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Many years ago, I read an interesting piece of advice. I don’t remember the magazine or the circumstances but it suggested that one will always look put together and stylish with a high-end haircut and high-end shoes. With that, it didn’t matter if the clothes worn in between came from Saks or a bottom-basement catalog. What do you think?

At times, I think it’s true, especially when it comes to interior décor. That is, investing in select pieces, while holding back on others, can create a well-put together, stylized home.

Which furnishings should be the haircut and shoes? In living and family rooms, spend what you can afford on major upholstery pieces. Sofas and club chairs need to be comfortable and long-lasting. Inexpensive ones will be neither. They are also large and noticeable so their style and fabric should be reflected in their purchase price.

Splurge on one eye-catching showpiece such as an armoire, antique, rug, or original art. Nice upholstery and an investment showstopper will dominate and define the character of these rooms. Fill in with supportive and inexpensive accent chairs, tables, and accessories.

In a dining room or a foyer, indulge in a dramatic chandelier. This will captivate audiences while the rest of the furnishings take a back seat. I also like chandeliers in bathrooms but not all ceiling heights will accommodate them. In these cases, stunning wall sconces will do the same trick. Opt for luxurious towels in a bathroom. If everything else is otherwise budget-friendly, luscious towels will bring the ambience up a few notches.

Who wouldn’t prefer original art to posters? But, this is a category where mixing high and low-end pieces can easily blend. The originals will stand out and be fully admired. The other pieces will add a layer of interest and enhance the overall collection.

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This same concept applies to other types of collections. High-end handcrafted works such as glassware, pottery, and baskets can blend with great flea-market finds and tourist souvenirs. If you are a collector, take special care in the way you display your objects. Grouping them together in a thoughtful way can make a favorable impact, but scattering them haphazardly can make a mess.

Here’s a tip for book collectors. Do you have first-edition, author-signed, or otherwise beautiful hardbacks mixed with those less attractive or treasured? Take the latter and cover them with solid-color, gift-wrap paper (or wallpaper). The color of the paper should coordinate with the color scheme of the room. Group these two categories of books in such a way that you create a dynamic display.

If you’re a book collector, I’ll assume you have built-in shelves. To put my suggestion into action, line your valuable books according to height (even though subject matter or author may be more logical) about two-thirds the length of one shelf.

Next take a group of paper-covered books and stack them horizontally (on their side) to fill in the last third of the shelf. Let the next shelf be all high-end books. On the third shelf, center a series of high-end books and flank them with horizontally-stacked, paper-covered books. Change this configuration based on the number of books you have in each category. This may be a little difficult to follow but I hope you get the idea. With the right amount of balancing and tweaking, these high and low-end books can marry to create an impressive focal point.

Even when one’s budget is limitless, there’s no practical or aesthetic reason to purchase all high-end furnishings and accessories. Mixing and layering is more fun and creative. And, all the savings can go towards the chicest of haircuts and shoes.

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Patti L. Cowger is an award-winning, Napa-based interior designer and owner of PLC Interiors. For more information about her design services, visit her website at plcinteriors.com call (707) 322-6522; or email plcinteriors@sbcglobal.net.

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