Interior Design

HOUSE BEAUTIFUL - 18 Designers Reveal Their First Big Home Purchase

Shop & Tell features thoughtfully curated home finds from House Beautiful editors. Every week we'll take you inside our carts and dish on what we're buying—and why you should be reaching for your wallet too.

For us avid home shoppers, nothing feels more satisfying than finally purchasing those big investment pieces on our wishlist. Ask any editor or designer about their first major purchase, and they will surely remember it.

As you might've expect, many designers named artwork as an invaluable big-time purchase. "I knew how much great artwork could change a space and was committed to starting my own collection even when I didn't have a ton to allot toward it," Clara Jung, principal designer of Banner Day Interiors recalls. "Scouring vintage stores both online(Chairish, 1stDibs) and in person, I purchased a large piece by John Holcomb that still hangs above our dining table to this day. It still evokes strong feelings and really completes the room." Though art can certainly tie together a space, so can items like a large dining table, which many designers named as their first big gets, or a custom sofa. See what all the designers bought ahead, then shop or get inspiration for your next splurge.

Powys Foundatin

Reseda Discount Pottery Powys Foundatin


"We ordered an almost 10-foot-wide fountain. It was from Campania International and weighed so much that we had to have seven men bring it onto the property in pieces. We absolutely loved it, but we were also nervous it would look ridiculous because of its size. It ended up being an incredible show stopper and we are so glad we purchased it. It was a really painful cost, in the $10k range, but worth every penny once installed. We got it from Reseda Discount Pottery and Fountains. They’re such a hidden gem!"

–Amanda Leigh and Taylor Hahn of House of Rolison

Untitled (Split Painting), 2024

Ryan Mrozowski Untitled (Split Painting), 2024


"My first big purchase was a piece of art, and I would recommend to anyone to invest in art first and foremost. Starting with art is a smart decision because it's an element that can distinguish and differentiate one's space. When I was in grad school I worked at the school library with Ryan Mrozowski, and bought a piece of his art before he became really well-known. It's now worth so much more than what I paid for it."

—Susana Simonpietri, creative director of Chango

Celia Round Dining Table

Lulu and Georgia Celia Round Dining Table


"My onyx dining table is definitely one of the biggest design purchases I've made in terms of size and how much I love it. It's an 800 pound table and also one of my favorite pieces. I had been looking for a table that would not only make a statement in my home, but also fit the irregular layout of my dining room. When I sourced the onyx piece from Facebook Marketplace, I knew it would be the perfect addition to the room. I had never seen an onyx dining table and most onyx I've come across is fairly opaque and on the darker side but this piece has a translucent element to it that I think really softens my space and reflects the light in the room beautifully. Not to mention it was imported from Italy, so it feels a bit like I've got a piece of my heritage at home with me. Since it is a one-of-a-kind piece, there are unfortunately not a ton of similar tables for purchase, but I'm a huge fan of any kind of stone table and there are some really beautiful ones out there if you're willing to take the time to do a little digging."

—Francesca Grace, founder of Francesca Grace

The Galley Lantern

Matthew Cox The Galley Lantern


"Quite possibly the easiest (and first) design purchase we made was our beloved kitchen island pendants by Matthew Cox. It just felt like these lanterns were meant for our modern English Tudor home. I actually didn’t consider any other options and when I received the patina finish sample in the mail, it was a done deal. Incredibly classic and loved by all, we get asked by our guests all the time where they are from!"

—Steph Viesta, founder and interior designer of Studio Seva

"Avian Apparatus," 11" x 14", 2016 (Work on Paper)

Angela Beloian "Avian Apparatus," 11" x 14", 2016 (Work on Paper)


"My first major purchase was a piece of art! One of my favorite artists is Angela Beloian; she did me the honor of delivering the artwork to my home which made it all the more special! The piece is called 'Radiant Papoose,' mixed media on panel, and it's proudly showcased front and center in our family's piano/art room." (You can see and inquire about similar works of art on Beloian's website.)

—Miranda Cullen, founder and principal at Inside Stories

Sheraton Dining Table

Holland Macrae Sheraton Dining Table


"My first big design purchase was a Sheraton Dining Table from Holland Macrae. I bought it because it is such a classic table and the inlay is so beautiful. The radial leaves make it very versatile with the option of going from 60" diameter to 76" diameter. It pairs well with many types of dining chairs. It has and will stand the test of time!"

—Liz Williams, founder and interior designer of Liz Williams Interiors

Set of 8 Thonet S33 Leather and Chrome Chairs

Mart Stam Set of 8 Thonet S33 Leather and Chrome Chairs

$9,500 AT 1STDIBS

"My first truly thoughtful investment was the purchase of six original B33 Marcel Breuer chairs circa 1920. I bought them for a mere $500 at Zaborski’s Emporium in Kingston, New York and to my horror watched the leather deteriorate and shred within a couple of weeks of bringing them home. It broke my heart, but I had to sink thousands of dollars into re-slinging new leather. Now, they are my most prized possession." Originals from the 1920s are nearly impossible to find except at auction houses like Bukowski's, Invaluable, and Wright, though reproductions and replicas are available on 1stDibs.

