Thoughtful Shopping: Small Ticket Items Worth Splurging On

Renovating a home, a change in residence, or even the beginning of a new calendar year — these are usually the times when we're seeking a fresh start and end up rushing out to buy just the right little thing to bring our home to the next level. I'm all for the idea of fresh start, but I think sometimes we don't put much thought into these purchases, often buying on a whim, simply because they aren't our expensive, big-ticket items. Here are some thoughts on when to save — and what it's okay to splurge on.

For my situation, I was renovating and moving, from an apartment we'd outgrown to a house we could barely furnish. But instead of running out to buy things to fill our new space, I knew we were on a tight budget and decided we would have to prioritize. Pricey furniture was out of the question, and we'd already decided we were fine living with what we had, so we could save for what we really wanted. Deciding not to buy furniture allowed me to think long and hard about the smaller items we'd need to buy or replace, the items you usually don't give much thought to at all. And now that I've been living here for a few years, I've had a chance to reflect on what has worked for me, what hasn't, and why. Here are 5 things I'm glad I splurged on.

1. Door Mat - Because it's the first thing you see when you walk into someone's home! That's probably the main reason anyone ever puts much thought into the doormat, but I urge you to consider function over beauty. My coir doormats drove me crazy by tracking in unwanted coir fibers, but yet I kept buying them. Not to mention, I would usually go through at least two a year. I did my research and decided on the Cape Cod Doormat, a little more money from the start, but way cheaper in the long run. After countless pretty doormats failed me, I finally got it right. My Cape Cod mat comes with no mess and has been going strong for over two years!

2. Entryway Rug - This is one area I always thought it was smart not to splurge on. I mean it's heavily trafficked, gets dirty and needs constant washing or replacing. Years practicing this theory proved I was dead wrong. The Problem: I have gone through about five different rugs in my entryway. With one pitiful rug pad and two dogs that rush the front door every time they hear a noise, I was forever straightening, fixing and flattening the front rug. The Solution: Modular carpet tiles by FLOR. Yes, they were way more expensive from the start, but they stay in place and their modular tile design allows them to be hosed off, cleaned, and replaced whenever necessary.

3. Powder-Coated Boot Tray - My Martha Stewart powder-coated boot tray has been with me for the long haul. It's the first and only boot tray I've ever bought and it's still going strong. I remember doing quite a bit of research for such a small investment, and eight years ago when I bought it, dropping $100 on a boot tray was not really in my budget. But I didn't have an entryway and knew I wanted something simple, attractive and most of all, functional. To this day, I can still say it has never once leaked and has no rust spots.

4. Dish Rack - My dish rack also survived the move from the apartment to the house and is still with me today. I remember combing The Container Store and other big box stores for a stainless steel rack before eventually settling on one from Williams Sonoma. Now that I live in a house with a dishwasher, I would eventually like to replace it with one that doesn't take up as much counter space, but I imagine it will still be here serving its purpose for a couple more years.

5. Cutlery Organizer - When we renovated, we were able to splurge on a nice kitchen cabinets. It was such a luxury and such a step up from my apartment's gritty, rusted steel cabinets that I thought putting in plastic drawer organizers would be a shame. I splurged on beautiful bamboo ones that complemented the interior of my cherry drawers and every time I open them, I love what's inside. I've never thought much more about them until the other day when a friend was over and commented on how nice my drawers were. The same comment would have never been made if I rushed to fill them with their ugly plastic counterpart, which I would have eventually replaced anyway.

The message I'm hoping to communicate is not to run out and buy everything I recommend, but rather think about what you already have and how it works for you or works against you. By arming yourself with that knowledge, you can research what might be a better product for you — improving upon the flaws of your last one — and leaving you to make a more thoughtful decision (where you'll actually spend less in the long run).

(Image: Jill Slater for Doryn's Glamorous Return to the City)