Whether you’re moving into your first post-grad apartment, are relocating to a new house, or are simply looking to redecorate a room or two within your home, you may be wondering where you should splurge versus save as it pertains to furniture and decor. While there are certainly some key items that are worth the investment and are best to buy brand new, there are many pieces that can easily be thrifted and still function wonderfully, designers say. Make note of their top tips below!
Seating and Beds: As a general rule, Brittney Nelson urges people to “splurge on the stuff you are going to sit on, sleep on, or cook on!” After all, the founder of Brit Nelson Interiors notes, “This is where construction matters: solid wood, dovetail joinery, steel rails, upholstery that can be cleaned well, natural stone, warranties, et. cetera.” She notes that what constitutes a splurge is different for everyone but shares a general piece of guidance for those who may be on the fence about a specific item: “For us, a splurge is something that you need to last a long time—10 plus years—or something that you would never forgive yourself for leaving behind!”
Tara Lenney, the founder of Tara Lenney Design, agrees that splurging on sofas and mattresses is never a bad decision. “These big ticket items get a lot of use, and it’s comforting to know that they’re clean and fresh.”
Statement Pieces: Taylor Fusco, the founder of Tay Fusco Design, encourages her clients to splurge on what she considers to be statement pieces, including lighting, custom window treatments, wallpaper, and art! “Items like these can completely make a space and are harder to find one of a kind pieces at discount stores,” she says.
Decorative Accessories: Callie Blanks, the founder of Callie Blanks Interiors, likes to go the secondhand route when it comes to vessels, small decor pieces, and more. “Even on higher budget projects, I will still thrift these pieces to create a layered, collected, and soulful feel to the space,” she shares. Items such as lamp bases are also great to buy secondhand, notes Andrea Schumacher, the founder of Andrea Schumacher Interiors. As she points out, all you’ll need to do is update the piece with a new, aesthetically pleasing shade.
Artwork: Brooke Lawer, the founder of Brooke Haven, likes to keep her eyes peeled for secondhand artwork. “Artwork is an important element whenever I design a room, but it’s an easy place to break the bank,” she says. It’s the perfect type of item to search secondhand, using original art and unique prints to add character, color and personality to a space.” Not sure what types of art pieces to look for? Take a cue from Lenney. “We have a soft spot for vintage paintings; mid-century paint by numbers are a personal favorite,” she shares.
Side Tables: There’s no need to shell out on side tables when you can source so many secondhand. “You don't always need a pair, which makes that vintage one-off find perfect,” Fusco notes.
Casegoods and Large Furnishings: Dressers, nightstands, desks, and the like are always fine to shop for secondhand, as you can always refinish them, says Megan Pisano, the founder of Megan Pisano Design. Why not give a classic chest a bit of a makeover in the form of some wood stain, paint, or even just new hardware? Sarah Gibson, the founder of Room for Tuesday, agrees. “I'd save by finding vintage pieces that will withstand the test of time—think of things like a bed frame, a dining set, an antique desk, and a coffee table.”
Benches: If you’re in the market for an end of bed bench or one to tuck under the console table in your hallway, consider going the secondhand route. Lawer looks for these and prioritizes pieces with beautiful materials and textures—but keep in mind that reupholstery is always an option if necessary, and with something as simple as a bench, you may be able to go the DIY route.
Area Rugs: Why stretch your budget on an area rug when there are so many secondhand options available for a fraction of the cost? “On AuctionNinja, vintage wool rugs are usually much better quality than those available today, and you can save thousands,” Lawer says.
District of Columbia