10 items for your home you should never skimp on (plus 5 you absolutely can)

These home decor pieces are worth shelling out a little more for, but we’ve also included the items that you’re fine to minimise your spend on

interior of a kitchen and living room in a light filled barn conversion including white kitchen and eclectic furniture
(Image credit: Getty/Klaus Vedfelt)

After compiling your dream list of home goods, scanning through it can lead to a lot of questions. One that’s almost always top of mind is what decor items should you invest in and which furniture items should you take a more budget-friendly approach. These decisions can be tricky and overwhelming, especially since there are no hard rules. Fortunately, some furniture, decor, and appliances boldly stand out as items that are deserving of a slightly more generous slice of your budget. 

The thrill of a great bargain may feel good in the moment, but down the road it can lead to replacing items earlier and not getting the same kind of quality. For long-term savings and more sustainable home goods, don’t take the cheap route for products like mattresses, towels, rugs, and couches. Don’t fret though, not everything needs a hefty investment.

Here are the top 10 picks for where to splurge on home decor as well as five options that you can totally skimp out on with zero regrets.

1. Mattresses

Why you can trust Real Homes Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

Sure, there are plenty of mattresses out there around the $200 mark, but something that majorly impacts your quality of sleep shouldn’t be skimped on. Shopping for a mattress isn’t the most thrilling experience (or exciting thing to spend money on), but it’s worth finding one that works with your favored sleep position and nightly routine. 

Budget: from $1,000

2. Couches and sofas

Similar to your mattress, your couch is one piece of furniture that’s going to be with you through a lot. And, if you buy wisely, you can get a timeless piece to see you through house moves, various living room layouts and requirements. That means a top-notch sofa or sectional is in order. It should be stylish enough to fit in with the rest of your decor but cozy enough to handle all those movie nights at home. 

Budget: from $1,200

3. Rugs

Rugs and carpeting should last you for years and retain their shape and quality. The best way to guarantee this is through a bigger investment. Look for durable construction that won't go thread bare or flatten quickly, and also consider one of the washable rugs if you are worried about it getting dirty in high traffic areas.

Budget: from $200

4. Vacuum cleaners

There’s a difference between clean and knock-your-socks-off tidy. This often comes down to the nature of the cleaning tools you have on-hand. One type of device where price often directly relates to the quality of clean is a vacuum. Don’t settle for weak suction and surface-level clean – save up for the best vacuum your budget can handle to ensure performance and endurance.

Budget: from $300

5. Certain cookware items

Not everything in the kitchen needs to swallow your home design budget. That being said, there are two areas where it’s typically worth spending a little more: a multipurpose pan and a nice baking dish. You’ll never regret having a pan that handles numerous needs on the stovetop like the Always Pan that is deep and wide enough for various jobs. A reliable cookware piece that doubles as a stylish serving dish for nightly meals or dinner parties with friends is always a smart buy, too. Look to Le Creuset’s classic casserole pan for this. 

Budget: from $100

6. Outdoor furniture

Spending a little more on outdoor furniture is a smart move as these pieces need to hold up to much harsher conditions than the objects chilling inside your house or apartment. Choose high-quality materials that resist the elements with little maintenance.

Budget: from $200 or $600 upwards for a set

7. Bedding

Another key part of the sleeping equation is great bedding. Spending a good chunk on sheets and pillowcases for the first time is intimidating, but once you do you’ll never go back. How much of a difference can the fabric you snooze on really make? A huge one. From cooling qualities and great wearability to the sustainability factors we should all be looking for in our linens, the right bedding impacts your sleep and the environment.

Budget: from $50 for a sheet set or $100+ for a bundle

8. Towels

While on the subject of soft goods, it might be time to reconsider your towels. If your current bath sheets are looking a little ratty, splurge on a set in order to ensure maximum absorbency and a silky soft texture. Spending extra can also help prevent dreaded shedding and a shorter towel lifespan.

Budget: from $40 for a set

9. Lighting

Light fixtures are a make or break purchase. The right bulbs and the object they’re housed in make a remarkable difference in the ambience and atmosphere of a room. Cheaper lights that flicker nonstop or cast a not-so-inviting glow around a space are proof alone of how important good lights are. If you can't change the wall or ceiling lights (or are renting), spend your cash on really good lamps instead.

Budget: from $75

10. Coffee machines

A nice espresso machine or coffee maker will always be worth splurging on, especially if you’re the type who can’t go without their morning macchiato or double-shot. In the long run, you’ll be saving money on pit stops at cafes and machines of a lesser quality that may give out after a year or two. If tea or other hot beverages are more your style, spend a little extra on a hot water kettle. Paying for quality makes sense when it’s an appliance that gets used all the time. Look out for one that’s quiet, quick to boil, and looks chic on your countertop.

Budget: approx $200

And 5 home items you can save on

As promised, you don’t need to blow your budget on anything and everything. Some budget-friendly home goods are just as comparable as their expensive doubles. Here are the money-saver home items that you really don’t need to splurge on. 

1. Bookshelves

A bookshelf, first and foremost, should be sturdy. Though a nice frame is a perk, the stars of the show are your favorite reads and their unique covers. Fortunately, sturdy bookshelves aren’t synonymous with spendy bookshelves. There’s no shortage of reliable choices for a decent price.

Budget: approx $100

2. Planters and pots

Planters and pots can stay simple, saving you a nice bit of cash. In choosing more minimal designs, you allow the spotlight to remain on the cool leafy and viny occupants you’ve planted in them. Spare your budget to invest in the best indoor plants instead.

Budget: from $15

3. Accent chairs

Unless a specific designer’s piece or an iconic design has been on your mind for some time, it’s completely fine to save your hard-earned cash when it comes to stylish seating. Although accent chairs should be comfortable enough to sit in, they’re more of a statement piece in comparison to the likes of your couch or loveseat. Nowadays, there are plenty of fun, colorful, and sleek options that won’t cost a fortune or lack in the style department.

Budget: approx $100

4. Organizers

One thing that’ll make your home feel more elevated is having your organizational systems down pat. A tidy space doesn’t need to involve products that you have to pay through the nose for. Simple, streamlined storage bins are the perfect place to start.

Budget: approx $15 a set

5. Plates

Dishwasher safe? Check. Microwave safe? Check. Stylish? Check. This trifecta is really all that’s needed when it comes to picking out good dinnerware and this set ticks all the boxes. You can spend considerably more on dinnerware, but they will still be vulnerable to breakage if dropped, so we say simply choose a set that ticks all the boxes above.

Budget: from $30

Melissa Epifano
Former Global Editor in Chief

Hi, I'm former editor of Real Homes. I cut my teeth in New York City, covering fashion and beauty but eventually made my way into the world of homes. I've spent several years writing and editing for The Spruce, Apartment Therapy, Forbes, MyDomaine, People, InStyle, Real Simple, Lonny and more. I track trends like it's a competitive sport but am equally excited about covering products and style ideas that stand the test of time.