Home » My Advice on How to Mix High & Low End Decor

My Advice on How to Mix High & Low End Decor

My philosophy on how to mix high and low end decor to achieve a layered traditional look that feels classic but saves you money!

Katherine in pink shaw sitting in overstuffed arm chair in living room where she uses high and low end mix of decor

As a grandmillennial I am all about the layered collected look, which for me means mixing high and low end decor. There’s no doubt I love a rich, luxe looking interior but definitely not the price tag that comes with that. I am always shopping for bargains and because I love vintage and antiques that means I hunt second hand sources for my decor and furnishings.

If you watched my recent IG reel, you know just about anything you point to in my house and ask about the source, the answer will be:

Auction,

Estate Sale,

Thrift,

FB Marketplace,

etc.

That doesn’t mean I don’t invest in splurge worthy pieces or put a dent in my wallet if there is something at auction I feel worth winning. I definitely do — much to my hubby’s dismay!

Though over the years I’ve refined my philosophy on what to invest in and what not to and how to mix high and low end decor! In this post, I share some insight into my philosophy along with examples of how I’ve mixed investment pieces with bargain decor in my living room.

What makes decor splurge worthy? If it…

Makes a Statement

Anchors the Room

Feels Timeless & Classic

Increases Comfort & Longevity

When to go for the bargain? If…

It is Disposable

It is Seasonal

It plays a Supporting Role

The Secondary Market is Full of Great Options

Things I invest in:

  • original art,
  • antiques that hold their value,
  • furniture that serves as storage,
  • statement fabrics and wallpapers,
  • furniture that anchors a room and is frequently used,
  • performance fabrics,
  • quality bed linens,
  • china.

Things I save on:

  • picture frames,
  • lamps,
  • coffee table books,
  • disposables like candles, flowers, cocktail napkins,
  • holiday decor,
  • table linens,
  • end tables.

Coffee table in grandmillennial living room showing how to mix high and low end decor with inexpensive books and candles paired with a Waterford crystal vase and Staffordshire sheep

My coffee table is the perfect example of my high/low mix philosophy! The coffee table is a thrift store find ($14) that has classic clean lines in a rich wood stain. It is decorated with budget items:

  • books I’ve sourced from estate sales ($1-$10 each)
  • a candle from Target ($5)
  • cocktail napkins from an estate sale ($2)
  • fresh flowers from the grocery store mixed with clippings from my yard ($12)

And splurge items:

  • Waterford crystal vase ( $75)
  • vintage Florentine tray ($60)
  • Staffordshire sheep flatbacks ($300)

To sum up my philosophy:

Invest in classic decor you’ll use again and again for years to come no matter the season or occasion and save money on anything disposable (one to a couple of uses) or chic pieces that can be found second hand in great condition.

Katherine fluffs magnolia branches on mantel

How to Mix High & Low End Decor

  • Pay attention to the finish

Certain wood stains and metallics can look really tacky when done cheaply, so avoid those and stick to decor with patina.

  • Get the proportion and sizing right

This is important whether the decor is high or low, but when a pieces is disproportionate to the room or surrounding furnishings it sticks out like a sore thumb. If the pieces is on the low end, this kind of problem will only draw more attention to it.

  • Up-cycle with paint, luxe hardware, or new upholstery

Get crafty and give new life to a second hand piece with a fresh coat of paint or new upholstery. If you are not in to DIY, hunt out your local craftsmen who do these kind of projects.

  • Mix reproductions with antiques

Very few of us can afford true period piece antiques to furnish an entire room. Instead we mix reproduction furniture and decor that is in the style of, and that can be a true boon both in terms of durability and price tag.

  • Go for classic detailing and simplified lines

Certain design motifs are timeless and always elegant like Greek key trim, acanthus leaves, fretwork, a turned furniture leg, fluting, etc. Choose high and low end decor with these elements and you can’t go wrong.

  • Embrace the layered, collected look

A personalized mix of decor that reflects where you’ve been and what you love is always more interesting and refreshing. Part of creating that mix is juxtaposing the sophisticated with the approachable.

High & Low Mixed Decor in My Living Room

Mix high & low end decor like this curtain pairing: a Walmart pre-made curtain used with a custom chintz cornice

My favorite high/low mix in my living room are the window treatments I created about 5 years ago now. The cornices were left from the previous owners. I had them re-upholstered with this lovely Waverly chintz Fleuretta Spring for $160 each. Then I saved money by finding an inexpensive curtain to hang with the cornices. These white and green gingham panels only cost me $7 each when I bought them and are from Walmart (the green colorway sells out, but they regularly restock – cost is $10 now)! Yes, the fabric is cheap but you can only tell that when you touch it.

Everyone thinks the window treatments in my living room are entirely custom with designer fabric thus really pricey. But actually it is a budget friendly mix of high and low!

Grandmillennial living room in green and white with a mix of high and low end decor

Next up on our high/low tour is my wicker day bed. I found the daybed at an estate sale and paid $150 for it. That’s a really reasonable price for this type of piece, but I saved more money by using the existing cushions that came with it — just having them recovered in an inexpensive moiré fabric. Then my mom helped me make the pillows.

All in for this piece I spent $300. If I went to Serena & Lily to buy a similar wicker daybed, it would cost $1,698! Wow!

Detail view of botanical gallery wall with Staffordshire flatback on wall bracket

The last example I want to share with you are these antique botanical prints. These prints are investment pieces that I bought at a bargain from an estate sale, but as true antiques that will hold their value through the years they were splurge worthy. Framing them was an expensive endeavor, but I shopped around and found a great deal from Frame It Easy on these chic gold frames. So while the frames were inexpensive, I upgraded the matting and glass to archival quality to protect the prints.

This high/low example really shows how to balance the mix of the two. In my opinion, original art is always worth investing in but you can choose inexpensive framing in a classic finish with elegant detailing and still get that luxe look. Don’t skimp on the protective elements, though, that will preserve the art.

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Alright! Let’s get to mixing! I hope sharing my philosophy on how to mix high & low end decor was helpful!

2 comments

  1. Jean from Georgia says:

    Love your cornice. I checked the Walmart site but did not find panels for $7. Maybe you purchased when they were on sale.

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