Today I’m pleased to share an insightful guest post written by interior designer, Anne Haimes. Enjoy!
According to research, the average UK household contains an eye-watering £4,000 worth of furniture – not including electronics, white goods, or garden furniture. And, with today’s Generation Rent resigned to paying a cripplingly large lease each month, the discount furniture market is booming. Some budget household items are just as good as their full-priced counterparts. However, others fall woefully short of the mark.
Part of becoming a responsible adult is recognising when comfort can be compromised for the sake of price – and, more crucially, when it shouldn’t. Here are my three top household items which should never be bought on the cheap, no matter how small your budget.
The high street is awash with cheap cooking utensils. You might feel tempted to pick up your latest set of kitchen knives in Poundland (yes, really), but be warned! Chopping vegetables with a cheap knife is like attempting to sew whilst wearing a pair of gardening gloves – frustrating, clumsy, and potentially hazardous.
A quality knife will transform your cooking style from chaotic to commendable. Even better – if you’re entertaining a potential love interest, a sophisticated set of kitchen knives is the ultimate signifier of adult responsibility. A gleaming set of blades – displayed proudly on your kitchen worktop – suggests culinary prowess, maturity, and a well-stocked wine cellar.
Of course, I don’t advocate spending hundreds of pounds on a full set of blades – I doubt even Delia Smith has much use for an oyster knife or a bird’s beak parer. If you’re on a budget, invest in just one high-quality chef’s knife. Look for a firm handle, solid weight, and a sturdy blade.
According to research by The Sleep Council, we Brits spend almost 100 days asleep each year. And, as thousands of students and renters across the UK will attest, sleeping on a lumpy, borrowed mattress is not conducive to a good night’s kip. A low-quality mattress can cause aches, pains, and disturbed sleep – a problem which in itself can lead to further health issues.
Generally, cheaper mattresses have significantly less padding around the springs than their more expensive counterparts – making for an uncomfortable bed. It’s also not advisable to buy a used mattress. According to the Ohio State University, the average used mattress contains between 100,000 and 10 million dust mites.
Show your back some love, and buy a decent mattress. You don’t have to shell out on a £40,000 cotton, wool, mohair and “hand-teased horsetail hair” number (yes, really), but you should buy the best mattress you can reasonably afford.
Back pain plagues almost half of the UK’s adult population each year. It can be difficult and expensive to treat, with therapies ranging from painkillers and ice packs to physiotherapy and acupuncture. However, before turning yourself into a human pincushion, try to locate the source of your pain. If you work from home, the culprit could be right under your nose.
A cheap office chair might seem like a wise investment at the time. However, months of perching awkwardly on a flimsy seat can gradually change your posture, from straight-backed entrepreneur to hunched-over hermit. Before you know it, you’ll be struggling to pick up your shopping bags, and making a tell-tale ‘oof’ sound when you get out of bed in the morning. For the sake of your spine, invest in an ergonomic office chair.
If you’re Alan Sugar or Richard Branson, $1.5 million should buy you a decent office chair (yes, really). The rest of us mere mortals should look for a chair with adjustable features – including the backrest, armrests, and seat height. Proper lumbar support is also essential, as this will help to maintain the natural curve of your lower spine.
Some budget household items are perfectly acceptable. I’m personally a strong advocate of second-hand vintage furniture, and I always use low-cost cleaning products. However, when your health is at stake (be it your spine or your fingers), you should always invest in quality.
This post was written by interior designer Anne Haimes. Anne is based in Henley-on-Thames, England, and has over 20 years’ experience of designing home interiors.