Refer to picturesque celebrity homes, and the figures are frankly staggering. For thousands or even millions of dollars, one could appoint their home with the pinnacle of interior design opulence, featuring original work by esteemed decorators, furniture from acclaimed designers, and statement work by renowned artists who have earned household-name status.
It’s understandable to crave such refinement for your own home. However, you can attain the immaculate look of finely curated interiors at a much more reasonable price. The secret lies in employing certain reliable design techniques rather than shelling out for specific products. Start with these six approaches to elegant decor.
Furniture and decor are often only as impressive as their context, and regarded decorators know how to position goods for maximum impact. A common tactic is to arrange seating at right angles: framing sofas, accent chairs, and ottomans around a large rug and then anchoring seats with proportional end tables and light fixtures. Try to feature similar or even identical lamps in one room for a satisfying motif.
When decorating a large seating area, resist the urge to spread out furniture in a massive sprawl. Instead, separate the room into distinct seating areas, each centered around a table within arm’s reach. Take a hotel lobby for inspiration. To create balance in any room, separate the largest pieces, like credenzas and beds, from one another, peppering in smaller accents like poufs between them.
Use staging secrets
Homes featured in top design outlets use a few reliable staging techniques to make them as photogenic as possible. For one, they’re always completely neat. Rooms indisputably look better when they’re clean and organized, so store your less sightly possessions like remotes, home-office supplies, and small appliances in cabinets whenever possible.
Ornamental plants are so reliable that elegant rooms staged for magazines and even hotel-suite portfolios are rarely staged without fresh flowers. If you’re expecting company, set out a bouquet or a vase with dressings in a high-profile position—like on a cocktail table or kitchen island. Select foliage in an accent color present elsewhere in the room to wow your guests and make any room look more expensive.
Give new life to antiques or well-worn possessions. If a feature of your home seems outdated or damaged, consider refining it before replacing it. Professional refurbishing services can paint, clean, and modernize furniture for far less than shopping new, and there may even be some projects you can undertake yourself. Restored antiques like mirrors and hutches lend conversational, personal charm to any room. Also, don’t underestimate what a professional rug-care service can do for dusty, stained, or even tattered rugs.
Color is one of the most fickle elements of design; companies like Sherwin-Williams influence the interior decorating world with their designated color of the year. To stay current without throwing your lot into an inherently temporary design trend, consider repainting decorative objects like pottery and candleholders in fashionable colors. “The easiest way to change anything in your home, including glazed ceramics, is with paint,” says design author Diane Henkler of the In My Own Style blog, where she features a helpful guide to repainting lamps and other decor.
Make minor updates
Certain small investments can effectively make your home look fresh and current. First, paint over outdated wall colors like primary and pastel shades. Select neutral colors like white or light blue for a calming ambience that also feels refined. Shop for inexpensive accents like pillows, duvets, towels, and decorative pottery, which tend to cycle in and out of fashion faster than larger furniture or wall art do.
You can achieve a lavish look with statement lighting as well. Affordable yet effective, simple drum lampshades can refresh outdated lamps and cover plain ceiling fixtures. Seek affordable fixtures like pendant lights at resale stores for enhanced style. These focal points can center a room without occupying usable square footage.
Imitate for less
Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but it serves you as well. Imitate the look of luxury homes while shopping for attractive decor within your personal budget.
For example, an authentic Eames chair-and-ottoman set—a golden egg for many high-end, midcentury modern homes—can run in the mid-$6,000s, while a similar set by George Oliver is priced around $1,000. For other statement pieces at a small investment, buy and frame prints from up-and-coming artists. While original art may earn more bragging rights, fine art can drain design funds that could be useful elsewhere.
If you’re going to invest in a big-ticket item like a sofa, dining table, or headboard, try to avoid going too trendy. Those who overinvested in a boucle sofa, bubble chair, or farmhouse table may unfortunately find that interior design tastemakers now dismiss them. If you’re looking for a solution to update these pieces, refer back to the “Restore” section above.
To stay timeless, shop for neutral-colored furniture in a classic fabric like cotton or linen. Avoid patterns like stripes, florals, and tropical motifs, which only seem to be appreciated every few decades. And while desert shabby chic and farmhouse decorative trends gradually descend into outdated territory, you can’t go wrong with a transitional design scheme, which seamlessly balances reliable classics with touches of modern elegance.