Building or redecorating a home can be expensive so finding creative ways to minimize your spend is a useful skill to have. When it comes to choosing switch plates, you'd be surprised how quickly the costs can add up. Expensive designs and high-quality materials in your plates can drive costs up to $35 and up, per plate.
If you have a set budget that you're not willing to negotiate, one strategy you can employ to maximize your budget for both style and utility, is creating a switch map.
Step 1. Count the number of switch plates you'll need in each room
When conducting your initial count, you need to be sure to count according to type and position. For instance, most outlet switch plates are located below eye level and are best considered for utility as opposed to style. You can save a lot of money on expensive styles by choosing plainer plates for switches and outlets located behind couches.
Step 2. Prioritize the most visible and frequently used switches
Now that you've accounted for the "utility" focused switch plates in your rooms, start accounting for those you think will do best with stylish designs. You can do this by entering each room on your list once more and making a slow, eye-level spin around the room.
Switches that immediately catch your eye during this spin can be marked off initially for high-quality designs instead of budget-saving ones. These switches are likely to stand out since they are eye level, so stylish designs will give you maximum value used here.
Step 3. Draw an outline of your desired plate on the most visible switches
Being able to physically visualize your plates of choice, in the spots they'll be located in your home is a necessary final step to this procedure. By doing this, you'll get a deeper insight into how your plates will actually look.
If you can, try ordering a single sample plate of each variety you want to experiment with. Often times, being able to use a physical sample will help you eliminate certain choices from your original list. Some plates simply don't look as good as you expected them to, when contrasted with surrounding décor and light conditions.
By placing your physical sample, you'll discover small things in each room that shift your opinion. For example, a single-gang, dimmer switch in your A/V room may not need the stellar design you had in mind originally. A/V rooms are best appreciated in dim or no light, which means having a décor appropriate, accent switch is probably not necessary, since it'll be out of sight more often than not.
NOTE: If you can't or don't want to order a physical version of your switch plate, consider printing the design using your computer and using this budget replica to finish the process outlined above.