Where to Splurge and Save: The Millennial’s Guide to Decorating
Necessity is the mother of invention. As such, designing on a budget presents a wealth of opportunities to hone your inner hunter-gatherer skills. From making IKEA look expensive to taking design cues from well-curated travel destinations, we've culled our favorite websites and décor hacks to have you feathering your nest in style—all with minimum stress to your wallet. Keep scrolling for our top money-saving tips.
Create clear objectives for your space, and prioritize upfront where you want to spend and where you want to hold back. Rank your priorities, either by item or room. Maybe job one is scoring an amazing sofa, or repainting: Pick a starting point, and work back from there. Great spaces take time to curate. Come up with a timeline, and carve out a fixed amount from your paycheck each month for your décor fund.
Balance out major purchases with simple, affordable basics. Seek out essentials that are perennially available (comforters, curtains, sheets) at outlets and discount retailers such as Nordstrom Rack and Home Goods. Tuesday Morning even stocks Sferra bedding. Instead of paying full retail for Egyptian cotton sheets, look for designer labels on sale. The quality will outlast the less expensive version, often at the same price point.
Scoring quality vintage pieces is a hunter’s sport. The smart thing about purchasing vintage or consignment furniture is you’re far more likely to receive a return on your investment in the event you opt to sell it down the line. Typically furniture resells for 10 cents on the dollar of the original full retail price. Vintage pieces, however, may appreciate in value over time; at the very least, you’ll get your money back. The online marketplace 1stdibs is an irrefutable treasure chest for all things vintage. If the price points skew on the aspirational side for your budget, simply use the venerable retailer for inspiration. Once you land on a style you click with, hit up Ebay, Chairish, Craigslist, or your local flea market to find something comparable.
If you fall in love with a piece, be it a Restoration Hardware sofa or iconic designer side chair, always compare pricing at online stores and check local Craigslist postings to see if you can find something similar. Use the “compare visually similar results” widget on Pinterest to find pins of related items or reproductions. If you can’t locate the look for less, call the retailer’s customer service line and ask when the item will be on sale. Some retailer outlets will keep your shopping list on file and notify you when an item reaches the outlet.
Hotel rooms offer some of the most innovative and undeniably cool small space hacks around. From room dividers to arranging furniture in unique configurations, your favorite hospitality suites offer up a range of cues. We also love the bold sense of eclecticism and wanderlust that flows freely out of hotel design. Drama and escapism are de rigueur.
If you’re going to splurge, original art is always a promising investment. A singular work of art can shift the entire vibe of a space in a single stroke. Vibrant hues transform quiet, subdued neutrals and sleek, edited basics. Pairing a vivacious and color-drenched canvas with crisp whites and budget-friendly furnishings feels immaculately chic. Working with a tight budget? Go for vintage and contemporary prints. Saatchi Art, Tappan Collective, Society6, and Exhibition A are all incredible online resources flush with affordable options in every shape, size, and style.
There’s no denying the allure of the IKEA staple. We love a good chameleon moment mixing signature IKEA looks with soulful vintage. Hierarchy is the key to making affordable finds feel luxe. Mix high and low, and the look will feel effortless and found (i.e. anything but one-note).
Have a tip for designing on a budget? Tell us in the comments below.