How to Invest vs. Save on Furniture, Interior Design & Home Decor

I recently shared the Emerald Forest Home, which involved a complete transformation of the living room, kitchen, breakfast nook, dining room, and upstairs game room/office for a family of 5. What I didn’t share was the fact that this home is the perfect example of strategically splurging and saving…

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Invest in a Design Plan

The most expensive thing you can do is start decorating without a plan. It’s like going to the grocery store without a list: you pick what looks good while you are strolling the aisles, but by the time you get home, you don’t have the ingredients for a whole meal! If only you had a trusted list —   no wasted purchases, everything carefully selected, all working in harmony — just like a delicious recipe. 

This is exactly what a design plan gives you. We create these for clients as part of Custom Interior Design (for home furnishing projects) and Custom Renovation Design (for SATX locals). I highly recommend working with a professional to get what you need, but if not, planning on your own first is also smart!

Invest Where You Sit & Sleep

There are a lot of beautiful images out there on the internet. There are pretty sofas, sculptural chairs & wonderfully layered beds. But here’s the question — are they comfortable? I ask, because comfortable seating is expensive. & just because something is beautiful does not mean it is going to give you a pain-free evening lounging on the couch or a good night’s sleep.

When we take our San Antonio clients into our designer showroom, we have a conversation about cushion construction and sofa materials. We talk about foam vs. springs. We talk about American-made & what to look for in furniture that lasts. Because the pieces that you sit and sleep on every day are the ones that you will want to invest in. 

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Scroll back up and compare these two images… amazingly accurate!!

In the Emerald Forest home, our clients splurged on this beautiful family sectional in performance fabric and two swivel chairs in dark leather. These are kid-proof, solidly constructed, and guaranteed to last for years and years. 

Wondering how much a good quality, American-made sofa is going to cost? They typically start at about $6,000, and a sectional will generally run you about double that. You can download our Guide to Budgeting Your Living Room Furnishings Here.

Moderately Invest in Seating for Kids’ Spaces

Investing where you sit and sleep comes with an exception — if the room is intended only for kids. If this is the case, we usually advise you to go for something high-quality (otherwise you’ll be replacing it within the year) and mid-market. 

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For example, in the Emerald Forest Game Room, we chose this durable quality sofa and these ottomans from retail sources. While it’s not showroom quality, they are teenage boy-approved, both for durability and the price point. Sometimes erring on the side of budget-friendly means less stress for Mom & Dad. In the end, Mom gets her fancy sofa in the living room, and the boys get their dream space upstairs.

Invest in One or Two Stand-out Design Elements

In most spaces, there will be one stand-out design element that carries the look and feel of the space, that piece that gives it a sense of identity and a presence of its own. Some examples of stand-out design elements could be a statement light fixture, a large and eye-catching painting, wallpaper in a beautiful pattern, a colorful sofa or patterned chair, dramatic drapery, etc. 

In the Emerald Game Room, our stand-out design element is the wallpaper (shown above). We actually didn’t pick a high-end wallpaper, but believe me, putting wallpaper anywhere feels like a splurge. In this case, it makes this room truly one-of-a-kind, sophisticated enough for adults, and fun enough for 3 boys.

Invest in Custom Built-Ins

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In the Emerald Forest Home, we splurged on TWO custom built-ins for their family: one in the living room and one in the upstairs game room. Why? Because custom built-ins are often a great alternative to furniture. 

Not only do they last longer (things that are attached to the walls in a room stand a better chance of surviving), but as a structural part of the house, it also increases the value of your home. &, just in case you need a couple more reasons to love built-ins, they add custom organization to your home and beautiful opportunities for styling. If you’re hiring us for Custom Interior Design, we’ll be sure to talk about options for built-ins.

Save on Accessories, Lighting, Pillows & Everything Else

After living in 8 homes over the last 17 years, I know a little something about accessories. They really are a game changer. You can overdo it. You can also underdo it. There is a sweet spot there in the middle. BUT, this is a great area to save. 

how to invest vs save on home furnishings and decor satx

Accessories: We love to shop at places like Target, Homegoods, World Market, Tuesday Morning, TJ Maxx, Marshalls and Michaels to save on pieces that help add life to a space. I also LOVE a good estate sale. Many of my shelfie treasures have come from Estate Sales, or antique shops, for a total steal! In the Emerald Forest Game Room, we sourced pillows from retail and these art frames in, not glass, but plexiglass. (Because helloooo, boys.)

Lighting: Any lighting — chandeliers, pendants, sconces — that would be considered statement lighting would not fall into this category. However, for the rest, there is no reason not to save in this area. You can still find beautiful and creative options in retail, like the Emerald Game Room wall lights.

Pillows: We have a recipe for saving and splurging on pillows. We like to layer the expensive pillows with some budget options, to get the most bang for your buck. The back layer of pillows (often solids) we like to keep on the budget friendly side. But those front options? That’s where we splurge! We’ve been known to spend a pretty penny on a few custom pillows, and we LOVE when we can do this. They are, after all, like stuffed animals for grown women.

downloadable guide to calculating your budget for living room furniture furnishings styleberry creative satx san antonio

That’s it for this week, but if you’re interested in building your own furnishings budget, our complimentary guide can help: Guide to Budgeting Your Living Room Furnishings. Inside, you’ll find price tiers for basic retail, high-end retail, and showroom options. Until next time…


Styleberry Creative Interiors specializes in fresh, relaxed design crafted in a meaningful way. With a team and process you can trust, we’ll help you create soul-soothing spaces that inspire you to unwind, connect, and finally… exhale. Our studio is based in downtown San Antonio, Texas and serves clients in the Alamo Heights, Olmos Park, and greater San Antonio Metropolitan areas, as well as Nationwide.

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