I'm a top interior designer – how to make your home look more expensive & what to avoid, including my catalog faux pas | The Sun

MANY of us would love our homes to look like something out of a Vogue or Elle Décor spread – but we can't all hire a top interior designer.

Fortunately, Jonathan Rachman – whose work has appeared in both magazines, as well as Harper’s Bazaar and House Beautiful – has shared some of his helpful home makeover tips with The U.S. Sun.


Looking "expensive" isn't just in the price tag – it's also a matter of taste.

"Expensive or not, I want every design that I do to look like the person who lives in the house," says Rachman, who is based in San Francisco.

Several of his designs are featured in his new book, Currently Classic: Jonathan Rachman Design, $65, which is currently on sale.

"To customize your home is important. So whether it’s expensive or budget, to look elegant and warm and inviting, that’s the first rule."

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DON'T COPY A CATALOG

Recreating something you saw in a catalog or a magazine? It's not going to look as good as you think it will.

"Be yourself," urges Rachman. "Your home should reflect who you are. So DO NOT try to copy anyone or try to copy a showroom. No one wants to walk into a house and say, 'Hey, this looks just like such and such company.'"

Looking for inspiration from other sources is great, but Rachman stresses that it's important to make it your own.

"If it’s an imitation, it doesnt look real," he says, comparing it to copying an outfit from a Chanel runway with non-Chanel items.

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BUY SECONDHAND

Brand-new furniture and decor may cost a lot of money, but it doesn't always look luxe – and your home can end up looking like everyone else's.

Rachman suggests buying a few vintage pieces from flea markets, estate sales, and even garage sales to mix in with more modern furniture.

"Mix periods," he says. "I love to mix style and period. To put in antiques or vintage in a modern setting or backdrop is so amazing. It makes it so rich and layered.

"Your dining table and chairs, you bought them online or at a store we all know. But then you add an antique or vintage chandelier. It's the look of juxtaposing the old and the new," he says.

You may even luck into a piece that's bargain-priced but worth much more.

"Most people have no idea the value of antiques. Antiques have been underappreciated lately," he adds.

AVOID CHEAP FABRICS, USE RICH ONES

Rachman advises staying far away from cheap-looking polyester, crochet, and "anything that’s noisy or crunchy."

Rich-looking fabrics can work wonders to elevate a space.

"I love velvet or mohair velvet. Velvet can be so rich in all kinds of colors, even the neutral ones," he says.

In fact, a cheap and easy way to upgrade an old chair or sofa is to reupholster it with a new fabric.

CHOOSE THE RIGHT SIZE AREA RUG

A too-small rug is going to look "awkward," says Rachman, adding: "Appropriate size for your rugs is important to make your house look elegant and expensive.

"Don’t be stingy, don’t use a bath mat for your area rug. If the room is big, use a big area rug."

He loves expensive-looking wool rugs, but not polyester – and notes that you can customize inexpensive carpet to be an area rug big enough for your space, paying someone to seal the edges.

PUT YOUR RUGS IN THE RIGHT PLACE

In the bedroom, your area rug should be centered on your bed and should ideally be big enough to go underneath it – but if not, it should at least be placed where your feet land when you wake up.

In your living room, make sure part of your furniture is sitting on the rug, even if it's just the front legs of your chairs and sofa.

He also recommends stair runners, which can "instantly do a makeover in your stairwell."

INSTANTLY UPGRADE WITH THROW PILLOWS

Decorative pillows and throws can offer an instant makeover too, says the pro.

For a little extra fun, Rachman has different decorative pillows for all four seasons and switches them every few months.

UPGRADE YOUR LIGHTING

"Lighting is everything," says Rachman, who is a fan of candles, recess lighting, and dimmers – but warns to stay away from fluorescents.

"Make sure you have enough lighting where you can turn off and on separately," he adds.

TRY WALLPAPER

"Do not be afraid of wallpaper," urges the interior designer. "Wallpaper is like an instant makeover, and there are so many different types out there."

You can play with colors, patterns, and even placement, and wallpaper can even be a novel way to upgrade your ceiling.

BUY FRESH FLOWERS

"You want your house to look expensive? Then always, always have fresh flowers," says Rachman. "Not plastic, not silk, not dry. Use fresh flowers. That’s like the jewelry, the final earring you put on."

Fresh flowers are certainly more expensive, but you don't have to splurge on lilies or roses – even carnations, when done right, can spruce up a room.

"I used to be a florist, and people used to look down on carnations," he says.

"Carnations can be so beautiful, it’s just how you utilize them. If you mix carnations and roses and baby’s breath, then yeah, they look super cheap.

"But if you just do all carnations in one massive arrangement, in one color, it can be super elegant and super beautiful."

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PLAY WITH COLORS AND PATTERNS

Finally, don't rely on boring beige.

"Please use color," Rachman pleads. "Do not be afraid to use colors. And patterns. I’m one of those designers where more is never enough. I love mixing patterns, I think that’s so chic."


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