Here at A Life of Simple Luxury, the ethos behind the blog runs on the idea that luxury can indeed be simple, and not at all expensive. When I hear people comment “I can’t afford the extravagance of luxury”, I often rephrase the comment as “I can afford a luxurious life”. And it doesn’t have to have any cost a small fortune- some of these are even free.
I have created a list of 10 simple ways to create an expensive looking home, all that are either free or with very low cost.
- Clear your home.
Clean your home, gently at first and gain some momentum. Clear off horizontal surfaces, dust down bookshelves and coffee tables, the windowsills and put the dishes away. With a damp cloth, go over the kitchen bench and stove top, putting away any utensils and clearing as much off the bench as possible. Give the bathroom and laundry a once over, throwing out any empty containers, old make-up and wipe down the bath and shower.
- Edit your space.
Edit your space to only hold the objects that are useful or bring you pleasure to look at. I understand that maybe the clunky armchair isn’t a favourite, but with budget constraints it may not be able to be replaced. A throw blanket or even a bedsheet draped over can make it look cosy and inviting. Remove books that you have no intention of ever finishing (or even reading), remove chipped glassware and crockery.
Impact– Medium, although the internal freedom is priceless.
- Flowers and greenery.
Every single blog under the sun will somewhere have an element of bringing flowers into the home to create a sense of luxury. And for good reason- these writers are on to something. Flowers in the home create an ambience of refreshment and soul nourishment, a classic touch that reminds us of appreciating beauty in our daily affairs. Seeing them reminds me to raise my standards and inspires me to keep the surrounding areas clean. Failing this, I often bring in sprigs of rosemary or a branch of leaves from my garden and place them in a jar. The effect is similar, and smells amazing.
Cost– time if you pick them from the garden/neighbour’s yard, or a few dollars. I only buy mine from the supermarket and never spend more than $25 fortnightly.
Impact– High (although subtle).
- Create a vignette.
I have a hall stand in my bedroom that I place a scented candle, my salt lamp, some crystals, flowers, a photo frame and some books, although small, it creates a luxurious sense of calm to look at. In the front entryway of my home, I have a cabinet that I inherited when I purchased a house, the previous owners left it behind. Besides a small outlay of a new mirror and a tin of wood oil, and some time over a weekend, it was next to nothing and is a great place for visitors to leave their keys.
Cost– minimal if you have a small desk or even coffee table that you can use for this purpose. Check out thrift stores or clearance stores for something that can be modified with a coat of paint.
Some of the most welcoming places I have ever visited have a subtle scent of something delicious wafting through. Scented candles (please only get natural soy or beeswax candles with natural scents, the synthetics in cheaper ones can cause health hazards) bring a touch of elegance and scents can mask a multitude of sins. My favourite is Frankincense and Myrrh, handmade by a lady who has a stall at my local artisan and farmers market. Once a fortnight I buy three off her and they last me the two weeks. A simple way I create an amazing smelling home, is to slowly simmer a combination of orange or lemon, cinnamon and cloves in a saucepan on the stovetop or heated on a slow cooker with the lid off. Just remember to top up the water regularly to avoid burning.
Cost– zero to a few dollars.
As an introvert, I love having a cosy space in which I can replenish my soul and provide nourishment for my family. In the evening, I turn off all the overhead lighting in my home, and use floor and coffee table lamps for lighting. It helps me calm down and regroup after a day of meeting with clients, working on proposals, running a household and chasing after our two dogs.The use of lamps in the evening creates a feeling of hotel-style luxury, making my house look and feel more expensive than it actually is. I picked up four small lamps for $10 for two, and two upright floor lamps from IKEA for less than it cost me for lunch in their food court. If you are going to purchase a lamp from a thrift store, ensure that all the electrical components are safe with no exposed wires. Keep an eye out for cheap shades, or go DIY and cover your own.
- Fresh air.
Opening the curtains and windows is so frequently overlooked by so many. Letting fresh air circulate around your home cleanses the space and is great for injecting new energy into your home.
- Use all-white crockery.
I only have white crockery in my home, even though it is a combination of different sets I have had over the years, the style (round) and colour (white) are all uniform. Using mis-matched-yet-all-the-same crockery I find brings a relaxed vibe to the dinner table, a bohemian and eclectic feel but still being luxurious.
Cost– nil if you already have them, check out thrift stores and sale racks for cheap versions.
- Texture v’s colour.
Layering textures throughout the home has a massive impact on the look of your living space. Choosing neutral colours in differing textures has an elegant and sophisticated effect, and for minimal outlay can transform your space. For example, a leather lounge chair or sofa, layered with linen cushion covers, a woollen or knitted blanket and a sheepskin rug at your feet, or a wooden coffee table centred on a shag floor rug and a wicker tray with glassware or a simple bouquet of flowers in a milk jug has a much greater and far more classy appearance than a bright sofa with a multitude of coloured cushions.
My bedroom has a dusty red coloured carpet, layered with a deep brown shag floor rug with two sheepskin floor mats on each side of the bed. The bed itself is wood and black wrought iron, with a cream and white doona cover, a white canopy, wood bedside tables, wrought iron and cream lamps, a simple wooden frame and cream linen covered bedroom chair and a wood and wrought iron console table (an old hall table that fits the space nicely). The effect is calming and neutral, it feels cosy and reassuring, a safe place for me to retire too at the end of a long day.
Cost– minimal. Have a look in your linen press for woollen blankets or scour the sale section of a haberdashery store for cheap cushion covers. I found some that cost next to nothing at my local artisan market, and some faux fur blankets in a clearance corner of my local gift shop.
Impact– high. Walking into a space that feels calming to the eyes and makes you want to snuggle in with a book, creates a comforting sense of ease, and with minimal outlay this one step can have the biggest impact.
- Remove as much plastic as possible.
By switching over plastic containers to glass jars, not only are you doing your part for the environment, but they look amazing all lined up on shelves or in a pantry. Even if purchasing home brand dried staples- pasta, rice, lentils, flour, sugar- the cheapest of products look more expensive. Save any jars you come across, or purchase a matching set from an outlet store, or scour thrift stores or even the grocery store for cheap jars.
Cost– nil (if keeping your own), minimal (if purchasing new).
By implementing a few ideas above, choosing two or three, can have a big impact on the look of your home. Whether a family with kids, students just starting out or those who simply want to inject more elegance and luxury into their home, these ideas are easily accessible and manageable.
When I purchased my home, I drew a blank when it came to decorating. I had no idea what my own personal style was, although I did know I liked warm neutrals and natural fabrics. Over time, I have adopted the motto “Natural and Neutral”, and use this when looking at adding something new to my space. Anything to be added into my home has to fit into two of my three categories:
- Is it natural? Does it have an element of naturalness to it? Glass, iron, wood, natural fabrics, colours that occur in nature?
- Is it neutral? By neutral I don’t mean beige, but is it going to stand out? I have some older style furniture that I have inherited from my grandparents that I absolutely love, and these are my hero pieces. I prefer to layer neutrals with texture (linen, faux fur, leather, wool).
- Do I need it? This comes into the editing part of the equation. If I have recently removed something due to breakage, being worn out or it has simply become redundant, then replacements may be considered- as long as they fit into one of the top two categories.
So far these questions have served me well. I have discovered my style and love the home I have created (which looks far more expensive than it actually is).
How have you implemented simple luxury into your home? Let’s start a conversation.
image via Google