Where to Splurge & Where to Save on Home Decorating

Whether you’ve taken that big life step and moved into your first home or are just considering an apartment refresh, all the options can seem overwhelming or actually be overwhelmingly expensive.


1. Sofa

Your sofa is where you relax and entertain, and you’ll want the comfort level to live up to the amount of time you spend here. The fabric drives the price, so opt for less costly options (like a blend instead of pure linen). At the same time, you need to consider the filling, which makes the difference in terms of comfort and durability.

Most sofas are filled with a block of polyurethane foam; the denser the foam, the longer it will last. Cheaper sofas (under $500) tend to be filled with foam only, while better quality pieces may be filled with foam that is wrapped in down feathers or may include springs. While sofas can exceed $10,000, you can find great options in the $2,000 to $5,000 range.

2. Mattress

This bed at 12 Rose Avenue looks so comfy, we want to curl up on it and take a cat nap.

A good night’s sleep is crucial to your well-being, and you don’t want to skimp when it comes to a mattress with the right fit and feel for you. Everyone’s preferences are different, so we recommend visiting a mattress store to try out different options and letting comfort—not price—influence your decision. Be warned: Anything below $600 may fall into the too-good-to-be-true category and get lumpy fast.

3. Office Desk Chair

Not your typical office! This chair in the professional recording studio at 2550 Mandeville Canyon Road looks supportive enough to easily get you through those late night recording sessions.

If you spend a lot of time in your home office, we recommend shelling out the $200 to $500 for a true ergonomic office chair rather than opting for a cute accent chair—with no seat or back support—that’s often less than $100.

Stiff and low-back accent chairs won’t provide the same comfort as an upholstered or leather piece with a back tall enough to fully support your height. You likely spend more time here than you’d like to admit; paying up for a chair that could affect your posture and mood is worth it.

4. Rug

This gorgeous rug in a bedroom at 555 28th Street is reminiscent of a pattern of painted ceramic tile.

Rug prices vary depending on material, construction and origin. While two blue thumbnails might look the same online, the hand-knotted wool (or viscose or silk) version can cost up to 10 times more than a $100 simple cotton or synthetic piece—but the costlier one will last a lifetime. While many synthetic blends feel super soft at first, over time they could pill, shed or lose their softness and structure.

Less expensive rugs are fine for a high-traffic room or hallway. But if you find something you love and are ready to make the investment, we suggest splurging. You’ll have it forever.

5. Dresser

Dressers are sneaky expensive, but take a peek inside: A lot of thoughtful construction goes into these pieces. Unlike, say, a media console, a dresser is used rather vigorously every day. The cheaper pieces have shoddier construction and less sturdy materials, such as composites, which will fall apart given the daily use. Better to invest in something higher quality that’s made from solid woods and metal. It will save you from replacing it later.


1. Bed Frame

We dream about a gorgeous four-poster bed frame too. Thing is, an elaborate model can run thousands of dollars, while a top-quality upholstered, metal or wood headboard costs under $500. The headboard is still stylish and makes a statement in your bedroom, and you save big.

Just be cautious if a headboard is selling for under $250. This can mean it’s made of cheap-o poly fabric that pills right away, forcing you to shell out more money to replace it.

2. Desk

We recommend splurging on the desk chair, but there’s a place in your home office where you can save big: your desk. As long as the height aligns with your chair and the piece is well-assembled so that it doesn’t wobble, the material doesn’t matter.

An inexpensive, no-frills parsons table will work just as nicely as a solid wood model with built-in drawers that can run in the thousands—and you can always improvise storage with creative combinations of trays, baskets and cups.

3. Trendy Accessories

Just like with fashion, home décor is often better expressed with costume jewelry than haute couture. In other words, go cheap when it comes to trendy accent pieces and accessories, from wall mirrors to decorative items.

Rather than splurge on a fancy shower curtain, opt for the inexpensive one. Instead of handmade glassware (prices reach into the hundreds), check out ceramic and glass alternatives for under $100. We promise you won’t notice the difference. Plus, trends change fast; you won’t bust your budget on candle holders or lighting fixtures that will soon look dated.

4. Outdoor Furniture

Unless you’ve found an outdoor chair or table you’re sure you’ll want for decades, we recommend going with inexpensive teak pieces and keeping more money in your budget for other items. Teak is one of the most durable outdoor materials, and teak furniture options under $600 abound. Dress them up with outdoor pillows, which you can grab for $20 to $40 each. As long as you wash them periodically and bring them indoors during harsh weather, these pieces will last for a couple of seasons (longer if they’re brought in during winter months).

5. Storage

We’ve ogled our share of fancy baskets and metal boxes. But the truth is, storage containers are often left in closets or basements out of sight anyway. With this in mind, the $30 and under canvas and plastic options are just as functional as built-in storage units, sweater-weave baskets (which are often more than $100) or fancy decorative boxes.

Unless you truly enjoy geeking out over your storage (we know you’re out there), keep it simple. You don’t sit, sleep or dine on this, and inexpensive options are just as durable—if not more so.