Written in collaboration with Jo Alexander
We’ve all done it. You check in to a posh hotel for a well-deserved special treat and the first thing that grabs you is the decor. From the moment you walk in the front door, the whole place just oozes class and sophistication. And you think to yourself – I wish my home was like this.
Or maybe you get invited to a dinner party hosted by a friend of a friend, somewhere you’ve not been before. And again, you’re blown away by how great their home looks. You spend the evening having to force yourself to focus on the conversation, when really your mind is racing with a thousand ideas for how you can make your pad look just as good.
It’s normal to crave a little luxury in our own homes. We spend enough of our time between those four walls, after all. It’s well established that our environment has a significant impact on our mood and mental health. And one of the ways this works is that our minds appreciate a balance between order and visual stimulation in our surroundings, including looking for things that we find aesthetically pleasing.
So, there we have it – great-looking spaces make us feel good. Why wouldn’t we want that in our own homes? But what puts lots of people off is, of course, cost. Not everyone has the financial resources to deck their home out like a five-star hotel.
The good news, however, is that you don’t have to go full Ritz to add a dash of style and elegance to your home – certainly enough to put a smile on your face just by being there. Luxury is more within your reach than you perhaps realise. Here are some top tips that will make all the difference.
Of all the materials used to make luxury home furniture, hardwoods are perhaps the most universally appreciated. There’s something timelessly tasteful about hardwood tables, chairs, sideboards, dressers – pretty much anything crafted from hardwood looks good and adds a touch of luxury to the room.
It’s partly to do with the aesthetic appeal. Whether you’re talking teak, oak, mahogany or any other type of hardwood, the combination of rich, warm colours and textured, vibrant grain structures draw the gaze. But it’s also to do with the associations wooden furniture carries.
Timber has been a valued commodity for thousands of years and remains integral to how we shelter and protect ourselves in our built environment. We continue to value the craft skills that turn lumber into useful and beautiful objects, which are clearly on display in the finest wooden furniture. And we also value wood for the connection to nature it represents, bringing something of the beauty of the natural world into our homes.
What you don’t have to do is go as far as panelling your entire home in the finest hardwoods and switch up every piece of furniture to match. A single piece per room will make the world of difference, and create a focal point that adds interest.
Especially in living rooms and bedrooms where the main purpose of the room is relaxation, you want to make the space as comfortable and inviting as possible. Good quality cushions added to sofas, beds and armchairs are a simple yet effective way to do this. Textured fabrics and tastefully chosen colours will also help to give a room an uplift.
And while the natural home for cushions might be the sofa in the living room or scattered across a bed, they can work anywhere. Try dressing window recesses in any room with soft furnishings, or add appropriately sized cushions to dining chairs.
One of the simplest ways to transform the look and feel of your home is to redecorate. Painting the walls is cheap, cost effective and, with a little thought about your colour schemes, can give any room a sophisticated make-over.
Colour choices ultimately boil down to personal preferences, but there are some simple rules to follow if you want to achieve a pleasing visual effect. First of all, contrasts work well. While soft, muted tones are very popular in interior design, you don’t want any room to become too ‘beige’. Think about where you can create contrasts between light and dark. If you do have dark hardwood furniture, for example, then contrasting that with pale, light walls is an easy win.
Second, don’t be afraid of bold, strong colours. But for a luxurious feel, deep, rich hues are more effective than bright, which can become garish, especially if used extensively.