Last Updated on August 25, 2023
Today I’m spilling the tea on how to make your home look expensive, to get the look for less aka affordable decor ideas. When I first began posting my home on TikTok, one comment I received repeatedly was hello #RichTok, but I am by no means wealthy. Yes, there are times I splurge here and there, but more often than not, I’m looking for budget-friendly home decor. It’s all about knowing the right interior design tricks and finding a good mix of the right decor pieces to create a more expensive look. Here are my top 11 expert design tips to get the look for less.
Table of Contents
11 Design Tips To Make Your Home Look Expensive
1. Add A Rug To Create A Focal Point
A large rug sets the foundation for your room, and it might just be your most important decor piece. Trust me; a rug can transform the look of any room. Now, I realize area rugs can get pricey, but if you know where to look, you can find some budget-friendly options. First things first, determine your rug size. Unless you’re decorating a small foyer, you will rarely need a 5′ x 7′ rug, and almost every rug in my home is at least 9′ x 12′. So, what are some budget-friendly options that look expensive?
RELATED: Learn all the ins and outs of how to find the best rug size for your living room with this guide.
Shop vintage rugs — my favorite source is Etsy, BTDubs that shopping board is updated monthly, so you’ll want to bookmark that page. A vintage rug will elevate your room design, plus it’s a one-of-a-kind piece that will make your home unique. However, many times they’re on the smaller side, but I have a solution for that. Layer it over an inexpensive jute rug like this one or this one. Layering your rugs will give your home texture and added dimension.
You can find great deals on Amazon and Rugs Direct when it comes to rugs. Both my front room and living room rugs are 9′ x 12′ area rugs that were under $500. BTDubs, you can now shop my home here. Everything is sourced, and I pinkie swear to try my best to keep it updated.
RELATED: If you’re having issues with your furniture layout, check out this post about how to arrange your living room with fireplace and TV.
2. Repaint The Walls Or Add Wallpaper
If you need evidence of how a different color can transform a room, peep the photo of my living room above and compare it to the Farrow & Ball DeNimes living room below. Yes, it is the same room. Can you believe it? It’s the power of paint colors! Repainting your walls is an affordable and the best way to make your space feel refreshed and newly renovated. And don’t be afraid to paint doors — ya, that’s right, I said it. Interior doors do not need to be white. I painted my French doors glossy black for a luxe look.
Wallpaper adds a punch of major personality to your room. If it makes you nervous, start small. I wallpapered the closet in the foyer and both of my powder rooms in bold, bright patterns. Let me just say, it took those spaces to god tier.
If you’re a renter, there are plenty of removable peel and stick wallpaper designs on the market too! I used a removable wallpaper in my boring basement powder room, and boy, oh boy, did this palm frond pattern give it to old razzle-dazzle. Don’t believe me? Go check out the full before and after bathroom makeover reveal for yourself. It’s a whole new look that will blow your mind.
On a tight budget? There are plenty of ways to cut the cost of wallpaper. Ask yourself if it can be used as a half wall, accent wall, or maybe simply backing a bookshelf. You do not need to wallpaper an entire room to make your home look expensive. If you really want that look for less, think about your fifth wall. Yes, you have one in every room — I’m talking about the ceiling. Give that room a fresh coat of paint, and shazam wallpaper on the ceiling is *chefs kiss*!
RELATED: Learn my picture hanging hacks with these 7 genius ideas.
3. Add Curtains For a Custom Look
Another one of the easiest ways to make your home look more expensive is to hang curtains. Window treatments make your home feel custom, and if you hang them properly, they can make your home look larger and your ceiling heights higher. Just hang your curtain rods as close to the ceiling as possible, and add 18″ in width (if you can) to either side of the window frame. It will make the space look larger and cozier because you’re softening the windows.
To remember this simple interior design trick think, “hang ’em high, hang ’em wide.” Another trick is to purchase extra curtain panels because a good amount of fabric will add volume. Design Tip: if you want that luxury hotel look with high ceilings, hang your curtains using a curtain track. For length, you want them to barely kiss the floor.
If you missed my round-up of inexpensive drapes you can buy online and are in the market for new window treatments, don’t sleep on that post. There are some juicy details hidden over there.
