What is High / Low Design?
This principle of balanced spending is one that I often embrace as an interior designer. Clearly, some elements of a room are worth allocating a larger proportion of a budget to, regardless of the total spend. So, when working with more of a shoestring budget, we simply need to be more discerning with our high/low balance to achieve that luxury interior.
Comparatively, seek out superior quality features or fittings for high-use areas. For example, seating such as sofas and dining chairs get a lot of use. Similarly, the flooring of living areas must withstand daily footfall. In a study or spare bedroom, perhaps not so much.
Room accessories and soft furnishings can be much more cheaply sourced. Vintage or thrift furniture may cost very little, but with a lick of paint, will look far more expensive than it was. Similarly, by making your own cushion covers, you can mix roll ends of limited edition designs with modern fabrics to create an overall high-end appearance.
Lighting a room is one of the best places to mix up your budget. Luxury interiors often have many layers of lighting, so it is here that you can save on lamps, shades, and pendants. It is also a place where you can really go overboard, so watch out!
As the focus of a living room or kitchen, pendant lighting really draws the eye, so make this part count. Chandelier lighting is synonymous with luxury and enhances the look of a room even during the day since they diffuse natural light to brighten up the room.
Invest a bit of time to browse second-hand lighting options, either in stores or online for some budget-friendly finds! Team a vintage table lamp with a clean modern shade, or vice versa!
The reason that lighting is so important for a luxury interior is that it really impacts the warmth of the room. Invest in smart hue bulbs for your lamps to have a kaleidoscope at your fingertips!
Wall lighting is a great hallmark of a luxury interior. However, a budget may not stretch to rewiring the whole room! So instead, mix the heights of your lamps. Short and tall table lamps with a floor lamp will create the same depth of light as inbuilt wall and ceiling lighting.
Walls and Windows
As the frames of your room, the walls and windows are what envelop you, and must support your luxury aesthetic. But fear not, this doesn’t have to cost the earth.
Space is a luxury, and high ceilings are a feature that we associate with comfortable living. Increase the feeling of height in a room by positioning the curtain rail as close as you can to the ceiling and running drapes down to the floor. Another method is to keep wall colour consistent from floor to ceiling, including skirting and door frames.
A room that is flooded with natural light will always feel more luxurious. So choose your window dressings with this in mind. Shutters or half shutters will open up more of the window than traditional curtains do, and are a clean and classic window treatment. A feature mirror will both reflect natural light and act as a statement piece.
A little drama goes a long way in luxury interiors, so seek to create an imposing window dressing. To get the look of opulent curtains without shelling out for expensive fabrics, double up the quantity of off-the-shelf drapery to give a thicker, plusher look.
Little is Enough
Too much going on across your walls will actually make the space too busy and feel less luxurious. So be sparing with additional wall features. Some luxurious touches that you might want to consider are half wall panelling, a designer accent wallpaper, or a signature splashback in the kitchen.
I have mentioned signature or statement pieces a few times, but it can be easier said than done to find these key parts of a luxury interior. These are the elements of your room that tie together your personal story with aesthetics.
This signature piece may be made from scratch to your specifications, or be an upcycled vintage item. It is functionally or aesthetically designed for your room. It can feel like a real indulgence, but if your budget allows, this one item can elevate a whole room.
It can be a big ticket item, but really art doesn’t have to dominate your budget. If you are creative, think about ways to make your own statement canvas within your colour scheme. Something that provides texture and depth. Or, once again, look around markets and second-hand outlets for something that catches your eye.
Turn an ornate piece of fabric into a statement wall hanging. Not only is this a great eye-catching signature piece, but it will warm the room to boost the feeling of luxurious comfort!
If you are not inclined to upcycle a whole sideboard or dresser, look for display antiques. This could be a vintage carafe displayed on a side table or a set of vintage frames on the walls. These nods to history are great for adding gravitas and distinction to a room.
Sculptural features feel indulgent. However, this does not mean that you need a commissioned statue in your hallway! Instead, incorporate sculptural concepts in your selection of lighting, wall art, and furniture.
Luxury items to splurge your interior budget on
There are expensive options for everything. So maybe you are wondering how you can decide if something is worth a budget splurge? As a guide, things rightly cost more for these three reasons:
- Durability of materials
- Expertise of craftsmanship
- Bespoke design
If the item does not fulfil any of these criteria, just walk away! Generally, it is worth seeking out genuinely luxury pieces for parts of the room that you interact with and touch.
Comfortable seating that fits perfectly in your space is the key to a luxury living area. These items are so large that you will quickly notice any shortcuts in fabric, materials, and condition.
From real wood floors to a large area rug, source good quality flooring to build a true foundation of luxury. It is not just about how it looks, it is about how it feels underfoot and its durability. Cut corners on flooring and your luxury interior may not feel so luxurious in a couple of years!
A solid oak dining table, hardwood flooring, or a genuine marble countertop are all examples of how natural materials form the core of a luxury interior.
Luxury interiors work on many levels. Taken in isolation, so many things are considered luxurious. So it is your job to be discerning and to select where it works for you to focus. Don’t try to add luxury features at every turn. If your eye is working too hard, you have compromised that laid-back luxury elegance! I always work on the principle that an interior must balance quality and beauty with a personal story, so keep your own comfort at the forefront when planning your luxury interior, and don’t be afraid to employ the principles of high/low design.