So, I decided I wanted to do the same. That is, until I found out how much silk curtains cost. Literally ten times what I'd been expecting.
So, do I buy silk curtains and try to replicate the look as best I can? Fill my home with ornate budget-priced items that kind of look nice and rich?
Not a good idea.
The look my friends have was recognizable and authentic. I did not want to have the house that was the cheap imitation of their style.
My decorating aspirations were not doomed, however. They simply needed to go in a different direction. There were tons of other styles out there...I just needed to find one that authentically matched my budget and taste.
I found my answer near the arctic circle...Scandinavian design. I don't mean IKEA (I do love that store for certain pieces, but not for my whole house) but the clean lines, lack of clutter, and celebration of "negative space": intentionally bare walls, floors, and windows.
What's so great about this style is that even if it's not your ideal style, you can use it as a "step one" in decorating, and then add to it later when you have the money and opportunity. It looks so much better than buying a bunch of cheap stuff just to fill the space...or, of course, going into debt buying furnishings you can't afford.
What also works well with this style is working backwards...a "reverse makeover," if you will. If you can't stand the style you have now, you can give your home (or even just one troublesome room) a clean new look by simply getting rid of things and not replacing them.
To avoid making the room look bare, look for examples of Scandinavian style for inspiration. Here are some of my very cheap and easy tricks that can help give an otherwise bare-looking room the intentional look of Scandinavian minimalism:
-Go monochromatic: the things you leave in the room should be of neutral, similar color
-Bring in some nature: a glass bowl filled with pine cones, sticks in a vase, a green plant. Brown and green on beige is a classic Scandinavian color scheme.
-Get some "modern art". This is fun. I've seen three looks that do well with this style: black and white photographs in black frames, funky splashes of color in light wood frames (have any kid's art laying around in drawers?), and neutral-colored abstract paintings on canvas frames (my friend Molly captured this look in her home years ago when she simply painted 5 canvases in a single color, then a 6th in a contrasting color, hanging them all over a large wall in 2 rows of 3...fantastic).
I encourage you to at least give this style a try if you're itching for a new look in your home. It's cheap, easy, low-risk, and green. Even if you just have one room to play with, creating one beautiful space that celebrates simplicity, nature, peace, and clarity can help remind us of the needs to duplicate those values in other aspects of our lives.