Luxe for Less: How to Make Your Discount Furniture Finds Look More Expensive

Let’s face it: Furniture can be expensive. To outfit your home with rooms full of quality pieces, you could easily spend tens of thousands of dollars. That’s why most people have a mix of high-end pieces and discount (or free) furniture that they collect over the years.

That doesn’t mean that your less-expensive furniture has to look cheap, though. With a little ingenuity, your hand-me-downs, yard sale finds, and discount store furniture can look like their more expensive cousins. So, whether you’re putting together some Swedish furniture with an Allen wrench or hiring a Houston furniture assembly service to tackle the task for you, try some of these tricks to get a luxe look for less.

1. Paint

The fastest, and one of the least expensive, ways to change the look of your furniture is with paint. A few coats of paint can completely change the look of any piece of furniture, and if you don’t like it, you can just paint over it. Some designer tricks for using paint include:

  • Spray painting metal furniture in metallic shades. Some gold spray paint can take a dingy, old looking metal coffee table from drab to fab in just a few minutes.
  • Chalk paint. Hand-painted furniture pieces made with chalk paint (a matte finish paint) often go for hundreds or thousands of dollars in furniture galleries and boutiques, but you can get the same look yourself. Try painting tables, chairs, desks or bookshelves with this technique to breathe new life into old pieces.
  • Accents. Painting the back shelves of a bookcase or built-in shelving unit adds a pop of color and distracts from a less-than-expensive piece.

Sometimes, just adding a fresh coat of paint can make an old or outdated piece look fresh, so don’t be afraid to experiment to get the look you want.

2. Hardware and Trim

Sometimes, what makes the difference between a cheap piece and a more expensive one is the details. A high-end bookshelf, for example, might have hand-carved trim on the shelves, or a dresser has more ornate hardware. You can fake the look of luxe, then, by adding or changing these elements on your cheaper pieces. Simply changing out the drawer pulls on a dresser or side table can change the entire look of the piece, for example. You can also make bigger changes, like putting new legs on a table, chairs or sofa (you can typically find an array of options at home improvement stores or online) or adding trim to plain pieces. Basic trim pieces that you can cut to size only cost a few dollars but can make it look like you spent hundreds of dollars more on your furniture.

3. Upgrade Upholstery

Outdated prints or cheap fabric can be a dead giveaway of low-end furniture, but re-upholstering pieces with better fabrics can make them look more expensive. You can probably handle basic jobs — such as recovering the seat cushions on dining room furniture — on your own with some fabric and a staple gun, but bigger jobs should be left to professionals. Depending on the fabric you choose and the size of the piece being re-upholstered, you can have a chair done for a few hundred dollars; couches and larger pieces cost more. Keep in mind that in some cases, it’s more cost-effective to just buy new furniture, especially if there are structural issues with the piece, but if you have a good quality hand-me-down or yard sale find that just needs sprucing up, an upholstery upgrade will do the trick.

4. Accessorize Thoughtfully

Even the most expensive piece of furniture can look cheap if it’s covered with clutter or poorly accessorized — but a less expensive piece can be disguised by well-styled accessories. A less expensive sofa, for instance, can be jazzed up with luxurious throws and a mix of throw pillows, while tables and shelves are ideal for vignettes, deliberately arranged groups of accessories. Vignettes work best when they are a mix of heights and textures and built around things that you really love. But even if you don’t have a collection of accessories, a simple stack of books topped with a candle or jar of shells or stones, paired with a plant or flower arrangement and a lamp, can help make the room feel pulled together and stylish, and distract from the less-expensive table underneath.

Regardless of the cost of your furniture, your home should always reflect your own personal style and be filled with things you love, which is always en-vogue.