HOW TO FAKE A HIGH END DECOR LOOK… FOR LESS!
I should write a book about how to fake high-end decor! I’ve mastered this skill over decades and it is probably one of the most important design skills you can hone too. Whether your style if formal or farmhouse, refined or rustic learning how to create the illusion of putting beautifully made, expensive things in your home give it a certain polish and grace. And all homes can use that! Today, let’s master the art of the great decorating fakeout!
Let me first say… You don’t need a lot of money to create a high end looking home!!! No, no, no! All you need to know are some design secrets, how to be creative and savvy and how to master some home decor diy’s!
GOOD DESIGN TAKES TIME
I look at decorating as more of a journey than a 50-yard dash. Give yourself time to curate your look. Very few of us have the budget to put together an entire room all at once! Enjoy the journey! And even if we could decorate a room all at once would it have that beautiful “created over time” look? And that is something to strive for!
It’s good to have an overall design look in mind when working on a room but don’t get so stuck on an idea that you are not willing to change things up when one of those fabulous one-of-a-kind finds come your way!!
I’ve been working on my dining room for over five years. We started by gutting it and adding hardwood floors and repainting it.
Excuse the mess…
Our room had great bones but it had needed a makeover for about 5 years! So we started from scratch. The only thing that remains in the dining room today is the mirror and a couple dining room chairs that I repainted and reupholstered. But when we finished the floors and the painting we put all the old dining room furniture back in and replaced one thing at a time!
Little by little as our budget allowed I found amazing pieces and we replaced our older things. The first thing I replaced was the chandelier. You can see it HERE.
As you can see the chandelier was very very reasonable but I thought it has a high-end look!
And this is how the room looks today…
Is this room done? Are we ever really done? I must say this room has the look I love but there are still a couple tweaks we will be working on this summer.
So take your time and enjoy the journey. Collect and curate your look!
LEARN THE HIGH/LOW MIX
I think this is one decorating tip that will make the most difference in creating a high-end look in your home! Not everything you put into a room needs to have a high price tag!
I usually try to be very frugal when creating a room. I’m also not afraid to save my pennies and “splurge” on pieces that will make my room look amazing. In my dining room, the table and pillow covers were my splurges! I found this table at Birch Lane and as far as the table goes it was very reasonable. You can see it HERE. Unfortunately, the pillows are no longer in stock.
I think there is an art in putting a room that looks high end on an everyday budget. And that takes practice! Train your decorative eye by pulling apart rooms from your favorite blogs, Pinterest, and magazines!
KNOW WHAT THE REAL THING LOOK LIKE
When I was right out of college I worked as a bank teller for a summer. I went to a two week training and learned the ropes of working in a bank. One thing I learned stuck with me and I find it very transferable and useful in decorating my home.
To spot a counterfeit bill we studied and studied what real money looked like. There are some tale-tell signs that mark real money and are very hard to copy. I think it is a very good idea to look at home furnishings the same way. Learn what the real thing looks like! And take those high-end elements and look for them in a more reasonable piece!
Do you love Bergere chairs? Know what a real one looks like. There are so so many knock-offs you can find today for fabulous prices. You might not necessarily want a “shepherdess chair” from the 1700’s but you probably want a Bergere with a high-end look. Study the turn of the legs, the carving on the wood, the wide padded seat and every wonderful thing about this comfy french chair!
The mirror that hangs in my dining room was taken from the master bath of our second home. It was a pretty big splurge but I knew that I would have it in my homes and that decision really as paid off! It has lived with us since I was a young mother! And I have never tired of it!
I went to a very reputable frame maker when I was considering a mirror and had a lesson in how mirrors were gilding. I also learned how to guild myself. A very interesting and easier than it sounds process.
Although this frame was not really gilded is does have the “look”. So I had the frame built and a mirror fit to its size.
Now when I’m looking for mirrors that have that gilded look I know what to look for.
KEEP A TIGHT COLOR PALETTE
Keeping a color palette tight is a great way to create a high-end look even when your style is not necessarily high end! That’s one reason I love love love neutrals!
Even though the colors I use in my dining room are mostly neutrals they really vary quite a bit. There are whites, tans, taupes, gold, silver, flax, black and just a tad of muted aqua. But when put together with lots of texture they all play nicely and create a high-end look.
Also, think about limiting the patterns and motifs you work with in a room. Opt for great textures instead. Adding different textures to a room really make a room look interesting and inviting!
ADD A LITTLE VINTAGE
Whatever your style, adding something that is exquisitely made or has wonderful lines from a bygone day will give your whole room a high-end look!
