Interior designers reveal 13 things worth splurging on in your living room

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

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.

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.

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.”

“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.

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.

“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. 

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.

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. 

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 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. 

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.

“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 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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