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How to Design Mixing High and Low Decor

Derek Hales

Written By: Derek Hales

Updated on:

There’s a time to spend and a time to save; learning how to mix high and low decor items is an important skill in order to stay within working design budgets.

mixing high and low decor - cover photo

This guide will feature tips for getting the most out of your money without sacrificing design or details.

Let’s get started.

1. Spend on Statement Pieces

No matter which room you’re designing for, try selecting an item that you want to be the statement piece. It’s ok to spend a little extra on a piece that is visually more important than other areas of the room.

statement pieces - high and low design

So what’s worth it?

A great example may be a:

By being budget-conscious for the less critical spaces, you open up your pocketbook to spend more on the items that will really provide the “wow factor”.

2. Save on the Basics

Some items are unique, in texture or pattern and can be hard to replicate with a cost-saving alternative.

Bottom line:

Other items are more basic and can be easier to find on a budget. Basics are an important part of many design schemes since they provide the design foundation to build more unique elements onto.

basics - high and low design

There’s just no need to overspend in this area.

What are budget basics?

This could be a:

Basics never go out of style and can be quick and easy cost-saving elements.

3. Consider Proximity

Have you ever seen a fake diamond ring from far away? Chances are, you didn’t immediately know that it wasn’t the real deal until you got closer to the ring and could see the details.


Frauds aren’t fake until you’re close enough to tell the difference. The same can be true for many design elements.

Click to Tweet this low & high decor tip.

light fixture - high and low design

Where should they go?

These are great places to save some cash and opt for a less expensive item that has the similar look. Chances are, people will never get close enough to the item to know that it didn’t cost a fortune, but it won’t lack any style.

4. Consider Use

Use can be another important factor when deciding where to save and where to splurge.


Take bath towels for instance— although a cheap towel may look the same as a quality towel, they are not equal. Due to the high level of use, a quality bath towel can be a good investment, as an inexpensive one is likely to, fade, pill or fray at the seams.

bath towels - high and low design

Items that you use daily are quicker to show wear than specialty items that aren’t used every day (or items that are for decoration only).

5. Remember the Power of Paint

One great way to make a design statement is to simply use paint. A dark vanity adds a sense of boldness to an otherwise simple powder bath. Pair it with a fun patterned floor tile and a specialty light fixture and you’re good to go.

paint - high and low decor

You’re wondering about accent walls?

Another way to use paint is to create an accent wall. This can be a solid contrasting color or a wall stencil for a patterned look. Paint is an expensive way to bring a statement to your space without breaking the budget.

Click to Tweet this tip!

6. Best Rooms to Mix High and Low Decor

As with anything, there is a time and place for mixing high and low decor. In some instances cutting corners makes sense and is hardly noticeable.

In other instances, it pays in the long run to splurge on pricier items, whether than means higher quality for prolonged use or higher quality for design details (like a prominent statement piece).


  • Splurge: Splurge on quality countertops and nice appliances, these items are used heavily and can really change the look of a kitchen.
  • Save: Save on the tile backsplash or tile flooring. Because kitchens are generally quite large, a tile that is slightly out of reach can add hundreds to your overall budget due to the larger surface area. You can also save on furniture that is used less frequently, like accent barstools.
Kitchen - High and Low Decor

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bathroom - mixing high and low decor


  • Splurge: Splurge on the bedding and a fun light fixture! It’s no surprise that the bed is generally central to the bedroom. A quality bedding set really helps to tie a bedroom design together. You can also include a statement chandelier, nightstand wall sconces, or a unique reading lamp for an added splurge.
  • Save: Save on classic nightstands, a throw for the end of the bed, or simple drapes in your bedroom. These items are more basic and it can be easy to find a style you like with a budget-friendly price tag.
bedroom - high and low decor

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Living Room

  • Splurge: Splurge on the statement pieces that really speak to you or significantly impact the overall design of the space. These items could be a cool light fixture, a piece or art, or something else that is important to you. A good splurge may also be a piece that is frequently used, like a favorite arm chair or large sofa. Going cheap on these items may quickly show wear and tear and will need replacing sooner.
  • Save: Save on accent pieces and good basics. Storage baskets, throw pillows, blankets and other small accents are great areas you can save in designing large living spaces. Also, remember to consider what you already own. Mixing existing, somewhat vintage pieces, can be a great way to fill space without emptying your bank account.
living room - high and low decor

Have other ideas about areas where you can decide to spend or save to maximize your design?

Shoot us a message with your design tips and your comments may be featured on Modern Castle.

About Derek Hales

Derek HalesDerek Hales is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of He has been featured in Fast Company, Reader's Digest, Business Insider,, She Knows, and other major publications. Derek has a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration from Kansas State University. Hales has been testing and reviewing products for the home since 2014.

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