A well-loved home deserves care, attention, and investment. Often the favorite room, your living room allows you to catch your breath at the end of the day, but since it is also a hub for entertaining, dressed-up comfort covers all bases. The secret is that you don’t need much to bring a lounge area from mediocre to luxurious, just a few standouts features that flavor the space with extravagance, bring the shades of the room together, and reflect your personality as well.
Touches of Velvet
Bringing in unexpected textures conveys richness. The plushy feel and distinctive shine of velvet have signified luxury since its origin thousands of years ago in Egypt. Add a velvet accent pillow to a couch in a color that pops yet plays well with the color scheme of the room, perhaps a darker hue of one of the room’s neutral shades or a more vivid color that contrasts yet complements existing furniture. If you visit fabric stores, you’ll likely find scraps of velvet in the sale bin that even novice stitchers can make into attractive pillows.
If your living room windows or glass doors look best framed by curtains, use these substantial bustles of fabric as a standout feature of the room. With curtains, selecting a cheap-looking fabric can cast a ramshackle air over the entire space, but fortunately, an investment in quality curtains, or even those that just look it, won’t break the bank. Curtains make for an easy DIY project–you really just need to know how to hem–so pick up a brocade or other thick, luxurious fabric. Robust, floor-length curtains can transform a plain room into downright royal.
Why not get some extra miles from a bouquet instead of trashing it? Drying or pressing flowers at home is incredibly simple: flatten them within a stack of heavy books or hang them upside down for several weeks, then spritz with hairspray to seal. Arrange a few in a picture frame or create a stunning wreath for your wall. This look evokes the feeling that an artisan lives here, crafting treasures by hand.
Colored Glass Bottles and Pottery
These are ubiquitous at flea markets and bargain shops, and honestly, the more weathered they look, the more expensive they appear. Alternately you can shellac them to get the color and finish you want. Line up glass bottles of varying shades in the same color family on a windowsill to catch the light, or set a few sturdy pots with slightly eroded paint on the floor or shelf to mimic ancient water jug relics.
Oversized Wooden Candlesticks
Place these statement pieces alongside a fireplace or entertainment center for instant luxury. The larger size gives them a solid, well-made appearance and also commands attention, giving the ambiance of a cozy English manor.
Besides creating a luxe look, culture-infused pieces add interest. Even if you haven’t traveled the world, your living room can still display your adventurous spirit as well as a unique, global sense of style. Uncommon souvenir-type art suggests a scholarly type of luxury, so consider a tribal-patterned table runner, a swath from an Indian sari, or global-inspired wood carvings or vases.
DIY Crown Molding
In real estate terms, crown molding can be quite a selling point: it brings a Classical architecture to feel to a room, making a home seem historic. You can actually add crown molding or a similar style yourself by purchasing and painting lengths of it from hardware stores. Using a nail gun makes the installation process fairly quick and easy.
Use a Few Bold Accents
Continuity plays an important role in a room’s aesthetic–obviously it’s hard to make a wildly mismatched and clashing space feel inviting and homey if it gives everyone a headache. A lounge area in which all pieces look like they were purchased to go together appears high-end and refined. Vary shades in the same color family with furniture and large items, and mix in some smaller accents in vivid colors and contrasting textures that complement yet stand out.
Chunky Wood Shelves
Sturdy, generous expanses of wood give a house luxury, showing that it was built not with minimal materials but with bounty and extravagance in mind. From neutral, bright, or dark walls to brick or stone fireplaces, large, rugged slabs of wood mounted as shelves look great against any surface and frame knick-knacks nicely. You don’t necessarily have to go with a lodge theme in order to employ these; they also go well with beachy or cottage motifs and basically anything else.
DIY Wood-Paneled Ceiling
Yes, this sounds daunting, but in fact, you don’t need a contractor to recreate the regal and magnificent ceiling of a Viking chapel–at least, an architecturally simpler version. The wood slats you use don’t need to be high-end to reflect cozy luxury. Check out local sources for reclaimed or cast-off wood or pick up inexpensive planks at a hardware store. Some DIY-ers have reported covering their living room ceilings for under $500. The most challenging part of this will likely involve re-mounting your light fixtures over the new wood surface. Otherwise, make installation easier with a nail gun, and err on the lengthier side so you can trim the extra if your first measurements aren’t precise enough.
Standout Wall Art
A classily-dressed wall can be easily achieved by avoiding both clutter and blandness. You don’t need to spend a lot for a spectacular piece of art to be the focal point of your living room, but you can make it look like you did. Even if the rest of your decor doesn’t tend toward the feminine, a close-up print of a flower can be found in nearly every color. You could also consider something whimsical like a mantra or a dreamy veil of color. While you want to select something within the color palette you already have, it should also reflect your personality.
Large, Opulently-Framed Mirror
If you want to eschew the pressure of selecting art, take a cue from the Palace of Versailles and go with a mirror as the focal point. Find beautiful options in attention-commanding sizes with either corners or curves depending on what goes best in your space, or consider an unexpected shape like an archway. You might find the perfect shape in an unframed mirror and pick up a frame separately, which will be easy to paint in a metallic color or stain in a neutral.
Flea Market Furniture–Seriously!
You and your guests usually sit facing your coffee table, so if it’s an eyesore the rest of your living room will have trouble making up for that. If you enjoy a treasure hunt and like the look of one-of-a-kind pieces, commit to hitting flea markets to browse for finds. Train your eyes for something that looks antique yet won’t fall apart on you, like perhaps a chunky, weathered coffee table you can re-finish yourself, if needed, to match your room.
