Designer Confession: I Love Shopping at Big-Box Stores

Don't mind me, I'll just be over here browsing the dollar bins.

I support local businesses, deep down admire creative artisans and love vintage and thrift stores more than almost anything in the world. Well, almost anything. Except for big-box stores.

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Woman Shopping Houseware in Department Store Display

Photo by: Photo: YinYang

Photo: YinYang

I can't help myself. In fact, I'm not even ashamed to admit it: Marshalls is my mecca, HomeGoods is my church, Costco rocks my world and Target…don't even get me started on Target. I love shopping at big-box stores, and here are all the reasons why.

Everything is Under One Roof

I wouldn't have predicted that I'd enjoy shopping for throw pillows and toothpaste at the same time, but the truth is I really do. It's fun to be able to buy cardigan sweaters, lamp shades, mascara, party favor bags, coffee pods and mouthwash all at once. Depending on the store you're visiting, you can potentially cross two to three other stops off of your to-do list.

Bargain Basement Prices

As someone who has managed to find a small stool I loved on 1stdibs that cost $17,000, I can certainly appreciate those vintage splurge pieces that you just can't live without (for the record, the stool was for a client, and even she thought it was too expensive despite being super fab). But the discount prices at big boxes always make me swoon. Oftentimes you'll find the exact same items that you might have been scoping out at a department store for way less.

You Know What to Expect

While you don't always know what will be in stock at your favorite big-box store, you do know what to expect out of the experience. Things are well organized and well lit, and if you see anything you like you can just throw it into your shopping cart. If you're like me, you can probably direct people around the store to various departments as well as some of the employees could. #trueconfessions

Big Box Doesn't Mean Boring

Because big-box stores stock so much inventory (that's constantly turning over), the variety of items to choose from is staggering. Of course, there's still the possibility that you'll find the same Kate Spade mugs you found on sale at Marshalls at your friend's house, but also: no one may ever figure it out. Shopping at big-box stores allows you to create fun high/low decor and furniture combinations that aren't easily replicated.

They're Flexible

Sometimes a giant pink furry pillow seems like a good idea in the store, but then I get home and realize that I actually hate giant pink furry pillows. As long as you're within your return window you can simply bring the items back. In addition to fairly flexible return policies, some stores will even price match.

The Ultimate High/Low Shopping Guide

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Patterned Chair

An intricate Jacquard fabric covers this handmade chair. 1803-01 chair in zion bright, $1,957, leeindustries.com for stores

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

Zigzag-ed Colors

Similar pink and orange colors, but the printed cotton means big savings. Maya chair, $599, grandinroad.com

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

Bouquet Chandelier

No need for a centerpiece with this flowery chandelier above your table. Crystorama Southport 39"-diameter, 12-light wrought-iron chandelier, $998, hayneedle.com

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

Smaller Statement

Smaller in scale, this pick pretties up any space. Flora 24"-diameter, 8-light wrought-iron chandelier, $399, ballarddesigns.com

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

Go for Gold Leaf

This handcrafted beauty has a rich gold-leaf finish. Arteriors Home Porter Bamboo 43" x 54" iron mirror, $1,572, wayfair.com

Photo By: Marko Metzinger/Studio D

Painted Instead

Gold paint on this smaller piece shrinks the price. Cyan Designs Bamboo 23?1/2" x 38" iron mirror, $530, zincdoor.com

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

Elegant Lighting

Bubbled-glass balls on a chrome-finish base support a linen shade. Peacock Aqua 27"-tall lamp, $199, shadesoflight.com

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

Slash the Price in Half

There are only three stacked spheres, but this lamp’s actually 2 inches taller. Sea Green 29"-tall glass lamp, $50, kirklands.com

Photo By: Marko Metzinger/Studio D

Monogrammed Tote

Choose from more than 30 monogram styles to personalize this durable bag. Colorfield 14"-tall vinyl tote in orange, $99, markandgraham.com

Photo By: Aaron Graubart/Studio D

Personalized and Durable

This classic cotton-canvas tote can hold up to 500 pounds—in case you ever need to carry that much! Boat and Tote 13"-tall open-top tote in mandarin orange, $38, llbean.com

Photo By: Aaron Graubart/Studio D

Feather-Filled

Purple corded piping adds polish to this feather- and down-filled pillow. Kite Ikat 20" pillow in purple, $90, lampsplus.com

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

Can You Tell the Difference?

