High vs. Low Design – Can You Tell the Difference?

In the fashion world, editors LOVE to feature High vs. Low design in their magazines. High = $$$, Low = $. Gucci flip flops for $18,000 vs. a similar pair at Target for $18. Been there, seen it.

Which got me thinking, why should they have all the fun when there’s plenty of high and low kicking around in home design as well? And so this blog post was conceived.

To keep things fair, I chose like for like. In other words, similar quality, size and style. Anyone knows you can go dirt cheap and throw together some uneventful room for $200, but that’s not what we’re about around here.

Are you ready? Here are the two boards, with prices and comments below. Full disclosure, some of the items link to affiliates, where I may make a small commission should you decide to purchase.


I’m a HUGE Andy Warhol fan, so that was where each room started. Of course you can get super cheap Warhol prints starting at $10, but why, when it’s infinitely cooler to have a vintage print or lithograph from his era?

In the High room, the set of those 6 prints sell for a pretty $3650, while the single Mick is a mere $310. Of course the set of six is fantastic, but so is the young Jagger, and gives off the same vibe.

Click here to learn more about the set of six or the single lithograph, via Chairish and Etsy.


Let’s move along to the sofa. This is the piece of furniture where you will undoubtably spend the most money, and (other than your bed) will probably spend the most time enjoying. Moral to that story? Prepare to spend some money for a nice sofa that will be comfortable and last.

For the High room the sofa comes from Serena and Lily. They make beautiful sofas, and have lots and lots of fabrics to choose from, all are custom made. This particular sofa and fabric costs $4898, with a $300 handling fee.

The Low sofa is from one of my favorites, Joybird. Quality construction and custom made in the USA, Joybird makes the best quality sofa that you can find for the money. In this case the money is $1999.

Click here to learn more about the Serena and Lily sofa or the Joybird sofa.


Shall we discuss the chandelier? This one really struck me, as I like the Low chandelier the best, at least by what I can tell from the photos. Btw, both are made in China, so you don’t have to struggle over the notion of a world-weary chandelier-smith, holed up  in his dark woodshed somewhere, toiling away on your lighting for a higher price.

The High chandelier is by Arteriors for YLighting and sells for $2510, while it’s Low cousin can be found on Overstock for $232.

Click here to learn more about the Arterior chandelier or the Overstock chandlier.

The High table lamps are from One Kings Lane, and sell for $539 each. The Low lamps are also One Kings Lane, and sell for $195 for the pair.

Click here to learn more about the High lamps or the Low lamps.


Rugs! Too many great rugs, not enough rooms, amirite? Our High room features the Joanna Gaines for Anthropologie Isabel rug, priced at $1698 for a 9’6″ x 12’6″. Not bad.

I found a similar, 9′ x 12’2″ rug at One Kings Lane for $595. Which I promptly placed into our Low room.

Click here to learn more about the Joanna Gaines for Anthropologie rug, or the One Kings Lane rug.


Before we move another step can we PLEASE discuss this gorgeous agate side table in the High room? I love this so much, and not surprisingly it comes from 1st Dibs, my favorite site to troll. Sometimes I refer to it as 1st and 2nd trustfund, but that’s my own personal joke.

Anyhoo, this little gem is priced at $2100.

It didn’t take too much searching until I found another agate table from Walter E. Smithe, this one also very interesting, for a mere $171.75. Impressed, I moved this into our Low room.

Click here for the agate table from 1st Dibs, or the Walter E. Smithe table.


Like the table lamps, I sourced both mirrors from Wisteria. I really love each for different reasons, each has something special to offer.

The High mirror has a luxe, layered sunburst, while the Low mirror has a worn, natural finish.

$799 for the High, while the Low is on sale for $166.

Click here for more info on the High mirror, or the Low mirror.


Finally, we hit the finish line with pillows! The pillows in the High room feature a luxe gold and blue fabric by John Robshaw for $298 each, along with a polka dot pillow by Rebecca Atwood for $169, both from Anthropologie.

West Elm never disappoints in their pillow selection, so our Low room was decorated with a pair of modernized tapestry pillows on sale for $25 each, and a supremely cool Brooklyn area code pillow for a mere $29. Other area codes also available, though still waiting for some love for the 310 and 415.

Click here for the John Robshaw pillows, Rebecca Atwood pillow in the High room.

Click here for the West Elm tapestry floral pillows, or the area code pillow (my fave!)


In the end, the grand total for the High room was $17,798. This doesn’t take into account any special discounts or trade prices.

The Low room rang in at $3,747.75 Again, no discounts or special prices were considered.

That means you could buy 4.75 Low rooms for the price of one of our High rooms!!!

What’s my point in all of this? Two-fold, if you see something you REALLY love but it’s out of your price point, don’t give up. There’s plenty of great design for all these days via our friend, the internet.

And yet, it’s important to know that there are some things TOTALLY worth ponying up the big bucks for. So know where to spend, and know where to save.

Need some help figuring out such a design plan? Our basic design consults start at only $250, and we’re available worldwide. Contact us at Melrose12South@gmail.com for more information on how we can help you!