16 Surprising Ways to Make Your Home Look Expensive on a Budget

One of my favorite things to do is find new ways to make my home look high-end.  But, renovation projects that are million-dollar-home-worthy cost a lot of money.  And, I always seem to like the most expensive things! 
For example, I have wanted new kitchen cabinets since we moved into our home two years ago.  Either that, or have them painted.  (They're yellowed maple from the '90s)  Replacing the cabinets would cost $10,000.00 + and having them painted (I'm not a DIY cabinet painter) would be at least $3,000.00...!
Neither of those options are in our family's budget at this time so for now I need to keep putting my "get the look for less" skills to the test.

I am going to show you 16 easy ways to give your home the high-end look without breaking the bank.  And, at the end there's a BONUS tip that you can do right away for free...

1. Update Cabinet Hardware

  Our 16 Most Popular Knobs and Pulls for Kitchens [UPDATED]white cabinets with black hardware | Kitchen, Sweet home

Getting new hardware can transform old, boring cabinets that need freshening up.  The best part about this easy update is that it doesn't cost much.  And, that makes it a good, low-commitment update, so you can swap the hardware in a couple years when you're wanting a fresh look again.

I have been seeing beautiful hardware a lot of places.  From high-end nickel pulls at Restoration Hardware (shown above) or these that look similar, available on Amazon Prime.

A set of contemporary polished chrome or transitional style oil rubbed bronze bar pulls come in a 10-pack and cost as little as $3.00 per pull.

2. Swap Your Front Door Mat

The front entrance to your home sets the stage for what's to come inside.  A doormat is a welcome sign to visitors and a tired, small, or cheap-looking one will definitely send the wrong message.

I am in love with the way an oversized doormat instantly makes a front entrance look expensive.  To get the look in your home, try a traditional style doormat with a simple border or pattern that is a little wider than the door itself.  A small area rug also does the trick.  For double doors, go for an extra wide rug. 

Placing matching mats or rugs at all entrances to the home is a great way to elevate the overall appearance.

Natural fiber woven rugs are affordable and this one comes in a variety of binding colors.  Use this only at covered entrances - it won't stand up to the elements!


This diamond pattern coir doormat comes 57" wide which fits most entrances perfectly.  

Or for a fun pattern, try one of these:


3.  Raise Your Shower Curtain

This is a designer trick that will improve the look of any bathroom that's got a traditional tub with a curtain and rod.  Raise the rod 12 inches to give the impression that the bathroom has a taller ceiling.  A tall ceiling will instantly make the space look more valuable.   


To complete the look, swap the standard 84 inch curtain for a 96 inch.  I prefer light colors in the bathroom so I always recommend a simple, white waffle or hotel style curtain if you're unsure of a pattern.  Or, there are plenty of curtains with beautiful prints or stripes available in a 96 inch length.

4.  Add Mirrors


A mirror makes a room look larger, brighter, and more beautiful.  Mirrors are a designer and home stager's best friend. You can re-purpose an old mirror by painting the frame.  Or, there are plenty of affordable mirrors I like from Amazon Prime that are ready to be wall mounted or leaned against a wall.   

Bigger is always better when it comes to mirrors and a beveled edge mirror really screams luxury.  If a huge mirror isn't in your budget, try grouping two or three mirrors on one wall for a similar effect.

Here's how I like to use mirrors, keeping in mind the cardinal rule of mirrors: Make sure to reflect something that's worth looking at!

5.  Update Your Throw Pillows

One part of decorating a room to give it a polished look is to add throw pillows. 

There are endless pillow options but my favorite way to get a high end look is to use oversize pillows on beds, sofas, and chairs.  I'd rather have two large pillows of high quality than tons of tiny pillows that look cluttered (and drive my husband crazy ;).

Sticking to the theme of keeping your home light and bright so that it looks more expensive, choose light-colored pillows.  If you're stuck with a dark sofa or chair, give it a makeover and brighten up the entire room by adding light-colored pillows.  I've even used them along a fireplace hearth to cozy up a living room!

Fabrics like velvet, linen, or fur (faux or real) are sophisticated options that look expensive.

** Designer tip: invest in high-quality inserts that you can use again and again.  I like these down fill pillows: 

6.  Get A New Faucet

This update may be the only one needed in your kitchen or bath.  Since builder-grade faucets fill most of our homes, swapping them out can really set your space apart.  I'm loving this recent master bathroom faucet swap I did for a client.  Swapping the faucets was THE ONLY update we made in the master bath and look what a difference it made for the staging!
I see a lot of bathrooms with white, drop-in style sinks with 4" centers for the plumbing.  Without replacing the sinks or counter, we swapped the faucets for these Delta Lahara 4" center, double-handle faucets.  They're less than $80.00 and available in a lot of pretty on-trend finishes.
You can similarly swap a kitchen faucet.  I've installed plenty of touchless faucets like these for clients who say that they don't know how they ever lived without them! 


7.  Hang Up A Gallery Wall

A gallery wall, when done right, will look stunning.  The key to a high-end looking collection of your favorite photos or art is about the frames and placement.

Choose matching frames for best results.  The frames can vary in size, but keep the mats and the frames themselves all the same.  This ensures a tasteful gallery wall.

