Five Ways To Add Luxury To Your Regular Home

The simpsons house

[credit provider=”” url=”″]

Real estate eye candy is everywhere. And if you love window shopping for homes online, there’s a seemingly endless influx of massive mansions listed in the tens of millions of dollars.While their trillion square feet might not tempt you, and their manicured grounds seem like an eco-nightmare requiring a lifetime of landscaping, the luxury amenities and highly customised features do make the living seem easy, right?

Whether you’re buying, prepping to sell or simply trying to live the good life in your current home, here are 5 inexpensive ways to add some luxury to your regular home:

1.  Spa bathroom upgrades. I’m not saying you have to have a toilet like Whoopi Goldberg’s or anything.  Her flusher has been featured on the View, Oprah and all over the web – one site even made up a song about it (the ditty is a bit blue, though, so I won’t link here. The curious can find it online.) But her toilet – yes, the toilet – runs around $7,000!! (No typo, folks.)

In all seriousness, though, spas tend to have a clean, bright look and feel and luxurious stress-busting features that just flush the tension right out of you (pardon the pun)  – many of which can be installed in your own home for a fraction of what the dreadlocked one paid for her porcelain potty.  For example, pedestal sinks instantly – and inexpensively – open up a bathroom, especially when replacing a dark vanity and wall-to-counter mirrors. I recently put a new pedestal sink in my bathroom for less than $600 – top of the line, including faucets and installation!

Similarly, you can get more of the spa look and experience at home, with a relatively modest investment – especially compared with the lifestyle upgrade for your buck – by installing granite counters (the tiny slab most bathrooms take can run a few hundred dollars), a basic bathtub with jets or river-rock shower floors for under a thousand dollars!

2.  Custom, decorative paint treaments.  Sponge painting?  Très 1990.  Murals in your kids’ rooms, entry hall inspirational mantras that greet your guests – paint is one of the least expensive “edits” you can make to your home, and homeowners are upleveling their home’s aesthetics with custom paint in lots of luxe-ey ways.

From harlequin diamonds to chair rails, crown moldings and wainscoating, decorative paint treatments are a simple, cheap and chic method for upping the luxury in your home life.

3.  Built-in anything. Part of what makes uber-luxury homes, well, uber-luxurious is the fact that it seems like living life in them would be so neat and clean and easy. One way to get that feel in your very own home is to build in some of the necessities, optimising the way you use your space and takes great advantage of otherwise unusable areas, generally creating what the feng shui set would deem free-flowing chi.

Consider building in:

  • Storage systems. From shelved nooks to closet organisers to garage grids for sports equipment, storage systems eliminate clutter and make sure there’s a place for everything, and that everything has a place. If you can afford a custom cabinet installation or custom closets, they certainly offer the fancy moldings and modules that create luxury appeal.  But many home improvement stores now offer much less expensive versions of these systems that look and work great.
  • Desks and bookshelves.  Like storage, but activity-specific, built-in office equipment maintains order and can turn a dead corner of a room into a highly useful workstation.  To replicate this functionality on the cheap, find a corner or nook and put in an armoire-style workstation that closes and folds up when you’re not working.  And built-in bookshelves are a time-tested selling point when your home is being sold, by the by, so, if you have an empty area from old-school built-ins which were removed, installing inexpensive shelving might be a great way to go.
  • Wine storage. Dead space under the stairs can easily be transformed into a wine cellar or storage space. My own personal wine cellar is where I store my kid’s chocolate milk, my electrolyte water and a bottle or two fish sauce, but it’s a great feature to have at home, no matter what you’ll use it for!
  • Recycling/compost/trash centres.  Try as we might to minimize it, we all generate trash. Built-in centres with clearly marked waste receptacles make this dirty part of life less messy and more manageable.

4.  Dedicated spaces for anything.  There’s no need to go all Candy Spelling and dedicate multiple rooms to gift wrapping.  But space is a luxury in and of itself, so dedicated space for your film-watching (a theatre room), gardening materials, crafting supplies or even the kids’ homework is an extra-special, super-duper luxury, especially if it’s equipped with the right equipment for the activity to which the room, half-room or even corner or nook is dedicated.

5.  Automation.  Remember the Jetsons?  The vision for this century was a fully automated, robotic home that did all the work of life for you, so your time would be free to shop at Mooning Dales or work for Mr. Spacely building sprockets.  Most of that hasn’t happened, and that’s probably for the good.  But injecting small touches of automation into your home can give it a decidedly high-end feel – for very, very little cash.

(And they’re also gadget-ally delicious!)

I personally just put a couple of these  automated trash cans– $60 each! – into my own kitchen. They’re hands free, so eliminate the germiness and clunkiness of opening a lid with your hands or feet, and they were the hit of a recent dinner party!  (OK, it was the food, then the trash cans that guests admired.  But still.)  Many hands-free or automatic household items are available at very low prices, like automatic soap pumps, paper towel dispensers and robotic vacuum cleaners.  

And if you want a built-in recycling centre with a techie feel, here’s one that should really float your boat – $100 bucks for in-home, eco-chic luxe!

P.S. – You should follow Trulia and Tara on Facebook, too!

Read more posts on Trulia’s Real Estate Realist »