Don’t discount that expensive material yet. By using a small amount in a strategic way, you can get a luxurious look without the expense.
Buying materials and finishes from big-box stores can certainly save you money on your project. But if you’re not careful, you can also run the risk of creating a space that feels just a bit too generic, and/ or get lower quality products. I recommend going to a smaller business that specializes in the materials you need for your project, to make sure you’re getting the best materials for you project, and they also provide better 1 on 1 consultations and help in selecting the best material for you as well, unlike big-box stores where it can be difficult to even find a sales associate to help you. If you’re worried about cost, ask the small business about their sales and promotions, and they are more willing to work with you on cost than the big-box stores. I’m a big fan of buying just a little bit of a high-end material and using it in a way that maximizes impact. The high-low mix can really make your whole home look like you’re living beyond your means — even if you’re right on budget. To make sure your taste for the finer things is satisfied, here are my key ways to splurge.
1. Tile Feature Wall
A single full-height wall of tile can have a big impact, whether in a bathroom shower zone or adorning one wall of a powder room. If you have a standard-size shower that’s 60 inches long and a typical ceiling height of 8 feet, then you have a 40-square-foot wall surface to work with. That means you could splurge on a beautiful marble tile at $5 or $6 per square foot and have a stunning feature wall for around $200. Use low-cost tile elsewhere, and you’ll have a balanced-budget project that still looks incredibly high end.
A stone hexagonal mosaic floor and simple white walls also follow a balanced approach for a look that’s beautiful, especially when you pair them with a leggy and open vanity to show off as much floor as possible.
Tip: If you shop around, it’s usually possible to find a small amount of beautiful but soon-to-be-discontinued tile at a sale price, giving a high-end effect for a minimal investment.
2. Single-Slab Backsplash
Using a single slab stone for a big expanse of surface like a kitchen island countertop will put a sizable dent in your budget. But use a smaller shard of a single slab for something like a bathroom backsplash rather than tile, and the unbroken grains will have a powerful effect that says custom loud and clear, while creating a truly subtle and classic look.
Tip: Stone suppliers often have slim offcuts left over from creating countertops that you can snag at a good price.
3. Large-Scale Art
When it comes to art, the most dramatic impact always comes from a singular, large-scale piece. Splurging on one painted canvas (or an intriguing print) rather than several smaller pieces can give an entire room a sense of drama and color.
4. Expansive Mirrors
As with art, the impact of a mirror is dramatically increased by increasing the scale. Plus, a mirror won’t overwhelm a space, but will only make it feel more open. Investing in a large expanse of glass will also double the look of all your other investments.
Tip: One way to cheat on the look of a large mirror is to use smaller glass tiles or sections, which, due to much easier production and shipping, will usually come at a fraction of the price.
5. Statement Chandeliers
Pendants and chandeliers are a natural focal point, because they float away from the walls and because, well, they are all lit up! Choosing a truly beautiful fixture that stands up to the extra attention can make or break a whole room. Even in an unexpected place like a nursery or laundry suite, just this one upgrade can elevate the entire space.
6. Capiz Fixtures
Capiz shell is a designer go-to material for creating a high-end look without necessarily having to spend a lot. Pendants and sconces in this material come in a wide spectrum of prices, so shop around to find an elegant feature for your dining nook or kitchen. With all the subtle tone-on-tone beauty of the shells, you won’t need an elaborate table setting.
7. Gold Accents
Upgrading a frame to an eye-catching gold finish will make it command attention, especially when it’s surrounded by simple white furnishings. As a frame is relatively thin, you can get away with simple gold spray paint, although gold leaf will take the authenticity up a notch. Just a few packets of leafing and an afternoon of DIYing can result in a piece that anchors a whole room.
8. Marble Accessories
In a simple kitchen, a few material choices can really make or break the look. However, this doesn’t mean that all of the luxury has to come from built-in elements. One or two beautiful accessories made from marble (like the cutting board shown here) will make the material feel present in the space even if it doesn’t appear anywhere else.
Tip: Contrasting marble with rich wood and soft, shapely glass helps anchor the idea that quality materials are present even on a quiet countertop.
In a living space, a single slab of tile can be converted to a stunning serving tray with some patience, a drill and a pair of cabinet handles. Or simply treat yourself to a marble server from a favorite boutique. After all, the piece can move from room to room, so it’s really an investment in your entire home.
Finally, bringing out the best in your quality investments demands that you edit out your less-than-favorite items where possible. The less in your space, the more special and curated each piece will feel.