Where to Splurge and Save When Decorating Your Home

Where to Splurge and Save When Decorating, the ultimate guide from revelry interior design, interior designer in sonoma county

When clients ask me how much it will cost to furnish their home, the answer is always – what are you willing to spend, and what do you value the most? In short, there is no right answer. Where to splurge and save when decorating your home can feel overwhelming and confusing, but there are a few pointers I can give.

Because you can easily spend $10,000 on a sectional, or as little as $900, it ultimately depends on what you’re looking for, and what you value. Is the $10k sectional going to look nicer, feel more comfortable, and last longer than the $900 sectional?


Can you replace your $900 sectional ten times and get the same benefit as the $10k sectional?


Below are my interior designer recommendations on where to splurge and where to save in your home decor selections.

Note: I do have a rule of thumb for furnishing a home, however. On a mid-level budget, calculate $60 per square foot. Have a 2,000 square foot house? A good budget to fully furnish it with a mix of retail furniture – from Restoration Hardware down to Target – is $120,000. Double that for high-end furnishings.

Where to splurge and save when decorating: Splurge on Your Sofa

One of my most common questions is how much you should spend on a sofa.  A sofa or sectional is a big investment, and you really do get what you pay for. From the materials used in the cushions to the method of construction for the frame to the quality of the fabric, each detail matters. (But that is another blog post in itself).

My best advice: invest in a super comfortable, well-made sofa that your family can enjoy for years and years, and be prepared to spend a little extra to have it stain-treated and professionally cleaned a few times a year.  This will not only save you money in the long run by prolonging the life of your sofa, but it will also restore your mental state.

Save on Your Hardware

You can easily break the bank on cabinet knobs and towel bars, but you can just as easily find stylish, functional, and well-made fixtures at steep discounts. Look for keywords such as “solid brass,” “hand forged,” and “lifetime warranty.” Avoid items with descriptions like “one year warranty” (it may break quickly), “coated finish” (the finish will wear off with use), and “aluminum” (a cheap lightweight metal that’s not the best for hardware).

Check out my blog post How to Choose Cabinet Hardware for more tips.

Where to splurge and save when decorating: Splurge on Your Window Treatments

One area where it will be very difficult to scrimp is window treatments. If you want to have well-dressed windows – and I strongly encourage that you do – it is always best to have them custom sized to your exact windows, rather than buying standard length/width curtains and expandable rods from a retail store. You’ll end up with the equivalent of too-short or too-long pants (although hemming is always an option), rings that don’t glide easily across the rod due to the uneven surface, and a window that just looks off.

If a custom window treatment workroom is out of your budget, stores like The Shade Store or Smith & Noble provide excellent fabric options with lining (to give your drapes that sumptuous draped look or to achieve the perfect black-out room), sized to fit your window with hardware that will function like it’s supposed to, with added details like a pull rod, one-way draws, pass-through pins, and beautiful pleats (just say no to ring top curtains).

Save on Your Lighting

Lighting is a tricky one. This is one area where the price tag is often attached to designer brand names (just like in the fashion world).

And just like in the fashion world, knock-offs are plentiful. 

In essence, when you purchase a very expensive piece of decorative lighting, you are purchasing a work of art. There is a definite place for these pieces, but they are not totally necessary to achieve a stylish, functional home.

While less-expensive lighting options give you less customization, less finish options, and sometimes finishes that are slightly, uh, off, they are likely to last just as long. Go ahead and purchase the less-expensive version of that chandelier that you like, because chances are, no one is ever going to notice the difference.

Where to splurge and save when decorating: Splurge on Solid Wood Furniture

First, read my blog post about why solid wood furniture is always the better option. Then ask yourself this question: How do you value your time?

Always remember: the cheaper the furniture (especially casegoods like dressers and bookshelves), the cheaper the materials used AND the more assembly and clean up required.

Factor your time into the cost of the piece – if it’s going to take 2 hours to assemble a veneered MDF dresser held together with dowels and screws that cost you $500, plus another hour to unpack all the pieces, organize your tools, break down the heavy cardboard, haul off the styrofoam and cardboard to your garbage can where it will take up valuable space (and don’t forget the sweeping of the wayward styrofoam pieces and leftover dowels), and you value your time at, say, $100 per hour, wouldn’t you rather buy the solid wood, joint-construction, longer-lasting dresser for $1500 that comes white-glove delivery (i.e. no assembly required and no excess packaging to deal with)? If you’ve ever had the bottom of your IKEA dresser drawers give out, then I think I know what your answer will be.

Save on Your Kid’s Furniture

In the early years, your child’s needs change just as quickly as their shoe size. There’s plenty of multipurpose furniture that will grow with them, such as a crib that will convert into a toddler bed, or a changing table that can double as a dresser, but what about quality? And style?

My advice: the kid’s room is a great place to mix gently used furniture that another family has outgrown with cheaper, temporary pieces AND higher-quality, more expensive options. (Keep in mind that you will likely be passing the same furniture pieces on in five years time, so choose wisely where you invest). It’s easy to purchase something trendy and pricey to satisfy your needs for a Pinterest-worthy nursery, but let’s be honest: your toddler will outgrow the calming nursery decor pretty quickly and decide her furniture looks better plastered with Minnie Mouse stickers and demand a princess castle bed (only to be outdone when your preteen demands something more “sophisticated”).

If you mix your pieces depending on your needs – a high-quality timeless dresser, for example, paired with cheap storage furniture and hand-me-down beds that you will rotate out every few years – you will achieve function, longevity, and style without stretching your budget. 

Go ahead and splurge!

  1. Sofas
  2. Window treatments
  3. Solid wood furniture


Shop around and save!

  1. Hardware
  2. Lighting
  3. Kid’s furniture



Dana Feagles, Principal Interior Designer

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