Champagne taste on a beer budget doesn’t have to mean you can’t afford a little bubbly every now and then, at least not when it comes to providing some luxury items for your home.
If you long for the feel of silk and velvet, wish for an abundance of lush draperies or desire elaborately detailed crown molding, don’t let a limited budget hold you back. Interior designers have myriad secret ways to trick the eye and add touches of luxury and sophistication even for homeowners without a luxury-level income.
“The main thing that people can do to make their home seem more luxurious is to pay attention to the small details,” said Sharon Kleinman, owner of Transitions in Potomac. “People often don’t complete a room with window treatments or pillows. If you find unique objects and mix different period pieces in your home, it gives your rooms an acquired look.”
Marika Meyer, owner of Marika Meyer Interiors in the District, said luxury can be created by adding things such as mirrors or other objects with reflective properties that add light and create an interesting atmosphere.
“There are lots of fabrics such as synthetics, linens, polished cotton and cotton sateen that are affordable and easy to care for but give you the luxurious look of silk and satin,” Ms. Meyer said.
Ms. Kleinman said one detail homeowners often neglect is their crown molding.
“If the moldings are skimpy for the size of the room, you can leave the existing plaster moldings in place and then pick up some inexpensive pieces of trim from a home-improvement store,” Ms. Kleinman said. “If you place the trim 2 inches lower than the existing moldings and paint the wall in between, it looks as if you have elaborate three-piece crown moldings, yet you have spent almost nothing.”
Ms. Meyer said homeowners always should pay attention to unusual places where they can add personality and character. She suggested putting fabric or unusual wallpaper in the back of a bookcase to add interest behind the books. In the 2012 DC Design House, Ms. Meyer put striped fabric that complemented other details in the room behind the bookshelves.
While custom-designed window treatments are out of reach for many homeowners, Annette Hannon, owner of Annette Hannon Interior Design in Burke, said adding edging to less expensive drapes can provide an extra layer of sophistication.
“If you don’t want to spend a lot on drapes, you can buy an inexpensive set of simple curtains and attach a 2- or 3-inch-wide grosgrain ribbon to the edge to transform it,” Ms. Hannon said. “You can also buy a good quality but plain set of sheets and add a double-faced satin ribbon to the top sheet and to the pillowcases. Not only is this economical, but it adds a personalized touch.”
Ms. Kleinman said sometimes inexpensive curtain panels don’t look substantial enough, so she recommends buying two sets of panels and sewing them together to end up with the fabric equivalent of four panels. Extra fabric will look more luxurious, as if the curtains were custom-ordered, she said.
“You can always elevate a space with interesting drapes,” Ms. Meyer said. “Custom-designed panel drapes will instantly make everything else in a room look more sophisticated. You can dress up less costly drapes with tape trims, ribbons and tassels, things you can even find in a crafts store.”
Area rugs also can be an expensive addition to a room, but Ms. Meyer suggested buying a thin, inexpensive sisal rug and then layering a smaller area rug on top of it. She said layering rugs and fabrics can make a room seem more luxurious.
Another option is to have plush wall-to-wall carpet cut smaller and bound to function as an area rug, Ms. Kleinman suggested.
“Toss pillows are almost like jewelry for a room, and you can find a lot of inexpensive ones online,” Ms. Kleinman said. “You can add grosgrain ribbon or other trim to make them unique. Another trick is to purchase expensive fabric for the face of the pillow and then use a solid, less expensive fabric on the back.”
In addition to tricks with pillows and draperies, designers have recommendations for using inexpensive artwork to add personality and luxury.
“Art doesn’t have to be cost-prohibitive,” Ms. Meyer said. “You can look at flea markets for anything that appeals to you. Even art galleries have items with accessible prices, especially photography and works on paper. Art schools typically have sales at the end of each semester, so you can pick up pieces from up-and-coming artists.”
Ms. Hannon suggested matting and framing children’s artwork, especially for decorating in the kitchen. She recommends having children do artwork on similar size pieces of paper or canvas for framing.
“Another idea is to have your own travel photos framed, which can give the room a gallery feel that looks sophisticated,” Ms. Hannon said. “It’s personalized, too, if you use your own photos.”
At the 2012 DC Design House, Ms. Hannon matted and framed a collection of vintage stamps for artwork.
“Thrift stores, flea markets and antique stores can be a great place to find art and to find objects, such as crystal vases or antique bronze inkwells, that are interesting and look expensive,” Ms. Kleinman said. “You can also find interesting frames and then have a mirror cut to fill the frame. Another option is to find a mirror in an interesting shape and then paint the frame with antique gold to look more luxurious.”
Ms. Meyer said homeowners should never have a plain white ceiling.
“You can tint it with a paint color or use textured wall covering to add interest,” Ms. Meyer said. “For instance, you can add drama to the dining room with a metallic paint or a wall cover with an antique silver leaf element.”
Paintable wallpaper or faux painting on top of wallpaper is recommended by Ms. Kleinman, who said layers of wallpaper and paint, such as a pearlized glaze, on the ceiling can make a room look more luxurious.
Homeowners who want to make their kitchen more glamorous without spending a lot of money can add wallpaper or a mirror to the backsplash instead of tile, Ms. Meyer suggested.
“In one kitchen, we picked up inexpensive metal bar stools and spray-painted them bright orange for a big impact,” Ms. Meyer said.
Unfinished or vintage furniture also can be repurposed with new paint, new upholstery or even a marble top to create a sophisticated look without spending a lot of money for true antiques or custom-made furniture.