Something as small as these white ginger jars that create a centerpiece on my table helps to elevate my room’s look. They are old and swoon worthy and they are a perfect representation of ginger jars made 50+ years ago! When I saw these my jaw dropped because I knew they would add an expensive vintage feel to my dining room! And I purchased them for a song!
Score! Don’t you love finding gems like these?
OTHER THINGS TO CONSIDER TO GET THAT HIGH-END LOOK FOR LESS
There are so many more things we can do to fake a high-end look that won’t cost us much money at all!
- Paint and Upholster- Learn how to paint furniture and upholstered chair seats. There are tons of videos on youtube to help you! One of my favorite videos are from Amy Howard At Home.
- Sell your old furnishings. Get things you don’t need or want anymore into a consignment shop or sell them on Craig’s list etc. You can make a little money to reinvest into your home!
- Hang curtains high- a real designer look!
- Edit your collections- Nothing ruins a high-end look like a bunch of little collectibles hanging around. If you love collectibles then, by all means, display them but only a few at a time. Rotate them and group them together.
- Go bigger- Use bigger accent pieces and fewer of them. High end looks often opt for gorgeous large statement pieces!
- Hang art- Go bigger with art and mirrors! Bigger is definitely better!
Getting a high end look no matter what your style is easier than you think! It just takes time, a plan, knowing what quality looks like and attention to color and patterns.
Now, what room do you want to give a little spit and polish to? Go ahead and make it a high-end beauty!
You might like to follow me on Pinterest and see what I am finding to pin every day HERE.
Great inspiration! I am digging out an old mirror to start!
Wow this is great – I have learned so much – thanks.
Great post! I love great finds! I found a old side table for $18 may have been a price mistake! It is my treasure. My husband said you don’t need it, I didn’t listen to him. Now as place in our vacation home he says I’m glad you didn’t listen to me!
This is a great post! Great decorating advice. And, I would love for you to write a book!!!!!
This is a great post…I would love to see the tea towel pictures! I collect vintage tea towels and would love to see what they look like framed! Thanks!
Great post! I mix high and low all the time. Thanks for the tips on how to make it work! You should write a book!!
Thanks for sharing all your tricks and tips. You always inspire me and my go to when in doubt. Your home is lovely. Enjoy your day.
These are some of the best tips I’ve found. I’m definitely saving this post to refer to frequently. Thank you!!!
Love those ginger jars! Everything just perfect! thanks
Great post with lots of ideas. I am always on the hunt for things at a bargain and now I will pay special attention to the detail. Thanks.
Great post. I just bought an oval rattan tray and love it. I am inspired each time I read one of your posts. Thanks for sharing all your inspirations.
Excellent advice and a great post!
My dear late friend was an expert at “high low “, we were quite surprised by the quantity of non-antiques when clearing her estate. We “assumed ” everything was an antique.
You could fool me! Thanks for the tips. I always remember, big for accessories INSTEAD of lots of little ones.
Love your farm table best, and the way you integrate vintage pieces!
Hi Yvonne, I enjoy reading your posts. Thank you for your time spent in preparing them. I too enjoy finding lovely pieces at a bargain price and refurbishing them. Just a couple of days ago I bought an oval back chair (one of my favorite kind), at an antique store and when I brought it to the checkout desk, they said it was 40 percent off! It is in excellent shape, nice and sturdy and solid wood! Yay! I have stripped it so far and will now paint and reupholster it and place it in my living room. I also bought a pretty half round table with a shelf underneath (VERY reasonable) and plan on getting that painted and distressed this week also. I may gift that to one of my daughters. Thank you Yvonne, for the inspirations on your blog on making our homes special places for family and friends, but especially for the Spiritual inspiration and encouragement that you give, without which life has no real meaning. Hope you have a lovely day. Smiles, Deborah 🙂
I plan to share this post with my niece. She is working with an expensive designer to decorate her lovely new home. I have tried to convince her that she can handle this project herself. She is artistic, creative and not afraid to have a style of her own. I think this article will give her the encouragement to move forward, without the assistance of a professional designer!
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you, for blessing us with your great inspiration of ideas.
I love this! Thank you, for the great ideas! Everything looks pricey and beautiful.
great ideas! love to reuse and recover!
Thank you for your advice and inspiration. I bought your chandelier, but haven’t hung it yet. I read some reviews that it had European wiring and wonder if you had to have it rewired or used it as it came?
We did not have to rewire. But putting on those crystals was a bit of a challenge. So worth it though!
I plan to show my hubby this article because he thinks I am crazy with my constant changing and moving around items. He is always asking when am I going to be finished. Thank you for the great tips – I get it!
