How to make a living room look expensive on a budget – 11 interior design tricks
From choosing cohesive colors to adding accent walls these are the easy interior design secrets of making a living room look more expensive
Looking to welcome a touch of luxury to your living room decor? Then look no further, these simple interior design tricks are the key to unlocking the potential behind how to make a living room look expensive on a budget.
When looking to make a home look expensive the devil is in the detail, because while the wrong paint colors threaten to devalue a home the right interior design features can add value. Even the smallest of styling tricks can go a long way to improve the decor and make a living room feel more expensive.
From rearranging the layout to introducing sumptuous fabrics, these savvy interior design tricks can go a long way to maximizing the luxury feel of your decor and transforming a living room on a budget.
Home to make a living room look expensive – 11 interior design tips
Our panel of interior design experts explains how simple styling ideas can help in creating a more expensive-looking living room.
From emulating the latest living room trends by introducing a plethora of sumptuous fabrics to dress the couch to adding an accent wall of captivating wallpaper – there's a solution for living rooms of all shapes and sizes.
1. Minimize clutter to create calm
Every room benefits greatly when carrying out the task of decluttering a home because it minimizes mess and the sheer amount of 'things' blocking your view of the decor. Luxury homes are often minimalist in style to allow the space to feel more considered and calming.
"When a home opens up into the living room, I like to keep clutter concealed," says Dan Mazzarini, principal and creative director of BHDM Design and ARCHIVE by Dan Mazzarini.
"Try organizing and containing any accessories and bookbags with low-budget, off-the-shelf cabinet options. You can find great options at Target or Walmart and dress them up with your own hardware for an elevated look."
2. Reposition the furniture
Create a strong visual impact for this social space by rearranging the furniture to give it a new perspective. Move furniture away from the walls and allow them to breathe and feel more present within the space. This can also help to make a small living room look bigger – a welcome effect.
Also, steer away from the modern layout that focuses too heavily on the TV. Opt instead for a more formal layout, one that welcomes a greater sense of interaction.
"When designing for families, we are championing a change in the traditional layout of living space, moving away from a centrally located TV with couches positioned around it," explains Noor Charchafchi, founder and CEO of award-winning studio Celine Interior Design. "Instead, we want to prioritize communication between family members and like to place sofas opposite one another so that conversation can flow more naturally.
3. Consider the color palette
Ensure the color palette feels well-considered throughout your living room to offer a more luxurious feel. That's not to say it has to be devoid of color, merely that cohesion is key to giving the space an interior designer's touch.
"I always start first with the color of the walls, and the rug – if you're going to have a rug – and the window treatments," explains interior and lifestyle expert Martha Stewart, who spoke exclusively to w&h ahead of her curated interior collection launching at Esty.
Whether you're seeking to use one of the latest interior paint color trends or simply enhance your existing living room paint color the key is in maintaining a calming color palette throughout.
4. Stick to one core style
While a coordinated color scheme is a good start it is also essential to consider how cohesive all the other components feel when sat together in the room. Cohesive furniture and furnishings prevent the decor from feeling chaotic and thrown together.
"You have to make sure that there are not too many different styles in the room," warns Martha. "You don't want to pair a Louis XIV couch with, you know, an early American wooden bench. It just wouldn't look good. But the Louis XIV couch would look nice with two big armchairs and maybe a very special antique coffee table.”
It might mean that you have a furniture reshuffle throughout your home, perhaps moving pieces into other rooms to ensure your living room furnishings feel more considered for a luxury look.
5. Dress the couch
As one of the largest items of furniture within the room, your couch is one of the first focal points and therefore can be a valuable tool for making the decor feel more luxe with a simple touch of styling.
“Dressing your couch is an effortlessly, effective way to express your style without completely redecorating your living room," says Francesca Hadland, styling expert for Bridgman. "Choose cushions and throws that reflect your personality.
"Embrace your fun side with bold colors and patterns that create instant impact, or keep it calm and subtle with a mixture of darker and lighter neutral shades. Don't forget that cushions aren't the only accessory in your arsenal. Fold up your throw for a more refined look, or drape over the back or arms to keep things casual.”
6. Introduce irresistible textures
Add depth and interest to your scheme by way of layered textures. "To add luxury, we recommend looking to your senses," says Francesca. "Dressing your room is as much about touch as it is sight, so don't be afraid to introduce texture."
