Things Interior Designers Splurge on in Living Room + Worth It


Though we all love to save money when it comes to decorating our homes, there are some pieces that are worth spending a little more on, according to professionals. 

Business Insider asked three interior designers which living-room items are deserving of a splurge.

A sofa is a central piece of living-room furniture, so it’s worth the investment

sectional sofa

Sectionals can be expensive, but they’re key for design and comfort.

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The sofa is the most important piece of furniture in the living room, according to Rachel Street, an interior designer who hosted DIY Network’s “Philly Revival.”

“This is a good place to spend your budget,” Street told BI. “The ideal sofa will provide a comfortable place to sit as well as add to the overall design of the room.” 

For a modern space, choose a leather sofa with clean, square shapes. If you prefer an eclectic look, look for a bright color or fun pattern.

A bar is great when you’re entertaining guests

Whether it be a wet bar or a wine cabinet, having a little bar area in the living room is convenient for when you have guests over. And it can really add to the design, according to Street.

Samantha Orley, an interior designer at Orley Interiors, shared tips on keeping your bar stocked.

“Everyone should have a well-stocked bar with fine scotch, whiskey, vodka, and tequila, along with an assortment of aperitifs, to appeal to any guests’ tastes,” she told BI.

The designer also suggested investing in some crystal glassware.

Investing in original artwork is a great way to add character to your home

living room

Art adds personality to a space.

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Street told BI that original artwork adds both character and interest to a design. According to Robbie Maynard, interior designer of Robbie Interiors, you can also instantly elevate a space with quality artwork.

“This is a good place to invest,” Maynard told BI. “It is very visible and will make a significant statement and set the tone for the room.”

Accent chairs can add color and uniqueness to a room

“I love hunting for and investing in unique accent chairs, oftentimes recovering in a custom fabric,” Orley told BI. 

Depending on the room’s layout and the style, you may opt for two matching chairs or chairs of different sizes and colors, according to Street.

Make a statement with a beautiful area rug

accent rug in living room

Accent rugs are great, but you can also opt for a neutral choice.


Area rugs are an important statement piece that set the style and tone for the room, so they’re worth spending a little more on, according to Maynard.

If statement rugs aren’t your thing, Street recommended opting for a basic one that provides a neutral backdrop for other design elements.

A sound system doesn’t have to take away from the design if it’s done right

“One of my favorite upgrades to make to a living space is to add a built-in sound system,” Street told BI.  

Hidden ceiling speakers are great for parties and don’t detract from the room’s design. 

Window treatments are often overlooked but are well worth the investment

Window treatments with white trim and white blinds behind gray seat and pillows

Window treatments are less glamorous than some design elements, but they’re important.

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From custom curtains to electronically controlled blinds, window treatments really help to pull a room together

Street told BI you should choose a fabric and design that will complement the other items in the room.

A coffee table can set the tone for the living room, making it a splurge-worthy item

If you’re looking for one statement piece to splurge on, Orley recommended a coffee table. 

“I usually suggest splurging on something that will give the space a lot of character, like a split bi-level Travertine table or a more contemporary marble table,” she told BI. 

Lighting fixtures can elevate your entire living room

living room

Lamps and overhead lighting make a difference.

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Adequate lighting is a very important element of any room, so it’s not something to skimp on.

“When designing a living room, I pay special attention to all the light fixtures, including recessed fixtures and decorative table lamps,” Maynard told BI. 

For frequent travelers, spending money on high-quality faux plants is ideal

For frequent fliers or those who just don’t have time to take care of real plants, it may be worth it to invest in quality faux plants.

“If you spend the money on good, quality faux plants, you can’t tell they are not real and they never need to be watered,” Maynard told BI. 

Beautiful coffee-table books provide insight into a person’s life

Books add personality and insight into a person’s home.

According to Orley, there’s nothing more telling than an assortment of coffee-table books from various travels around the world.

Throw pillows are an easy way to transform your space

Well-made throw pillows will have a quality insert and a removable cover.

You can switch out your throw pillows throughout the year.


“I like to have a few sets of throw pillows for my living room because this allows me to switch them out and give a different look and feel to the room depending on the season or mood,” Street told BI. 

For winter, you can opt for more fluffy pillows and a cozy throw, and for summer, lighter and brighter fabrics are a great choice.

Candles and incense create a warm and welcoming environment

Candles and incense are worth spending a little extra on because they really help to create a warm and welcoming ambiance.

“I encourage clients to find a few scents they love that become their signature,” Orley said. “I often travel with incense to bring a little bit of home and coziness to wherever I might be.”

This story was originally published in June 2022 and most recently updated on June 11, 2024. 


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