If you made me guess which items in the room were high and which were low, I would have flunked the test! So I really appreciate the photo that labels all the sources. Nice eye-opener, and confirms I need to keep honing my skills.
I love your ideas. I just don’t have that designer skill or thoughts. I want to thank you for teaching me Yvonne. Thing that I didn’t think about.
I have always repurposed items to achieve that high end
look.You have done a beautiful job with your home.
Υvonne you should write a book everything you do say and put together is absolutely stunning.Have a wonderful day I hope your healing fast from your second leg surgery.
Great information! I will be starting from scratch on our new home this fall. (Yes, finally after 2 years of waiting!) I like to think of my style as ‘understated elegance’ and I look forward to finding just THE perfect items to make the new (to us) house a warm and welcoming home. Blessings to you, Nancy
I totally agree with your idea that a room develops over time. Like most of us, not everyone has the budget to redo a room all at once.
I love your area rug. It looks so “fresh”! Your suggestions about decorating make tons of sense and are doable for people who are ready to invest their time into making their home a reflection of themselves.
What wonderful ideas! What every woman needs to know and you have done a beautiful job with what you have learned!! Thank you so much!
I see you have trim on one dining chair and one without (the painted and upholstered side chairs). Do you recommend alternating trim? Do you use hot glue to attach the trim?
I love your side chairs and of course everything in this room.
No, I noticed that too. I actually forgot to add the trim. Guess what I am doing this weekend?
Great advice Yvonne! We’re moving from North America to Australia for a couple of years and will be starting over from scratch as we’re storing our “good” furnishings here. I will certainly be using your ideas as I shop consignment stores, garage sales and flea markets down under! Thanks.
I enjoy your posts and read them all.
However, I have a question. What is the purpose of the curtain panel next to a window in your dining room?
Hi Evea, I have two curtain panels on the outside side of the windows in my dining room. Just like any curtain, my dining room curtains give my room softness and frame the two windows. You can’t see the other window or the curtain on the other side.
Thanks for the informative post. I realize that what I love about your decorating style is your use of neutrals and muted palate. It feels so fresh and calming at the same time. I am slowly migrating in that direction after years of color. I didn’t think I could go totally neutral with young boys and a dog in the house.
Just found your blog. How lovely!
This was a great post. I certainly believe in mixing the high and the low and taking time to achieve a collected look.
Always a good time!! Thanks for the wonderful ideas!!?
Thanks for the tips to get the look of high end on a budget. Your dining room looks very high end.
Great look. Love that dining room. Good ideas on achieving an expensive look.
Yes I love all your ideas and your methods of waiting to get what you want…Little by little is the way to go and looking for bargains!
W could shop together, Yvonne! I LOVE finding a great piece that looks expensive for little of nothing. Makes my heart sing!
Great blog! Thanks for inspiring us all.
This is wonderful advice ! I luv the idea of mixing High and Low items. Will be looking at furniture and accessories differently now.
Thanks for the great advice , your room looks very pretty !
This post and the podcast are great pep talks — I pin and revisit them!
Thanks for the tips!
These are all great tips and I am working on a few changes in moderation of course. One thing I noticed Yvonne you do not have any family pictures scattered around. I have an etagere that is full of family pictures and just recently someone commented, do you think you have enough pictures. I would love for you to address this and give me some guidance as to how you would go about arranging pictures in your home.
Fantastic information!!! And, I’m finally remembering to tell you that the fabric on your dining room chairs is just about the most beautiful, decadent, elegant upholstery fabric that I have ever seen. Phew! So glad to get that out of my memory storage.
After 30 years in the same house we are finally gutting the kitchen. Your input and tips are very, very helpful. Thanks for sharing your life with us.
Great post. Very helpful tips!
Love this post Yvonne!!! Love the fabric on your two dining room chairs. Stands out. Fabulous❤️
Great information and beautiful presentation
Great ideas! I’ve painting and repurposing my decor for too many years to say. Lol
I always find something in your posts that I can turn around and use in our home. I can’t wait to open my email and see your posts. Love your eye for details and all of your tips. Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us.
i always know your blog content is going to be good. I’ve found a lot of inspiration on your site.
I’ve always enjoyed trying to get a high end look on a budget. I always told my husband I wanted to write a book and title it “Decorating on a shoe string”. I still enjoy decorating my home but haven’t written the book!
I have just moved from a log cabin to a modern and more traditional home and will need all the help I can get. My new husband thinks anything country is trash. Doesn’t like antiques or anything that looks old. I will be having an enormous yard sale the first
Saturday in June!
