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One of my not-so-guilty pleasures is watching house tour videos. Be it a celebrity, a designer, or a normal person, I get a lot of inspiration from seeing how others use and decorate their space. But much to my chagrin, one thing that most of these tours seem to have in common is a sky-high budget.
If you were to make a house tour video of my home, you would quickly notice that my furniture and decor are largely an eclectic collection of budget retailers, second-hand purchases, and hand-me-downs that I’ve acquired over the years. And while I love my space, the overall effect can come off a little...cheap. I have no shame (everyone starts somewhere!), but at the same time, I’m always looking for ways to elevate and make the space feel more refined.
Luckily, I’m not alone in this endeavor. I got insight from some professional designers to get their insights on making your space look more expensive than it is — for not a lot of money. And they came back with a treasure trove of helpful tips, compiled here, to help in the pursuit of looking rich without actually being rich. Making your home look more elegant can start with small stuff, like adding an adding an artificial plant or velvet throw pillows. But to get the full scoop and start curating your space based on their expert advice, you’ll just have to keep reading.
A faux fur throw blanket like this one makes the perfect addition to your living room or bedroom. It’s the perfect size for sharing, and a fuss-free way to stay cozy and add some texture to the space. “It doesn't need to be perfectly folded, we want your space to be and feel lived in,” says Jaime Zehner, the owner and principal designer for JZ Interior Designs.
Don’t just relegate your dirty clothes to a plastic bin and call it a day. Zehner recommends hiding your dirty clothes in a hamper with a lid — that part is key. This Seville Classics handwoven laundry bin is large enough to hold up to 3 cubic feet of clothes, and is a stylish opportunity to conceal your messes.
Nothing sets the mood quite like lighting a candle, according to Zehner. “I'm a candle gal and love lighting the perfect scent for when I'm home alone or hosting guests,” Zehner explains. “Bonus: If you use a pretty candle, once it's gone, use it for storage.” This vanilla cake scented candle comes in a sleek white and gold jar that you can use in your bathroom for storing cotton swabs or in your office as a pen cup once the wax is all burned up.
According to Zehner, baskets like this large cotton woven bin are a secret home decor weapon. “Never underestimate the power of a basket for storage in plain sight,” she explains. She uses them to store extra pillows and throw blankets, though they also make for a great place to store toys, shoes, or accessories. This particular basket comes in eight color ways, and has built-in handles so you can move it from space to space with ease.
When you move into a new home, make sure not to neglect the lighting. Swap out the previous resident’s overhead light fixture for a mini modern crystal chandelier like this one, and you’ll notice a marked difference in the air of the room. Issabel Williams, an interior designer for Fantastic Services, says: “By simply switching the ceiling light to a statement light fixture you can easily improve the light atmosphere, to add character to the space.”
To further customize the lighting in your home, Williams also recommends installing smart light bulbs. “[Use them to] change the color and the intensity of your fixture to create the right ambience for every occasion,” she says. This four-pack of smart bulbs is even compatible with Alexa, Siri, and Google Home voice commands, so you can activate them with only the sound of your voice.
To make a functional piece of furniture look more upscale, Williams suggested transforming it with gold self-adhesive contact paper. “It's quite affordable but realistic and durable, no matter if you choose to use it to add ‘golden’ stripes on your chest of drawers, add a layer at the back of your bookcase shelves or color match a concrete vase with the rest of the metal elements in the room,” she says. The waterproof film covers a total of 14.5 square feet — more than enough to incorporate it throughout your home.
Your favorite hand soap probably doesn’t make your kitchen or bathroom sink look as expensive as it could, but pouring it into this glass soap dispenser will be an instant improvement. “Get rid of the flashy packaging and create a nice, sleek and clean design in your kitchen without changing the products you use,” explains Williams. It can even make your home more sustainable, as it enables you to buy soap in bulk instead of in single-use packaging.
Large plants cost a pretty penny, but you don’t have to be wealthy or a gardener to add some plant life to your home. This 30-inch artificial paradise palm tree plant adds some instant greenery to make your home come to life, and it’s recommended by Claire Marie Zinnecker, the founder of Claire Zinnecker Design. “Every space feels a little brighter when you put a plant in the corner or on a shelf,” she notes, and of course, that plant doesn’t have to require watering.
The devil is in the details when it comes to design, and one thing that will instantly elevate your home is to make a cute spot for all the random objects that accumulate around the house. “Find a fun tray or basket to hide those little things that sit on your kitchen counter,” Zinnecker says. This small woven basket, for example, has some hippie chic flair and is a great place to store the TV remotes, keys, random change, or medications.
Apply the same advice to your jewelry collection or bathroom accessories with this chic ceramic jewelry tray. “Make the everyday things pretty!” Zinnecker exclaims. This marble tray measures 5-by-7 inches, and is the perfect place to set your rings, earrings, necklaces, and bracelets when you take them off for the day or for displaying perfumes, soaps, and makeup
To spruce up your kitchen or bathroom, Zinnecker says to “give your hand towels some love.” These LinenMe hand towels are surely an upgrade, with their French-style stripes and high absorbency powers. As the name implies, these are made from 100% pure linen, and this set of two adds a subtle vintage look to your decor to give your home a relaxed, airy feeling.
