5 Decor Items Designers Never Pay Full Price For

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Front entryway with decor

SHOP SLO / Unsplash

Decorating a home is a fine balance of splurging on pieces you can't imagine your space without and scoring deals or finding one-of-a-kind pieces with price tags that make you want to dance. Occasionally though, sourcing decor can feel like one big money spend. Even the smallest accent pieces feel equivalent to the chunk of money you just spent on a new couch. How does anyone determine what's worth spending extra on and how do you go about saving on other items?

You lean on the sage advice of the pros. They know better than anyone—whether through trial and error or years of successful finds—what objects are worth spending time sleuthing for at the right price. From large, cushy mattresses to smaller vases and frames, we gathered a list of items from designers, stylists, and other home experts that they say are worth saving on. Not only that but where to source them instead, too.

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TurkishRugSARIKAYA 36x58 Hemp Small Turkish Rug

Small vintage Turkish rug


On first thought, it may seem like the original versions of decor would be more expensive, but that's not always true—especially when it comes to rugs. "I love to buy vintage Murano and vintage rugs from Europe instead of from retailers here in the states," explains Maria Martin, interior designer and founder of Design Appy. She grabs a glass of wine, her laptop, and spends time roving through Etsy for the original versions of these rugs rather than replicas.

"Sometimes the measurement conversions are off when looking at rugs so I recommend checking the dimensions yourself and counting the pavers and tiles the rugs are on top of to make sure the sizes are correct," she notes. "The gorgeous Murano fixtures are less than 1stDibs, too."

It's a little bit more effort, but it's worth it according to Martin. "It’s definitely an investment in time to find the right items for your home," she says. "I really love the collectibles I have uncovered."

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epoca Vintage Ceramic Sculptural Vase

A vintage sculptural vase


Marco Bizzley, a certified interior designer and consultant at HouseGrail, believes it's not worth paying full price for accessories such as trays, vases, picture frames, and lamps. "These can be found at thrift or antique stores much cheaper than you could at other stores," he explains. "And if they look a little worn, it's nothing a fresh coat of paint can't fix."

While it may be enticing to splurge on decorative objects, it feels more satisfying to find a piece that's unique and interesting—one that no one else will likely have. On the reverse, even if you come across these items for cheaper at big box stores, they won't provide the same quality or fun back story.

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Orren Ellis Sevag 67" Arched Floor Lamp

An arched floor lamp


Lamps, task lighting, and other fixtures can quickly become expensive. The addition of a modern shape or trend material and that lamp you've been eyeing gets an even higher price tag. Martina Gieske, interior stylist and the person behind The Lived-in Look, doesn't settle for the first lighting option she comes across. "I have a rule to never pay full price for any lighting items for myself or clients," she explains. "The profit margin is incredibly high, and if you’re patient enough, you can find the exact some item or similar dupe somewhere else on the web."

"I love hunting for lighting on eBay, Overstock, Facebook Marketplace, Wayfair, and of course Google," she says. "The trick is in knowing the right keywords to use. If you can describe the type of lighting you’re looking for (style, shape, color, etc.) then you’re bound to find what you’re looking for." She adds that she even found her own dining room chandelier on eBay for a fantastic price.

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King Koil Riverside Firm Mattress

King Koil riverside firm mattress

Raymour & Flanigan

Aside from accent pieces, Bizzley recommends steering clear of mattresses that aren't discounted. "Don't pay full price for mattresses; instead, wait for them to go on sale to grab a great deal," he says. "Usually twice a year, mattress stores have 'Big Blowout Sales where everything must go!'" On top of that, these sales often bring other furniture items that aren't worth sleeping on. "Often, you can get a good deal on dressers and side tables at vintage stores, Overstock, and at discounted stores like Big Lots or Tuesday Morning."

Also, look out for extra bonuses when buying a mattress: will the company take away your used mattress for free? Is there a long warranty or money-back guarantee if it's not the right fit? These little perks can make a big difference.

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HighwayHitchinPost Antique and Vintage Books - Late 1800s Through 1970s

A collection of vintage books


It's hard not to be charmed by the picturesque coffee table books at bookstores, but if you're looking to save money, this is one area it can be done. Chelsea Johnson of the DIY and renovation site Making Manzanita avoids paying full price for these visually-stunning pieces. "Whether they be vintage books or modern coffee table books, there are so many discounted options available," she says. "Most books used for decorating aren't necessarily read, but they are more likely selected for their color palette or title."

As tempting as it is to buy another one to leaf through, try checking a few other spots first. "The best place to find cheap books for decorating is thrift stores and yard sales," Johnson explains. "When people are decluttering, often excess books are one of the first things to go. This means that there are a lot of great options available at very affordable prices. Most of the books I find at thrift stores and garage sales are 50 cents to $3 each."