So much information and great ideas I have to read it twice. You are the best!!
I want to read this again . So many great details!
Loved this post! I agree with you on keeping a tight palette. Your house is beautiful!
Great information Yvonne! It sparks creativity wheather just starting out or “seasoned ” and in a lul. You are so right a beautiful home need not break the bank ( and shouldn’t) research is the key and you have done a marvelous job of sharing your knowledge with us…a little touch up home (or hair) is a good thing! Thanks.
My favorite thing to do……take something inexpensive and make it look like a million or find something no one else would want and place it in just the right spot so that everyone asks “Where did you find that?”
Thanks for the tips, Yvonne. I especially enjoyed looking at the labeled pics. Great post!
Great tips Yvonne, thank you!
I agree the trick to a well designed home is to mix low and high end items and to collect things over time.
As always your blog is a delight and blessing. We will be moving sometime this year and we’ll have a new home to decorate. Although our style won’t change a lot we’re looking forward to making some changes. Our style is very much like yours.
Your Sunday messages are my favorite. I usually forward them on to my 14 year old granddaughter and she loves them !!
I’m learning so much from your blogs. Thanks for sharing all your knowledge with us.
Is it ever done? No way, we keep tweaking and adding pieces, and changing our mind, then just when you think it is done, “I think I’ll change this!” love your room, now to make some more changes in mine. Thanks for sharing
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I always learn so much from your tips!
I think I was still sick during THS post, but I have to let you know how beautiful this dinning room design is. It took my breath away.
You are so practical yet so inspirational.
A very good article. Most households do not do an all at once revamp of style. They accumulate and collect things along the way. I’d rather budget vacations then redoba whole room at once. Im still able to enjoy my space with this way. I’ve slowly turned my modern style into a French country modern living area. It’s still practical for my kids, but tasteful enough that I feel like it is a stylish place I’m proud to call home. I agree. I find things for pennies or I splurge on another item. I combine them together to create a place I love. Its taking about 3 years to change it but I enjoy having the project. Practical and realistic to today’s families.
Where is your rug from? Very nice!
Hi Lori, My rug is an indoor/outdoor rug from Ballard Designs. I hope this helps.
After seeing your Ballard Design rug some time ago, I ordered one for my river house. I have been so pleased with this rug. Just this week I saw the chair in the mod fabric and the nutural colors from Wayfair and it is on its was now. I have used so many of your ideas in my homes. The ceramic lanterns another purchase….. and the list could go on. Thanks for the great blog. My favorite!
Should you paint the gold mirror? Just a thought….Have a GREAT day!!
I enjoy your blog! 😉
Wonderful tips to decorate like a “decorator”. You’re the best Yvonne!
I absolutely love all your info to make it look high end Thank you and God bless
I recently purchased ironstone lids. Nether has a lip yo use the traditional plate hanger. I noticed that you have hung lids ….. any suggestions as to how to hang them ?
Thank you inadvanve
What can I say, your decorative taste and style is fabulous, and it shows in how gorgeous your home alway is
Your home is beautiful! I just moved into a new home (new for me…it was built in 1991) and although my style is eclectic I want to add more farmhouse style to it. I noticed most farmhouse homes us curtains rather than valances on their windows but I want to make my own valances using particle board and covering them in fabric. I have 2.5 inch white blinds on those windows now and I want to keep them. Do you think I can incorporate the farmhouse vibe using valances rather than curtains?
Congratulations on your new home, Maria!
Hi Gina — I read many of your articles on decorating. I have a 1960s house with I want to do farmhouse or country. I have many pieces of old furniture (inherited from past relatives), not of value, but I would like to refinish and especially paint. Would you please address a post about how many pieces in a room can be painted versus wood finish, and should they all be the same color, or can they be mixed?
Thank you very much. Peninnah
I loved seeing the empty room vs. the fully furnished room, Yvonne. It is so pretty. Love that chandelier!
I don’t have a particular room that I’m redoing (except for my powder room), but the overall look of my great room and kitchen-dining room is changing a bit. I, too, am tired of my oriental rugs, so I’m looking at changing them. I can’t bring myself to get rid of my beautiful Ethan Allen couches that are 19 years old. I still love them, though I’m starting to wonder how leather replacements would look! I’ll have them cleaned and then see how I feel.
