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  • Stephanie Donnelly

Living Rooms: When to Splurge and Save

Buying furniture for your home is often one of the most exciting parts of the decor process, and with all of the social sharing sites such as Pinterest, Instagram, and Houzz, there’s no shortage of design inspiration for every room of the home. Well-designed spaces make houses become homes and make your day to day living easier, but it can be hard deciding on what to splurge on and what to save on in order to help bring your vision to life and make your home function as efficiently as possible. Read on to discover what living room pieces we would splurge and save on.

Splurge on:

Sofa & Chairs

As a staple furniture piece in a living room, sofas should be both comfortable and durable. With sofas now available in a variety of stylish colors and textures, the world of furniture has come a long way. Invest in a classic, high-quality piece that will last you years. Classic doesn’t have to mean boring. There are also iconic, classic styles that hold value such a mid century modern furniture. Sofas and chairs can also be spruced up with colorful or patterned throw pillows. Make sure you're investing in a quality sofa that is going to retain its youthfulness and be super comfy. After a long week, there is nothing more satisfying than changing into comfortable clothes and cozying up on your sofa to watch a movie or your favorite TV show. Read more about how to choose a high quality sofa here.

Area Rug

The larger the area rug, the more it’s going to cost, so it’s worth the investment to have one that’s high-quality and can stand up to tread. The best advice we can give you is to follow our rug guide and find something within a price range that you feel comfortable spending. Rugs made of natural materials such as cotton, jute and sisal are among the most durable. While it's easy to go with a cheaper option, we highly recommend wool as it is able to be spot or professionally cleaned and look brand new again. There's also a large second hand market for vintage, wool rugs which is a good way to find quality area rugs. Don't forget a rug pad for longevity!

Window Shades & Drapes

Custom sized window shades such as roman or matchstick shades as well as curtain panels are well worth the investment when it comes to furnishing your living room. Quality window treatments are one of the most impactful ways you can transform the look of your space and give it a high end look. If that isn’t enough to convince you to invest in window treatments, consider this: they help muffle sound, offer greater privacy and help keep out light and heat, which can in turn lower your energy bill. Just don't forget about the hardware for curtain panels!


While art prints are a fantastic way to decorate your home by allowing you to add character and depth, which elevates your space, there are times where you may be looking to add that special one-of-a-kind treasure to your collection. If you love something or have a focal piece that is artist made that you absolutely love, it is worth the splurge. Otherwise, see below for how to save on artwork.


A statement light fixture can make or break a space, and statement lighting is just that. Statement lighting is usually large so it, by default, makes a big statement. Anything you’d like to draw attention to should therefore be the most beautiful piece you can afford, so splurge a little here. One of our favorite ways to purchase statement lighting is by looking for artist crafted light fixtures as these are usually high quality statement pieces at great prices. A chandelier in the main entrance, or a hanging pendant over the dining table has to be great. However, if a high-priced chandelier isn’t in the budget, we suggest scouring the local flea market. You’ll find a one-of-a-kind piece without spending nearly as much.

Throw Pillows & Blankets

Cozy up for fireplace nights as you sink into your luxurious throw pillows and blankets. Oversized pillow inserts are perfect for creating a luxurious look and feel, while pillow covers can be a splurge for neutrals or save if you want to switch out styles more often. We recommend splurging on the neutral and simple staple pieces that will stand the test of time and saving on the small accents and items that can easily (and often) be replaced to change the look and feel of the room. Something that lasts a long time is wool, alpaca, cotton, or linen blankets.


We recommending splurging on the appearance of the TV, or rather the disappearance of the TV. Consider incorporating a Frame TV (especially if it's in a room that is a main living space) so that it doesn't stand out as a TV but turns into artwork when not in use. Another option is a hidden projector and retractable screen to watch your favorite movies and TV shows if you prefer more of a movie theater style of viewing.

Save on:

Side Tables

Unlike their coffee table counterparts, side tables demand less attention in a room, meaning you can get away with spending less on them. You can find great quality and stylish tables second hand for the same quality at a fraction of the cost rather than buying new. We recommend looking for high end brands as well as the condition, wood type, and construction method of the table while browsing second hand. Like coffee tables, accent tables come in a variety of finishes, shapes and styles, so you’ll be sure to find ones that suit your budget. Stackable side tables are great for smaller spaces as they allow you to maximize what space you have while adding an interesting design element to the room.

Jute Rugs

Jute rugs are great items on which to save money. Rugs in high traffic areas of your home are always getting walked on, having drinks spilled on them, and generally taking a lot of wear and tear, so don't spend a lot of money on something that's bound to get damaged. Jute rugs are a great option for a less formal rug. This is a great way to save some money as these area rugs go with a large variety of styles. However, keep in mind that jute does not have a soft underfoot feel.


Unless you’re at a stage in your life where you have extra money to throw around on pricey pieces of art, we recommend DIYing, thrifting, and keeping a low budget for pieces that add character and personality to your place. There are plenty of great art options at all price points that look high end. Reframe second hand or vintage pieces for more of a modern look, or find a favorite artist's prints for another good way to save.


A statement lighting fixture can make or break a space, but don’t gear your budget towards table or floor lamps, which can easily be updated or replaced in time. Lighting budgets are better spent on more permanent fixtures, including overhead lighting such as chandeliers, lamps, or wall sconces. You can find great second hand lights, but make sure you check with an electrician for safety or rewiring the lighting set up in your home before doing so on your own. One of our favorite ways to purchase focal point lighting is by looking for artist crafted light fixtures as these are usually high quality statement pieces at great prices.


Items that will be rotated with the season such as pillows, throws and even accent pieces are where you can save a lot. We recommend shopping second hand, looking for vintage finds, or finding artist crafted pieces when it comes to decor. These are the items that will be the easiest to switch out when you want to refresh your style, and when you get the urge to redecorate, you won’t feel any guilt throwing them out.

Above all else, your living room should be comfortable and speak to your personal tastes. No matter what you choose to save or splurge on, be sure to purchase pieces that spark joy and have pride of place in your home. In need of more design inspiration? Check out our portfolio filled with more ideas and inspiration for your home!

~This blog was brought to you by S. Donnelly Interiors. Learn more about the interior design project process by following Stephanie Donnelly and her interior design services in Glen Ellyn, Illinois and the surrounding areas!

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