Upcycling and Upholstery Projects
Having a worn or clashing couch or armchair re-upholstered professionally can be fairly expensive. On the other hand, it’s easy to update an old-fashioned wooden dining room or desk chair with a fabric seat that you may have banished to your garage. Since you’ll be working with a small amount of fabric, feel free to use a bright color or pattern, possibly a beautifully embroidered swatch. Unscrew or pry the seat from the chair and remove staples underneath to replace the old fabric. You could also choose a few colors of paint and stencil a few flowers, vines, or patterns on the wood of an otherwise uninspired chair.
Yes, of course, a new paint job in your living room will be a nice change for you, but if you replace one understated neutral with another, you may be the only one who notices any change at all. Up the luxe factor and go with a textured or embellished paint that leaves your walls truly remarkable, like brushed pearl or metallic. You’re going for elegant, not gaudy, so if you love a paint that would be too loud for the entire room, divide the room into upper and lower halves or paint one wall.
While not a neutral, the green of plants goes well with everything, bringing life to an austere color scheme or calming a busy palette. Potted plants make a room look lush and indicate that space is maintained with care. The beautiful peace lily thrives indoors. Spider plants tolerate indoor conditions well, and if you know a friend with one they will probably be glad to give you a cutting. If you prefer some well-chosen artificial plants, keep their realistic look by taking them outside for an occasional douse with the hose: dust is a dead giveaway.
Everyone loves the fragrance and charm of fresh flowers, but you don’t need to pay a lot for a cornucopia of blooms to make your end tables inviting. Think outside the vase and use an unexpected vessel to display one to three cut flowers, such as a margarita glass, a decorative tea tin, or a glass bottle. Presenting flowers in a unique, ingenious way makes friends think they came from a florist.
Plush Area Rug
The cushioned comfort of a rug softens hard corners and floors. Its expansive size gives you a big chance to play with color. Your rug can provide a lively pattern that ties all the room’s hues together, or it can bring light and balance to make your living room as relaxing as it should be. Check discount stores for area rugs in all colors and designs for under $100.
Perhaps it’s the collective name given this group of dark, vibrant colors, but they very effectively convey extravagance. Deep, saturated tones of fuchsia, violet, midnight blue, dark teal, gold, and emerald–all are showy yet flattering, and all of them look rich. They look great in small accents like pillows or light fixtures, and some more versatile ones like deep blue make a stunning choice for a couch. Dark though they may be, they’re a beautiful choice for pieces that pick up the light, like the sheen of a jewel-toned velvet or a stained-glass lamp.
Beautify Your Bookshelf
Paring down your bookshelf and optimizing content is a simple step that can noticeably affect the overall mood of your space. If a bookshelf looks less like a dumping ground for favorite reading and more like a purposefully arranged display case, your living room will naturally feel more upscale. Avoid clutter and align a cluster of books with an attempt to keep to a color theme if you can, but intersperse a book-laden shelf with a shelf holding only a glass bottle or beautiful knick-knack.
Opulent Light Fixture
Besides being beautiful and luxurious almost by definition, the presence of a chandelier or elaborate light fixture is the mark of a lavish home. Ceilings are typically under-utilized for artistic display, so this is an area that can handle a substantial piece. Estate sales should have some lovely bargain choices, particularly for those looking for a classic crystal chandelier. If your living room tends toward the rustic, a number of designs using iron, wood, and pillar candles can be found on the market; some made from antique silverware are particularly stunning against the backdrop of lodge decor. Contemporary and minimalist styles are available too, often for under $100.
Take a cue from celebrity divas who wrote the book on luxury and eschew harsh, overly-bright lighting in your lounge space. A soft mid-level glow is said to be more universally flattering for skin tones, and a stylish lamp gives you a chance to combine a functional item with a decorative piece. To pick up more light in the room, add a lamp with a large tinted glass vessel for a base or a stained-glass dome. Bring a bit of nostalgic flavor to the room with an industrial design that incorporates metal and Thomas Edison-style bulbs. You can also update your current lampshades with a fresh fabric like burlap or shade in a bright color.
Knobs With Flair
An easily-overlooked feature of your entertainment center or living room storage, plain cabinet or drawer knobs can be replaced with more ornamental ones to transform furniture into unique statement pieces. Try knobs in an unexpected color, or play with floral or geometric shapes.
Show Off A Vintage Find
If you’ve been lucky enough to inherit or find buried treasure like a vintage sewing machine or a spinning wheel in an antique shop or even a flea market, play it to advantage and add to its ambiance. Set it up in one corner of your living room with accents that match the mood like pillar candles or a rough wooden ottoman. Visit an Amish village for great buys like schoolhouse desks, then adorn it with an ink well and nostalgic stationery.
DIY Grandfather Clock
An heirloom like this speaks of old money and good taste shared throughout the family, but there’s no need to wait until you’ve inherited one or can spend a bundle on it. Check out the DIY kits, which can be found for as little as $130, and spend an entertaining day discovering how the weights and balances work.
Conceal All Power Cords
You likely know about this important safety issue, but if you haven’t taken this step in your living room yet, there are multiple reasons to do so. In addition to removing tripping hazards and avoiding cord wear and tear, the aesthetic of clean lines and no clutter classes up your living space. This is a must to make sure that the room where you entertain guests and relax as a family looks plush, welcoming, and lovingly curated.