How about a show of hands for those of you who saw Meryl Streep turn up the bitchiness in "The Devil Wears Prada"? My hand is up, right here! Aside from the parallels I was able to draw (too well, in fact) to a superior in my own work history, there is a particular scene in which Ms. Streep's character gives a sharp-tongued lesson in where the items that fill our big-box retail outlets come from. Those shelves lined with items which we might perceive as being worlds apart from high-end exclusive designers are in fact, derived from their trend-setting designs. As an example, watch the annual Academy Awards ceremony and then notice how many of those red carpet gowns are "knocked off" by mass retailers within a week. The same applies to interior design products. Our furniture styles, accessory shapes and themes, and color schemes are all very much derived from what the industry Gods have created and presented a season or two (or three or four) earlier.
All of this leads me to my point today: high or low? Do you buy the item with the discount sale sticker from the liquidator or do you shop at the design center and exclusive showrooms for items to decorate your home? As my husband likes to say, "how you do anything is how you do everything", so I'm probably not going out on a limb here to say that if you enjoy bargain shopping at Nordstrom Rack for last season's hot jeans style and finding them at $100 less than they were in the Nordstrom, you are likely using the same savvy shopping methods to outfit your home. And in contrast, if you enjoy wearing pieces that most people have not yet seen in North America because Milan Fashion Week just unveiled a particular new trend a couple of months ago, you are probably someone who prefers uncommon objets d'art and choosing furniture styles which express your preference for exclusive style and quality. Neither approach is right nor wrong - they simply are whatever fits you and your budget.
To give you a quick visual example, have a look at the photos below. Master designer and potter Jonathan Adler started this current trend displaying a cluster of small ceramic vessels. Ikea now has it's own version for a fraction of the Adler pieces.
The bottom line is to buy the best quality you can comfortably afford while getting the style that best expresses the look and feel you are after. And remember that it is "buyer beware" out there, and if it seems too good be true, it probably is of course. Happy shopping!