If there’s one thing that’s really important to me in my own home, it’s creating a high end look with a very average Joe budget. This often means breaking out the spray paint or tools or sewing machine to create the looks I’ve seen in higher end magazines for a fraction of the price, or trying to visualise items that normally wouldn’t get a second look, in a whole new way.
But cheating the look of high end isn’t actually as difficult as it may seem at first. Here’s a few ways I’ve done it in my own home.
One thing you often see in really beautiful high-style homes is original artwork. But affording original artwork isn't something everyone can do. So why not DIY some art? You don't need to be Picasso or Jackson Pollock to create an abstract, just a large canvas that can be picked up at any hobby store and a set of inexpensive acrylic paints (or even tester pots of emulsion from your local DIY store).
Have fun with it and don't think too hard about where you place your brush. You aren't looking for perfection, just free-flowing shapes or lines in the colours you love. Consider large bold strokes in black against a white backdrop or loading up a small paintbrush as I've done here and just layering on the colour.
This inexpensive set of pine drawers has had four different makeovers in the 8 or so years I've owned it. My latest incarnation meant simply using some higher end wallpaper to cover the drawer fronts and painting the outer frame in white. Then, to finish it off, I spray painted the handles in gold. The finished article looks much higher end than it used to and it took less than a few hours to give it a whole new look.
Consider wallpaper samples from higher end companies. Many provide larger samples at a small cost, which can be used for smaller projects such as this, getting a high end style for minimal outlay.
I fell in love with an antique desk online that was far more than I could afford with a four-figure price tag attached. Instead of splurging on something I couldn't afford, I decided to see if I could recreate it. I found a 70's desk on an online auction site for a fraction of the cost with surprisingly similar lines. I simply painted it to match my inspiration picture. New drawer handles completed the high-end look and now it's a dead ringer for my original inspiration desk.
Keep an eye out for pieces that mimic the lines of higher end furniture. The original desk looks like something from an old office building but with some paint and patience, it was actually surprisingly easy to replicate the look of the antique.
Everyone who comes into my kitchen comments on the hanging rails beneath my open storage shelves. Originally purchased for a few pounds at a Swedish superstore, they were transformed with gold spray paint. If you like the look of something but don't like the colour, is there a way it can be given new life with a simple change of finish?
While a sewing machine may be intimidating for some, leaning a few basic skills can mean the difference between having to fork out for custom pieces and simply creating them yourself. These curtains were, again, purchased from that same Swedish superstore and were far too long for my room height. They also had silver grommet headers which didn't match the look of my room. I wanted a custom curtain but didn't have the cash to spend on going bespoke.
So I simply hemmed the curtains from the top instead of the bottom, cutting off the original grommets and sewing in header tape to create the gathered tops. They now have the look I wanted and cost me only a few pounds to transform them into what might have cost me a few hundred.
This can also translate to finding offcuts of more expensive fabrics and creating things like cushions, table runners, placements and the like. You don't need a huge amount of skill, simply the ability to sew a straight line will open up a world of possibility in creating some great custom looks for less.
I'm always on the lookout in thrift shops and online auctions for great vintage pieces that don't cost the earth. Keep an eye out for furniture that may be a little worn but just needs a bit of sanding and oiling or minimal restoration. Dovetail joints and real wood backs and drawer bottoms are all signs of a well-made piece. If you see evidence of wood worm or rot, it's probably best to back away!
This chest of drawers cost me £100 in an online auction and it was in perfect condition. It may mean a lot of searching but I find the longer you give yourself to find the perfect piece, the better your chances of landing yourself a bargain. Patients is often key and keeping an open mind is always a great option here, too.