—Jess Nahon, co-principal of Sugarhouse

Blue Bronc, 2022

John Holcomb Blue Bronc, 2022


"My first big design purchase was original artwork. I knew how much great artwork could change a space and was committed to starting my own collection even when I didn't have a ton to allot toward it. Scouring vintage stores both online (Chairish, 1stDibs) and in person, I purchased a large piece by John Holcomb that still hangs above our dining table to this day. It still evokes strong feelings and really completes the room."

–Clara Jung, principal of Banner Day Interiors

Saarinen Dining Table, Round

Knoll Saarinen Dining Table, Round

Now 20% Off


"My first big design purchase was a Saarinen Tulip Table. I dreamed of one for years and stumbled across a vintage base at a dealer when shopping for a client. It came out of The High Museum in Atlanta when they were turning over some furnishings. Not only was it what I wanted, but it was one with a rich story to boot! We got it a fresh powder coat and then added a new honed arabascato marble top from Knoll. It is one of my favorite things I own!"

—Lathem Gordon, co-principal of GordonDunning

Beam Sconce

Pelle Designs Beam Sconce


"I've been a huge fan of Pelle's work for years, and when I was renovating my place, I knew just the spot for it. There's a wall that's visible from the moment you enter, and that's exactly where it went. It feels futuristic, almost like it belongs in a science fiction film. The cast acrylic prisms come in different colors and they’re wonderful to change seasonally or for special occasions. I'm especially fond of the pink—it has a fabulous futuristic glow!"

—Jeremy Silberberg, co-founder of Studio S II

Large Sideboard in Walnut

Silvio Coppola for Bernini Large Sideboard in Walnut

$5,850 AT 1STDIBS

"The first big design purchase I purchased for my home was from deKor. It is a vintage credenza that we keep in our office, we’ve had it in four different homes. It comes with us to each because it is beautiful, functional, and such a statement piece."

–Jesse Rudolph, founder of Ome Dezin

Prism Seven-Person Hot Tub

Prisco Hot Tub Prism Seven-Person Hot Tub


"My inaugural foray into significant design investments culminated in the acquisition of the Prism Hot Tub, boasting an espresso cabinet and a captivating Tuscan Sun shell. This purchase was a deliberate upgrade from a smaller, non-functional hot tub that was part of the property when we acquired it. Seeking a spacious oasis capable of accommodating our family of six and additional guests, I envisioned a space where relaxation and entertainment converge."

—Nina Lichtenstein, founder of Custom Home Design by Nina Lichtenstein

Piccadilly Sofa

RoTarlow Melrose House Piccadilly Sofa


"Purchasing this Rose Tarlow Piccadilly sofa was a defining moment in my design journey. Its timeless elegance and impeccable craftsmanship not only transformed my living space, but also deepened my appreciation for high-quality design. This piece became the cornerstone of my home, blending comfort with an enduring aesthetic that continues to inspire me."

—Martha Lord, interior designer and principal at Boland Lord Design

Sierra Dining Table

Croft House Sierra Dining Table


"One of my first big design purchases was this beautiful Croft House bleached oak dining table with welded steel legs. We customized it so it was extra long in order to be able to host a large group. It's one of those pieces I am so happy I splurged on because I still love it so much even years later."

—Antonella Spina, founder of Luma Interior Design

Terracotta by the Sea Rug

Terracotta by the Sea Rug


"My first big purchase for my apartment was actually a custom rug I designed for my living room. I love to design rugs for projects so I figured I'd treat my apartment no differently! I kept the walls quite bright, white, and airy but my kitchen cabinets were done in Farrow & Ball's Light Blue. I thought this would make for the perfect ground for the rug and paired it with my favorite color, orange, as a decorative stripe throughout. Rugs are an investment but if they are high quality they will last you forever."

—Christie Ward, co-principal at Ward + Gray

Haller Table

USM Haller Table

$2,447 AT USM.COM

"I would say our first big design purchase would be our USM desk and credenza. It was for our home office at the time and was our way of solidifying and celebrating the beginning of our design firm, Nivek Remas. We still have those two pieces today in our conference room."

—Kevin Chan, co-founder of Nivek Remas




"The first piece we bought for our home that I really fell in love with, was a piece of artwork by Bea Aiguabella. I love the scale and simplicity of it. I wanted it to sit above the dining table, which was a vintage piece, and I liked that it complimented the stone rather than fighting with it. The scale fits perfectly within the moulding, and proportionately with the ceiling heights without being dominating." (You can see and inquire about similar works of art on Aiguabella's website.)

—Katie Harbison, principal of Katie Harbison Design

Laurent Oval White Marble Coffee Table with Angled Base

Laurent Oval White Marble Coffee Table with Angled Base


"My first big design purchase was a coffee table for my apartment. I knew I wanted something made out of pink marble to be a real showstopper in my home. Part of why I felt this was worth purchasing is knowing it would be able to come with me wherever I go. I also think that while it may be jarring since it’s pink, it’s still timeless being that it’s marble and marble never goes out of style! I ended up customizing the table to the correct dimensions/scale for the space and I had the opportunity to pick out the slab in person." (The piece isn't available to purchase anymore, so shop a similar option, here.)

— Sarah Tract, founder and interior designer of Sarah Tract Interiors

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