4. Replace Your Boob Lights For Statement Lighting
If I had a nickel for every time I said lighting is the jewelry of your room. If you have plain jane ceiling light fixtures, swap them out with one of these boob light replacements. If you really want to make your home look expensive, add statement-maker pendant lights in the foyer, hallway, or dining room — trust me, it’s worth the investment. Whenever I post the pendant light in my dining room, I’m asked, “Where is that light from?” Again, if you’re a renter, take down the boring light, save it in a box, hang a beautiful light, and swap it back out before you move. Easy peasy.
If money is tight and you want a more affordable option, check out this flush mount conversion kit. Simply remove the glass cover to your old ceiling light and replace it with a drum shade and diffuser — boom — stylish lighting. Oh, and if you can, add dimmable bulbs for ambient lighting.
RELATED: See how I layered lighting in the guest room makeover and find bedroom lighting ideas you can use in your home!.
5. Create More Natural Light
Expensive homes are normally light and bright, right? But to create more light, you don’t need to take a sledgehammer to a wall or add another window. There’s a much simpler way to get more natural light. Take another look at the photo of my dining room above. That large mirror sits opposite two windows and bounces the light entering the room. Genius design hack, huh?
A well-placed mirror can also create the illusion that your room is larger than it actually is. Although I’m fond of using an extra-large floor mirror like this, really any decorative mirror will do the job. If you’re looking for affordable decor, this arched mirror is a great way to get that designer look for less. If you want the look of this vintage mirror for less, take a looksy at this one.
6. Add Texture To Your Decor
Mix and match textures in your room decor to create a luxe interior designer look. Leather, wood, vintage, metal, linen, velvet…you get the picture. Nate Berkus is the king of layering different textures, and his rooms give off this casual, eclectic, I’m not trying, but I’m trying French girl chic look. The photo below has a lot of texture with the nubby blanket, linen sofa, cable knit rug, and brass table. Even though it’s a neutral color palette, there’s movement. What you can’t see are the wood coffee table and vintage pottery. This space was definitely a vibe.
7. Decluttering Is The Most Inexpensive Way To Make Your Home Look Expensive
Not only is decluttering free of charge, making it the cheapest way to make your home look expensive, but it also makes your room feel airy and bright. The concept is simple but true. Think about it, while flipping through magazines and catalogs, you’ll notice all the “stuff” is missing. Over the last few years, I’ve slowly minimized the number of things in my home, helping to make unique pieces stand out. To help keep a tidy space, invest in baskets and decorative boxes to wrangle in the blankets and remotes. It’s all about the little things.
8. Upgrade Your Light Switches
This may seem like a small detail, but swapping out your cracked and discolored light switches for a new high end looking switch plate is an easy way to create an upscale look. I personally love the Lutron Caseta smart switches because I can turn my light fixtures on and off with my voice (using my smart device) or from my phone. You can also dim your lights to set the mood. Oh, and here’s an interior design trick you may not know! If you’re wallpapering a room, be sure to wallpaper the switch. It’s small changes like this that make a huge difference.
9. Don’t Forget Wall Art
A piece of art will create a focal point in the room and add life to your space. I lean towards original art, but that doesn’t mean it costs thousands of dollars. There are inexpensive ways to collect art too. If you want all my secret sources for affordable original art, head to that post stat. If you’re short on time, here are the cliff notes — shop your local thrift store and estate sales. And don’t sleep on a good gallery wall in the hallway.
10. Bring The Outside In
Adding a touch of greenery is an inexpensive way to make your home feel more welcoming. Interior designers love fresh flowers, but refreshing real flowers weekly can be expensive if you don’t grow them in your backyard, so think faux. Yup, I love faux plants, and I cannot lie. Have an empty corner in your room? There’s no need to buy more furniture. Simply pop a faux olive tree in that corner. It doesn’t require special lighting, you can’t kill it, and it gives you a luxurious upgrade. Boom.
11. Level Up Your Bedding Game
If you read my post about the best sheets and bedding, you know that Bobby Berk told me his best design advice is to splurge on white bed linens. You don’t need to splurge on Frette, but they should be soft, breathable, and not dingy-looking. I say white because when you walk into a fancy hotel room, you first see crisp white sheets with layers of white bedding. It’s a luxurious look with minimal upkeep. If you want to add a pop of color, use throw blankets or pillows to add an accent color.
BONUS! Add A Ceiling Medallion
There is nothing like old school charm of a ceiling medallion. Highlighting architectural features and details like this will immediately elevate your room design. It’s also one of the easiest home improvements almost anyone can do. If you like to mix different designs like me, pair a traditional medallion with a modern pendant light. Shop my favorites and learn how to install a ceiling medallion for a more luxe look here.
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