Splurge or Save: Which Design Items are Worth the Investment?

When I first began my journey to become a professional interior designer I really had no idea what types of products were best to invest in and where it was ok to cut corners on quality and price. After 6 years of helping a variety of clients with budgets high and low, and seeing the end results, I finally feel like I have a firm grasp on where it pays off to splurge and where it won’t make a huge difference to save.

Whether you’re caught in this dilemma right now or might be in the future, here is my quick guide for where to splurge and where to save in interior décor:

 Save on Drapery and Drapery Hardware
Images: (Left) Mary McDonald , (Right) Telescoping Rod

Splurge: Custom Drapery

Back in the day people use to invest in custom drapery, it was just something that home owners did (ask Grandma). Of course the internet wasn’t around then either, with much cheaper options available at the click of the mouse. But after installing both custom drapery and ready-made options for clients, the rooms with custom drapes look far more sophisticated and “finished” because the drapes properly fit the window, not to mention how much easier they are to operate.

Save: Drapery Hardware

I use to be such a drapery hardware snob. I wanted nothing to do with adjustable telescoping rods available everywhere from Lowe’s to Pottery Barn to Bed Bath & Beyond, but after installing an adjustable drapery rod in my sister’s living room this past year I realized that once it is hung, you can hardly tell the difference.

Splurge or Save on Antique Armoire Upholstered Chair
Images:(Left) Antique Armoire, (Right) Chevron Chair

Splurge: Storage Case Goods

From armoires to bookcases and cabinets to entertainment centers, storage case goods are a huge presence in any room, which is why I suggest splurging on a timeless antique or custom built-in. Well-built antique or vintage options will never go out of style, and even if your style changes, much like rugs, these types of furnishings hold their value. Also, both free-standing and built-in storage pieces made of quality wood can be refinished or re-lacquered down the line to refresh its original look or try something new.

Save: Upholstery

Upholstery pieces will always show much more ware and tare than case goods. The foam wears thin, the fabric will fade, and springs will give way. Obviously this happens quicker with lower quality products, but I think this is a good place to cut back because fabric tends to be a lot trendier than wood finishes. Something that is hot today will certainly be old news in a few years, which means that by the time your springs wear out, you’ll probably be ready for a new color scheme anyway!

Splurge or Save on Antique Rug and Accent Table
Images:(Left) Antique Rug, (Right) Accent Table

Splurge: Rugs

Rugs that are hand knotted and made of 100% wool will last forever vs. cheaper options that will fall apart in a few years. Not only that, but if you buy a timeless piece, it will hold its value if you ever want to resell it down the line. Rugs worth investing in will never go out of style and you can roll them up and take them with you if you move.

Save: Accent Tables

When designing a room, I always save accent table selection until the week before installation. It’s a way for me to add in some randomness that isn’t as planned out as the rest of the space. Another reason this system works for me is because accent tables are a smart way to make use of the small amount of budget left. Flea markets, thrift stores, eBay, and Craigslist are all places that I have found inexpensive, one-of-a-kind accent tables and stools that add to the collected layering of a room.

Where do you love to splurge and save? Comment below and let us know if it has paid off!

1 Comment

  1. My view on splurge vs steal items (clothing, home decor, jewelry…) always stands its ground. I splurge on classic pieces (a great pair of jeans, beautiful hard wood flooring, diamond studs). I buy inexpensive trendier pieces (wedge sneakers, D-I-Y art, spiked leather cuff bracelet).

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About The Author

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Brittany Stiles
Brittany is an interior designer and stylist constantly searching for creativity and inspiration in the world around her. She currently resides in Los Angeles, California where she finds plenty of both. Her interior design studio services a variety of clients throughout California seeking her simple and collected aesthetic. Brittany believes that a house becomes a home when it is beautiful, comfortable and, most importantly, reflects the personality of the people who live inside.