Interior designer James Treble shares his expert advice about how you can get the luxe look for less by substituting costly high-end finishes with fake decor and materials like faux marble and leather that are often almost identical to the real thing and, in some cases, are a much more ethical and sustainable choice.
Extremely popular, marble is used for flooring and cladding walls and fireplace surrounds. Its appeal has grown so much that we accept seeing it in ways that couldn’t be realized by the real thing: in fabric, homewares and wallpaper.
Real marble is quite porous and relatively soft, so the explosion of products that replicate the look and feel with a more durable finish makes sense. Think kitchen countertops and marble-look porcelain tiles.
Apart from an obvious cost benefit, another attractive quality is faux marble’s consistency in colour and vein. Real marble can vary greatly in appearance and as the vein is one of its most sought-after features this is a big issue for stone importers.
Possibly the oldest form of faux finish was used by the Romans in their homes to create luxuriously painted scenes and decoration. They also used it to replicate the visual beauty of marble and other semi-precious stones. These were often mixed with real marble finishes, making them almost unrecognizable from the real thing, due to the amazing workmanship.
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There’s been a resurgence of faux paint finishes in our homes, from faux suede and marble effects on feature walls to decorative fireplaces, ceilings and cabinetry. An obvious benefit is price point, as a painted version of some finishes is far cheaper than the real thing. But it’s also about practicality: covering a wall in real suede? Hmm...
Leather is one of the most common faux finishes — one that you may sit on every day in your car! Synthetic leather was developed in the 1940s to provide a very cost-effective copy, allowing it to be sold to a far larger market.
Faux leather offers a very durable finish that lasts a long time and can withstand scratches and fading, often more successfully than real leather, so it’s obvious why it has so much appeal.
These days, it’s common for us to prefer real leather as a sign of quality and value, but advances in manufacturing have meant some faux leathers are hard to separate from the real thing. And our endless desire for innovation has resulted in products such as leather-look light switches.
The concrete look has been popular for a while now and continues to get homeowners' votes. Faux concrete products are predominantly easier to make and much lighter than the real thing.
I often choose faux concrete tiles for my clients, as they allow us to create a concrete-look floor that is non-porous and quick and easy to install. The same goes for using tiles on walls and stairs. Laminates that look like concrete also have a very convincing appearance, texture and feel, offering endless applications.
There are endless uses for faux fur in our homes. It’s a huge trend this year and is available in so many great colors: soft pinks, greens and greys, and stronger blue and teal tones. Not only do they make winter living cosy and comfortable, faux fur cushions, throws and rugs add instant texture and pattern to an otherwise plain color scheme. On a practical note, they are hard wearing and easy to clean.
This article originally appeared on our sister site, Homes to Love.
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