We’d all love to live in multi-million dollar homes with high ceilings, wide, elaborate mouldings and architectural fixtures and oversized windows with expansive views of majestic mountains, glittery city skylines or the ocean’s waves as they crash ashore. I can’t offer any advice about your views but I can help offer you some suggestions as to how to make your home seem more luxurious. I will show you some very simple and immediate solutions as well as those that will require a little bit of planning and elbow grease. A few simple steps can take your home from ordinary to extraordinary and you will see that luxury is all in the detail!
Bring the outdoors in.
Nothing says luxury like fresh flowers. Place bouquets on mantels, coffee tables, consoles, dining room tables, bathrooms and bedrooms. The beauty of flowers is that they look wonderful everywhere! You can work with a particular room’s color theme or you can stick to white which in itself often lends a simple and sophisticated touch. Vases of white tulips freshen and liven up a room. You’ll often find orchids in the more luxurious homes, but maybe lilies are your favorite flowers. Whatever your preference, go treat yourself! Do remember to change your flower water and trim the stems regularly. There is nothing luxurious about wilted flowers sitting in dirty water!
If you live in the country cut some fresh flowers from the garden if you are able. In the early spring you will be able to force the forsythia to bloom simply by cutting the branches and bringing them indoors. With these you will need to make sure you have tall vases. Lilacs have a very short season and while they look wonderful outside unless you are standing right under them you won’t get to savor their wonderful fragrances. Lilacs are a perfect plant to bring indoors – and your home will smell absolutely incredible!
Decorate with fruit.
Play up the season’s colors with large bowls of fresh fruit. Oversized bowls of grapefruits, oranges, lemons and limes add a wonderfully cheerful elegance. Don’t limit your fruit to the kitchen, a bowl placed strategically on a coffee table or sofa table will add a casual elegance to your space. In addition to your decorating perk, you will have a great supply of healthy snacks on hand! As with the flowers, be sure to remove any fruit that looks less than fresh.
You will notice that the most luxurious of homes are clutter-free. While everyone has a junk drawer, even a junk closet, you will see, for the most part, that these homes while looking lived-in are spotless, for the most part. Walk through your home and make three piles. 1 pile for the garbage, 1 pile for donation and 1 pile for you – This pile is called The Things that Matter*. The Things That Matter will stay in your home. These items are things that have a sentimental value or evoke a wonderful memory.
They can be photographs, artwork, artifact, furniture, rugs, antiques and family heirlooms. These are the items that will tell a story… they will tell the story of you! These items will be placed strategically in your home. Artwork will be (if not already) framed and hung, as will photographs. All these Things That Matter will be prominently displayed and serve as various focal points.
Lighting is so important in your overall home design. It’s a functional necessity that sets the overall mood and tone of your home. Invest in a couple of really good quality lamps that can set up the focal point of your room. An elegant lampshade does wonders to really dress up your space. Chandeliers are quite popular these days and there are many out there in all price points. Install an elegant chandelier over your dining room table, in your bedroom, even in your bathroom!
It’s also extremely important to pay attention to your windows. If you are going to hang curtains or drapes, they should be hung from the ceiling, not right over the window as that will box in the window and make your ceiling appear shorter. Luxury homes tend to have higher ceilings, so hang your curtains as high as you possibly can. Keep all clutter away from windows and don’t block your light source.
Add Architectural Moulding.
All elegant and luxury homes have mouldings and other architectural elements. The addition of mouldings, (whether baseboard, chair rail or ceiling) can transform a very bland and ordinary room. When working with mouldings, wider is better. If your current home has mouldings but they are on the narrower side, you can widen them easily with a visit to your hardware or home improvement center. This relatively inexpensive touch will dramatically improve your home’s appearance.
Chose your paint and colors wisely. White walls can seem both luxurious and yet terribly bland. An antique or linen white are good choices but you’ll want to be sure to have rich colors elsewhere in your room whether in your fabrics or accessories. If you look through the home décor magazines you will see that the more expensive homes use a lot of deep and rich colors, on walls, in fabrics, in accessories. It is important to balance, however. A deep blue wall requires some lighter furniture for balance. If you are going to add gold into your accessories, frames and lamps for instance, be careful how you do so.
Gold tones can add a luxurious elegance but if done improperly they can greatly cheapen up your space and that’s the opposite of what we are aiming to do! If color doesn’t intimidate you try a deep color in a high gloss. Rich colored lacquered walls are being seen in many designer and wealthy homes. If you want something a bit more subtle, try painting your doors in high gloss in a rich color such as black, navy blue or aubergine.
The fabrics you pick can set the tone for your space. Typically rich fabrics have textures that you can see as well as feel. Deep bold colors, perhaps mixed with different shades of whites, even with pastels in silks, linens and velvets will add a luxurious touch to your room. Feel free to mix and match textures and colors to add dimension.
Accessories and artwork.
You needn’t own a Picasso or Dali to make your walls seem richer. You can hang framed posters, artwork from children, photography – anything at all, really. Choose a few elegant and wood frames. Mix blacks and golds and mix up your sizes. Pay attention to scale. While it can be OK to hang a large picture on a small wall, it is never OK to hang just one small picture on a large wall. If you have expansive wall space and smaller to mid-sized pictures, you can create a vignette and hang them together. Using painter’s tape that won’t harm the paint on your wall you can create a montage of your frames to see what looks good where. The tape can be removed and replaced, holes in walls cannot! It is perfectly acceptable to have an entire wall filled with artwork. It is also perfectly alright to mix mediums. For example your photography, oils, charcoal sketches, posters and watercolors can co-exist beautifully together on the same wall. Peruse a few decorating magazines for inspiration.
Now is the time to accessorize your home with your “Things That Matter.” Create vignettes, short stories, with your accessories and collectibles. In some cases you will want to create symmetry, in others you will want asymmetry – For example, if you are decorating with candle sticks or other collectibles, work the pieces in 3s as this is visually more appealing. This is trick often used by decorators. Also play with height and dimension. You won’t want three vases of the same height and thickness on your mantel or coffee table. You’ll want to select three different ones in various heights and widths. On your coffee table you will want to create more of a symmetry, for example a pile of art books needs to be balanced by something of equal weight on the other side, perhaps the bouquet of flowers or a bowl of fresh fruit which we talked about earlier.
Don’t forget to look down.
Your floors are as important as the rest of the house. If you have hardwood floors and can rip up wall to wall carpeting, do it! Wood floors evoke an elegant and luxe feel. If you’re in a rental, whether apartment or house, and don’t have the ability to remove the carpeting, purchase a few area rugs. Area rugs can pull a room together to add a more texture, color and a more luxurious feel. Consider bright colors, bold patterns and animal prints which are still wildly popular.
*The Things That Matter is the subject of a book written by designer Nate Burkus in which he discusses decorating houses with things that matter.