Same pattern, but a polyester fill and no piping cuts the cost in half—and then some! Chooty & Co. Carnival Grapevine 17" x 17" pillow, $37, hayneedle.com

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

Set a Stylish Table

Customize this 10-inch dinner plate with a name for no extra fee. Christmas Green on White Damask melamine plate, $28, zazzle.com

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

More for Your Money

You can pick up three of these 8?1/2-inch plates for about the same amount. Victorian Kelly Green melamine plate, $8, qsquarednyc.com

Photo By: Aaron Graubart/Studio D

Dressed to Impress

Shimmer & Stripes 35"W x 18"D x 34?1/4"H 3-drawer wood and veneer chest, $718, hayneedle.com

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufactuer

Bolder Stripes

Coast to Coast Imports 25"W x 14"D x 32"H 3-drawer hardwood and veneer chest, $380, wayfair.com

Photo By: Marko Metzinger/Studio D

Light the Night

Arteriors Home Ben 31"-tall wood lamp, $408, lightopiaonline.com

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

Wood Works

Stein World Wood Post 29?1/4"-tall lamp, $140, hayneedle.com

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

Organize and Accessorize

Lunar Eclipse necklace in cobalt, $345, lelesadoughi.com; Largo 10?1/4"W x 3??1/4"D x 6?3/4"H faux snakeskin jewelry box, $40, zgallerie.com

Photo By: box: Marko Metzinger/Studio D; necklace: courtesy of the manufacturer

Play Dress Up Every Day

Jeweled Piano collar, $36, baublebar.com; Slim 8"W x 4?1/2"D x 2"H lacquer jewelry box in foam blue, $24, westelm.com

Photo By: box: Marko Metzinger/Studio D; necklace: courtesy of the manufacturer

Pretty as a Picture

Floral 4" x 6" bone inlay frame in blue/white, $55, robertarollerrabbit.com

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

Reminder to Smile

Blue Chain 4" x 6" bone and wood frame, $34, wisteria.com

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

Top Quality

Chloe 5' x 8' wool and viscose rug in gold, $1,195, companyc.com

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

Beneath Your Feet

Oriental Weavers Bali 5'3" x 7'6" polypropylene rug in ivory and gold, $129, rugsdirect.com

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

Drum Pendant Light

Brushed nickel accents along the top and bottom of the shade are an upscale touch. Hyper Links 5 1/2"H x 20"-diameter pendant, $250, lampsplus.com

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

Smaller Version

Ditching the nickel drops the price of this similarly swirly pick. Chippendale Ribbons 12"H x 16"-diameter pendant, $150, shadesoflight.com

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

Silky Chevron

D.L. Rhein Arrowhead 20" x 20" pillow in orange/pink, $170, amazon.com

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

Just as Eye-Catching

Equally graphic and colorful, this sofa accent is made from washable cotton. Appliqued Diamonds Bright Coral 20" x 20" pillow cover and insert, $55, both westelm.com

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

Tailored Fit

The linen-rayon upholstery on a tight seat frame gives this chair a neat, tailored shape. Chandler chair in seamist, $1,479, bassettfurniture.com

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

The Look for Less

Covered in cotton, this version has a cushion seat and is easy to move on casters. Leyland chair in Balboa ikat, $617, ballarddesigns.com

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

"O" My Table Lamp

The thick antiqued brass circle doubles the warm glow of this table lamp. Quattro 29"-tall lamp, $1,050, circalighting.comTh

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

Thinner Shape

A delicate base is more delicate on the wallet. Duara Circle 29"-tall brushed brass-plated lamp, $218, fratantonilifestyles.com

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

Carefully Crafted

This adorable breakfast tray is made from sustainably harvested birchwood. Spoons 13" x 17" tray in white, $38, fab.com

Photo By: Philip Friedman/Studio D

Cut the Cost

About a quarter of the price gets you a similar look made of laminated cardboard. 9 1/2" x 13 1/2" tray, $10, hm.com

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

Make a Wish

First made in 1949, this chair style is a Danish design classic. Wishbone beech wood and paper cord chair in sky blue, $855, danishdesignstore.com

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

Take a Seat at the Table

This simpler homage is a perfect way to spruce up a kitchen table. Neils beech wood and paper-wrapped cord chair in blue, $249, crateandbarrel.com

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

Serve the Salad

Handcrafted by Italian artisans, this serving bowl is actually dishwasher-safe. Foglia Fresca 4 3/4"H x 10"-diameter bowl, $101, vietri.comL

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

Leafy greens

This pick will save you money, but it's hand-wash only. Threshold Lettuce 4 1/2"H x 9"-diameter ceramic bowl, $15, target.com

Photo By: Philip Friedman/Studio D

Work Station

Eli’s 42"W x 21"D x 65 1/2"H redwood potting bench, $1,290, foreverredwood.com

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

Works Just the Same

Outdoor Living Today 43"W x 23"D x 51"H western red cedar potting bench, $289, homedepot.com

