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It pays to know your limits
Shop wisely Not everyone can go out shopping and come back with a living room. However, if you're smart about where you shop, you can get a lot for your money.

Enjoy the process. At Circle Furniture, where sofas start at $800, "people will come in and get a sofa, then come back a year later and get chairs, and still later to buy a rug," says the store's Jeffrey Taylor. "You don't have to do everything at once."

"Be aware of great resources, like HomeGoods, that allow you to find high quality merchandise and experiment with styles and trends, all the while keeping your wallet very, very happy," says Betsy Speert.

"A designer is a luxury," Betsy says. If you're working without one, Circle Furniture's salespeople are also your design consultants. They'll help you with your floor plan and your paint chips, and they even make house calls.