Whether you're furnishing a room, an apartment, or an entire home, chances are you're
operating under some sort of budget. Even if you have some cash to play with, you don't want to spend so much on home goods that you can no longer afford to leave said home. However, we understand you also probably don't want a house full of nothing by Ikea. (No shade, of course, to our beloved Ikea.)
Just as your wardrobe contains equal parts
trendy Zara buys and long-wear investment pieces, your home can be an artful mix of high, low, and in between. A luxe rug can make an inexpensive sofa look high-end, while vibrant wall hangings will make those functional curtains seem less staid. It's all about balance, baby.
But if you've never, for example, picked out a couch or furnished a kitchen before, it can be hard to know where cutting corners will work and where they just won't. (Don't worry, once your first home-assembled bookshelf or bed frame spontaneously breaks apart, you'll know all there is to know.) To help guide you in the direction of high-low home heaven, we asked interior designers for their advice on where to save and where to spend. Feel free to adapt as necessary for your home, budget, style, and priorities.
At Refinery29, we’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team. If you buy something we link to on our site, Refinery29 may earn commission.
Splurge: Unique Lighting
Nothing looks cheaper than bad overhead lighting, so if that's what you're working with, consider spending on a funky floor lamp or two. They'll up the cool factor and ensure your guests always look their best.
"Lighting elevates every space and always is the first thing you notice in the room. It's the jewelry which sparkles and brings excitement into room," says
Debbie Travin of DLT Interiors. "For example, wearing a simple, black J Crew sheath dress is rather boring until you add a fabulous statement necklace."
"A worthy investment; a light fixture will make a dramatic impact on your room," agrees Cheryl Eisen of
Interior Marketing Group. West Elm
Line Art Floor Lamp, $349, available at
West Elm More
Save: Bathroom Finishings
Planning on doing some home improvements? Apparently, the bathroom is a great place to save, at least when it comes to tile and other bathroom fixtures (maybe don't scrimp when it comes to the toilet and shower, though).
"In the bathroom, the biggest area you can save on is the tile. Stick to ceramic!" share Meghan Hackett-Cassidy and Erin Hackett of
Hackett Interiors. "We love to use a simple white subway tile on the walls and either a penny round or small hexagon on the floors. You can have some fun by introducing pop of color in the floor tile and using a grey grout throughout."
"I highly recommend going with chrome fixtures, especially in a bathroom. Often times, chrome will save you a good amount of money instead of polished nickel or a custom finish. It's a great way to save on money and not sacrifice the look of the space," adds Jess Cooney of
Jess Cooney Interiors. Merola Tile
Merola Tile Pescado Glossy Agua Ceramic Mosaic Tile, $3.95, available at
The Home Depot More
Splurge: High-Quality Rugs
There are plenty of low-quality rugs out there. They might look okay online, but IRL they'll pill and shed and beg for replacement after just a few short months. Which is why it's worth spending a little more for a rug that will feel really good between your toes.
"Splurge on a beautiful, high quality rug because it will last so much longer then an inexpensive rug and will make the entire room look expensive," suggests Travin.
Ammo, $602, available at
Revival Rugs More
Save: Vibrant Art
Sure, if you walk into a hip gallery you could spend your whole budget on one painting, but luckily, there are plenty of other places to get good art. If you're not up for buying something mass-produced, hit up Etsy, Minted, or even your favorite Instagram artist's personal website.
"You can save with affordable yet bold art pieces and up the impact without spending a ton. We suggest finding some affordable art at places like Serena & Lily, Pottery Barn, and Crate & Barrel that continues the palette in the room," share the Hacketts.
Magazine Magazine, $75, available at
Julie Houts More
Splurge: A Comfy Sofa
If you're into the Netflix and Chill life (and who among us isn't these days?), chances are, you'll be spending a lot of time on your couch. Better to make it a comfy one than wind up with neck pains when you're trying to binge watch
"If you’re only going to splurge on one item, a high quality sofa is an investment that is guaranteed to elevate your home and be worth your money," says Eisen.
"We encourage our clients to invest most of their budget in pieces that they’ll enjoy daily – upholstered sofas and chairs, coffee tables, dining tables and dining chairs. These furniture items are likely the crux of your home and should be higher quality so that they can withstand everyday wear and tear," the Hacketts add.
Denver Sofa, $1378.8, available at
Save: Easy Window Treatments
What's a window treatment? Pretty much anything you put on your window, whether that's blinds, drapes, curtains, or
nifty privacy film. You can end up spending a lot of money on these things, especially if you have oddly sized windows that will need custom treatments, but there's also plenty of affordable options.
"Adding a pop of color with a window treatment is a great inexpensive way to add decor," Cooney says.
Smith & Noble
Fabric Roman Shades, $177, available at
Smith & Noble More
Splurge: A Dining Room Table You'll Want To Dine At
Whether you have a dining room or just a nook, a table where you can gather for meals with friends and family — even if it's just for takeout — is crucial to a happy home.
"I always recommend my clients splurge on their dining table," says Cooney. "Invest in something that you really love and that you will have family dinners around for years to come. This is also a great piece to pass on to your children later in life. We all have fond memories of sitting around our family dining table together and this goes a long way."
One Kings Lane
Axel Extension Dining Table, Smoke Gray, $1870, available at
One Kings Lane More
Save: Must-Have Mirrors
Obviously, a good full-length mirror is crucial to your selfie-taking endeavors. But a good full-length mirror certainly doesn't have to be an expensive full-length mirror.
"You can find budget-friendly options at IKEA that still offer quality design," suggests Eisen.
Ria Leaning Rattan Mirror, $179, available at
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