When they go low, we go high (end)

(Clockwise, from top left):
1. Montauk Black Slate / Home Depot 2. White Subway Tile / Wayfair 3. Walnut Countertops / Lumber Liquidators 4. Carrara Marble / Amazon

When it comes designing a budget-friendly kitchen or bath, there are loads of articles in DIY magazines and on “design” blogs that purport to give you that “Designer Look for Less.” The advice, to paraphrase, is something like this: Take a luxe material and find cheap impersonation of it–no one will be able to tell but you!

Well, folks, I hate to break it to you, but everyone will be able to tell. Sure, with the right lighting and some clever styling, these spaces may photograph well enough to look convincing, but unless you’ve designed your kitchen for the sole purpose of posting it on Pinterest or Instagram, the in-person experience is going to disappoint.

Don’t despair, though! I have the answer. It may seem counter intuitive, but the best way to fake a luxe look is by designing with natural materials. By natural, I just mean real stone, wood, and metals instead of laminate, engineered anything, ceramic, vinyl or particleboard.

But the real things are expensive, right? Well, sometimes, but some natural materials cost about the same as their faux counterparts (or less!) and look about 100% better. Do your research before jumping on the “faux” bandwagon and you may find the real thing is is a real possibility.

If “real” is still simply not in the budget, I implore you to use those less-expensive materials in their simplest forms. If you must have laminate counters, choose a solid color, like black or white. Ceramic tile can look great on floors–as long as it’s not masquerading as stone or wood. And inexpensive subway tile will never go out of style!

Here are a few of my favorite low-cost, natural materials for a luxe look.

Do you have any tips for where to find the real thing for less? Let our readers know in the comments below!



  1. Maura said...

    I LOVE slate!

    Reply April 12, 2017
  2. Amy said...

    We got solid oak butcher block at IKEA for $160 per slab and stained it darker.

    Reply May 26, 2017

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