You don’t have to spend a lot of money to make your home look high-end. Here are my favourite easy & low cost ways on how to make your home look expensive on a budget!
I love the challenge of making homes look luxurious on a smaller budget. If I had an unlimited budget to decorate, what fun would that be?! These simple tricks can make any home look like a million bucks… without spending a million bucks. I used a lot of these strategies while decorating our own home, my staging clients’ homes, and our vacation rentals to make them look beautiful on a lower budget. I can’t wait to share all my tips with you so you can do the same in your home. Let’s go!
1. Upgrade cabinet hardware
Swapping out cabinet handles, knobs and drawer pulls can make a surprisingly big difference in how your home feels. Change your dated, chunky hardware for something a little more modern and sleek and you’ll see what I mean! I like to find hardware at Home Depot, Amazon, or Wayfair online. You can check out my latest kitchen refresh right here to see for yourself what a difference this little detail can make! For an even cheaper option, you can paint your current hardware for a whole new look. Brass is still hot right now, and here’s my favourite gold / brass coloured spray paint.
2. Install architectural details
Simple trim work can make all the difference in how high-end a home can feel. I love the look of board & batten or picture frame trim. Crown molding can also give a room a grand, luxurious look. You can DIY your own trim work by following my board & batten tutorial right here, or see how I installed picture frame trim in my niece’s nursery here. You don’t necessarily have to add trimwork to entire room – even an accent wall featuring board and batten or picture frame trim can give a luxe feel!
3. Declutter your space
A few well appointed pieces of furniture and accessories usually looks more expensive than a room jammed full of clutter. Having lots of white space for the eye to rest creates a modern and elegant look in any room. I’m happy we kept the furniture and accessories in our Little Lake House minimal. Not only does it make the space look more modern, but it’s also a lot easier to clean!
If you’re having a hard time with clutter, I have a ton of easy organization ideas for your home right here! Decluttering and organizing your space is a FREE way to make it look incredible on a budget.
4. Use luxurious looking fabrics
Another easy way to make your home look expensive? Fabrics like velvet, faux fur and linen always look luxe and high end. Use them for floor-to-ceiling drapes or upholstery, or for throw pillow covers for a more budget-friendly alternative. You can DIY custom pillow covers in a luxurious fabric using this tutorial. Make a custom faux fur throw for your living room using this simple tutorial.
Natural fibers generally look and feel more high-end, so opt for those when you can afford them. I personally love using linen in my home for a natural, cozy look and feel. Linen cushions and bedding are my favourite!
5. Add layers of lighting
Lighting accents add glamour to your space, and if you don’t want to spend the money and time to wire in custom lighting there are alternatives. Use battery operate puck lights to light the underside of your kitchen cabinets, or use battery operated puck lights in wall sconces in your bedroom or living room.
There are 4 types/layers of lighting to think about when decorating your home: ambient lighting, task lighting, accent lighting and decorative lighting. A lot of us remember ambient lighting (the overhead lights that illuminate our whole space), but task lighting (lights over work areas, like sinks), accent lighting (lights to add an additional warm glow, like table lamps) and decorative lighting (faux candles or twinkle lights) are often forgotten.
6. Add built-in (or faux built-in) pieces
Custom built-in furniture always looks high end. Think a beautiful custom dining bench, a designer hutch trimmed out in the dining room, or an entry storage system. For a lot less money, you can create a built-in look by using IKEA pieces as a base. For example, I created this built-in looking corner dining bench in my sister’s breakfast nook for under $1000 by starting with IKEA dresser units. You can find the whole tutorial right here!
7. Use white towels and sheets
There’s a reason a luxury hotel uses white, fluffy towels and crisp, white bed sheets. They signify cleanliness and luxury. Swapping out your old, dingy towels and sheets for fresh white ones is and easy and cost-effective way to make your bathroom and bedroom look more expensive. Want to keep your towels fluffy and white? Get all my tips and tricks for that here!
