Tired of looking at luxury home decor magazines and comparing them to your own bedraggled hovel? Lusting after an Aniston-style Bel Air pad, but stuck on a miniature salary in a rented place where you're not even allowed to paint the doorknob? Well, I can't do all that much for you in terms of square footage, but luxury is as much about feeling and looking smug as it's actually about Benjamins in the bank and Damien Hirsts on the walls.
If you actually have some serious money lying around and a little bit of leeway with your landlord, the best luxury hack for making your home feel seriously Hollywood is a smart thermostat like Nest for $230 (I mean, a system that changes the temperature as you're on your home commute = decadence). Failing that, though, I'm working on the assumption that you don't have that much cash to splash, or the ability to wallpaper a room on a whim.
Even with those restrictions, though, it's possible to look as if your place belongs in a home decor magazine on purely minimal output. It may require some elbow grease, but I promise you'll immediately want to call all your mates over for a dinner party, and to gloat. Here are 10 cheap-but-expensive-looking ways to luxury hack your home.
1. Spray-paint your accents gold and copper.
This is the number one act most luxury hackers propose, and it seems a bit dim, but think about it: truly expensive pads have gold knobs, gold shelf fittings, gold feet, gold whatever. Don't go overboard — you don't actually require a gold throne — but the arms of beaten-up chairs, wall sconces, storage units made of bare piping, frames, handles on drawers, even the random stones and leaves you picked up at the park, will look slick and expensive with a layer of gold paint.
2. Get some vintage-style travel posters.
Nothing glams up a place like vintage travel posters. They make you look sophisticated and well-travelled, even if the places on the posters are now flooded with tourists or known by another name entirely. Get a cheap one off a poster website like AllPosters, iPosters or EasyArt, put it nonchalantly on a wall somewhere, and wait for the compliments to roll in.
3. Cover surfaces with marble or dark wood paper.
If you're feeling particularly deprived because nothing in your house is made of marble (and believe me, you don't want the real thing, because it chips like a motherf*cker), cheat. Get some vinyl covering film patterned to look like marble, stick it on whatever you think looks battered or silly, and you're off. Dark wood patterned paper is easier than staining anything, too.
4. Nab fancy decanters off eBay.
Glassware = sophistication. That's just the way it is. If, however, you're not planning to line up a wedding registry for some insane thing from Williams & Sonoma any time soon, roll up your sleeves and get on eBay for some fun vintage glassware. If you watch carefully you can nab a decanter (for your many high-end parties, obvs) for less than ten bucks, maybe with some glasses thrown in. Display it prominently and you're basically Fred Astaire.
5. Nab cheap fabric and make your own throw pillows.
Pillows that aren't made for sleeping on are an essential part of any truly luxurious dwelling. Also, you can throw them at people (I think that's why they're called throw pillows).
But if you aren't in the mood to spend like $110 on one from Anthropologie, do yourself a favor: hunt around for some cheap or free fabric online and make your own. (Free fabric samples are more common than you think, generally from curtain manufacturers.) Sewing them is easy — there are guides all around the Internet for envelope pillows or simple sleeves.
6. Put wallpaper samples on trays and the backs of your shelves.
Wallpaper companies are all about the free samples. And you can use the small amounts you get to do fun hacks of flat surfaces that can use a bit of sprucing up: the bottoms of trays, and the boring white or black backs of your shelving units. Because books look great on their own, but sometimes they need a little bit of a glam edge.
7. Print your own Instagram art with Waterlogue.
We all know you're actually a talented artist and should display your stuff, but Instagram doesn't need to restrict your talent. App Waterlogue ($2.99) turns all your snaps into beautiful watercolors, and then you can print them on photo paper — the app recommends you use Apple's iPhoto products or Canvaspop — and put them all over your walls. Instant gallery.
8. Overlay furniture with expensive-looking frames from O'verlay.
Frames around objects are a really easy way to make things look hella classy, but unless you're prepared to tramp through millions of street markets for a cheap frame that you distress yourself (time-consuming and hard labor), it can feel off-limits.
Fortunately, there's a solution. O'verlay produces lightweight panels that fit over basically anything, from the fronts of cupboards to mirrors — and they even have kits for your specific IKEA furniture. They also do corners, and all their patterns look super-expensive — but start at about $12.50.
9. DIY some pouffes.
Is there anything that spells "supremely luxurious and doesn't need to spend Wednesday night eating ramen out of the packet" like a pouffe or tuffet footstool? Damn straight there's not.
However, if you don't feel like forking out for an official one, you can DIY your very own, and rest your feet in decadent heaven. Apartment Therapy has, of course, rounded up 10 of the top DIY instructions for pouf-madness, or there's a simple step-by-step tutorial over at HGTV. You'll need a sewing machine, FYI.
10. Upgrade from candles to candelabras.
Candles on their own? Totally for peasants, unless they're Diptyque. You need to upgrade, and the best way to do that is with a custom candle holder — let's get all Phantom Of The Opera up in this place.
Pro tips: no hanging crystals (tacky), always go for metal ones, shop around on eBay and local thrift stores for a good deal (under $10), and actually put proper long candles in them. Not scented ones.