Thanks to you 3 girls, I have been also looking at better table linens for my new dining table. I have been looking at linen, and have learned so much–what a fascinating fabric! I have been using my lovely Irish linen tablecloth that Daddy brought back from Scotland during WWII. I was always afraid of linen because of staining and wrinkles, but the stains come right out when I soak it overnight, and I love the unironed look. I am also looking for more rustic, natural linen, and have ordered a tablecloth from Etsy. There are so many sources out there, so I’m going to begin collecting good, basic pieces that I can use over and over for different occasions.
Amazing post. Thank you. There is so much useful information in one place. I am forwarding it to my daughter.
Great tips that can help us move toward awesomeness Yvonne! The High-Low tip is really important, I think. It helps to make a room believable, and lived in, rather than “designed”.
Thanks for the tip about hanging curtains high, will do as we are moving into our new home this week!
“Know what the real thing looks like.” Best piece of advice – EVER!
That chandelier is amazing! I assumed it cost a lot more than it did. Overstock has several more that look just as nice. Some as low as $88!
The chandy was under $200.00! Score! Look for the Tribeca chandelier at overstocks.
I love looking at the before and after pictures. It inspires me to try new things
Another wonderful post filled with ideas from an expert …. who could ask for anything more?!?! I have walked around my home and have used your advice in different rooms. It’s like shopping from home! I especially appreciated the picture with the shopping names attached …. it’s another to PIN. And the chandelier is stunning!
Good morning, Yvonne!
I’m enjoying this post with my morning coffee. I agree wholeheartedly with your high/low concept. I find the same is true with fashion. When people ask where I shop, I tell them everywhere. I have no problem mixing high end with some very basic items purchased at Walmart! In fact, I have a large “gold-leaf” mirror that I purchased at Walmart years ago for 39 dollars. The finish was a very yellow gold which I didn’t like, so I painted it a much more dull gold. It happened to match the base of my bedroom lamps (home goods) which I used on my buffet. I simply changed the shades to a larger drum shape to give them a less formal feel for our family room.
Growing up, my father (who was way ahead of his time) made a living cleaning out other people’s houses. He would then turn a second profit on reselling many of the items. My mother of course got tired of his bringing things home. The “flea market find” mentality had not taken hold back then. But I loved many of those things and would take them for my home. I was 18 when I got married-no wedding registry! So I ended up with some beautiful things as a result. I absolutely love your pictures with where you got each thing. It is very reminiscent of my own source list.
I do have one question though, when you talk about keeping a color palette tight, do you mean using a limited number of colors? Can you explain this just a bit?
Your blog and help is my decorating bible. thank you so much. We are downsizing and building a house and I go to you daily for help and inspiration.
Yvonne, after looking at your blog, and really studying your art of less is more… the built-in bookshelves that have been the thorn in my side have turned into the most commented on area in my condo! Completely re-arranged them with a stone gable look 🙂 What a difference…now, they are almost my favorite part of the room! 🙂 Thank you!!
Can you tell me where you purchased the black chair you have in your dining room? It sits over in the corner by the window.
Hi Mary, It came from a local furniture store years ago. I bet you could find one similar on Wayfair or Hayneedle or Amazon
So pretty and such good tips! I LOVE the dining room chair upholstery. The only thing I would do differently (and this is totally personal taste) would be to hang that gorgeous mirror vertically. It all is just peaceful, interesting and completely beautiful, though. One question: The chest with the scroll pattern–did you do that or find it that way?
I love this post. I’m trying to do each room with all your ideas and tips in my head!!! I have too many little accessories and need the bigger pieces to make a statement. I just love your wingback chairs at the dining room table. Thanks so much for all your skills you share with us.
Greetings, I have enjoyed your post for many years, but this one is outstanding!
Thank you, Yvonne, for using your talents and wisdom to share with others. This one is a favorite and will be a regular reference. Bless you.
Thanks Yvonne for sharing your wisdom about decorating. And reminding us it can be done over time. We as women or maybe it’s just me. Want it done now or all at once, so it’s hard to be patience. Our poor husbands, at least mine deserves a medal sometimes. I’m just now getting drapes/curtains for a house we have lived in for ten years now. I’ve had blinds but wanted curtains to add warmth both in looks and physical warmth. The windows are huge and it’s a hundred year old brick. So it can get cold at times. Thanks again and have a blessed Ash Wednesday.
Thanks for the lesson. I really enjoy picking up the terminology you pass on.
Thank you for the great ideas! I am wondering where to get budget friendly, high-end looking draperies? I really think this is a tell tale accessory that can go either way.
You are right Virginia, but in today’s homes draperies don’t take center stage like they did in the past. Keep window treatments simple and in the background! Layer great rattan blinds with a neutral colored curtain that goes from ceiling to floor. This is an updated look for any style! Hope this helps.