8. Hide ugly items in baskets & boxes
Useful items we need everyday like TV remotes, light remotes, candle lighters can make our homes look cluttered. An easy solution is to hide them in beautiful boxes or baskets for easy access. You can use a container on your kitchen countertops that matches your decor to hide items like this, or lovely rattan boxes on your coffee table. It makes a huge difference when these little items are tucked away (but still accessible)!
9. Hang curtains high & wide
I’m always a huge proponent of floor-to-ceiling drapery. To make your drapes look even more luxurious, double the panels on either side of your windows for a more gathered, fuller look. This will instantly make your room feel more high-end, and don’t forget to extend your curtain rods a few feet on either side of your window for even more glam. Use inexpensive IKEA drapery to get this look on a budget.
10. Use a variety of textures
The most common thing I find people are missing in their home decor is using a large variety of textures. Especially if you choose a neutral colour scheme in your home (neutrals are colours like whites, beiges, browns, greys etc.), texture is an important element that will make your room feel more luxurious. You can incorporate textures by using rough items like rustic woods and stone, smooth items like ceramic and finished woods, bumpy items like sisal baskets and textured pillows, and fuzzy items like faux fur accents and soft throw blankets. Ensuring all of these textures are in your room will make it feel like it was styled by an interior designer.
11. Add vintage pieces from the thrift store
An entire home featuring solely IKEA furniture and accessories can scream “budget”. However, if you add some vintage pieces throughout your space, your home will look collected, warm, and more luxurious. I love finding artwork, brass accessories and antique books at the thrift store, but you can find my whole list of 31 items to keep your eye out for when thrifting right here! You can also find beautiful vintage pieces at places like Facebook Marketplace, garage sales, flea markets, and antique malls.
12. Try peel & stick solutions
High end wall and countertop finishes like ceramics and marbles can instantly elevate a space. However, not everyone has the budget to install these. I love peel & stick solutions to add these textures on a budget, like stick-on tile backsplash and marble look contact paper. You can find all of my peel & stick tips and tricks to make your home look amazing by clicking here.
13. Choose the right sized area rug
When adding an area rug to your room, the size of the rug can make a huge impact in how the room looks and feels. If your rug is too small, it can make your space look cheap and unfinished. A very general rule is to buy as big of an area rug as you can afford, but ideally you want all your furniture legs to be sitting on the rug with a couple feet of bare floor around the room. If you can’t afford a rug this size, ensure at least the front feet of your furniture can sit on the rug. For more information, check out my living room area rug size guide here. Look for sales and choose a rug in a neutral colour that will stand the test of time.
14. Add DIY window treatments
Bare windows can look unfinished and cold, but if you’re on a budget it’s difficult to afford custom window treatments. I’m a huge fan of making drapes, curtains and shades myself! And you don’t need to know how to sew to make custom looking window coverings. Check out this blog post where I share several different DIY window treatment ideas to add some style to your home.
15. Create a distinct entryway
A beautiful entryway is a wonderful way to give a good first impression to your guests. However, many small homes don’t have a dedicated entry area. One way to create that distinct space? Use cabinets to define the area! Not only can cabinets create an entryway where there wasn’t one before, but they add welcome storage space. I love how we created a more distinct entry area in our old Guest House with this black cabinet solution.
16. Clean sofas & other upholstered pieces
Now this might sound like a strange point, but you might be surprised at how dirty the upholstered furniture in your home can get! Giving your sofa & soft furnishings a deep clean every now and then can instantly elevate your home and make your room feel much cleaner and brighter. I like to use the Little Green Machine to clean the off-white upholstery of my sofa. It’s amazing how much dirt that machine can get out of my furniture!
17. Use bigger light fixtures
When it comes to your light fixtures like chandeliers, pendant lights and lamps… size does indeed matter. Many people choose fixtures that are too small for their space, and therefore make their space feel lacking. A substantial light fixture (or a beautiful fan… they actually make them nowadays!) can transform your room into something that feels like a designer space. A rule of thumb for sizing a single fixture in a room: add the room’s length and width (in feet) to get the ideal diameter of the fixture (in inches). Don’t forget to factor in the ceiling height, too. You want at least 7 feet of clearance under your light.
