How to Get a High-End Living Room Look on a Real-Life Budget

published Aug 9, 2017
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(Image credit: Diana Liang)

Built in 1928, this Michigan house came with plenty of architectural charm when Justin bought it, but it needed updating. And that’s just what Justin did, transforming the dated interior into a modern, cozy abode. Every room packs in interior design inspiration, but the living room deserves a longer look. It’s a simple, elegant composition that looks sophisticated and high-end. But you can totally pull this look off on a budget. Below, some ideas:

(Image credit: Diana Liang)

1. Go with a room-brightening paint color all over

Justin’s living room feels luxurious from the get-go because of a creamy neutral white wall paint color covering so many surfaces. It bounces natural light around, but more importantly it instantly makes the room feel clean and fresh, like a nice hotel room.

2. Choose cushiony seating with legs

In Justin’s home, the Andes Sofa from West Elm has great neutral upholstery. But most importantly, soft cushions add luxury to the space. And tall legs lift the bulk of the sofa off the floor, making the sofa appear visually lighter. This IKEA one also fits the bill, and is even more affordable. If you can’t afford a new sofa at all, add extra cushions and throw pillows to add extra padding to your existing seating.

3. Splurge on one thing

Justin chose a very sleek and modern Nuevo Living coffee table for his living room. (It’s no longer available, but this coffee table is similar.) A splurge item doesn’t have to be as big as a coffee table to make a high-end impact though. Something you love in a prominent spot will do the trick. And if you truly have no budget for a splurge, spend time on a DIY project that will have a big impact.

4. Take on natural textures

Texture adds depth to a room and including it in their designs is a way that high end designers make their rooms feel more luxe. A Natural Fiber rug jute rug from Target gives a big dose of natural texture to Justin’s room. The oversized fur pillow from West Elm sits on the sectional. (Here’s another inexpensive option from Wayfair.) And a tall basket, like this one from Wayfair, is great for adding texture and storage to a room.

→ 6 Ways to Add Texture to a Room Without Spending a Ton of Money

(Image credit: Diana Liang)

5. Hang a big mirror(s)

Mirrors work in homes of all styles and work for homes of all sizes. They reflect light, making a room feel larger (and therefore a little more luxurious). And the bigger the mirror, the bigger the impact. But you don’t have to shell out a ton of money on a giant mirror; you can give the appearance of one big mirror from a collage of smaller ones, like these affordable mirrors from IKEA.

6. Illuminate with great lighting

Not only is great lighting (natural and artificial) vital for a room to look its best, upgrading even just one light fixture into something a little special can have a big visual impact on a room. DIY a light fixture if you don’t have the budget to buy one.

12 Lighting DIYs that Look Like a Million Bucks

7. Add a hint of gold

Or another metallic sheen that is your preference, just add something shiny in somewhere, preferably somewhere where it will catch a glint of light. Even if it’s a cheap vintage bauble, it can make a great addition. Or, frame an affordable piece of art with metallic features, like this Society6 print.

8. Go for oversized art

Just like a large-scale mirror, an oversized piece of art can make a room look more expensive than it might actually be thanks to the big visual impact one large art piece can have over a collage of smaller ones. Again, if you don’t have a huge budget, DIY your own oversized art!