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 (opens in new tab) – 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 (opens in new tab) 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 (opens in new tab) 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
Section Editor

Millie Hurst is Section Editor at Homes & Gardens, overseeing the Solved section, which provides readers with practical advice for their homes. She has been in the world of digital journalism for six years, having previously worked as Senior SEO Editor at News UK both in London and New York. She joined the Future team two years ago, working across a range of homes brands. Millie formerly worked as Senior Content Editor at Ideal Home, taking care of evergreen articles that help and inspire people to make the most of their homes and outdoor spaces. Millie has a degree in French and Italian and lives in North London.