom. At the age of 12 she’s already spent about $500 on decorating her room. For Christmas and birthdays, instead of concerts or gift cards or trips to amusement parks, she gets one-on-one shopping time with me. We set a budget and then we spend hours every week scouring decorator stores and second-hand stores and estate sales, etc. and she gathers things for her living space. This is what she does for entertainment. Many of our friends and family believe that $500 seems excessive for room decor for such a young girl, but this is how she spends her entertainment dollars. For her, the act of shopping and hunting down the perfect item is the entertainment, and the item brought home is the memory/memento of our trips. One of my daughters loves concerts, so for her birthday she and I packed up, drove 5 hours and spent the weekend celebrating her birthday and enjoying a concert. It seems to me that if my other daughter would rather use the same amount of money to spend decorating, then she should be allowed.

    So some people may spend beyond their means to decorate, but many people just shift how they are spending their money to accommodate decorating–shorter vacations, dinners in, etc. Does that make sense?

  5. I agree with all your points, but there is a balance that I’m constantly trying to find. I love to decorate my home and make it warm and inviting. My hubby and I actually enjoy home improvement together as our hobby. It’s what we do for fun, so there’s no stress involved in the process. However, sometimes I do catch myself thinking of decorating or pieces I’m on the hunt for, or where I’m going to find just the right fabric for my dining room curtains, a little too often. When it consumes my thoughts and all my free time, I have to check myself and realize that all this is just STUFF! Feathering my nest is great and all, but it’s not even close to one of the most important things. I have to tell myself some days when I’m frustrated over not getting a project done or struggling to find time to shop, etc, I remember that my kids and hubby would MUCH rather have a peaceful home and have ME than a well decorated home. It’s all about perspective and keeping things in check for me.

  6. Great post! Well written and I agree 110% with you!

  7. I think decorating your house is what makes it YOUR HOME! I love waking up and seeing a house that feels like ours. Our personality really comes through. I think it may be more of an artform because you live your life in it. Our home is (like us) constantly changing.

  8. I love this post! Very well written, Kristy!

    To me, decorating is not about impressing your friends or guests, it’s more for my own well-being, enjoyment and a way of artistic expression (like how you appropriately puts it). I love to be in a home that looks inviting and have pretty things. I do it on a small budget and only buy things that I love and mostly on sale.

    When put our house on the market in 2010, we had to clear most of our furniture out because we couldn’t afford to buy new furniture for our next home. I kept some an artwork, a chandelier, wallpaper, a faux plant and curtains in our formal dining room. After almost 2 months, we have a buyer and the buyer wants everything from that room! I was prepared to give them away, anyway. It was really the most decorated and nicest room in our house and people loved it! So, there is no doubt in my mind that a decorated house really sells faster than a none decorated house because a nicely decorated house provides a certain emotion and generally a good vibe compared to an empty home.


  9. I agree! Why wait until the end and then let someone else enjoy your hard work? Great post and thoughts Kristy!

  10. Why not decorate, I mean there are so many great ideas all over the Internet that show you how to do it on a small budget. You don’t have to go into debt if you don’t want to. I also agree that it can be enjoyable to live in a space that makes you happy. Call me shallow but it brings a smile to my face when i come into my home:)

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