Where to spend and where to save when planning a living room according to designers

We ask a lot of our living rooms. They are places we spend so much time and they wear a lot of hats, they have to be ready for movie marathons, family and friends games nights, potentially being turned into a second bedroom, and more recently, a place to work too. So there’s a fair bit of pressure and planning needed to get this room spot on.

Now, if you are a frequent reader, you will know how much we love a bargain, love saving money, and being able to say things like ‘Nooo it’s not *insert expensive brand here* we picked it up at Target‘. But when it comes to hard-used rooms like the living room, there are certain items that it’s worth parting with more money for. And of course, there are pieces you can save on in your living room too, don’t worry, we will cover those too. 

So we asked some of our favorite designers (and drew on our own experiences of decorating living rooms on a budget) to help you decide on what to spend on and what to save on in your living room. 

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1. SPEND ON A SOFA

Small living room with leather sofa
(Image credit: Cult furniture)

It’s the most used piece of furniture in your living room, perhaps in your entire house! So investing in the best sofa is a must.

A sofa is a key furniture piece for the living room. Whether an all-day Netflix spree or a cozy evening film, it’s where you’ll spend the most time, so it’s important to invest money in a well-made sofa that provides maximum comfort while suiting your style. Stick with a neutral or dark fabric for a style that provides longevity and will fit your scheme if you decide to redecorate or move into a new property. By opting for a neutral base, you’ll be able to add your own personal touches through cushions or throws in an accent color.’ says Jen and Marr, Founders of Interior Fox.

Add throw pillows to whatever room needs an extra dose of comfy. Filled with a fluffy faux-down insert, you don’t have to sacrifice comfort for style. Available in four sizes and all measurements are made without pillow insert.

<< More Throw Pillow Styles >>

2. SPEND ON THE KEY PIECES OF FURNITURE 

Grey and white living room
(Image credit: Fiona Murray)

Investing in one or two timeless pieces that will ground a room is a must!‘ says designer, Kathy Kuo. ‘Staple items like a sofa, area rug, accent chairs, or media cabinet will likely be with you for a long time, so it is important they are durable and something you love. Even if it is a splurge – you will thank yourself in the long run if you budget for them upfront.’

Express your style all over your home with a feature-worthy rug. They’re made from a woven, polyester chenille for a soft and textured look. Plus, choosing from our wide array of designs, you’re sure to find just the rug to match your decor. Rugs are one of the best, attention-grabbing pieces to design a room around. Use the colors within the rug to help choose art prints, furniture fabric, and accent pillows.

<< More Oriental Bohemian Rug Styles >>

3. SPEND ON ARTWORK AND VINTAGE DECOR

Living room ideas
(Image credit: Kasia Fiszer)

If you want to bring instant personality into your living room, vintage furniture is a sure-fire way to do so. Now unless you are an eBay sales snake or know of the best yard sales to go to every weekend, often buying antiques doesn’t come cheap. But they stand the test of time and will be pieces you’ll keep for potentially the rest of your life, so if you have fallen for an antique, do your research and ensure you are getting a fair price for it, and then invest!

Look, you definitely want to make sure your sofa is comfortable but there are so many great (and reasonably) priced options on the market right now. So I always say to splurge on either art or good vintage decor. Those are the pieces that are going to really make your living room sing and unique to you. Plus if/when you move there are much easier and cheaper to transport.’ says designer Emily Henderson.

A true statement maker. Our versatile mid-century modern inspired credenzas are great for use as TV stands, armoires, bar carts, office cabinets or the perfect complement to your bedroom set. The vibrant art printed on the doors will make your piece pop in any setting. Available in a warm, natural birch or a premium walnut finish.

<< More Credenza Styles >>

4. SPEND ON ITEMS THAT DON’T SEE HEAVY USE

Blue living room
(Image credit: Malcolm Menzies)

Because you don’t want to go spending your entire budget on a coffee table that’s going to get drinks spilled on it and feet perched on it. ‘You spend on pieces you absolutely love, that won’t get ruined by pets or children, and that has a level of flexibility (perhaps you know you will only be there for 5 years). Spend on the artwork, spend on side tables and lamps and antiques.’ says Tali Roth.

From sideshow to show-stopper, our side tables will be a stunning modern accent to your space. Selecting from our wide array of artist’s designs printed with a satin finish on birch wood, you’ll take any room from zero to a hundred. Available in a square or round table top, and black or gold leg colors.

<< More Side Table Styles >>

5. SPEND ON STATEMENT TEXTURAL PIECES

Living room with wooden beams and rustic decor
(Image credit: Design by Emily Henderson Photo by Sara Ligorria-Tramp)

Whether it’s a gorgeous oversized stone vase or a sculptural wooden coffee table, if it’s going to be that one piece that everyone turns to in your living room, then it’s worth the investment.  

