Designer Secrets For Making A Home Look More Expensive

Whatever your style, there are certain things that just ooze chicness and glamour. These are some touches, tricks and details that can give a space that extra design polish:

  1. GO BIG. I’m not necessarily talking Philippe Starck gargantuan lamps, but I do suggest erring on the side of slightly larger rather than smaller. While things absolutely need to be in proportion and balanced, an object that has a large presence tends to add more significance to a room. An oversize photograph, painting, mirrors, or rug almost always work this way.

  2. INCORPORATE SHIMMER. A selection of reflective surfaces balanced with earthy matte surfaces can up the luxe factor on a room. Think a crystal vase; chrome hardware; silver picture frames; or high- gloss paint on feature doors, cabinets, or window frames.

  3. ADD LUXE LAYERS. Using a mix of materials, textures, and tones always gives a space a more custom look and appears more thought out. Mix materials such as glass, wood, and chrome and layered textiles, pillows, and rugs. The originality always feels luxurious and timeless.

  4. KEEP IT CLUTTER- FREE. While layers add dimension to a space, the quickest way to more style and sophistication is to take a few pieces away to let the room breathe. An overstuffed space looks tired, whereas a streamlined, clean space appears fresh.

  5. INCLUDE BLACK- AND- WHITE PHOTOGRAPHY. This always looks chic. Period. There is something endlessly cool about black- and- white photographs. Over the years, Scott and I have collected images we love and have featured them in various spaces. To me, they fit every space and never get tired.

  6. OPT FOR SOFT LIGHTING. Harsh, fluorescent lighting can make even the nicest furniture and surroundings (not to mention skin tones!) appear dismal. Good lighting on the other hand bathes furnishings in better light and can make lesser- quality pieces look, well, better! Look for warmer rather than cooler lighting, which tends to give off a more golden glow. Also, whenever possible, install dimmers or use three- way bulbs so that you can adjust the degree of lighting.

  7. ADD A ONE- STATEMENT PIECE. One unique, high- quality furnishing or accessory in a room can truly elevate everything else. You could have mostly budget, contemporary furnishings and, say, one gorgeous, Herman Miller Eames chair— and all of a sudden everything looks more expensive just by association! Think— it’s the exact same in fashion. A great pair of shoes or a show- stopping handbag can transform the whole look.

  8. INVEST IN CUSTOM DRAPES. All the furniture in the house could be flea market or budget, and then, wham! A dramatic set of custom drapes on an elegant brass rod can do wonders. Another true designer  trick is to mount the curtain just an inch or two below the ceiling line or crown molding (rather than just above the window frame). Make sure the drapes hit and slightly bend at the floor, like a pant leg. This gives the illusion of a less boxy room and elongates the entire space. 

  9. ADD SOME VIGNETTES. A vignette is a grouping of objects, like a still life, that can add form and style to an empty area or space and instead create a unique focal point. Well- designed spaces always have featured vignettes. For some reason, a vignette can make a room. Whether it’s a well- curated coffee table, or a vignette on a bar cart, shelving, or an entryway console, it is a sure way to add style, personality, and sophistication to a specific space.

 Photography: Peter Murdock 

Photography: Peter Murdock 

 Photography:  Jean Randazzo

Photography:  Jean Randazzo

My final piece of advice regarding design is to take your time. Don’t just fill the space or rush into decisions because something is on sale. Home designing is like dating— don’t commit to a big piece unless you really love it. And if you can’t find something you really love, or can’t find it in your budget, wait. Sometimes we do have to make compromises, based on our budget, our timing, or availability, and that is okay. Today, elegant, quality design is accessible at every budget. When it comes to home design, remember above all that your space should be a reflection of you and your family. Your home should meet your needs and you should feel good in it. In the words of Frank Lloyd Wright, “There should be as many kinds of houses as there are kinds of people and as many differentiations as there are different individuals.” Have fun, be creative, take your time. And work to create a home that is timeless and that will serve your family. Make the space yours, and it will give back to you.

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