It’s time for another Designer Trick post and this is one of my favorites! When it comes to renovating, decorating, and styling my own home- I don’t have an endless budget. That means I have to get creative with designing a space that looks sophisticated, comfortable, and representative of our personal style on a budget. I’m a big fan of mixing high-end pieces with budget-friendly options for a curated look that feels like it cost much more than it actually did. In this Designer Trick post, I’m sharing my best tips for mixing high & low. Click through for my philosophy and tricks of the trade!
The most expensive piece of furniture we own is our fully upholstered leather bed. I designed it and had it custom made (find dupes in this post though). Around seven years ago, it cost over $8k and it felt like a HUGE purchase. I was working for a design firm, got a discount, and without getting into too many details- I’m required to withdraw a certain amount of money from a retirement account my father left behind when he passed away. Just a year after losing him, it felt like that money should go toward something we could love and cherish in our home… a bed, that felt like a gift from my dad. I justified the purchase and it’s still such a special piece that Emmett & I adore. Long story short- that was the splurge in our bedroom. After spending that kind of money on the bed frame alone, that didn’t leave a lot of funds left for other furnishings and textiles. I ended up scoring a vintage pair of nightstands, pictured above, for under $100. I gave them a fresh coat of paint and they looked lovely alongside our high-end bed. The point of this story? Choose the items that mean a lot, make a statement, or you really love- and find ways to save on other things that fill a space.
In our basement, I have a similar story… our sofa and area rug are the more expensive items in the room, while the media credenza was rescued from a dumpster. Am I suggesting pulling furniture from dumpsters? I probably wouldn’t advise that, although I have been known to do this on the occasion, haha! Again- this is a lesson of splurging, saving, and mixing high & low furniture that feels cohesive.
In our formal living room, the curved sofa is the star of the show (and the most expensive item in the room), whereas we saved on the swivel chairs and area rug. Ready for some tips on sourcing your own budget-friendly pieces?
Tips For Sourcing Budget-Friendly Pieces
- Check the material. Stick to natural materials for a higher end look (cotton, linen, marble, wood, etc). All too often I see synthetic materials or cheap looking fake brass that is an instant giveaway that something is cheap and lightweight.
- Check stores that carry budget designer pieces.I frequently check Overstock, HomeGoods, Tuesday Morning, Ebay for designer fabric remnants, etc.
- Get thrifty and buy secondhand or vintage. I’m constantly looking at Facebook Marketplace, thrift stores, yard sales, etc. You never know what you’ll find!
- Avoid trendy objects. Objects that look too trendy are another giveaway that something has been quickly and cheaply made… I immediately think of the faux brass objects at Hobby Lobby, for some reason.
- DIY and get creative. Can you repurpose or recycle a marble tabletop you already have by switching the base? We’re always experimenting and playing around with what we already have.
In our guest bathroom, I found a way to make inexpensive subway tile look classic, instead of boring & basic. That allowed room in the budget to splurge on a vintage area rug and a custom burl wood vanity table! I also secured nero marble slabs for our countertops from a remnant yard (basically they were scraps and I was able to get them for MUCH less).
Ready for tips on spending more for those statement, designer pieces (as if you needed an excuse, ha):
Tips for Splurging On Designer Pieces
- Stick to timeless and classic pieces rather than trends. To ensure you’ll love it for years to come, it’s safer to stick to styles that are timeless and classic.
- Keep large items neutral. If your palette or aesthetic changes, you can rest assured knowing your beloved designer piece will still look cohesive.
- Double check the specs. Make sure the item PERFECTLY fits your space… basically, do your research. Check the material, size, weight, etc.
- Don’t impulse buy high ticket items. Take the extra time to order a swatch and weigh your options.
- Invest in QUALITY. Just because something is expensive, doesn’t mean it’s nice. Invest in something that is well constructed. Think of pieces made of solid wood, that have intricate craftsmanship, soft close drawers, upgraded features, premium down cushions, etc.
In the dining room of our first home, I found a set of beautiful, vintage Breuer chairs. They desperately needed reupholstered, and I splurged for fancy French designer fabric. I also spent quite a bit for large-scale art in the dining room. That meant the budget for the dining table was lower. I landed on this clean, modern table from IKEA. It allows the statement pieces to shine without competing.
Give yourself permission to find room in the budget to incorporate high-end or statement making pieces, and know how to supplement lower priced items, so they feel cohesive, intentional, and designerly as a family.
Do you also enjoy mixing high & low pieces throughout your home? I’d love to hear your tips or learn about a piece you splurged on and why! I’m also all ears for more topics I can include in the Designer Trick series. If you’ve missed any, I’ll copy them below:
- Making Moodboards to Conceptualize a Room
- How to Choose the Perfect Paint Color
- Tips for Getting Scale Right
- How to Examine a Room in 2-D
- How to Floorplan