Everything we buy for our homes will be with us for many years, so I’m a great believer in buying well. Investing in good quality and carefully chosen pieces that we really love pays off in the long term. They will last for longer and bring real pleasure every time they are used.’ Chrissie Rucker, founder of The White Company

It’s good to choose pieces that will add character and gentle texture.  I love a combination of natural materials and finishes. From timber, stone, sisal floors or rugs to touches of greenery that bring hints of the outside world in.’ Chrissie Rucker.

If you love this living room, be sure to check out all our rustic living room ideas for more inspiration.

Our customers tell us ALL the time how soft and warm our Throw Blankets are (the secret: Sherpa fleece). Even better, they get softer the more you wash them. They’re a perfect addition to any living room couch. Featuring a crisp, vivid design on the front with a reverse white side.

<< More Textured Throw Blanket Styles >>

6. SAVE ON SHELVING

Living room ideas
(Image credit: Malcolm Menzies)

Now moving on to what you can save on in your living room. What pieces aren’t going to break the bank but are still going to bring style or practicality into your living room? 

Living room storage. Definitely, something to save on, it’s usually purely practical and sees a lot of wear and tear too, so it seems pointless investing in something really pricey. ‘If you’re considering purchasing a freestanding bookcase, why not opt for floating shelves instead? They are affordable, easy to install, and add a decorative display to the walls.’ recommend Jen and Marr of Interior Fox.

Understated modern elegance—the Kate Middleton of frames. The subtle angles of the vector framed art prints give just the right amount of depth to your design. Framed prints available in six sizes, in a white, black or red frame color.

<< More Framed Print Artworks >>

7. SAVE ON FLOORING 

Small living room idea with white white and dark floorboards
(Image credit: Malcolm Menzies)

Again, something else that’s going to see a lot of action is your flooring. Doing anything with flooring can be expensive and if the state of your floors is really bad it might be worth investing in doing something about them down the line. But if you are looking for a temporary fix, there are loads of DIY options to update your living room flooring

If the carpet needs replacing assess the flooring underneath, can you sand and paint the original floor instead of splurging to have a new carpet fitted? A wooden floor may seem cold but when paired with a contemporary oversized rug, it adds texture and warmth to your living room and doesn’t cost as much as brand new flooring.’ says Marr. 

Give your pillows the makeover they deserve. Whether it’s for your fancy new memory foam or your old go-to from back in the day, our pillow shams are sure to do your pillows proud. Whether you choose the natural fiber cotton or soft, premium microfiber—our pillows shams are soft and cozy with colors that really pop. Available in Standard or King sizes.

<< More Pillow Sham Styles >>

8. SAVE ON SECOND HAND FINDS

Mid-century living room with woodburner
(Image credit: Colin Poole)

So if you want to bring in personality, but you aren’t particularly interested in buying lifelong, hand down to your children, expensive antiques, shop vintage and second-hand at thrift stores. You’ll still get that unique look but on more of a budget.

When looking for staple furniture pieces to complete your scheme, shopping vintage is a great way of saving money without compromising on style or quality. For items such as a coffee table, console table, or media unit, resist flatpack furniture, instead shop for vintage finds through eBay or a local vintage market.’

Find somewhere soft to land. Our floor cushions are the super comfy and style-forward option for the boho side of us all. They’re UV coated to protect against fading and water resistant so you can avoid scrambling to bring them inside whenever there’s a touch of weather. Grab a few to have on hand whenever seating is hard to come by or for a fun option for kids to use out in the yard.

<< More Floor Pouf Styles >>

9. SAVE ON LIVING ROOM RUGS

Living room trends
(Image credit: Chris Snook)

Let’s be honest, who’s rug looks as fresh as the day you bought it? Rugs wear and they quickly become home to crumbs, and stains, and pet hairs! So don’t splash on on a super expensive living room rug if you know it’s only going to potentially get ruined. 

I wouldn’t recommend spending too much money on the living room rug – you don’t want to get upset every time you spill or drop something. It’s less stressful and a lot more enjoyable to spend time in a space where you don’t always have to worry about potentially damaging something expensive so I always recommend to save luxury rugs for the formal spaces and make everyday spaces all about comfort!” – Kate Rumson, Interior Designer.

Add throw pillows to whatever room needs an extra dose of comfy. Filled with a fluffy faux-down insert, you don’t have to sacrifice comfort for style. Available in four sizes and all measurements are made without pillow insert.

<< More Throw Pillow Styles >>

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