On December 29, 2011, Seattleites found themselves with a new Toll Bridge.

While the bridge itself wasn’t new, the toll was.

For those not familiar with the Seattle area, we have two bridges that span Lake Washington – connecting the city, itself, with the suburbs and outlying areas.

I think it’s safe to say that hundreds of thousands of commuters rely on these bridges every single day.

So, enacting a toll was a really big deal.

Here’s what has happened since. Many commuters have simply refused to pay the toll. Instead, they are driving well out of their way and finding alternate routes.

They either travel across the second bridge – whether or not it is convenient to where they live or work – or they circumnavigate the lake completely.

What surprises me most about this, is that the folks who have chosen to drive around the lake or find alternate routes, don’t seem to be concerned about the extra distances they’re driving, or the additional expense for gas.

Meanwhile, for those who opt to pay the toll, the route into the City is straight sailing all the way – a huge improvement over snarled traffic jams that used to be the norm.

Of course, whether to pay the toll or not, that’s up to the individual and their unique circumstances.

In the end it’s all about choices.

The analogy here, is that we often make similar decisions when it comes to buying new furniture – whether to go all out and invest in superior quality and a better experience – the equivalent of paying the toll – or settling on something more affordable that fits our budget here and now.

These are often very difficult decisions. How do you know that your investment will really pay off in the long term?

In design parlance we use a term called life-cycle costing.

That means, taking into consideration the immediate expense while realizing the long-term benefit.

It means weighing one against the other.

Then deciding, am I better off purchasing a well-made sofa that will not only last me the rest of my life, but likely be passed down to my children and grandchildren?

Or, do I buy what is more affordable today and hope that it will last at least five or ten years? And then buy a new sofa when the time comes.

(Hint:  You could spend many years and thousands of dollars replacing an entire series of inexpensive sofas).

These are some of the questions we need to ask ourselves when furnishings our homes, just as we need to decide whether to pay a toll or not.

Because the thing is, there are always going to be unexpected expenses.

The trick is to figure out where it makes the most sense to spend your money, and make it work to your benefit.

If you found this tip helpful, I share plenty more tips, professional advice and trade secrets in my soon to be launched interior design program – DESIGNER IN A BOX!

I created this program because I believe that everyone deserves a beautiful home and that professional interior design assistance needs to be available and affordable to anyone.

Imagine walking into a space – your home – and having it filled with things you love versus things that someone else chose or simply items that no longer reflect who you really are.

There is weight to that room, that home, a weight that you drag around with you day after day.

Now, change the picture.

Visualize yourself coming into a home that truly supports your health and well-being and reflects the essence of who you are.

That is what Designer-in-a-Box is all about – details are coming very soon!

Meanwhile, to learn more about my design philosophy, please  click here for my recent interview with Inspired Spaced Magazine.

Thanks, and I look forward to seeing you soon on the Designer-in-a-Box website.