We all want our homes to be special, filled with hard-to-find pieces. But while antiques can be great for finding an apothecary table, sometimes you should just buy your linens from Pottery Barn. It’s all about balance, say our top designers 2022. Traci Connell, for example, deftly incorporates accessible pieces like Ikea chairs among her finery.

Connell’s fellow designers step in to mix unique finds with ready-made sheet music.

“Not everything has to be ‘good’ – if everything is special, nothing is! The mix of a variety of elements keeps a space accessible and personal. —Paul Duesing, Paul Duesing Partners

“I really believe that some of your most affordable pieces can become your investment pieces. This is how all the elements of the piece work together to create something layered and unique. —Tori Rubinson, Interiors by Tori Rubinson

“There is a misconception that the most accessible parts are always of lower quality; price and quality are not always aligned. A well-designed space first considers all the elements and principles of good design, and then focuses on the actual “merchandise”. —Ragsdale Abbey, Interior Design Smith & Ragsdale

“I design without price in mind. I truly believe that cost dampens creativity, so I design without limits and can always value the engineer if need be. —Juliana Oliveira, Beyond interior design

“I like to mix it up and down because it makes a house feel like it’s been collected over time and not bought new from showrooms all at once.” —Alice Cotrell, Alice Cottrell Interior Design

” Do not be afraid ! To mix together! Good design comes in all shapes and sizes. To quote Shakespeare, ‘There is nothing new under the sun.’ But in the way we “mix things up” we can find new insights. —Mary Elizabeth Canon and Hannah Dean, Canon and Dean Design

“It all depends on how you put it together. When done right, people will guess what you splurged on versus what you saved on. —Shay Geyer, IBB Design Fine Furnishings

“We do it all the time! It’s like mixing a Target t-shirt with designer jeans! —Liz Dauwe, White Studio Interiors

On the contrary …

“Wait until you can get something you like. Josie McCarthy taught me that if you buy the right thing, it only hurts once. —Barry Williams, Design Williams, Inc.

“Have you ever been mad at yourself for buying anything too high quality? When people regret a purchase, it’s usually because it was something that was made at too low a price. —Margaret Chambers, Interiors & Associates Chambers

When to splurge or when to save

Where should you invest and where can you afford to save? While there isn’t necessarily a one-size-fits-all answer, we asked local designers to clarify where they typically recommend spending more money.

When to splurge


“It costs more upfront, but getting a high-end, well-made sofa will last you years and years.” —Marie-Anne Smiley Mary Anne Smiley Interiors LLC

“I call it investing in price per sit.” —Caroline Gentry, Pulp Design Studios

“Buy good quality upholstered chairs and sofas. They last for years and can be reupholstered many times. —Barbara ships, Barbara J. Vessels Interiors


“It’s just as important as the art you choose. If framed cheaply, it can really knock the piece down. But a $5 score at a thrift store can instantly look like a million dollars if it’s in a nice frame with a thoughtful master key. —Meredith Ellis, Design by Meredith Ellis


“If I had to pick what we constantly ask our customers to splurge on, I’d say we push our customers on lighting and plumbing. We believe these are two key areas that make or break a home. —Sam Sano and Joslyn Taylor SWOON


“Always splurge on antiques! They give soul to a room and add credibility. Our love for antiques has a big influence on our design. We grew with them and slowly added more contemporary pieces over time to create a collectible look. —Corbin See and Ross See, See the design

When to save


“Sisal rugs are affordable, work in most spaces, and are beautiful and hearty.” —Samantha Fisher, Samantha Fisher Interiors

“There are some wonderful wool rugs that, when leather-trimmed or hand-puffed, give the look and feel of an expensive rug.” —Linda Fritschy, Linda Fritschy Interior Design

Decorative Accents

“Save on accent pieces. You’ll appreciate the freedom to update a room by changing up small accessories periodically or seasonally (without breaking the budget).”—Javier Burkel, Creative Burkles

long distance

“Good drapery treatments are always expensive, but there are ways to save money. I often use non-functional decorative side panels for softness, color and depth around a window – this greatly reduces the yardage and labor required – and I use a flat less privacy treatment expensive such as solar blinds, Roman blinds or wooden blinds. ” —John Bobbit, Bobbitt & company

“The upholstery will necessarily have to be redone. I’ll splurge on plush fabrics for smaller items, but keep big items like sofas and lounge chairs reasonable. —Josh Pickering, Pickering Home Interiors

Children’s areas

“Playrooms and kids’ spaces that we consider more disposable.” —Morgan Farrow, Morgan Farrow Interiors