These DIY old-money upgrades can give your bedroom a luxurious feel for less

How to achieve an old-money bedroom aesthetic using DIY upgrades and techniques

Large antique bed in mahogany with silk bedsheets and vase of pink roses on bedside table and green chair
(Image credit: Courtesy of Sarah Barnard Design)

If there is one place in the home where luxury reigns supreme, it is in the bedroom. The 'old-money' aesthetic has been the apple of our design eye for a while now, from the rise of Bridgerton-esque interiors to the quiet luxury trend endorsed by many of our favorite A-listers. 

While the 'quiet luxury' aesthetic trickled down from the apparel world, stumbling into the homes of the Kardashians and even of Ray Romano, 'old money' has solidified its place in the world of interior design. 

This interior design trend leans on classic, inherited looks of historic homes, adorned with lavish design features that appear as though they have been there for centuries (in a good way). But in an age when it is not strange to find yourself with everything but an old money look, what can you do to bring back a flavor of the past?

Old money upgrades for a luxurious bedroom aesthetic 

'Old money' is defined by sumptuous elegance and luxury that is not quiet, per se, but done with such eloquence that even if it were a little over-the-top, you could not say a bad word about it. 

Where better to bring the ultimate luxury experience than into your sleeping quarters? Even humble edits can create the most luxurious bedrooms around. According to design experts, this is what to try:

1. Invest in 'unparalleled comfort' with sumptuous bedding

Traditional bedroom ideas

(Image credit: Future)

Our first edit starts close to the bed itself, the hub of this space unarguably deserving of decadent luxury. 'Incorporating elements of old-money luxury into your bedroom decor can create an ambiance of elegance and grandeur,' says designer Kati Curtis. 'Silk sheets are a quintessential item of luxury that not only provide unparalleled comfort but also exudes opulence.' 

The best designer bedding is the obvious choice, but this look can often be achieved for less. Choose quite luxury colors like off-whites and neutrals to make your bedroom more relaxing, and opt for natural, high-quality linens. Combine with the best bed sheets or matching pillows for a complete set.

Kati Curtis Principal Designer
Kati Curtis

Kati energizes spaces with a fearless commitment to pattern and texture, color, and motif. That commitment is invigorated by friends, mentors, and clients who share her design passions and passion for design. It’s reinvigorated by Kati’s travel bug, which has taken her around the world.

2. Commit fully to traditional wall treatments

bedroom with floral wallpaper, dark wooden floor and furniture, metal four poster bed

(Image credit: Future)

If you want to bring an old-money look into a modern home, tapping into more traditional decorating ideas, even for wall coverings, can bring the much-needed element of timelessness into this space. 

'When it comes to wall coverings, it's best to avoid feature walls and fully commit to wallpapering an entire room to create an immersive, luxurious experience,' recommends interior designer Sarah Barnard. It is, therefore, out with modern accent walls and in with wall paneling and rich patterns – both of which are fine ways to make a home look expensive.

White woman with long brown hair is Sarah Barnard
Sarah Barnard

Sarah Barnard, WELL AP + LEED AP, is a leading designer of personalized, sustainable spaces that support mental, physical, and emotional well-being. She creates highly personalized, restorative spaces that are deeply connected to art and the preservation of the environment. 

'Hand-painted wallpaper, a nod to the meticulous craftsmanship of yesteryears, can breathe life into your room with intricate designs and sophisticated color palettes,' adds Kati. Alternatively, 

3. Re-upholster bedroom furniture in charming fabrics

attic bedroom with canopy, iron bed, coir carpet, upholstered chair, side table, rug, beam, pinks

(Image credit: VSP Interiors)

Well-aged pieces and antiques that are displays of craftsmanship will bring the charm of the old luxury aesthetic into your home, not to mention they are key details for a home that never dates. If your bedroom features a slightly 'boring' ottoman, a dated chair, or other piece of uneventful furniture, see it as a wonderful opportunity to add your own mark with your own fair hands..

'Decorating with vintage furnishings is a sure way to create a space that looks like old money,' says Laura Williams of ATX Interior Design. 'Ornate woodworking on a bed frame and a beautifully upholstered accent chair add the character that adds to the old-money look.' 

