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Where to Maximize Your “Custom” Budget

My ears perk up when a client expresses interest in custom design, for a few good reasons. As a designer, I prioritize beauty, quality and function, and there’s no better way to achieve all three than through customized design. It’s also a great investment, since custom details are always in high demand. Last but not least, your home becomes a curated collection of furnishings, finishes and features, unambiguously chosen for you.

You – the homeowner – are the expert in what works for your lifestyle and your specific style preferences. So, rather than trying to fit a square peg into a round hole, which often happens when buying ready-made pieces, custom design allows the opportunity to find the perfect pieces to fit your home and complement everything in it.

On the flip side, custom comes at a higher cost. With budgets and rising prices as a constant consideration when it comes to renovations and upgrades, there are certain areas of the home where custom details will take your budget further. Here’s where you will get the biggest bang for your buck.


Focus on millwork. The cabinetry is the most expensive part of a kitchen, and it’s also the most critical in terms of practicality and overall aesthetics. Custom cabinets are practically worth their weight in gold, allowing you to tailor everything from size (think width and height, to make the most efficient space) to material, colour and finishes.

Beyond cabinets, also consider customizing the toe kicks, range hood and display shelving to take your kitchen to the next level of function and style.


Here, I like to focus my custom efforts on furnishings. And as a designer and end user, I will say that nothing compares to custom-made furniture. Consider upcycling existing pieces. Whether you have some cherished antiques in need of a little TLC or a one-of-a-kind estate sale treasure, reupholstering, restuffing and refinishing can give old favourites new life, and your space a new vibe. If having furnishings made, you can define their characteristics to fit your space, your body and your style sensibilities to a T.

Another custom detail that often goes overlooked is right under your nose, or more aptly, under your feet – the area rug! More than just something to warm your toes, area rugs anchor the furnishings in a room and delineate function within a larger living area.. The secret to success is finding a rug that fits – not a problem, if you’re taking the custom route! This is an ideal solution in large, open-concept areas or in rooms with atypical dimensions. Beyond size, customization also lets you choose the materials, colours and patterns.


The principal bed and bath are an escape and indulgence, and these rooms should reflect that. Feel free to take customization to a more personal level, since you and your partner will be the only ones using this space. Customize your bathing areas with an extra-deep soaker tub or custom shower benches. The bathroom vanity is the primary focus for storage and daily activity, and the focus is often on size and finish, but don’t stop there. Think built-in medicine cabinets, hair and make-up areas, and custom drawers to accommodate all your daily health and beauty essentials.

This level of customization should apply to your closet, too, allowing you to maximize storage capacity and ease your daily prep routine. Just imagine a closet that is designed specifically to properly store the types of clothes and accessories you own, and reflects your personal organizational style.

Going custom creates a “perfect fit” that you’d be pard-pressed to find in the mass-produced aisle, which is designed for broad appeal. Yes, custom work is more expensive, but with some forethought and a carefully focussed budget, it can dramatically improve your home’s look and feel – like a tailored piece of clothing made explicitly for you.

If you are contemplating a renovation or interior design project, please fill out our design inquiry, so we can begin the conversation. We would love to hear from you!

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