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How to make your rented home look more expensive

You don’t have to splash the cash to give your rooms the sort of luxurious touches that suggest an elegant and upmarket house

How to make your rented home look more expensive

Cheryl Freedman, Houzz Contributor
Brought to you by Houzz

Copy the tricks professional decorators employ and lavish your home with a sense of opulence without breaking the bank. From silk wallpaper and wow lighting to a touch of velvet and even a simple arrangement of flowers, these easy ideas will help you bring in the bling while sticking to your budget.

Contemporary Bedroom

Photo by - More contemporary bedroom ideas

Play with mirrors

Big or small, these essential accessories always make a room look more glamorous, light and upmarket; ideally, every room should feature at least one. Mirrors vary hugely in cost, but hanging a number of cheaper plain-edged designs can be more affordable than splashing out on one big, elaborate French showstopper. Here, a trio of antiqued mirrors stacked each side of a bed adds to the overall luxurious feel of the décor.

Buckinghamshire Residence by LLI Design.

Photo by Alex Maguire Photography - More contemporary living room ideas

Rock a statement rug

Patterned rugs don’t have to cost the earth, but they can give a room a designer feel that it may be otherwise lacking. This cool geometric number has red accents that work with the corner sofa and complement the modern artwork. Placing a rug square on to a sofa with an artfully arranged coffee table in the centre will instantly pull a living room together.

Check out a range of rugs here

Woodstock Studios, Shepherd

Photo by Domus Nova - Discover eclectic living room design inspiration

Be bold with paint

For the impact it makes on a room, paint is relatively cheap. And while there’s a modern tendency to go for variations on white, using a colour boldly can actually make things look more upmarket. The owners of this airy retreat have stuck to a blue theme for a tied-together look. Whatever shade you go for, make sure you touch up cracks, chips and smudges in the paintwork regularly to keep things pristine.

Discover how to get the perfect paint finish

Clerkenwell Flat

Photo by Chris Snook - Look for contemporary bathroom pictures

Experiment with dark wood

Lots of modern bathrooms stick to a completely white and grey palette. However, dark-wood elements in a scheme ensure a surprisingly luxurious look. Here, a contemporary vanity unit adds a deep tone that lifts the space beyond the everyday into proper boutique territory.

Get more ideas for adding wood details to your bathroom

Invest in velvet

Even if your sofa was second-hand or in the sale, if it’s in velvet, it will add an expensive sheen to the room. Choose jewel-bright colours, such as pink, green or blue, to really add some look-at-me glamour. If a vintage velvet sofa is out of your price range, try a pouffe or single armchair, or add timeless velvet touches with cushion covers or a slinky, shimmery throw.

Pad a headboard

It’s a classic hotel device, and an instant signifier of the height of luxury, but a padded headboard doesn’t have to cost the earth. If you’re feeling crafty, you can make your own: at its most basic, all you need is some cut-to-size foam, the right amount of MDF or plywood, screws, a staple gun and the fabric of your choice (chocolate-coloured suede or taupe silk are fail-safes). Check out how-to guides online.

Discover how to pick the perfect bedding

Living Room - Interior Design - Knightsbridge, London

Photo by La Rizza Interior Design - Look for traditional living room pictures

Pick a formal palette

Rich red perhaps isn’t quite as fashionable as it used to be. But a bold wine hue paired with cream is one of those old-school colour combinations that instantly adds a more designed look to a room. Here, a selection of conversation-piece ornaments, including a large Buddha and shapely stone bowls, adds to the formal, traditional feel.

Arrange flowers

It’s a device loved by hotels and restaurants, for good reason. A simple bunch of fresh flowers or a few sprigs of foliage instantly lift any space and add a touch of everyday luxury. Start buying flowers with your regular supermarket grocery shop so that they won’t break the bank (look for blooms with sachets of plant food so that they last longer), and use cut flowers from the garden whenever you can.

House in Dublin 4

Photo by Optimise Design - Look for contemporary dining room pictures

Buy a wow light

There are plenty of affordable look-at-me lights around on the high street at the moment, especially if you shop in the sales. And the effect on a room from just one statement pendant or shade can be huge, as this unusual floral light proves. In general, don’t be afraid to go large and choose something glittery, spangly or decorative for that designer feel.

Try these 21st-century lighting ideas for period properties

Hang floor-length curtains

Long luxurious drapes are another one of those signifiers that you’re in luxury land. Even less-expensive fabrics will look better if you use lining, don’t skimp on the amount of fabric and do hang on a hidden track. Use floor-length voile behind them for extra panache and privacy.

Cluster your cushions

Okay, we know that this is the oldest, easiest trick in the book – but plumped-up cushions arranged en masse really do add style and attitude without involving tons of cash. Even if your cushions are a mismatched bunch, they still look good clustered up if you do it with confidence.

Display an oversized triptych

Statement art can suggest a gallery feel, making your room feel more expensive than it really is. A large triptych canvas is one of the most eye-catching ways to do it. But you don’t have to commission today’s most brilliant young artists. Save money by unleashing your creative side and having a go yourself. Or ask an arty friend to help out.

Blythe Road

Photo by NSI Design Ltd - More traditional living room ideas

Use reflective surfaces

Want some subtle bling without a huge price-tag attached? Carefully choosing a number of shiny elements, such as glass, metal and silvery fabric, is a smart way to add an expensive edge to a room. Here the sparkling overmantel mirror, lamp bases, coffee and side tables, silvery artwork, curtains and pendant light all add up to far more than the sum of their parts.

Choose luxury wallpaper

Hanging textured silk wallpaper is a trick often used by boutique hotels to create a more opulent, intimate feel. While it obviously involves an initial outlay, there are affordable silk-look high street versions if you hunt around, and the effect can far outweigh the cost. Go for darker colours for a more expensive feel that mimics that five-star look. You could also create just one statement wall if you can’t stretch to papering them all.


Photo by Ingrid Rasmussen Photography - Search contemporary living room pictures

Be your own stylist

It might seem obvious, but the cheapest way to make your place look more expensive is simply to take the time to style up what you already possess. Arranging similar items in groups is a no-cost trick that nearly always works to channel the expensive look. If you have a collection of vases gathering dust in cupboards, get them out and arrange them artfully in a group on your sideboard, coffee table or mantelpiece, as seen here. This room also demonstrates beautifully how dark-painted walls can create a dramatic, expensive-looking backdrop that brings artwork to life.


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