The perfect time to look for designer discounts is when we move from an apartment to a house. Of course, whenever you decorate your home, it's nice to buy things at "the right price". Here are a couple of hints about how to shop for designer-quality goods on an austere budget.
Furniture - Most furniture companies have an outlet store or a website that sells floor samples, discontinued styles, and returned merchandise at 25% to 40% off the designer discount (which is typically about 40% below retail). Find out if your favorite furniture store has an outlet. Describe what you need, ask to see what's in stock.
At boutiques, ask the owner if he/she works with "the trade". Then offer about 20% below the listed price. NOTHING is non-negotiable. Most of the time, the storeowner will sell it to you.
Wallpaper and Fabric - Fabric mills always have discontinued fabrics and wallpaper, and will usually be willing to sell them at 40% or more below the normal designer discounts. You can also call the corporate offices of the manufacturer and ask if their showroom sales are open to the public. Just make sure there's enough material in stock for the project you have in mind.
Rugs - Department stores mark up rugs 500% to 600%, so stick with the wholesalers. Ask for a money-back guarantee and free shipping.
Flooring - Wholesalers offer "buy direct" prices (which are equivalent to designer discounts) online to the public for quantities over 1,000 square feet. A friend of mine recently bought some bamboo wood flooring at $3 per foot, after being quoted over $9 per foot in a retail store.
Appliances - Ask your contractor where he gets his appliances. There are sources which sell predominantly to the trade. You can also find deep discounts online. Many stores have a warehouse full of returns and floor models in mint condition, at big savings.
Good luck, take your time, and have fun shopping.