Homes & Interiors

Emily Henderson reveals the two items you shouldn't overspend on when designing a room

The interior designer dedicates more of her budget to conversation pieces no one can replicate

blue sofa in living space with coffee table and blue vases
(Image credit: Sanderson)

Any renovation or interior design project demands that we constantly weigh up where we're going to spend and where we'll need to save. We have all heard those commonly held budgeting beliefs on where you should invest and where you can cut corners.

However, interior designer Emily Henderson goes against the grain. We recently sat down with the interior design professional as part of her work with PRESS Premium Alcohol Seltzer – and during our conversation, she revealed what you should – and shouldn't – be spending your money on when it comes to interior design.

Farrow & Ball paint in living room

(Image credit: Cinder Rose No.246 Estate Emulsion by Farrow & Ball)

'You should splurge on the thing – the conversation piece – that takes your house to another level,' says Emily. 'When you walk in, you want them to be dazzled by a space that truly represent your style – and who you are. 

'Because, these days, there are some exceptional sofas and beautiful rugs that are also incredibly affordable,' she says. According to Emily, gorgeous living room sofa ideas needn't cost a fortune in this day and age.

'It used to be, "splurge on the sofa because you're going to sit on it for nine hours a day." It's not that you should invest a cheap sofa by any means, but that's not where I would splurge,' she continues.

living space with peach sofa and peach mural on wall with vintage furniture

(Image credit: Andrew Martin x Kit Kemp)

The Styled: Secrets for Arranging Rooms author argues that there are so many decent rugs and sofas that are affordable. 'So, what will make your house really stand out and give it that joie de vivre that is different from everybody else, is a statement piece of art, or a vintage rug that can't duplicated,' she says.

Emily says it's all about pieces no one else can copy – items that add interest, that tell a story. Special pieces that guests coming into your home may not have seen before.

'That is where I will always allocate my budget,' she tells us.

living room with peach paint and beige furniture

(Image credit: Little Greene)

Even when you're not shopping for a vintage piece, rugs are always an investment, but Emily believes you can find cost-effective alternatives that will still look expensive – and in keeping with the aesthetic of your home. 

When it comes to how to choose a rug, it's crucial to decide on your rug early on in the design process, because they're a fundamental element that helps set the tone for the room.

As for sofas, companies like Snug make sumptuous velvet sofas very affordable options. We'll be hunting for vintage treasures that help to tell our story on our next trip to an antique store or flea market.

Millie Hurst

Millie joined the Homes & Gardens team in early 2021. When she isn't writing about interiors trends and expert tips and tricks, she's filling her rented North London home with houseplants and tending to her small urban garden. She loves shopping for unique vintage decor pieces, stalking Facebook Marketplace for second-hand bargains and is never without some fresh flowers at home.