Darren Palmer reveals what to splurge and save on in your first property

Darren Palmer reveals what to splurge and save on in your first property

When it comes to styling your first property, there are a few items that are worth investing your money in.

Five things to splurge on in your first property

A complete bed look

You spend a third of your life asleep so you might as well enjoy it. A complete bed look isn’t just getting a good bed cover, though that’s an important start. You should allocate as much of your budget to get your bed looking and feeling as designer and luxurious as possible. Invest in a statement bed or bedhead and at least one set of high-quality fitted and flat sheets.  Decorative cushions on the bed tell an important story about style and mood, and the bedcover is the icing on the cake.

An adaptable sofa

Here’s a few tips on how to master the adaptable sofa. Don’t get an L-shaped lounge that can only be configured as left or right chaise as that restricts you should you need to move it or move house. If you like that modular look, get a truly modular sofa, one with corner pieces and extension pieces in between. An ottoman the same fabric and size is a great addition as it can become a temporary coffee table with the addition of a tray. It can also open up an array of configuration choices should you need to change the sofa’s layout.

Darren Palmer’s kitchen in his Bondi Beach house, on 5 March 2019. Photo: Jessica Hromas


Art tells a story, creates a mood and can simply elevate a room. You need to buy art that is in line with your financial situation, but remember that the better the art the more likely it is to increase in value. That means buying limited-edition prints or finding paintings by artists you love, or that have an established or emerging good name. Most of all, though, buy art that makes your heart race and makes you feel something. These things give returns that far outweigh the possible financial benefits.


Flowers are a luxury spend purely because they’re not exactly necessary. They will immediately transform a room and add drama, colour and interest. You can style a great room without flowers, and you certainly don’t need to budget for fresh flowers each week. But, if you have a special occasion at home and a few bunches of the right flowers in the right places will light up any space.


You don’t need to splurge on lamps in terms of their cost, but you should invest in lamps for almost every room. You need lamps in lounge rooms to sit on side tables or consoles to give you sculptural impact and nuanced light sources. You need standing lamps next to reading chairs to give purpose and context as well as a functional and directional light source. You need lamps on bedsides for a variation of height and a controllable personal light source for each occupant of the bed. In short, you need lamps in your life.

Five things to save on in your first property


Rugs don’t need to be expensive to be good, but they do need to be the right size. Don’t scrimp on the scale of your rug but feel free to buy low cost and synthetic fibre rugs – especially if you have kids and pets – as they’re more robust, easily cleaned and replaceable.

You spend a third of your life asleep so you might as well enjoy it. Photo: Jessica Hromas


You needn’t splurge on cushions simply because there are many great, cost-affective options in the market. Investing in two or three for a couch and up to three for each of your home’s beds will not break the bank, but they will add a lot of much-needed colour, texture, pattern and interest and can easily be stored away and rotated.

Potted plants

Succulents, orchids, cacti and bromeliads all give back more than they cost. A small outlay on potted plants will give life and interest for a long time.

Decor items

As with cushions, there are myriad choices for great decor items in the market and they are absolutely necessary to fill out vignettes on coffee tables, consoles, bedsides and shelves, but they don’t need to be expensive to do their job, they just need to work with the mood and colour scheme.


Shelves need books but if you’re not an avid reader you can visit op shops and buy used books to flesh them out. Coffee table books that are well produced are expensive and I would absolutely recommend investing in one or two that make a big statement.

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