Learning how to upholster a chair might feel like a challenge, whether it is your first or fiftieth time, but once you see good results, it can become a little addictive. When choosing upholstery fabric, consider vintage prints like Damask and designs with a little history. eBay and Etsy are good places to source these fabrics, as are local craft stores. 

And if you are feeling even more adventurous, why not update your headboard too? It can make a wonderful DIY project.

White woman with balayage hair in black tshirt is Laura Williams
Laura Williams

Laura Williams is the principal designer of ATX Interior Design in Austin, TX.  After a corporate career, Laura now spends her days guiding clients-turned-friends through a deeply personal process that meaningfully enhances their lives at home. Her work is best described as an organic and family-focused approach to modern interiors.

4. Bring antique charm to 'too modern' furniture

Large antique headboard in mahogany with silk bedsheets and vase of pink roses on bedside table

(Image credit: Courtesy of Sarah Barnard Design)

The simple act of taking care of furniture will make it look more expensive, but some fine edits will go a long way toward achieving an 'old money' aesthetic. 

Consider swapping out hardware that is very current epoque for something with more history and character. Inherited drawer pulls will breathe old charm into any space lacking in personality, as will enriching furniture with a darker wood stain. 

If all else fails, consider time well-spent thrifting, just make sure you are clued up on the mistakes to avoid when shopping for second-hand furniture.

5. Source authentic artwork and unique accessories

A pretty bedroom scheme with blue painted four poster bed and pretty pink textiles

(Image credit: Future / Jan Baldwin / Katrin Cargill)

Be it a commissioned piece of artwork, a headboard carved by a family member, or a unique lamp none of your neighbors will ever stumble upon, refine your search for original pieces brimming with character to add old-money appeal to your bedroom.

 'I would say one thing to not skimp on in your bedroom is original, quality artwork and accessories,' recommends designer Amy Youngblood. 'I personally had an original paint and resin piece commissioned myself that works perfectly with the look and colors of my space,' 

'After all, everyone ultimately spends a good amount of time in their bedroom, so why do anything by halves, especially when you are looking at it so much?'

woman with brown hair smiling and leaning on brick wall is Amy Youngblood interior designer.jpg
Amy Youngblood

Amy Youngblood creates stunning interiors that thoughtfully blend the lifestyle and design preferences of to exceed clients expectations, every single time. With extensive experience in the Cincinnati and Dayton, Ohio markets, as well as Northern Kentucky and beyond, Amy Youngblood Interiors continues to take the design world by storm.


What bedroom lighting will look 'old money'?

Use bedroom lighting as a means of bringing a little extravaganza into your bedroom. 'Invest in decorative lighting, such as bedroom chandeliers, wall sconces, and lamps, and avoid recessed lighting,' recommends Sarah Banard, designer. 'Lamp light and sconces create a soft and engaging glow flattering to the space and those within it.' Furthermore, choose bulbs with a warm glow which will be far more inviting than stark white.

What type of furniture looks 'old money'?

A blend of modern and styled antique furniture can bring balance to a home. 'Prioritize an eclectic mix of furniture over matching sofas, chairs, and bedding sets,' says Sarah Banard. It is likely that you already have inherited dressers, corner bedroom chairs, and the like if you prefer more traditional bedroom ideas. Now you have the green light to simply continue building on an exciting collection. 

'This gives the feeling that furniture has been inherited or collected over time, embedding each piece with its own story, forming a kind of self-portrait or family tree,' Sarah adds. 

When it comes to decorative pieces, look to ornate frames and pieces with distinct detail. 'Antiqued mirrors add an old-world feel, as well as light and depth to a room. Each element, thoughtfully curated and placed, contributes to a bedroom that embodies the timeless appeal of old-money luxury.'

Old money decor is subtly yet unapologetically lavish and characterful. Incorporate it effortlessly into your space to give this charming and timeless look to your bedroom. Not sold on this opulent aesthetic? Perhaps quiet luxury is more your style? Either way, you don't have to break the bank to achieve an elegant, elevated bedroom. 

Camille Dubuis-Welch
Contributing Editor

Camille is the former deputy editor of Real Homes where she covered a broad range of topics, including house tours, small space design, and gardens. She studied English language and Italian at the University of Manchester and during a year abroad studying linguistics and history of art in Bologna, Italy she started documenting her adventures and observations in a blog. Camille is always creating and spends her downtime painting, taking photos, traveling, and writing short stories.