We all struggle with the question of where to splurge and where to save when decorating our homes. Interior designers rarely work with unlimited budgets, making them experts at knowing when to embrace a "you only live once" ethos, and when to take some, albeit well-disguised, shortcuts. To figure out what design items are worth the splurge, and which aren’t, we asked 13 design pros to weigh-in. Here, they take us through how to go high-low in two key spaces: the living room and the dining room.
The Living Room
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Where to Splurge
Paloma Contreras: "I always advise clients to go with good-quality upholstery, as it really makes a difference in the level of comfort and the durability of the piece."
Pierce & Ward: "Expensive rugs. There’s nothing worse than a cheap rug."
Erin Gates: "I always suggest custom pillows in trade fabrics. They dress up any store bought sofa or chair in the best way."
Caitlin Murray: "I splurge the most on unique, statement pieces that will do some heavy lifting and elevate the design as a whole. To me, anything one-of-a-kind and impactful that you’ve really fallen for is worth the investment."
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Where to Save
Sarah Bartholomew: "Using more expensive fabrics in smaller applications is the perfect way to save. I like to use high-end, special fabrics for small accent pieces."
Pierce & Ward: "Inexpensive vintage lighting."
Meg Braff: "I love to use inexpensive rattan furniture. It takes the edge off and make a room feel more comfortable and approachable, while retaining a certain elegance."
Tharon Anderson: "Side tables and ancillary furniture don’t get the same kind of daily use as sofas and chairs, so I try to save money there."
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The Dining Room
Where to Splurge
CeCe Barfield: "Beautiful hand-embroidered table linens."
Barrie Benson: "I love the idea of splurging on a beautiful, vintage chandelier. If you have a fabulous chandelier, no one will notice what table you use!"
Madcap Cottage: "We love to splurge on custom wallpaper. We are constantly switching things up, but custom wallpaper paper is an eternal constant."
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Where to Save
Nick Olsen: "An exquisite French armchair in patent leather always looks wonderful next to a humble Parsons table, even one of the Formica variety."
Celerie Kimble: "An inexpensive bar cart in a dining room can provide both utility and practicality."
Young Huh: "To save, keep things in a similar color. For instance, I collect white pottery—everything from 16th century antique pieces to IKEA. Because they’re all white, they all look good together."
Paloma Contreras: "Natural fiber rugs are a great way to add texture to a room and make an otherwise glamorous or traditional space feel more grounded. They’re also really cost-effective and go with just about anything!"