"Texture is guaranteed to create interest, add diversity to your living room and make any couch or armchair instantly more inviting and cozier. Choose velvet cushions to add softness, pick fluffy wool throws to contrast against cotton upholstery, or offset richly textured couches with simple linen cushions." Adding a tactile rug to floors is another way to up the texture within your scheme.
However, Francesca warns: "But be careful - don't mix too many textures as you could cause tactile confusion and aesthetic clashes."
7. Balance the lighting
Pay special attention to the lighting to instantly elevate your living room and make it feel more expensive, from changing the bulbs to changing the shades – a little can go a long way.
"Lighting fixtures are extremely important," says Martha. "Is your lampshade torn? Is it frayed? Is it dirty? Lampshades get dirty and lampshades get torn and then they really look awful." If you can clean your lampshades do, if not it may be time to replace them.
"And also, the light bulbs – make sure all your lamps have the same watt light bulbs in them so that you don't turn on one that's very bright and turn one that's very dim. They should all be the same and a dimmer is really great for that."
8. Pay attention to switches and sockets
Light switches and power sockets may be essential in a living room but so often the cheap-looking white plastic finish lets the decor down dramatically. When the switches and sockets are in plain sight it can be extremely beneficial to invest in a more aesthetically pleasing solution – these switches from design specialist Jung are the perfect examples.
Whether you want a white switch that disappears into the wall to go unnoticed for a minimalist look or a shiny chrome design that commands attention there's a style to suit.
Even the fact you've chosen the finish makes the room feel like it's had more of a designer's touch because the smaller details have been acknowledged and thoughtfully selected.
9. Add decadent wallpaper
Look to the latest wallpaper trends in 2023 to give your living room a designer update. "If you want to elevate the look of your living room without breaking the bank, wallpaper can be a fantastic option," says Kerry McKenzie, co-founder of hand-drawn wallpaper specialists Brand McKenzie.
"To make your living room look expensive, consider investing in high-quality wallpaper with a hand-drawn design. The love and attention that the artist has put into the design will shine through, making the wallpaper stand out from the crowd. And unlike mass-produced wallpaper designs that may quickly go out of style, a hand-drawn design is timeless."
"If you don't have the budget to wallpaper every wall with high-quality wallpaper, use it sparingly. One simple solution is to create an accent wall. Start by choosing which wall you want to paper. The wall opposite the door is ideal since it's the first thing you'll see when you enter the room."
"If your living room has architectural features like a fireplace, consider making an accent of the wall where it sits. If possible, avoid choosing your TV wall because you don't want to draw attention to it."
10. Try to integrate the TV
As we've just touched on, it is best to avoid drawing attention to a TV if you want your living room to look and feel more luxurious. While we all enjoy nothing more than hunkering down on the couch to binge-watch the latest box sets we don't want the TV and media units to be the main attraction when it comes to the decor.
"Whilst tech plays a huge role in our client’s lives, and consequently in their homes, we are seeing many more requests for hidden and pared-back AV," says Noor. "Finding ways to conceal speakers and home assistants within cleverly designed joinery or charging points within occasional tables has become an important part of our briefs."
11. Update window treatments
Never underestimate the impact well-styled window treatments can have on a living room. "Window treatments are an easy way to spruce up any room," says Jon Sanborn, co-founder of house flipping specialists SD House Guy.
"Consider buying some new curtains or blinds that match the colors and themes of your space. Adding decorative trim or embellishments can also add a lot of style to any existing window treatments."
Even elegant tiebacks can add a thoughtful touch to the presentation of your curtains, giving them more shape and structure when not in use.
Tamara is a highly experienced homes and interiors journalist, with a career spanning 19 years. Now the Lifestyle Editor of womanandhome.com, she has spent the last 16 years working with the style teams at Country Homes & Interiors and Ideal Home, and it’s with these award-winning interiors teams that she gained a wealth of knowledge and honed her skills and passion for shopping, styling and writing about every aspect of lifestyle and interiors.
With a keen eye for the latest interior trends, there's not a lot she doesn't know about home decor – whether it’s what colour we should be painting our living rooms next season, or if the latest 'must-have' buys are actually worth investing in.
A true homes and interiors expert, Tamara has served as an ambassador for leading interior brands on multiple occasions, including appearing on Matalan’s The Show and presenting at top interiors trend events such as the Autumn Fair and Spring Fair.
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