Photo By: Philip Friedman/Studio D

Prune Your Garden

All-purpose high-carbon Japanese steel pruner, $48, shopterrain.com

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

Spruce Up Plants

Thoughtful Gardener metal pruner, $25, burkedecor.com

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

Porcelain Planter

Blue and White Lotus 7 1/4"H x 8 1/4"-diameter porcelain planter, $95, organize.com

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

Style in Blue and White

Muskotnöt 4 3/4"H x 5 1/2"-diameter galvanized steel plant pot, $2, IKEA stores

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

We Dig It

Vintage hand trowel, $70, williams-sonoma.com

Photo By: Kevin Sweeney/Studio D

An Essential Tool

Nickel chrome hand trowel, $6, acehardware.com

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

Gardener's Tool Box

Puddle-Proof 12 3/4"W x 7 3/4"D x 9 1/2"H canvas field bag, $40, gardeners.com

Photo By: Kevin Sweeney/Studio D

Carry All in This Carryall

Garden 11"W x 8"D x 9"H canvas tool bag, $20, burpee.com

Photo By: Kevin Sweeney/Studio D

The Right Footwear

Urban Farmer rubber slide shoes, $60, bogsfootwear.com Kee

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

Keep Feet Clean

Plastic garden clogs, $48, gardeners.com

Photo By: Kevin Sweeney/Studio D

Potting and Planting

Dr. Earth Mother Land 1 1/2-cubic-foot organic planting mix, $32, walmart.com; Jackson 6-cubic-foot steel wheelbarrow, $249, homedepot.com

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturers

Your Garden Helpers

Miracle-Gro 1-cubic-foot flowers and vegetables garden soil, $5, lowes.com; Ace 10-cubic-foot wheelbarrow, $150, acehardware.com

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturers

Luxury Lighting

The curvy base is made of tole (a.k.a. fancy hand-lacquered tin). Bargello Curvy Chevron 25"-tall lamp, $389, prileylane.com

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

Bold Statement

This one’s shorter, but it’s glossy ceramic and Lucite. Mary McDonald Santorini Stripes 19 1/4"-tall lamp, $188, lampsplus.com

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

Green Wire Stool

Try this Dutch design beside a club chair. Pols Potten 17"H x 13"-diameter epoxy paint-covered iron wire stool, $289, us.amara.com

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

Stool and Table

Pop this little stool next to an outdoor lounge chair. Adele 17"H x 15"-diameter iron wire stool in green, $103, overstock.com

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

Comfortable Seating

Extra plush with two loose cushions, and extra chic with intricately carved legs. Benson flax and rayon chair, $849, sammoore.com for stores

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

Sleek Shape

Also an exuberant floral, but the tight foam form keeps the price in check. Candace cotton chair, $250, target.com

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

Watercolors

A cushy feather/down insert fills this pretty linen pillow. Watercolor 22" x 22" pillow, $245, janetkain.com

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

Brighter for Outside

This outdoor polyester pick makes a patio party-ready. Amy Sia Summer Ikat 20" x 20" pillow, $55, denydesigns.comer

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

On the Fence

With eight hooks, there’s enough space for your whole flock. Bird Picket Fence 16" x 49" wood and metal coat rack, $124, elizabethsembellishments.com

Photo By: Kevin Sweeney/Studio D

Double Your Purchase

Only five hooks, but you could pick up two for half the price. Birds on a Fence 15" x 26" wood rack with metal hooks, $30, orientaltrading.com

Photo By: Kevin Sweeney/Studio D

Royal Bowl

Fancy Limoges porcelain, 24 karat gold trim, and rich cobalt—this bowl’s fit for a king. Bernardaud Prince Bleu 6 3/4"-diameter bowl, $195, michaelcfina.com

Photo By: Marko Metzinger/Studio D

Down-to-Earth Option

This family-friendly find is both dishwasher- and microwave-safe. Somerset Island Floral 6 1/2"-diameter porcelain bowl, $22, macys.com

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

Wallpaper That Wows

Made on centuries-old printing presses, this wallpaper has raised detailing that makes it look like it was painted onto the wall. Tea House Toile wallpaper in cream on gold, per single roll, $90, yorkwall.com for stores

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

Classic With a Kick

A classic Asian toile pattern with more modern silhouettes. Asian Scenic wallpaper in white on beige, per single roll, $49, yorkwall.com for stores

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

Carved 4-Poster Bed + Sheets

Jodi Appalachian hardwood twin bed in chambray, $1,179, ethanallen.com; Dot to Dot twin percale sheet set, $84, garnethill.com; Annabel twin 300-thread-count cotton sateen duvet cover, $150, serenaandlily.com

