Should I save... or splurge?

We’ve all wrestled with that torturous question, “Should I buy this, yes or no?” All sorts of arguments between our desires and our sense run amuck in our heads. We either go away empty-handed and feel a strange sort of sorrow for the rest of the day, or we buy it, and get home only to decide that we didn’t need it. Then we hate ourselves. So what are some things in the décor world worth spending money on? I have some answers that may help you!

Say you’re designing a living room. What would you splurge on, and what would you buy at a discounted price, or even secondhand? For this dream living room, say you needed the following:

#1 - Couch

#2 – Chair

#3 - Throw rug

#4 - Three lamps

#5 - Coffee table

#6 - Wall art

#7 - Accessories (vases, candles, decorative bowls, etc.)

How would you choose where to spend that dough? I think if we all had our way, we’d take our favorite Pottery Barn magazine issue and custom-order an entire room based on what struck our fancy. However, that is unrealistic for most of us, so we have to break down our priorities.


Couch. Yes – couches are very expensive, BUT, they are a crucial piece of furniture in our house. If we are the type of person who lives in our house, between kids, guests, and lazy days home from work, that couch will be used a lot. So we need to buy something that is worth our money – something that’s durable, comfy, and meets our design approval. That is not something to skimp on. None of us want to end up with a cheap couch that looks nice but is stiff and unusable, or a comfy couch that will fall apart after two years’ wear due to that every day TLC.

NOT to splurge:

Chairs. Not necessary. Find a chair at goodwill and find someone to re-upholster it for you for a discount price. Sand and restain the wood if necessary, or sand and paint it the color of your choice! Cheap, AND easy.

Throw Rug. Nope. That rug will be tread on with dirty feet, have soda or juice spills gracing it, and will compliment, not define, the room.  Something that will get this much wear and tear shouldn’t be expensive.

LampsNo. These are usually quite cheap anyway, but some designer lamps catch our fancy that we just can’t bring ourselves to shell out the money for. Good choice. Go to flea markets, garage sales, and thrift stores to find that lamp base you like, and just youtube how to rewire an old lamp if needed. (I read about this one woman who bought a pair of $25 lamps at a flea market that turned out to be valued at $3,000 a piece! You’ll never know what treasures you find!)


Coffee Table. If you want a mahogany, hand-carved period piece, go ahead! Splurge! Coffee tables can be the centerpieces of rooms, and if you decide it is what will define your space, than it is a good thing to splurge on. However, these days just about anything can substitute for a coffee table: old chests, re-painted secondhand furniture, Oversized poufs, etc etc. Start thinking about it – you’ll find you can acquire one for quite cheap if you so choose!

Wall art. Some of us are really into art. We want replicas or originals of famous modern or classical pieces to grace our home and we really want our new living room to be the room that “features that piece.” Worth it? Absolutely. I believe in art, and am moved by many pieces myself, so if that is what is important to you, then maybe finding a cheap second-hand coffee table and re-furbishing it so you can spend more money on art is a good idea. On the other hand, you will find that SO MANY STORES sell wall art! Even stores that aren’t “supposed” to have it will have the most unique pieces. Don’t be afraid to go fishing!

Accessories. Sometimes there is just that one piece – that antique red porcelain Chinese dragon, or that antique tea cup, or that really fascinating sculpture for a hefty price that was impossible to find anywhere else. Those are the cases where you have permission to splurge. Sometimes we even buy them first and build our whole living room around them! There is no reason to avoid spending money on what some would see as trinkets, because we see them as treasures. (And usually, if we’re that hooked on something, it IS a treasure, and most people will see that, too.) If this is not the case, however, there are an ENDLESS list of accessories we could find to accent our living room. Just like the many of countless (and odd!) stores that sell wall art, many of them sell vases, clocks, candles, etc. at very good prices. They can all be surprisingly unique, too! So the same that can be applied to wall art can apply to accessory hunting as well: Go Fish!