Money doesn’t buy taste. We know that. Still, we’re often tempted to spend our way into what we hope will be a stylish home. In the spirit of being economically savvy, we tapped three interior designers to tell us what items they never splurge on. Compare your cost-saving skills with those of the pros.

Bath towels

“I buy all of my bath towels at Target,” said interior designer Max Humphrey of Portland, Ore. “They’re like $15 each and super-soft. I have a closet full of them and can afford to restock if I have guests staying for the weekend. I’m convinced they’re the same exact ‘Egyptian cotton’ towels that high-end bath companies sell for three times the price.”


“I used to go all-out finding little decorative objects that cost a fortune and ended up in the junk drawer,” said Humphrey. “Now I just buy houseplants if I need to fill a corner of a room or the surface of a table. You can get a lot of bang for your buck, and they look great in any style home.”

Bedding for baby

There’s no need to splurge on nursery bedding, especially since babies stay babies for such a short time. Organic crib bedding is now widely available, so you can pick up affordable designs at places like Land of Nod, Pottery Barn Kids and Etsy.

Affordable art

“There’s a misconception that just because a piece of art costs a lot of money, it’s automatically better than an inexpensive piece,” said Humphrey. “For me, it’s all about buying stuff that is meaningful, regardless of the price tag. All of the artwork on the gallery wall at my last apartment was either found at thrift stores or cutouts from magazines, vintage book covers or old vinyl records I had framed. The assortment is what made it special, and I didn’t spend more than a $50 on a single piece.”

Throw pillows

“Pillows are a great way to transform a space to follow the seasons or the trends,” said Chicago-based designer Donna Mondi. “Treat throw pillows like you do your coats, shoes and scarves — change them seasonally,” added Los Angeles interior designer Amy Elbaum. “Think faux fur and velvets in the winter and bright prints and light linens in the summer,” she said.

BYO bar cart

“Why waste money on a bar cart when you can just use the top of a credenza in your living room or a shelf on a bookcase? Clear off some space, buy a cool tray, and arrange your booze (or fancy lemon soda) right on top,” said Humphrey. “It’s decorative, casual and you can use the extra money to buy some vintage glassware.”

Mondi suggests getting the bar-cart look by mixing in affordable vintage items. “Antique markets are full of gorgeous cocktail sets at fantastic prices,” she said. “You can also raid your grandmother’s china cabinet.”