Putting a deposit down on a home or apartment (not to mention all of those monthly bills to follow) can make a real dent in your bank account. After that major investment, it can be tempting to skimp when purchasing home decor to furnish the place, especially when you factor in multiple rooms and routine updates to keep up with trend and lifestyle changes.
Of course, there are areas where you can cut back, particularly where the difference in quality isn’t as vast or the items aren’t deemed necessary for the long haul. That said, experts note certain items are worth the splurge, improving your quality of life and paying off (or even increasing in value) over time. After all, a good piece of artwork has the potential to transform a space and transcend time, and a well-made lighting fixture can elevate a room and set the mood.
From small, yet impactful trimmings to big furniture pieces, read on for the nine home decor items interior designers says are the best investment. You won’t regret splurging on these pieces.
Artwork is often the focal point of a room and a reflection of the homeowner, making it a meaningful purchase. Plus, some pieces will retain or collect value over the years. “It visually brings your eye through the room and adds your personality to the space,” says Tamara Day, an interior designer and host of HGTV’s Bargain Mansions. “Artwork can be fun and quirky or sophisticated and calming. It can be a landscape that takes you back to your favorite place or an abstract piece that sparks joy. An interesting piece can also make for a great conversation with guests!”
Day is also a big fan of wallpaper. “It gives warmth, and if you pick the right design, can make for a dramatic and striking moment, or create a soothing effect,” she says.
For another visual anchor point, don’t overlook the floor, says Patrick Ediger, an interior designer in Los Angeles. “Gorgeous vintage rugs from Morocco, India, and the Middle East have often been a great source of inspiration. There’s no better way to give a space some soul and bring it to life than with an exquisite antique handmade wool rug,” he explains. He recommends checking out the selection of rugs from Southern Loom or Loloi. “As long as you maintain and care for them, they’ll last lifetimes as both an excellent investment and a beautiful heirloom to pass down through generations.”
“Good friends of mine with children always opt for vintage when they can, because they hold up well to high foot traffic and rough playtime,” adds Karina Lameraner, a creative stylist at online interior design service Modsy. “Each vintage rug is unique and one-of-a-kind. I highly recommend perusing Etsy for good vintage finds.”
For good ambiance and a touch of glamour, consider splurging on a beautiful light fixture, which Day refers to as the perfect piece of jewelry to finish off your space. “A fixture shows that you put thought and design into every inch, and the lighting in your room sets the mood, from bright and cheerful to dark and moody,” she explains.
Day suggests adding depth with an eclectic mix of lights and different finishes. “I have these wall lights in front of my house, this bright chandelier in my entryway, and this linear chandelier in my dining room.”
Speaking of lighting, don’t underestimate the power of lampshades. “They are always a dead giveaway because their construction is usually poor and visible when a lamp is turned on. I love upleveling simple lamps with an elegant shade that feels elevated and complementary to the lamp itself,” says Lameraner. “We’re currently seeing a resurgence in pleated lampshades, which were first popularized in Danish designs in the 1950s. They spark a bit of a retro flair today. Additionally, sloped lampshades are making a major comeback. The sloped-style lampshade was a hallmark of the ’80s interior design style.”
According to Alena Capra, an interior designer and host of SoFlo Home Project, nothing elevates a room like custom window treatments. “Whether it’s sheer drapery panels, a valance or cornice, blackout drapes, roman shades, or roller shades, having perfectly sized window treatments makes for such a tailored look,” she says. “They also help block sun glare, keep light from coming into sleeping quarters, and add value to a home, making them a plus when it comes to resale.”
If you don’t want to make a big purchase at once, Capra recommends starting with the main living area and bedrooms. “Roller shades offer a clean look. You can also add drapery in front should you want to enhance them with fabric.”
We’ve said it before: You can’t put a price tag on a good night’s sleep (and, as Capra points out, we spend about a third of our lives in bed). “The decorative style of an actual bed frame and headboard may change often, but a good quality mattress will never go out of style! If you do not enjoy shopping for furniture, at least invest the shopping time (and money) on a quality mattress. It will be well spent!” she says. Her personal picks include a hybrid mattress from Mattress Firm, which comes with a 10-year warranty. Sleep-savvy brands like Casper also offer risk-free trials so you can try before you buy.
“I can’t think of a better item to splurge on. Let the bedding be the trendier items. A duvet and throw pillows and blankets are easily changeable and much more affordable” adds Taniya Nayak of Taniya Nayak Design.
Sheets and Towels
Splurge on a set of quality sheets to protect your mattress and enhance your snooze potential, advises Maggie York, an interior designer and founder of Margaret of York Interiors. “I love the No Iron Supima Sheets from Lands’ End and the Soho Sheet Set from Serena & Lily!”
She considers good towels another must when it comes to everyday comfort. “It’s important to do your research. You want a towel that gets softer with each wash—not rougher. Add a design element with a monogram or unexpected pop of color,” she recommends. Her current favorites include starter packs from Weezie, which offer a range of piping options and can be customized with embroidery.
And don’t sleep (at least figuratively) on the sofa, as Capra notes that it typically gets the most wear. Not only will the sofa be the spot where you spend hours watching TV and hanging out with your family, but if you select the right one, it will last for many years. “They say a sofa can last seven to 15 years on average, but a quality-made piece can often last even longer,” she says. The RH Maxwell Three-Seat Cushion Sofa and Mitchell Gold+Bob Williams Hunter Sofa are among her go-to sofas for depth.
“Some may not consider dressers a good investment, but they can be repurposed to accommodate different needs and spaces. They can be used to store clothing in a bedroom, or flatware and other dining essentials in a dining room,” adds Linda Hayslett of LH.Designs. Even if you move, you’ll likely be able to find a use for this versatile storage piece in your new space, making it a purchase you’ll use for decades.
Designer Furniture (New or Vintage)
Many of our experts ranked vintage and designer furniture high on the list of home investments. “Furniture with a history typically increases in value over time. Look to well-known designers (like Florence Knoll, Mies van der Rohe, or Milo Baughman) who created iconic furnishings. Their designs transcend trends and can be used in nearly any living environment,” says Lucy Penfield, an interior designer and design principal of Lucy Interior Design.
When it comes to aesthetics, Penfield suggests relying on your instincts. “When you see a piece of furniture and it’s love at first sight, go for it. For me, it was a pair of Mies van der Rohe Barcelona chairs I purchased from an auction while living in New York. As a young designer with no money, I had to have them!” she adds. Some of Penfield’s top spots for finding good pieces include Knoll, 1stDibs, Chairish, flea markets, and local estate sales and auctions. Just be sure to have the pieces authenticated, as Penfield points out there are plenty of knock-offs out there.