What looks expensive need not actually be so. We all know people who have the knack for picking out pieces that appear more premium than their price tags. This distinctive eye is not some god-gifted quality that only a few are born with; it is actually the application of some basic tricks that anyone can easily pick up, which will help elevate the aesthetics of their modest apartments, within the space constraints. Working around budget limitations is a pleasurable challenge, and before long, you’ll be quite the expert of ‘cheats’, as we like to say. Our deceitful dossier is a starters’ kit, with all products under the very affordable figure of Rs 25,000/-.
CHEAT #1: ILLUSIVE LIGHTING
Mood lighting instantly casts a ‘premium’ glow on your space. The interplay of partially lit-up spots with shadowy areas has a dramatic quality that affects the subconscious senses of visitors. Yellow looks richer than white light because it creates a more intimate (read exclusive) setting and also forms more shadows. But there is a fine line between cosy and ghostly – no point going too dim or dark that will make the gathering look like a séance! Floor or table lamps do the trick very nicely. Hanging pendants at strategic points provides additional support. Scented candles straightaway ‘upscale’ the vibe and also envelop the room with subtle aromatics; a large, pillar-like candlestand speaks with a posh accent. You are in control, so highlight what you want to, conceal the rest. Works every single time.
Copper Pendant Ceiling Lamp from Cellardoor: Rs 6120/- XTDX Lamp Lens from AFKD Storey: Rs 8700/-
Gilded White Metal Candlestant from Mayur Arts: Rs 17,500/- Glass Lamp from Cellardoor: Rs 18,360/-
CHEAT #2: HUSHED METALLICS
Living in gilt need not be taken to the extreme. A measured injection of metal can add some jazz to your space. Choose the tone of the alloy carefully – in our experience, a muted sheen looks classier than loud shine. The finish of your selected pieces needs to be good, else the polish does not translate through. A small side or corner table in brass adds resplendence to your seating area. A nickel or pewter-hued vase looks premium because of its colour. Steel gives out a swanky industrial vibe; an artsy wall accent stands out. Traditional engraving in an intricate pattern represents handcraft. No need for monochrome – mix up the metallic palette. Dull gold goes with grey silver; copper complements gunmetal. The idea is to distribute these specks rather than forming a jarring cluster. A luxe lift with minimal effort.
Orb Vase – Nickel from Taama: Rs 3600/- Gazelle from Alex Davis Studio: Rs 12,000/-
Hand Carved White Metal Vase from Essajees: Rs 14,799/- Umaid Side Table from Anantaya: Rs 14,100/-
CHEAT #3: ARTFUL DODGERIES
Adorning your walls with artsy things lends your apartment a ‘gallery feel’. Mount a pretty artifact, strategically angle the light towards it and voila! You’re a connoisseur! It does not always have to always be a signed photograph or an original painting: authentic reproductions like genuine oleographs of classic masterpieces are more than acceptable. A mosaic panel can help add some rich colour to your interiors. A painterly carpet or durrie can be creatively framed and put up; the result is transformative. A mirror or a unique shelf is an easy addition. While the internet is flooded with innumerable suggestions, a DIY collage in your living room does not denote ‘upscale’. Everyone these days knows the difference between crafty and crafted – your choice of subjects is what will make your home unique.
369 Mirrors – Large from AKFD Storey: Rs 11,100/- Art Rug from Imperial Knots: Rs 12,000/-
Marrakesh from Vandeepp Kalra: Rs 18,000/- Radha Madhav by Raja Ravi Varma from The Edit: Rs 19,000/-
CHEAT #4: FABRICATED FINERIES
Nothing big or bulky, but a cool piece of standout furniture separates you from the cookie-cutter plethora of utilitarian designs. Why settle for the mundane when there are more special versions in similar price brackets? There are plenty of streamlined, space-saving options to choose from, no matter what your preferred material is. Wood, glass, steel, metal, stone and even high grade plastic come in various forms and aesthetics. A lacquered trunk makes for a great coffee or side table, with storage space. A vibrantly upholstered standalone chair can beautifully contrast a muted décor scheme. A uniquely shaped bench can make a bland hallway or corridor interesting. A modern ottoman is an indulgent companion. Play with colour and form; refrain from going for safe. A few spots of confident experimentation can amp up the polish. Our best tip: buy one piece at a time so that you know where to fit it.
Corset Ottomon from AKFD Storey: Rs 14,000/- Red Lacquered Chinese Chest from Oriental Living: Rs 18,400/-
Ollie Arc Bench from Vilaasita: Rs 20,300/- Dot from Studio Wood: Rs 21,100/-
CHEAT #5: CRAFTY COLLECTIBLES
You may not have travelled the world, but that should not stop you from acquiring a glocal identity. Small touches from distant shores will give out the impression of a tasteful adventurer. These need not be traditional crafts from various cultures, but modern interpretations that would go well with your urban abode. Adorn your shelves and tabletops with beautifully bound books – travel, design and lifestyle photography titles are value additions that will help you explore the planet from your comfy chaise. An illustrated desk or wall calendar is quaint, quirky and very much back in trend. A dinner set with calligraphy patterns carries the exotic essence of ancient Eastern scripts. Artsy barware channels the cubist or surrealist decadence of early 20th century Europe. Place these trinkets casually; deliberate displays betray your cultivated persona. A collector of curios is viewed as the ultimate sophisticate.
Desk Calendar from Rifle Paper Co.: Rs 1050/- Devanagiri Dinner Plates from Nishita: Rs 14,500/-
The Art Museum from CMYK: Rs 8400/- MASQ Tableware Tumblers from Maleras: Rs 10,100/-