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What never to spend money on in the living room


When it comes to decorating a living room, the cost of furniture, rugs, dishes, and throw pillows can throw you off. Here’s what you should never spend money on in the living room. 

But what do you cut back on when it comes to your living room? These are the bits and pieces I like to cut back on when working with my design clients.

1. Entertainment unit

Skimp on the entertainment unit and splurge on a sofa that’s made to last – trust me, your back will thank you. Photo: Pablo Veiga/Project 82

I’ve never quite understood the concept of pouring thousands into a piece of furniture you sit your TV on. Because when you’re flaked out on the sofa watching Masterchef, there isn’t anyone looking at the entertainment unit itself.

The sofa – invest in that. Dining chairs – splurge on something comfortable. But a hunk of wood that houses your early-2000s DVD collection; go budget (as long as it’s sturdy!).

Read more: Beautiful living room decorating ideas

2. Side tables

living room side tables
IKEA’s new Burvik side table can be easily moved around the room and it’s super cute to boot at just $29.99. Picture: Ikea

I have an obsession with side tables. If it were up to me, I’d have 25 in each room. But the truth is, these beauties are often used for nothing more than holding a cup of tea, plant, candle, or a stack of books you like to pretend you’re going to read sometime soon (guilty as charged).

As long as the legs don’t wobble and there’s no chance of it collapsing underneath your interiors mags, I say it’s best you get your side table for a steal and put the money toward a swanky coffee table instead.

3. Cushions

There’s no reason to spend big on cushions when you can score vintage finds like these at the markets. Picture: Erinna Giblin

If I have clients with specific tastes and some extra cash to splash, I might splurge on some cushions for their sofa. But really, a cushion for a couple of hundreds? Come on! You’d be silly to spend that type of money on something you lean against and karate chop on a daily basis.

I’m of the thinking that these smaller decor items in the living room are best done on the cheap unless your heart really yearns for a particular designer piece. That way you can update them as time goes by and not bankrupt yourself in the process.

4. Lighting

When you save on small-ticket items like table lamps, you’re one step closer to investing in more valuable pieces like art. Picture:

You need to pick your battles when it comes to lighting. It’s better to invest in some statement pendants and get them installed in your bedroom and dining room, rather than to fork out the big bucks lighting your living room.

Your boudoir is a great place to invest in statement lighting that really makes a visual impact. For the living room, though, some cheaper table and floor lamps will do the trick.

5. Pouffes

Something you rest your feet on all day definitely goes onto the ‘save’ list. Picture: Mocka

This one hardly needs much going into, but really… a pouffe you put your feet on every day is not something you fork out hundreds for.

It gets squished, squashed and maybe even smelly after a while, so unless it’s a large ottoman doubling as a coffee table, feel free to pick your footstool up for a steal.

6. Armchair

Don’t spend too much if you use your armchair to anchor a space rather than to sit on. Picture: Tamara Graham

This one comes with a bit of fine print. While an expensive armchair can be totally worth it if you’re hoping to lounge in it every day, an armchair is definitely something you can buy for next to nothing if you don’t plan on sitting on it a lot.

An armchair you don’t sit on? I know, it sounds odd, but in many living rooms, armchairs are used to anchor the space. They may sit in a corner and be used as more of a decorative feature than something you kick back in and watch TV from.

If this is the case in your living room, get your armchair at an affordable price and put your money towards something like a phenomenal rug.

This article was originally published as What never to spend money on in the living room by written by Chris Carroll

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