Where to Splurge and Where to Save on Home Decor

An Interior Design Budget Blueprint

Unless you were the winner of Saturday’s Powerball, you probably live on a budget and that budget likely dictates everything you do, from dining out to decorating. If you’re doing the latter, I have some tips for you as to where you should splurge and where you can save.


·       If it impacts your health, I suggest doling out the dollars.  This means buy the best possible mattresses, office chair and other oft used seating that you can afford. These are items you use every day and are critical to your physical self and well-being. 

These original paintings by  Chris Foster  are some of my favorites.  They weren't cheap, but I adore them. Conversely, I picked up this table lamp at a consignment shop for $25.  Photo by John Valls. 

These original paintings by Chris Foster are some of my favorites.  They weren't cheap, but I adore them. Conversely, I picked up this table lamp at a consignment shop for $25.  Photo by John Valls. 

·       Statement pieces are the things that, if your house were on fire, you’d grab on the way out the door. This includes original art, vintage furniture, or that vase you purchased on your honeymoon.

·       It is indisputable that a large area rug can make or break a space. For this reason, I always recommend spending top dollar (whatever that means to you) on an area rug. Wool rugs are my favorite; they are beautiful, durable and wear well. That said, if you have kids and pets, I recommend nylon rugs. They are strong and stain resistant making them easy to clean.


·       Like most designers, I LOVE pillows. The more the merrier.  I have so many pillows that I rotate them in and out according to my mood.  Consequently, I don’t like to spend a lot on them.  That said, I do like to buy good quality pillow inserts because I believe they look and lie differently than their less expensive versions.

·       Decent accent tables need not cost a decent chunk of change.  Homegoods, Target and other big box stores tend to have decent pieces that are perfectly fine for housing your books, a table lamp and a beverage.

·       Speaking of table lamps, lighting is an area where you can save some dough. This one is tougher for me because I love expensive lighting and in terms of physical heft, I do think you can tell the difference.  However, if you don’t pick up table lamps to determine weight like I do, then this is certainly an area where I suggest you save.

·       Accessories are the jewelry of a room, but very rarely will I spend a lot on these.  You can often find me hitting up consignment stores like Seams to Fit Home, Etsy, Tuesday Morning or even Goodwill for goodies like books, decorative boxes and candleabras. 

Looking for a better sense of what things actually cost?  Download my free budgeting guide here.


Top 10 Home Decor Stores in Portland, Oregon

Furniture and Other Finds in the City of Roses

The city of Portland is hot, hot, hot (lately, that’s also been a literal thing).  It seems everybody and his or her mother are visiting, moving here, planning to move here or want to move here.  Most people flock to the city of Roses because of its ample outdoor activities, scenic beauty or bustling foodie scene. Less thought of is its killer design community.  If you’re visiting Portland and interested in home décor, there are many great independent boutiques all of which are well worth a visit.  These are my top ten:

The gloriously eclectic Cargo.

The gloriously eclectic Cargo.

1. Cargo

Cargo bill itself as “a journey of spirit, time, and place.”  When you walk into their gigantic historic warehouse, you’ll see why.  All corners of Cargo are filled with everything from Japanese tansus to Indian quilts to teapots and everything in between. If you leave this place empty-handed – or uninspired – there’s something wrong with you.

81 SE Yamhill St. Portland, OR, cargoinc.com

2. Canoe

Founded in 2005, Canoe features simple, functional and beautiful home goods made with natural materials. Think glass-and-wood; textiles and ceramics all of which make great gifts for friends or self.

1233 SW 10th Avenue, Portland, OR, canoe.design.com

3. Hive

Hive’s motto is "Good design can and should be presented in an inspired, knowledgeable and friendly manner." Through the company’s website and in its northwest Portland store, Hive sells the iconic modern brands Alessi, B&B Italia, Herman Miller, Knoll, and Vitra in a museum like atmosphere.

820 NW Glisan Street, Portland, OR, hivemodern.com

4. Schoolhouse Electric

Schoolhouse Electric was founded by Brian Faherty in 2003 following his discovery of a long-lost collection of cast-iron glass shade molds in an abandoned warehouse and carefully restoring them back into production.  Today, he’s now operating out of a gigantic facility in the industrial district selling all manner of furniture, lighting, bedding and hardware.

2181 NW Nicolai Street, Portland, OR, schoolhouse.com

5. City Home

Locally owned City Home has two showrooms that specialize in midcentury modern to reclaimed and steampunk. They also carry designer home decor and furniture lines, including Magnolia Home Furniture Collection, Joybird and Justina Blakeney Home.

Central Eastside Industrial        
217 SE Taylor Street

Pearl District
825 NW Davis Street


6. Asia America

For fans of Asian goods, Asia America is worth a stop. They boast a nicely curated collection of art, antiques and furniture from over 40 years of travel to every corner of Asia.  Between their SE warehouse and their waterfront showroom, they have more than 5000 pieces to ogle. 

Riverplace Waterfront  0315 SW Montgomery Street, Suite 330

Central Eastside Industrial 79 Southeast Taylor Street Suite 200


Asia America in SE Portland carries rustic furniture and antiques.

Asia America in SE Portland carries rustic furniture and antiques.

7. The Good Mod

This 20,000 square foot industrial loft is a midcentury modern design lover’s dream.  They specialize in restoration and custom design and upholstery work.  You can get a taste of the kinds of amazing pieces they bring in by visiting their website, but their store is not to be missed.

1313 Burnside St, 4th Fl., Portland, OR, thegoodmod.com

8. Solabee

This is exactly a home décor store, but Solabee is an oasis for plant and flower fiends. A women-owned full-service floral studio and plant shop provides fresh and unique botanical treasures.  And their super knowledgeable staff at their conservatory-like shop will assist you in selecting the perfect plant for your space.

801 N. Killingsworth, Portland, OR, solabeeflowers.com/home

Solabee Flowers in heaven on earth for plant lovers. Photo by Urban Nest Realty.

Solabee Flowers in heaven on earth for plant lovers. Photo by Urban Nest Realty.

9.  Legacy Modern

Legacy Modern is your one stop shop for mid century modern, industrial, Americana and Mission Arts and Crafts home furnishings. Owner Mike Albino hails from a fourth generation of furniture traders.  If he doesn’t carry it, he’ll find it for you. They’ve also carry the works of many local artists and fabricators, as well the furniture line, Gus Modern. 

1530 SE 7th Ave, Portland, OR., legacymodern.com

10.  Seams to Fit Home

Seams to Fit Home is an upscale consignment furniture designer showroom offering a modern mix of furnishings and home decor for urban living, located in Northwest Portland. This is the place to hit for beautiful, very lightly used custom pieces. 

2237 NW Raleigh St., Portland, OR., seamstofithome.com

Not Portland, but absolutely worth the drive.

11. Rose City Modern

Rose City Modern specializes in quality mid century modern furniture and housewares.  Following these guys on Instagram is like getting a lesson in midcentury design and their store is the same way.  If you’re a midcentury fan, make the trek to nearby Beaverton and pop in to this unassuming little shop.

12675 SW 1st St, Beaverton, OR., facebook.com/Rose-City-Modern

What did I miss?  Let me know in your comments below!