In an ideal world, we would all have a world-class designer at our disposal to make our spaces exude comfort, luxury, and sophistication. Sadly, reality can bite, and our wallets run dry. Luckily, there are ways to get a custom, upscale look without breaking your budget. It doesn't take need to be expensive either. With a few simple adjustments and strategic styling techniques, you can create a space that feels regal on a shoestring.
Not convinced? We've interviewed numerous interior designers, decorators, and style experts on MyDomaine, and these are some of the best we've learned. Read on for 10 tips to consider when completely redecorating or when you're just looking for a quick update.
FRESHEN IT UP WITH FLOWERS
You don't need a wallet-busting mega-arrangement to add luxury to your space. A simple (read: cheap) bouquet from the grocery store can be all you need to add sophistication. Besides, it's all about how you arrange the flowers and what vase you arrange them in. First, separate the bouquet by stem type then create several small arrangements to spread around your home.
The dent in your wallet (and time) is minimal, but the impact on your home is monumental. If there really isn't anything you like at the grocery store, take a wander outside and cut a few trimmings off a tree or plant then place it casually in a table or floor vase. The greenery will really brighten the space and make it feel like home.
THROW DOWN SOME PILLOWS
A sofa, throw pillows, chair, and drapes that are all in the same fabric and texture will almost certainly make your space fall flat. Swap out bland throw pillows for a variety of textures and sizes to easily add dimension. Even if you're color-averse, just adding in a few hues that are a slight variation of the neutrals you already have will liven up the space.
Try a light mustard, dusty pink, or soft lilac (Zara Home is backing this color for fall) if you can't commit to a brighter palette.
FOOL THE EYE WITH CURTAINS
Many luxurious and expensive homes have high ceilings and are luckily flooded with natural light. Fool the eye and get the look by hanging your drapery and hardware as high and close to the ceiling as possible—never directly above the window frame. This will draw the eye up and give the appearance of a loftier space.
Another trick is to add sheer curtains. They really soften the light that comes in and fill the room with a warmth that is both cozy and feels expensive.
DECLUTTER, DECLUTTER, DECLUTTER
Clutter and mess are decidedly un-chic. It's one thing to have a generously styled bookshelf or mantlepiece, but too much stuff can look cheap and chaotic. Pare down your accessories and edit your collected possessions to just those few favorites for a look that feels elevated and classic.
If you're unsure where to start, or you're limited for time, then follow these simple, small, and actionable tips on how to store and organize every single item in your home, from toilet paper to pot lids. You'll also feel better for it mentally and physically, promise—it's scientifically proven.
GRAB A ROLLER AND ADD A FRESH COAT
Nothing gives off a personalized and custom vibe more than perfectly hued walls. Roll up your sleeves and get your paint rollers out of storage to get the look for less. Painting a room or a single wall in your home is a simple DIY that promises to have a major impact in any space. There's nothing quite like the transformative effect of crisp white walls or dove gray cabinets. If you need a few pointers, here's to choose the right paint color for every room.
TAKE THE TIME TO STYLE EACH AREA
Most professionally decorated spaces emphasize the art of surface styling. Once you've edited down your decorative accessories to your favorites, make sure to purposefully arrange them in an eye-pleasing manner. There are a few simple tips you can apply to arrange your coffee table, your mantel, and indoor benches.
So give your furniture the spotlight it deserves with a few simple yet expertly styled pieces for an overall richer experience.
DON'T FORGET THE RUG
Ground your furniture with a statement-making rug. Not only does it bring everything together, it also lays the foundation and really sets the stage for the rest of the room. An area rug adds much-needed warmth, texture, and color, and the larger the rug (and more of your furniture arrangement you are able to comfortably include on it) the more custom and luxurious it will look.
Even if you have a rental apartment with carpeting, adding a rug on top will help define different spaces and add that certain something.
SWAP YOUR LAMP SHADES
Get a personalized look by switching out the standard stock shade that came with your lamp for a different option. This will help add dimension and make a big-box store lamp appear unique and special. There are so many affordable options too—cool girls are losing it over this $5 pendant shade. It's also a great way to buy into a micro-trend without spending big like this IKEA glass lamp shade that lets you tap into the sepia color craze for just $25.
BUY MATCHING SETS FOR ALL YOUR ESSENTIALS
Although we recommend avoiding sets when it comes to furniture, nothing looks more deliberate, neat, and chic than a set of matching containers on a vanity or kitchen counter. Using liquid soap in a dispenser and transferring cotton swabs from a box into a coordinating container elevates the entire look.
We love this marble bathroom collection from CB2. It's relatively inexpensive, but the overall impact on your bathroom is enormous. You'll feel like you're on vacation in your own home.
INVEST IN WINDOW TREATMENTS
Many major retailers offer semi-custom window treatments in a variety of fabric and trim combinations using your window's specific measurements. If you're in need of some advice before making the investment, we asked celebrity interior designer Nate Berkus to shed light on the world of window treatments once and for all. "My go-to is typically a shade mixed with flat drapery panels that skim the floor," Berkus tells us. "But I tend to create interiors that are a little simpler and a little less ornate.
I don't really reach for fussy window coverings as a general rule."
Of course, every window is individual to the home and to you, so be sure to consult a professional if you have more questions. Many brands such as West Elm or The Shade Store also have a complimentary in-house design team.
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This post was originally published on March 20, 2014, and has since been updated.