By Kathryn Weber

If your patio furniture stays outside year round, buy good quality pieces that will wear well

Decorating a home with an unlimited budget is easy. But the reality is most people have to pick and choose where to invest their money -- and where to save.

It helps to have some guidelines on what's worth the investment and what's not.

Accent on savings

If you're considering changing your decor, accessories have come a long way, baby. Home decorating has exploded in the past 20 years. You can now select from a huge array of great-looking, inexpensive accent pieces.

Save on upholstery

Even inexpensive upholstered pieces today hold up well enough for you to get good use out of them. Better yet, you won't be invested so heavily that you don't dare make a change. But do splurge on the fabric treatment. The first glass of red wine that's spilled will find you grateful you did.

Save on lighting

Lamps are available in more than the tried-and-true ginger jar of yesteryear and can be found in a wide variety of price ranges. Whether you shop online or at your local home center, there's good lighting selection now at terrific prices.

Invest in wood

Well-built wood furniture will withstand the whims of time and the style changes. Plus, it's just plain sturdier. Good quality dressers and tables will withstand more wear and tear and hold up when you trade up or move.

Splurge on art

Although there are great bargains available today, the problem with buying off-the-rack art is that your house will look like a dentist's office. Genuine original pieces don't have to cost an arm and a leg. Many communities have art festivals where your can pick up one-of-a-kind items to give your home that special panache,

Don't skimp on sleep

Without a doubt, the greatest investment in home furnishings should be in a great quality mattress. A good mattress will help you sleep better, and a better night means a better day, every day.

Invest outdoors

Patio furniture has to withstand sun, rain and extreme temperatures. If your patio furniture stays outside year-round, buy good quality pieces that will wear well. It might seem silly to invest in outdoor furniture, but if you buy a cheap set and it only lasts one summer, you'll regret the decision.

It's not always easy to decide where to concentrate your purchasing power when decorating your home. But, by choosing wisely, your furnishings -- and your money -- will last longer and go further, and your home will be stylish.


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Home & Garden - Where to Save and Where to Spend on Interior Decorating