Your choice of furniture sets the tone of your home, giving each room a particular look and feel. But unfortunately, we can’t always afford to buy the most expensive and luxurious furniture on the market and, even if we do have some beautiful pieces, age creeps up on everything.
So, how do we make our furniture look more expensive without breaking the bank? In this guide we’ve asked some top interior designers to give us their ideas to help perk up your furniture and add value to your existing pieces. With a few thoughtful touches, you can easily make your home look more expensive.
How to make furniture look more expensive
Many people focus on their home décor, but giving your furniture some love is another way to spruce up your space. These simple ideas could help make your living room look more luxurious or elevate the feel of your bedroom without actually having to buy anything new.
1.Firstly, take care of your furniture
‘It may seem obvious but the best way to make your furniture look upscale and luxurious is to invest time into taking good care of your pieces, explains designer Kathy Kuo, CEO of Kathy Kuo Home. ‘If you have furniture upholstered in any sort of specialty material, read up on the proper way to clean it; the same goes for rugs and decorative pieces like pillows and throw blankets. Especially if you've invested in furniture made from high-quality materials, proper care and cleaning is a great way to keep your pieces looking shiny and new for years to come.’
Cherie Lee, director of Cherie Lee Interiors agrees, also cautioning to look out for the sun, ‘Keep furniture clean and dust free and be mindful of sunlight hitting and discoloring furniture unevenly. This is true not just of fabrics but also timbers which can become bleached or yellow over time in sunlight.’
2. Fix small imperfections for maximum effect
It’s up to you as to what level of DIY you think you can handle, but learning to fix small imperfections on your furniture will instantly lift a piece and help to make it look more expensive. ‘Chipped paintwork, scratches, and stains will make furniture look cheap so a French Polish or re-paint may give your furniture a new lease of life if it's beginning to look tatty,’ explains Cherie Lee.
Pippa Jameson, creative director, author, and interiors stylist at Pippa Jameson Interiors adds that you should, ‘Begin by addressing imperfections – a fresh coat of varnish or painting your furniture can work wonders. Upgrade the handles or knobs to refined alternatives, such as brushed brass or distinctive bespoke designs that stand out as unique features. These simple changes can instantly elevate the perceived value of furniture.’
3. Elevate a piece just with accessories
An easy way to elevate your existing furniture is with some carefully chosen accessories. As interior designer Artem Kropovinsky, founder of Arsight says, ‘A few well-chosen, high-quality decor pieces can elevate your entire look.’
Spending a little money on accessories is an easy way to lift furniture, giving it a touch of opulence and elegance without having to break the bank. Nick Cryer, founder of Berkeley Place, suggests adding cushions, ‘To elevate the look of your furniture and make it appear more expensive, invest in high-quality, luxurious cushions with intricate detailing and rich textures.’ Whereas Cherie Lee reminds us that, ‘A well-styled piece of furniture will instantly look more expensive and considered, while a poorly styled piece of expensive furniture will struggle to shine through.’
‘And don’t forget to adorn the top of the piece with high-quality accessories for display. Accessorizing is key to finishing off your space!’ adds designer Amy Youngblood.
4. Switch out any hardware for an easy refresh
Old furniture can be instantly uplifted by adding a small detail or making little changes to a piece. As Artem Kropovinsky says, ‘Well-constructed joints and finishes speak volumes.’ From bedroom styling to living room decor, there are plenty of little tips and tricks you can use to uplift your furniture.
As Martha Lord, interior designer, and co-founder of Boland Lord Design says, ‘Adding beautiful hardware to an old piece of furniture can refresh its appearance by providing a modern touch or complementing its existing style. It’s a cost-effective way to enhance aesthetics and bring a dated piece into a more contemporary or personalized look.’
Amy Youngblood suggests several ways to make furniture look more expensive, ‘The first is to replace any hardware with high quality, updated pulls, etc. Next, refinish it or repaint it to eliminate any noticeable scratches or nicks.’
5. Try reupholstering (or expose the workings)
Reupholstering furniture isn't the easiest DIY but it can make a huge difference to a piece, and if it's just the fabric you are replacing it's something you can teach yourself and have a go at.
Or if you’re feeling particularly brave, take note from designer Sophie Roswell who elevated this old couch by exposing section of the upholstery for a very chic modern rustic look. The founder of Côte de Folk explains, ‘Expose the inner workings - upholstery and furniture making is such an art form and true craftsmanship, don’t be afraid to expose the inner workings of a piece - the oak frame, the traditional horsehair filling, every pin and thread that goes into making a beautiful sofa.’
Should I consider buying new furniture?
If you have the budget and your furniture is looking beyond any redemption new furniture is always worth considering. But before you spend your money on new pieces, you should also consider buying second-hand. Antique furniture can add individuality to your home, giving a room an individual feel that isn’t easily replicated. Read our article on mistakes to avoid when shopping for thrifted furniture to get started.
What should I look for when buying furniture?
Following a few simple tips will help you to find furniture that makes your home look more expensive and luxurious. Cherie Lee suggests that ‘Good proportions are key to making furniture look expensive. If in doubt simplicity offers sophistication, you can't go wrong with clutter free clean line, and usually if you’re struggling with dimensions, bigger or even oversized will look better than something small which can quickly look misplaced and cheap.’
And Dara Huang, founder of Dara Maison explains, ‘The key to making your furniture look more expensive is craftsmanship and attention to detail. Invest in pieces that showcase impeccable construction and unique design elements. Mix textures and materials to create depth and interest.’
There are plenty of simple ways to elevate your tired-looking furniture. It just depends how hands-on you want to get with the DIY - painting a piece of worn wooden furniture is so simple anyone can do it, but if you want to have a go at reupholstering that will take more time patience, and skill. And if you want zero involvement in DIY look to have you accessorize your pieces - a lot can be said for adding some new pillows or a throw to lift a piece of furniture in seconds.
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Jo Plumridge is a freelance writer and photographer with over 20 years of experience writing for a variety of magazines, websites and books. She writes, perhaps unsurprisingly, about photography, but also on all things interior design and sleep-related, alongside reviews of home and tech products. Jo loves exploring the latest design trends, although she’s yet to find a carpet that doesn’t show up the cat hair from the cats she and her husband foster.
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