5 Things in Your Home That Are a Waste of Money, According to Designers

published Mar 20, 2024
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Living room with rust-colored suede sofa, wood coffee table
Credit: KatarzynaBialasiewicz/Getty Images

In the pursuit of a stylish, comfortable, and functional home, the question of where to save and where to splurge comes up a lot. Let’s be honest: Furniture and decor can get expensive, but sometimes going the more affordable route may actually cost you more in the long run. (I’m looking at you, cute accent chair I bought for a “steal” that completely fell apart on me.) 

That’s why I asked four interior designers to weigh in on the specific home items they consider a waste of money, plus a few that aren’t. Of course, you know what’s best for your own budget and design preferences, and you should always decorate with whatever makes you feel happy. But if you’re looking for guidance on how to potentially allocate your decorating funds, this list might be a good place to start.

Skip: Mass-Produced Artwork

Buying new art for your home can be a costly endeavor, but arguably with good reason. Artists need to charge appropriately for their time, creativity, and skill — which, as a result, can make it easy to default to mass-produced pieces.

“That generic cookie-cutter artwork you grabbed on sale is probably also on the walls of half the neighborhood,” says Amanda Foster, an interior designer and eDesign consultant. “Your home should tell your unique story, not the same tale as everyone else’s. Consider investing in original or personalized pieces that add character and a touch of ‘you’ to your space.”

Foster recommends checking out sites like Society6 or Etsy to source original artwork from small artists and independent businesses. 

Splurge: Versatile Lighting

Functional, versatile lighting is another area that’s worth splurging on in the long run. Of course, this helps to literally brighten a room, but also significantly impacts the overall mood and ambiance. “Investing in versatile lighting options, such as dimmable fixtures or lamps with adjustable heights, can transform a space and adapt to different needs,” says Ana Coddington, lead interior designer for Archival Designs. “This will save you from constantly replacing lighting fixtures to fit your changing preferences.”

Skip: Fad-Driven Furniture

Trends can be fun to keep up with, but designers caution against spurging on something that might fade out of style. “Be careful when it comes to the latest ‘trend train,’” Foster says. “That neon-green, furry chair might be Instagram-worthy today, but will it stand the test of time? Investing in fleeting fads may have you scratching your head next season.”

Instead, use decor to try out a trend you’re loving on a smaller, more affordable scale. Plus, you can easily swap out pieces if you get bored of the look!

Splurge: Durable Flooring

If you’re looking to cut costs in your home, your floor definitely isn’t the place to do it. “Don’t just settle for cheap, low-quality flooring that will show wear and tear quickly,” says Coddington. “Invest in durable and stylish options, such as hardwood or tiles, that will elevate the look of your space and last for years.” Replacing flooring is a big (and often pricey job), so using more inexpensive materials may result in needing to pay for a redo down the line. 

Skip: Cheap Sofas

As one of the most frequently used pieces of furniture in the house, sofas aren’t worth cutting costs on, according to designers. “Picture this: You snag a sofa at a price that seems too good to be true,” says Foster. “Well, spoiler alert! It probably is. Skimping on a sofa can lead to a saggy, uncomfortable disaster that’s begging to be replaced sooner than you’d like.” Ultimately, you may end up spending more money replacing your sofas every few years versus a one-time purchase on a durable, built-to-last style

Credit: Erin Derby

Splurge: Quality, Well-Built Furniture

According to designers, high-quality, well-made furniture is always worth the investment, especially staple pieces like sofas, bed frames, dining tables, and more. It’s important to note here that even sourcing these items doesn’t have to break the bank — shop secondhand!

“You can balance costs by searching antique shops, going to garage sales, and going online for well-built, previously loved items, updating them with new fabrics,” says Keely Sith, lead interior designer at JD Elite Interiors. “I found an entire mid-century living room set for $200, then refreshed it — it looks incredible!” 

Skip: Overpriced Rugs

Vintage rugs are having a major moment right now, but adding one to your home will likely cost a pretty penny. High-quality, well-crafted rugs aren’t necessarily a bad idea, but don’t go broke trying to add the best of the best to your home if it’s not in the budget. “There are many power loomed polyester versions that won’t break the bank,” says Marcia Bryan of Bryan Design Group.

Skip: Expensive Window Treatments

Designers agree that nothing rivals the look and functionality of custom window treatments, however they’re often not in the budget for many people — and that’s OK! “Windows can still be dressed up inexpensively,” Bryan says. “Don’t get me wrong — nothing compares to handmade custom draperies if you can afford them. [But] Amazon has some great dupes that are pleated, lined, and come in standard sizes for most windows. Add a custom trim to upgrade them for a custom look.”