Five-star hotels specialise in it. Celebrities adore it, and professional designers make it look easy. ‘It’ is a luxe looking interior and while it appears expensive, creating this enticing style in your home is more about being clever than cash.
How to create a luxe look for less in your home
by: Jane Ryder
While luxe is defined as ‘expensive and of high quality’, the good news is that with today’s huge selection of homewares in stores and online, you can get the look, and often the quality, without the hefty price tag.
Above image is a beige white beach Bohemian Vintage living room via lonny.com.
We all know a luxe look when we see one, but what actually makes an interior look luxe?
Essentially, luxe can be created with a neutral palette and a few key pieces. Less is best with luxe, which is a good way to keep to your budget. The key materials that scream luxe include velvet and satin fabrics, faux fur, sheepskin, glass, marble, mirrors, and metals such as brass, chrome and gold. Whilst black, white, cream, beige and grey are the timeless colours and tones of the luxe look, this past year they’ve been joined by soft or ‘millennial’ pink, deep sea blue and more recently forest green and rich, dark magenta.
It will come as no surprise that a bit of shopping around is required to create a luxe look on a budget (how often have you seen two almost identical cushions with vastly different price tags?). But for many, that’s just one of the joys of redecorating.
Here's our 15 ways to create a luxe look for less in your home.
It’s easier to stick to a budget while creating a luxe look if you have a plan. Take a tour through your home and make note of what you need to remove, buy and update. Next, decide on a colour palette to help you choose large and small items and tie your finished luxe look together.
Popular luxe colour palettes are often a combination of two or three colours or tones: choose from white, black, polished or satin silver, chrome and brass, grey, stone, cream, and pale beige plus an accent colour such as soft pink, deep sea blue, forest green and rich dark magenta. Keep in mind that too many colours creates a busy, crowded look and luxe is all about clean, minimal, classic, and understated design.
A signature of the luxe look is a contrasting combination of smooth – satin, silk, chiffon – and textured – faux fur, synthetic leather, chunky knits, sheepskin and velvet – materials and fabrics.
Choose a few velvet and satin cushions, a knitted throw (the large ‘extreme knitting’ style shows the texture and knit pattern off well), a rough jute rug or ottoman, and give your bedroom instant luxe with a sheepskin rug or velvet bedhead. Remember: like a rich dessert, it’s best not to overindulge in velvet; one or two pieces are enough for any room.
Metal, particularly chrome and brass, when combined with glass, stone and marble, creates a luxe look. Metallic decorative pieces, framed mirrors and furniture frames and legs instantly give an interior a classic, stylish look. If metal legged furniture is out of your price range, you can create a metallic finish with inexpensive paint.
Metallic or metal-look framed and bevel-edged mirrors are key luxe decorative pieces.
If metal framed mirrors are a little out of your budget – and too heavy for your walls – buy mirrors with metal finishes, or buy a plaster or timber framed mirror that you can paint the metallic hue of your choice after a little light sanding.
Luxe interiors often boast light fixtures fashioned from metals, crystal, and opaque and clear glass, and while their designs make them bold statement pieces, their lighting is soft.
With this in mind, either go for one chandelier or a group of pendants with dimmers or low wattage globes to create a soft, luxe effect. If you prefer a modern luxe look, consider glass and metal pendants. And of course, carry the luxe through to table lamps: look for budget-friendly stylish combination of glass, metal, and soft fabrics.
Long, as in almost floor to ceiling, sheer curtains subtly diffuse light, soften a room and gently coo "luxe". They also effectively hide pokey or unattractive window frames, regardless of their size or shape. And best of all: sheer curtains usually come ready made at affordable prices.
An upholstered bedhead instantly gives a look of luxe to any bedroom. We suggest shopping around for bedheads in linen and velvet as there are many available at affordable prices.
A hero decorative piece doesn’t have to be new. In fact, luxe interiors often blend old and new pieces to create a rich, interesting and sophisticated look. And old doesn’t always mean outdated so a pre-loved piece from any era can create a stylish look.
