10 Designers Reflect on Their First Splurge Décor Pieces

Stainless steel dresser next to a tall stack of books.

Michael Moss

It’s true what they say: you never forget your first splurge. Whether it was a special find that you purchased at age 21—with money that totally should have been allocated toward groceries—or an investment piece sought out later in life, these pieces have a way of sticking with us, literally and figuratively, over the years.

We spoke with 10 interior designers to ask them about their first major buys for the home and why the pieces will forever remain favorites.

01 of 09

A Custom Sofa and Art Piece

“I have two pieces that come to mind from when I was in my twenties that felt like big splurges at the time. The first is a custom designed sofa that I had made for a show house, which I later moved into my home. I still have it to this day, and it has only needed to be reupholstered once—quality furniture and fabrics are a game changer and can stand the test of time. Even with two young children, the ivory fabric managed to hold up for well over 10 years.

The other big splurge in my twenties was a birthday gift from my husband: a very large commissioned piece of art by Thomas Masters. This still has pride of place in my dining room. I cherish the personalized signature on the back and the art that speaks so much to us. Thomas was and still is a good friend to this day. I always suggest collecting pieces that have meaning to you and not just buying things to fill a space. Collecting pieces that are meaningful creates such an impact on a home and infuses a sense of personality.” —Gemma Parker, founder and principal of Gemma Parker Design

02 of 09

A Stately Bed

“I rarely invest in myself—which is horrible—but I purchased my first ‘big girl’ bed when I got my first apartment in New York five years ago. I picked the fabric and waited six weeks for it to be ready. Prior to this, I usually shopped for anything ready to ship, and whatever color they had available at the time.” —Eneia White, owner of Eneia White Interiors

03 of 09

Vintage Rugs

“My first splurge item was an awesome vintage Turkish rug I bought for my living room. Coming out of college where I always had hand-me-down furniture, it felt like such a big deal to have something that I actually chose. It wouldn’t be considered a splurge by today’s standards, but it totally felt like one at the time.” —McCall Dulkys, interior stylist at Interiors by McCall

“My first splurge was a vintage rug when we moved into our house. I purchased it on eBay and it was more Moroccan than our house ever got, so I only just recently sold it.” —Emily Starr Alfano, founder + creative director of mStarr Design

04 of 09

A Tailored Tuxedo Sofa

Black custom sofa.

John Dolan Photography 

“My first real splurge was a custom tailored tuxedo-style tufted sofa in black Edelman patent leather. I had seen a similar piece in a magazine and knew I had to have it. I have owned it for 10-plus years and still love it as much today. Worth every penny.” —Courtney McLeod, founder and principal of Right Meets Left Design

05 of 09

An Antique Buffet

“One of the first ‘splurges’ I can remember was buying an antique piece for the entryway in our Houston home. My husband and I were out driving around our new town—we had just recently relocated to Houston from Baton Rouge—and we stumbled upon an antique store. We decided to drop in and look around. One of the first items I spotted was a gorgeous, 19th-century mahogany buffet priced at $2,500. Somehow, I convinced my husband to let me buy it, and it wound up being the very first piece of furniture in our new home.” —Arianne Bellizaire, designer at Arianne Bellizaire Interiors

06 of 09

A Stainless-Steel Dresser

Stainless steel dresser styled with flowers and liquor bottles.

Michael Moss

“In my twenties, I was—and still am—obsessed with Jayson Home and attended one of their warehouse sales. I was living in Chicago and was on a relatively tight budget, but when I saw this one-of-a-kind stainless-steel dresser lined with thick velvet in the interior of each drawer, I knew it had to be mine. The irony in this piece was that I wanted it to serve as a bar cart in my living room, rather than a bedroom dresser. The best part? Wine bottles fit perfectly into each drawer, making our wine collection easily accessible and providing a great deal of functionality. This piece has moved all the way to Raleigh, North Carolina with me and my growing family, and it is still being utilized in our current home.” —Liz Goldberg, founder and creative director at CAROLYNLEONA 

07 of 09

A Mint Green Leather Sofa

“I remember my first splurge at 19: it was a mint green leather sofa with quite the price tag. It was vibrant, yet calm and very cozy. The color made me feel at ease, and that’s when I recognized the impact of color in a space.” —Brenda Danso, creative director and founder of Brenda Danso Interior Design 

08 of 09

An Antique Dresser

Antique dresser and stool.

Courtesy of Samantha Cram

“My first splurge for my home was definitely paying for a professional to refinish an antique demilune three-drawer chest I thrifted. It is my most treasured piece and lives in the center of our living room. I paid $700 to get it refinished after purchasing it for $100. When you are barely out of college and broke, that's a lot of cash. It will always be a piece I cherish for years to come, and hope to be able to pass it down to one of my kids one day. It’s a classic.” —Samantha Cram, principal designer at Sam Cram Design

09 of 09

A Special Art Piece

“Because I design for others all day, I need a more soothing living space in my own home. My ‘elegant minimalist’ approach began with a piece of art that I came across some years ago. Its color and scale appealed to me immediately. It reminded me of my childhood and what I hoped for my children and future generations. It would also be my first piece of art whose subject included people. It was a stretch on my decorating budget, but I decided that I was willing to forgo some other luxuries to make this purchase obtainable. It is a perfect fit and enjoyed by all who come to my home." —Angela Wilson Lee, founder, CEO, and principal designer of Wilson Lee Interiors

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