Photo By: Marko Metzinger/Studio D

Shutter-Style Bed + Sheets

Boardwalk Batten wood twin bed in bluet, $849, youngamerica.com; Flower Dot twin percale sheet set, $62, thecompanystore.com; Trisha Trellis twin 200-thread-count cotton percale duvet cover, $69, potterybarnkids.com

Photo By: Marko Metzinger/Studio D

White Nightstand

Keller 20 3/4"W x 18"D x 26"H Appalachian wood night table in white, $639, ethanallen.com

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

Basic Nightstand

Simple 17"W x 16 3/4"D x 26 1/4"H wood nightstand in white, $199, landofnod.com

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

Porcelain Bunny Lamp

Bunny 14 1/2"-tall porcelain lamp in ivory, $165, lampsplus.com

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

Resin Bunny Lmap

Abracadabra poly-resin lamp, $69, landofnod.com

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

Lovely Read

The Secret Garden (Puffin Books) deluxe hardcover classic, $25, amazon.com

Photo By: Philip Friedman/Studio D

Storytime

The Secret Garden (Dover Children’s Thrift Classics) abridged paperback, $3, amazon.com

Photo By: Philip Friedman/Studio D

Collectible Teddy

Björn Classic teddy bear, $198, steiffusa.com

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

Build a Bear

Happy Hugs Classic teddy bear, $15, buildabear.com

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

Tweet Tweet

This ceramic birdhouse is almost entirely glazed in a glossy citron color. Pratone 8 1/2"H x 51/2"-diameter birdhouse in green, $32, anthropologie.com

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

A Little Birdie Told Us

A terra-cotta home for the bird on a budget. 8"H x 7"-diameter birdhouse in green, $20, crateandbarrel.com

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

Geometric Curb Appeal

There’s extra detailing at the base of this lightweight fiberglass pot. Zoey 15"H x 18"-diameter planter in black, $129, grandinroad.com.

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufactuer

Zebra Stripe

This shorter pot is sturdy ceramic. Zig Zag 10"H x 11 1/4"-diameter planter in black, $85, emiliaceramics.com.

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

Lounge Around

Even the back legs are fancy on this cushy reading spot. Malina Premier linen blend chair in meadowlark surf, $1,079, la-z-boy.com for stores

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

Add Some Detailing

Same pattern, plus nailheads! Chas linen blend armchair in blue meadow, $480, pier1.com

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

Under the Sea

A wood base and finial are fine finishing accents on this ceramic lamp. Green Seahorse 31"-tall lamp with linen shade in gray, $259, shadesoflight.com

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

Coastal Light

This under-the-sea selection is made of sturdy resin. DEI Ocean Blue Seahorse 23"-tall lamp with rice paper shade, $60, wayfair.com

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

Patterned Pillow

Embroidered red swirls decorate this linen pick. Coyuchi Endless 14" x 20" pillow, $99, wayfair.com

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

Settled In

A polyester cover keeps the price less plump. Double Red Maze 13" x 21" pillow, $43, zazzle.com

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

Office Work

Made from solid maple and steel with a drawer large enough to stash a laptop. Basis 36"W x 22"D x 30"H desk, $999, roomandboard.com

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

Down to Business and Budget

Perfect for a small space, this narrower option has two drawers. Room Essentials 39 1/2"W x 16"D x 31"H MDF desk, $70, target.com

Photo By: Alison Gootee/Studio D

Cushion Your Step

Give your living room an instant makeover with a soft, handmade wool rug. Sheffield Stripe 5' x 8' rug in sea grass, $995, companyc.com

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

Family Friendly

This synthetic wool version stands up to stains. Amalfi Collection Stripes I 5' x 7'6" rug in ocean, $269, homedecorators.com

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

Under the Shade

Premium Striped 9'-diameter Sunbrella and teak umbrella in peridot, $829, and umbrella base, $99, both potterybarn.com

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

Spend Time Outside

Loftonaire 7'-diameter polyester and eucalyptus umbrella, $120, and umbrella base (not shown), $50, both pier1.com

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

Some R & R

Hampton wicker chaise longue with cushions in Sunbrella ginko, $1,295, thosbaker.com

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

Kick Back

Belvedere wicker chaise with olefin cushion in lime, $300, target.com

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

Plush Pillow

Painted Suzani Tulip Jade 17" x 17" acrylic pillow, $229, frontgate.com

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

Added Comfort

Violetta Baltic 16" x 16" Sunbrella pillow, $38 for a set of 2, lowes.com

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

Stool or Side Table

Calabash 18"H x 14"-diameter ceramic stool, $328, scenariohome.com

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

Rest Your Drink

Colorful 18 1/2"H x 15"-diameter metal stool in yellow, $100, plowhearth.com

Photo By: Courtesy of the manufacturer

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