According to Zinnecker, adding a fresh scent to your home can really set the tone. This aromatherapy diffuser and essential oil set is a stylish way to get started. The wood diffuser acts as decor all on its own, and it comes with 10 essential oils in various scents from jasmine to spearmint. Each essential oil has different aromatherapeutic properties — some help with sleep, others with focus, and some simply boost your mood, so you’ll find noticeable benefits beyond the look and feel of your space.
You invest in your bed, so why not do the same for your pets? Zinnecker recommends buying your dog or cat a new bed, and this plush calming bed fits in with most decor and will make Fido feel right at home. The donut shape is designed to help relieve anxiety, and the warm shaggy faux fur lining is as soothing on the eyes as it is for your fur baby.
Noel Gatts, an HGTV host/designer and owner of beam&bloom interiors, emphasizes the importance of investing in the right drapery. But she notes that that doesn’t mean spending an arm and a leg. “More often than not, our clients want something universally soft and ethereal with just the right amount of interest and pattern,” she says. “These Nicole Miller drapery panels fit the bill, and could easily be incorporated into almost any decor adding that perfect final touch.” The set of two sheer panels have subtle geo trellis embellishments, and let just the right amount of light in without sacrificing on privacy.
Another Gatts favorite is this Nicole Miller area rug, which works both indoors and out. “I'm a huge fan of the reimagined chevron pattern on these extremely versatile indoor outdoor rugs,” she says. “Of course, they're phenomenal outdoors on patios or porches, but we love bringing pieces like this inside and using them under a dining room table or in an entryway for immediate impact with no fuss.” And who can resist such a big statement on such a small budget?
One detail that interior designer Lauren Sharrock often sees home dwellers miss out on? Window treatments. “Window treatments seem too fancy or daunting to some, but they’re really the ‘icing on the cake’ in a room,” she notes. She recommends installing cafe curtain like this set of kitchen valances about two-thirds up the height of the window to add that extra little oomph to your space.
Another drapery-related hot home tip from Sharrock is to use curtain clips to hang your window treatments. This 40-pack of clips add a polished bronze finish to your curtains, and the tension claws can hold up to 3 pounds apiece. They’ll make your curtains glide open and shut easily, and also double as great storage for other linens.
All that glitters is not gold, but interior designer Stacy Lewis of Eternity Modern still loves incorporating metallic finishes into her work to “add a little glamor.” These gold pillar candle holders have a little old-school flair and make a great addition to your dining table, fireplace mantle, or bedside table.
This hanging photo display is a creative way to display some of your favorite memories and create some visual appeal in your space. “Incorporate texture,” Lewis recommends. “Mix and match leather, velvet, woven materials to add more style and interest to a room.” The display comes with 30 removable wood clips so that you can hang up all your favorite photos, postcards, and other paper mementos in your bedroom or office.
Lewis also recommends rearranging your furniture periodically to make your space look bigger, and thus giving you more space for decor. These felt furniture leg sliders make rearranging a little easier because you can slide pieces around without heavy lifting or fear of damaging your hard floors. The pack of 24 are made of premium felt, and attach to any type of furniture with foam grips.
I avoid relying on overhead lighting as much as possible in my own space, and Lewis agrees. “Spread out lamps around a room to make it look bright and feel upscale,” she says. This floor lamp has adjustable color temperatures and brightness, so you can customize your illumination to your needs and liking, whether you’re reading, watching TV, or working. While you can adjust the lighting with touch control, you don’t have to get up if you don’t want to — this lamp comes with a remote.
“Add some artwork to bring more life to a room,” Lewis advises. “Choose artwork that will look cohesive with the overall look of your home.” If you’ve got a print or poster on hand or in mind already, this sleek poster frame will give it a polished edge and make it ready to hang instantly.
Lewis remarks that Miulee velvet throw pillow covers are a surefire way to make your couch look more cozy, and I couldn’t agree more. They come in a two-pack in over three dozen colors, and because they’re just a cover, you can use the same pillow inserts over and over and swap them out as often as you like for an instant home decor refresh.
It’s easy to give old pieces a new life with these Jerever glass crystal knobs. Lewis recommends them for a cabinet, dresser, or cupboard, and with the brushed brass center, they give off an air of sophistication that matches a wide variety of styles. They come in a pack of six, and you can choose an octagon, polygon, round, or square shape.
With these ceramic plant pots from YFFSRJDJ, you can show off your green thumb and your excellent taste. “[Use] ceramic flower pots for a polished look that will give more charm to your space,” Lewis says. This pot duo have a rich, colorful finish with an iridescent-like glow, and come with a drainage hole for optimal plant health.
Once you’ve got the biggest elements of your decor settled, it’s time to add little flourishes, like these 7.5 inch Kandelo spiral candles, as recommended by Megan Hershman, the head of interiors at Common. “They do a great job of adding a pop of color to any space,” she says. “The twist adds a really nice texture to the room as well!”