The trick is to choose a piece that isn’t too bright or busy and ties in with your colour palette. For example, decorative pieces made of marble, glass, chrome, silver, granite or stone or stone-look materials complement interior palettes of black, white, grey, soft pink, and beige.
If your hero piece is large, it can take pride of place on your coffee table or sideboard on its own. However, if it’s small, grab a couple more pieces with different sizes, colours and textures, and can create a little cluster of three or five. Why three or five? Odd numbers of items seem to please the eye better.
If you don’t already have a hero piece or pieces in the look you want, take a look through your local markets and op shops where you can find one-off pieces, old and new, that can give your home a unique luxe look for less.
Alternately, take a look at what you already have stored away – you may re-discover a long-forgotten piece or repurpose a couple of others. A glass vase, marble urn, cut glass decanter, brandy balloon glasses, or candle holders positioned on your sideboard top will instantly create a luxe vignette.
Less is best with luxe, so curate and declutter: it may take a little time but it doesn’t cost a cent. A few well-chosen decorative pieces will draw the eye and shine. This also goes for the number of cushions on your couch or armchair.
If you’re having difficulty editing, remember that cluttered says pokey and crowded, not stylish and luxe. You can move pieces to other rooms and store others at the ready to rotate when you tire of the ones that made the first cull. Don’t make your decorative pieces compete for space and attention: curate your personal collection to give a few pieces starring roles in your new luxe look interiors.
An easy and relatively affordable way to luxe your home is to replace door, cabinetry and window treatment hardware. Choose handles and knobs in metals, glass, marble and ceramic in timeless modern, classic and Art Deco styles and luxe up your front door with a new matching knocker handle and house number.
If you have curtains, continue the luxe look with metal or metallic painted timber rods and brass, chrome and porcelain finials, brackets and cord weights.
By saving on smaller ticket items such as cushions, throws and ornaments, you may have some spare cash in your budget to splash out on one statement piece. A large quality rug, couch, armchair or art work can do more than impress – it anchors all the smaller pieces and give the room comfort, a touch of grandeur and, well, luxe.
Affordable artwork, both originals and prints, is available online and at art markets, while large canvases with abstract art make a room look luxe and unique.
Save money (for a statement piece?) by moving rotating furnishings and furniture between rooms instead of buying new.
An armchair and small side table transported from the living room to the corner of a bedroom creates instant luxe feel, particularly with a faux fur or velvet cushion or throw at the ready for when you want to curl up with a good book. A photo frame or wall art that you have tired of in your bedroom may give another part of your home a fresh new feel.
A luxe interior is, after all, a reflection of a luxe life so accoutrements of a luxury, stylish lifestyle will give a touch of authenticity to your interiors (even if you don’t sip cocktails every evening while listening to jazz).
A drinks trolley, glass-top coffee table or buffet, or Art Deco drinks cabinet with a display of decorative glasses, metallic ice bucket, retro cocktail shaker, and cut glass decanter or carafe suggest a social luxe life while a pile of books on the coffee table next to an inviting armchair reflects a luxe life of relaxing and reading.
Don’t forget to continue the luxe look into your bathrooms. First, remove your towels, lotions, toothbrushes, soap holder, laundry and waste bins, pot plants, scales, and floor mats before introducing pieces, new or old, in just one or two colours that complement your wall and vanity finish.
White towels and accessories always create a clean, fresh look (which is why many hotels favour them) and accommodate any colour. Keep to one or two soft hues for your toothbrush, cotton wool and soap holder and any ornaments, candles and vases. Embossed white ceramic and stone, particularly marble and marble look pieces say luxe, and the addition of a metallic framed or bevel-edge mirror instantly makes any bathroom luxe.
Giving your old furniture a luxe look can be as easy as painting, covering and panelling. You or a furniture upholsterer can recover your old bedhead or ottoman in a luxurious fabric such as velvet, and with attachable panels, you can revive your existing cabinetry.
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