8 Items You Should Never Spend Money on, According to Design Experts
Interior design experts agree—even if you have an endless budget to furnish your home, there are some items that simply don’t warrant a big price tag. Why? Like curating your closet, styling a unique home is about striking the perfect high-low mix. Designer Jack Menashe sums it up perfectly: “Your home should have an eclectic mix of high-end items as well less expensive accents so that it will feel like a home and not like a showroom.”
So which pieces aren’t worth the splurge? Allison Bloom of Dehn Bloom says she’s cautious of impulse purchases that are “driven solely by what your friends/Cara Delevigne/your most stylish co-worker has!”
Before you buy, she recommends thinking through the practicality of the piece, such as height, stain resistance, and size. “Ask yourself: Will it actually enhance what you have, or will it just stick out like a parent at a keg party? Try to wait at least a month to see if your crush passes,” she recommends.
To make matters easier, we called on interior design experts to name the pieces of décor they’d never splurge on and have rounded up the best inexpensive alternatives. These accents will look stylish in your home, no matter the price tag.
The Danish wishbone chair might be a longstanding favorite among interior design experts, but Laurel & Wolf designer Brett Foken says it isn’t always necessary to splurge on the original, which starts at $599.
“While I do have a deep appreciation for an authentic Hans Wegner wishbone chair, there are many great wallet-friendly alternatives that allow you to achieve the same look in a space, without the hefty price tag,” she says.
Like with any trend-driven piece, Foken says, it’s best to err on the side of caution and purchase an affordable accent. “Rattan light fixtures are having a moment right now, and I am loving it. They add warmth and texture to a space while also giving a relaxed, bohemian vibe,” she tells MyDomaine. “Since lighting is usually an easy item to switch out, I think more ‘trend’ lighting such as rattan fixtures should be something that is purchased at a lower price point.”
Choosing the perfect piece of art for your home is deeply personal, something that Gale Sitomer of G Sitomer Design says doesn’t always require a big investment.
“If you’re looking to save money, I would hold off on expensive artwork or wall décor,” she says. “You can accomplish beautiful wall design inexpensively; it’s more about the framing and scale.”
“You can also fake it with accessories and throw pillows if you are using them to accent furniture that you have invested in,” adds Sitomer. Sophie Donelson, editor in chief of House Beautiful, agrees, noting that she scours vintage and homemade stores for unique finds. “I shop Chairish and eBay for these and keep an eye out in vintage and antique shops, too. If you stick to a color scheme, it makes a disparate collection work,” she says.
It’s also an ideal way to give your home a seasonal update. “For summer, I have indigo, batik, and American quilt patterns in blue and white. In fall, my collection of autumnal kilims and solid velvets sit nicely together.”
Not sure whether to splurge or save? Interior designer Jack Menashe shops with this mantra. “Usually, we recommend spending more on the main pieces of furniture like sofa or dining table and chairs, as they will be used and need to be high-quality products. Small accessories [like] table lamps and vases are great items that can be found at lower prices,” he says. “They add color, pattern, texture, and comfort to just about any space.”
“I can’t tell you how many houses I have designed where the clients felt married to the cabinet hardware or their drapery hardware,“ says Laurel & Wolf interior designer Lauren Messina. “While I like nice and sturdy pieces, I don’t think splurging on most of your hardware is necessary.”
When in doubt, she says to buy inexpensive hardware before making an investment. “Right now, brass hardware is back in style, and the updated versions from the 1990s are quite stunning. However, in a few years, these may be a thing of the past, and it is a lot easier to switch out your living room cabinet hardware when you know you didn’t invest thousands of dollars into them.”
Small accessories are the perfect way to inject a timely trend into your space, so they shouldn’t be costly. “While I would suggest splurging on one or two statement pieces that really have meaning, whether it be an object picked up on a recent travel or a family heirloom, most accessories shouldn’t be breaking your bank,” says Messina. “Accessories are so much more fun when they don’t cost too much, because you can move them around from room to room and even switch them out a few years later without feeling guilty.”
A carefully curated home should contain a collection of lovingly acquired items that carry meaning, so look beyond the usual stores. “Curios like bookends are the perfect items to seek on the cheap,” says Donelson. “First because they’re appreciated for their uniqueness, not craftsmanship or value, and secondly because they should be items you can tell a story about. You’ll want a good answer to Hey, where’d you get that?! No one wants to reply, At the mall!”