How I Mix High & Low

I have talked about this in the past, but my favorite approach to elevate a look is by mixing high and lower end items. When pairing something cheaper with more of an investment it instantly makes the whole look appear nicer and almost distracts from the cheaper items. I have received a fair share of questions asking how I approach this when it comes to interiors, so I wanted to break down my process a bit.

Pay Attention to Finish & Silhouette

Often times I will want to add a new piece or update an existing one in my apartment and may not have the budget to spend a lot of money. When this comes up I will scour the internet for a cheaper version of a piece I love. Just like fast fashion, knock offs of high end furniture are everywhere – it is just important to know what to look for. When I purchase an inexpensive piece of furniture I look for a classic silhouette and a material that won’t cheapen the overall look.

For example the console behind our sofa was under $130, but because of its natural unfinished wood tone and clean line shape it doesn’t look that cheap. If it had a heavy veneer making it look yellow or a leg with a lot of detailing it could easily look tacky and inexpensive. It is also crucial to pay attention to this whenever purchasing something with a metal finish. Brass can look cheap very easily if it is not done right. You want to make sure it doesn’t look too gold (unless that is what you want) or spray painted. I have seen a lot of inexpensive pieces where the finish looks high end making the overall item look a lot more expensive than it is. This coffee table looks like some I have seen for around $800 because the marble is a bright white and the leg finish looks great! Where as this table has a very chunky base and a finish that looks painted on making it look much cheaper.

Invest In At Least One Item

Furnishing and styling your home can be extremely expensive and we all obviously prioritize what we want to spend money on differently, but I have found investing in at least one large item can completely transform the way a room looks. If it is the living room I recommend putting some money into the sofa or area rug. Both of these items make a large impact in a room and other pieces can easily work around it. Again looking for a sofa in a classic style and upholstery color will make it last for years to come. If you are on a budget being super trendy with furniture and accessories is never a good idea.

Take Your Time With Accessories

I have shared my love of antique accessories in multiple posts, but I truly belive it is the only way to elevate a room to the next level. If you take your time finding accessories you really love, your space will look more collected and high end. Some of my favorite accents were incredibly cheap at flea markets, but look very chic. Vintage accents bring that much needed layer to any room that you can’t always find at a run of the mill store. Even if the accessory isn’t vintage choosing pieces with similar color stories like this pillow, this bust and this book add such great interest and texture to a room. As always in addition to vintage accents, books bring so much to a living room and can be found at all different price points.

When It Comes To Pillows – You Get What You Pay For

I touched on this in my most recent Q&A on Instagram, but it is such a big part of mixing high and low. I don’t go cheap when it comes to throw pillows. I would rather have a cheap piece of furniture than cheap pillows. It sounds counterintuitive and I know a lot of you have children and don’t see the point of spending on pillows, but they MAKE THE ROOM! I only have five pillows on our sectional and if I took them off the room would truly not look the same. I find them to be that perfect finishing touch that breathes life into a space. When you go for inexpensive poly filled pillows they tend to look frumpy and lose their shape quickly (flat pillows don’t look great). Instead I only purchase pillow covers. This is a great way to change up your pillows because storing a removable cover is much easier than finding a spot for an entire pillow. This is where I get all of my pillow inners and this post shares some of my favorite pillow combinations.

Shop With Intention

This is one of the biggest changes I have made when purchasing pieces for myself. I touched on this in my wardrobe building blocks post and it is no different when selecting home decor. Even when I go to Target and get overwhelmed by a new collection I try to remember to always shop with intention. Where will I put this? Do I really have a spot for it? Will I love it in six months? If the answers are no – I put it back. This has allowed me to collect furniture and accents that I am excited about instead of things I can’t wait to get rid of. When I shop with intention my rooms end up looking more expensive because they aren’t filled with a bunch of small tchotchkes that do not really have a home.

Scale Makes A World Of Difference

Even if everything you own is inexpensive, if the scale and proportion of said items is great it can change the whole room. I often see rugs that are too small, art hung too high, teeny tiny lamps, etc. All of these things can shrink the overall look of a room and make it look cheaper. Paying attention to scale and striking a balance can make a room look more cohesive and styled. I like to approach a room with anchor points. Make sure your rug is the correct size (I talk about that here) and that your accent furniture plays well off one another.

I will be doing more blog posts that break down my approach to design and styling. Try to remember that designing a space is a process and that great things take time. If you are in a hurry to get everything set up, chances are the room will go through a few round of revisions before you are satisfied. My advice is always take your time finding pieces that speak to you and mixing high and low end is always a good idea!


Photography by Torrey Fox

  1. Danielle says:

    Where is the area rug from? It’s gorgeous!

  2. Loving all these tips! Your living room is gorgeous!

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