If you struggle to keep a cactus alive, never fear: According to Liz Toombs, C.I.D., president, and owner of PDR Interiors, this artificial silk orchid by GXLMII is as good as the real deal without all the upkeep. “We love incorporating greenery and florals into the spaces we decorate,” she says. Use it as a centerpiece or a bedside flourish to brighten up a room.
If you tend to favor light colors in your home design, then these amber glass soap dispensers from CHBJDAN are perfect for you. “Amber is an earthy color that compliments a white or neutral palette in your kitchen or bathroom,” explains Autumn Stankovsky, an interior designer for FLOOR360. “The substantial glass material make it appear more expensive than it is.” Each of the two 16-ounce soap dispensers pump that comes in complementary finishes like matte black, rubbed bronze, or copper, and you can fill them with whichever hand or dish soap you prefer.
To look like a curated art collector without actually being one, this Iower wall hanging will work wonders. “It has the appearance of a chic expensive art piece,” says Stankovsky. Look for areas of your home that echo the rounded edges in the 31-inch metal and macrame piece. “The curves in the shapes would pair well with larger curves in your home like archway or circular couch or wall mural,” she further explains.
If rustic style is more your speed, Stankovsky recommends this Mkono three-piece wooden wall art set. “This trio looks like an expensive vintage find for a farmhouse cottage style home,” she says. “Hang all three to create a design focal point.” They’ll look especially good above your couch or headboard as an eye-catching geometric installation that looks cool and old but is really a budget-friendly Amazon find.
The color wheel should never be far from your mind when picking pieces for your home. The bold burnt orange of this Generic waffle weave blanket, for example, might be too loud in a room that’s already full of color, but would make the perfect pop on top of a gray palette, according to Stankovsky. Not to mention the incredible softness fo this 90-by-108-inch throw, which makes it great to snuggle under while curling up with a good book.
When you’re craving a rustic look but can’t take the rustic price tag, this Sullivans decorative ceramic pitcher will do just the trick. “This weathered ceramic pitcher looks like an expensive vintage find but it’s made perfectly for a farmhouse table centerpiece. Put some colorful wildflowers or green leafy sprigs and the look will be complete,” Stankovsky explains. The crackled off-white finish is a timeless choice that you can use throughout your home year after year.
Hanging your curtains higher than your window is an age-old trick that designers use to draw the eye upward, and this tip is used by Dan Wiener, the founder and lead interior designer for Homedude. “Using full-length curtains and hanging them at a higher level will help give the space a much more luxurious feel,” he explains. “It will make your ceilings look high and make the room look even bigger.” Wiener recommends using these NiceTown white linen drapes, which allow natural light to float through the room while still giving you privacy from neighbors.
Giving your space a bold upgrade can be as simple as adding a new rug, according to Wiener. This fluffy faux fur rug by EasyJoy gives a room warmth and comfort, which especially goes a long way in homes with lots of cool tones and sharp lines. “It can also help define the space in a room, adding visual interest and creating a focal point,” he adds. Place the 2-by-6 foot rug next to your bed or at the foot of the couch to give your feet a soft landing spot.
For a renter and budget-friendly kitchen or bathroom project, Wiener likes using peel and stick subway tiles as a backsplash. “These will elevate the space and give it a modern, clean, and luxurious look without you having to break the bank,” he says. These DIY self-adhesive tiles are easy to install, are humidity and heat resistant, and leave no damage behind when it’s time to move out or when you’re ready for a new look.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from these professionals, it’s that you don’t need to be an art connoisseur to incorporate abstract artwork into your home decor. “It creates a focal point in a space and makes everything look elegant and put together,” Wiener states. This three-piece set of ready-to-hang abstract paintings from yearainn come in a blue and gray color palette, making them easy to style and hang together in your living room or bedroom.
Looking to repaint your walls? Wiener advises opting for a neutral tone, like the cream shade of this two-in-one can of paint and primer. “If you're planning to repaint your walls, it's best to go for neutral-toned colors like white, cream, beige, or grey because these can help give off an expensive, high-end-looking space,” he says, adding that neutral walls give you a blank canvas for incorporating bolder colors in your furniture and decor. This high-coverage paint and primer works on tons of different surfaces, and is available in glass, satin, and matte finishes.
Almost every week, I try to stop into my local Trader Joe’s to pick up what I’ve dubbed “hot girl flowers,” which are basically bouquets that you buy for yourself just because. Cindy Ngo, the founder of INK + PORCELAIN, loves this white Luxe Infinity vase for her own floral arrangements. “[It’s] perfect for any surface as a ceramic piece and your favorite blooms.” she says. If this super chic vase doesn’t inspire you to pick up your own set of hot girl flowers, to brighten up your mood and your home, I don’t know what will.
This large ceramic flower pot from Songmics is another Ngo-approved home piece to add some subtle visual interest to your home. “A vertical striped pot will elevate your plants. [It’s] a great addition to any corner of your home,” she says. The 10-inch wide pot is big enough to fit a large variety of popular houseplants, from monsteras to snake plants.