18. Paint your front door
The colour of your front door can make a huge difference in the curb appeal of your home. And for the impact that it makes, paint is budget-friendly! I LOVE the power of paint to transform a wall, a piece of furniture, cabinets, or especially a front door on a budget. A beautiful, striking shade of green, blue, yellow or even red will instantly make your home look incredible. Want to know how to paint your front door for ultimate curb appeal? Here’s my front door painting guide.
19. Make your home smell high-end
An easy way to make your home feel expensive is to make it smell expensive! This might sound funny, but our nose is an important part of how we feel in a space. And it’s easy to make your home smell incredible. You can do something as simple as a seasonal simmer pot on the stove with citrus scraps, or use your favourite essential oils in a diffuser. I also love lighting a good candle or using linen spray on my textiles to make my home smell cozy and beautiful. The right scents can elevate your home more than you might imagine!
20. Use oversized art and mirrors
Just like large light fixtures can make your home look more high end, so can oversized art and mirrors. And you don’t have to spend a fortune on either one. Check your thrift store for mirrors or art you can clean and/or paint. Wait for sales at your favourite stores. Use old window frames to make upcycled wall art or mirrors… there are so many creative ways to make large art pieces! I’m a big fan of using large mirrors in small spaces – it really helps bounce the natural light around and gives the illusion of a bigger and brighter space.
21. Choose feather inserts for cushions
There’s something that looks so elegant about pillows with real feather and/or down inserts. They look more plump, more natural, and more expensive. You can also do that subtle “chop” at the top of the pillow when they’re filled with natural feathers. My favourite budget-friendly cushion inserts are these inserts from IKEA. However, you might have to use two in your cover for a fuller look. Which brings me to my next tip…
22. Overstuff pillows and duvets
A plump duvet on your bed or a soft, fluffy cushion on your sofa looks so luxurious. There are a few ways to achieve this look:
- Choose a duvet insert or cushion insert that’s an inch or two larger than your duvet cover or cushion cover. For example, you can put 22 x 22″ inserts into a 20 x 20″ pillow cover, or you can use a California King sized duvet insert for a King sized duvet cover.
- Place two inserts inside one cover. For example, you can put two inexpensive IKEA 20 x 20″ pillow inserts into one 20 x 20″ pillow cover for a higher end look.
- Purchase higher quality inserts that have more fill. This can be more of an investment, however you can re-use inserts for years and swap out the covers for different looks. They’re a wise investment.
23. Accessorize with flowers & greenery
There’s nothing quite like fresh flowers and green plants, and adding these to accent tables or corners in your home will instantly elevate the look. If you can’t afford designer floral bouquets, you can arrange grocery store flowers to look more expensive using these tips here. Gathering greenery from your yard or flowers from your garden in the summer are also fantastic ways to get the look for less!
I’m also not opposed to faux florals and plants. There are some beautiful faux plants available these days! You can find some of my favourites here in my Amazon shop. Dried floral arrangements are another option that I love, and it’s handy that they can last for years!
24. Add a touch of brass
Brass accents are timeless, and they can add so much elegance to your interior. I recently added a brass tipping rail to my kitchen’s range hood cover, and antique brass hardware to my cabinets and I can’t believe how elevated and warm my kitchen feels now! For budget friendly brass finds, look in the homewares section at your local thrift store. You don’t have to incorporate a lot of brass to make an impact – just a few touches in each room is perfect!
25. Use oversized accessories
Just like oversized art and light fixtures can make a room look more expensive, so can large decor accessories. As a serial decor collector, I’ve learned this over the years. When I decorate a tabletop with multiple smaller objects, it can look cluttered and cheap. If I choose one or two oversized statement pieces instead – say a large vase with long floral stems – it looks much more elegant. You can thrift oversized vases and add texture with paint & plaster of Paris like I did here.
Watch my video about how to make your home look expensive on a budget:
I hope you enjoyed these budget-friendly tips and tricks on how to make your home look expensive! Remember, the most important part of decorating is making sure you create a space that YOU and your family love. Who cares about anyone else, or what the current home decor trends are! I hope you have fun decorating, and let me know if you have any more tips in the comments below.