The other key ingredient for an expensive-looking gallery wall is placement.  To get this right, I lay out my arrangement on the floor and photograph it before I begin hanging.  I look at the photos of my arrangement to make sure I've got everything arranged to look its best.  Then, I get out the tape measure, hammer, and nails.

Using metallic, white, or light-colored frames will keep your gallery wall from looking cluttered and visually heavy.  Here are my favorite fool-proof frame collections to make your gallery wall a success:

8.  Get An Oversize Area Rug

All the big, pretty million-dollar-plus homes I've worked in sport HUGE area rugs.  Often, they run wall to wall and are made of natural fibers like wool or silk.

While a fine rug isn't in my budget, I have found a lot of beautiful rugs that are big AND affordable. 

The reason an oversized rug looks expensive is because it ties the entire room together.  The perfect rug is often my starting point when designing a space.  I use the colors and textures from the rug to make furniture and decor selections.

I love the look of a rug that extends under the majority of the furniture in the space I'm designing.  These affordable oversize area rugs are as pretty in a bedroom as in a living room, dining room, or home office and they come in huge sizes from Amazon Prime.


9.  Swap Your Lighting

This is my latest lighting update... new sconces!  The day after we closed on our new house I lugged the '90s shell lights out to the trash.  In their place my husband hung pretty, double-arm lights.  I paid less than $100 for each of these and wow, was it money well spent!

Both interior and exterior light fixtures are great candidates for easy swaps.  Again, your choices are endless.  I recommend getting inspiration from Pinterest and then finding the best quality lights that fit your style and your budget. 

And, if you just want to update the finish, like from brass to matt black, simply spray away to switch-up your look.


10.  Monochromatic Paint

We can all agree that paint transforms like no other.  And, not only is fresh paint an easy DIY activity, it really does not cost much at all.

Big, beautiful homes have interiors with on-trend paint colors in neutral tones.  I like to copy this look by eliminating paints with undertones that are too yellow or peach (they scream '80s and '90s!) and lightening-up trim to match the wall color.  Using the same paint color throughout the home gives a grand, continuous appearance. 


12.  Front Door Refresh

Did you know that homes with front doors painted dark blue or gray sell for more money?  What?!  Yes, there was a study a couple years back by Zillow that showed that homes with front doors painted navy, charcoal, smoke, deep blue, or similar tones sold for nearly $1.5k more on average.  

Repainting your front door is a simple DIY job. Try this never-fade paint in Satin Elegant which is a deep gray.

12.  Bring the Outdoors In

Flowers and greenery can make your home look expensive and the best part is you can bring them into your home for free by collecting branches and blooms or you can get the look to last forever by going faux. 

A silk centerpiece on a dining room table or a wreath on the front door can be re-used and switched out seasonally.  Greenery placed above kitchen upper cabinets can make the kitchen ceiling appear higher.  Or, a free option is to gather branches or blooms from your yard and place them in a clear vase for a high-end look.

Use a single faux or real arrangement on bathroom vanities for a look that's pretty and fresh.  Place an arrangement in front of a mirror for twice the impact!


13.  Raise Your Baseboard

Most homes have conventional baseboard that's 3" high.  An easy way to get a high-end look is to install taller baseboard.  Home improvement stores have a lot of primed and even pre-finished profiles to choose from.  The style doesn't matter so much as the height.  Aim for baseboard that's 5" tall or more.  Choose a profile that relates to the style of your home.

You can build up or swap your baseboard in one room to start.  You'll be amazed at the difference it makes!


**Fake this tip by installing a trim piece an inch above standard baseboard and painting to the top of the trim piece all one color.


14.  Expand Your Window Treatments


Window treatments that start close to the ceiling make any room look taller.  Whether a roman shade or floor to ceiling drapes are installed just a couple inches from the ceiling, giving the impression of a taller room makes it look high-end.  

If you want a really elegant look, opt for linen, cotton, or velvet window treatments close to the color of your walls.  I love these neutral linen-look drapes in Barley that are available on Amazon Prime in a variety of lengths to fit the height of your room.

Avoid curtains with grommets (the metal-rimmed hole that the rod feeds through) as they are very casual looking and won't elevate the look of your room.

15. Add Oversize Art

You will find that large scale framed art often costs a lot.  Alternatives to this are second-hand pieces that are light in color where the frame or mat can be updated or a collection of framed pieces hung side-by-side.  Or, an alternative to framed art, which is usually more affordable, but still adds a sophisticated look is a large wrapped canvas.

Less is more when it comes to decorating a home to look high-end.  One key piece strategically placed can be the focal point of your room rather than multiple framed pieces.  

16. Bring on the Bling

Things that glitter just look more expensive - I'm talking diamonds, not disco balls!  Bring reflective objects into your space and you'll set the scene of luxury.  Glass, metal, or mirrored items used together carry the eye throughout a room.

I like the way Mercury Glass, mirrored frames and trays, and glass vessels make a space shimmer.

17. BONUS Tip: Tidy Up!

Cleaning, decluttering, and organizing costs nothing but your time and I've found that the most beautiful, high-end homes all share this in common - everything is tidy.  From the closets to the furnishings to the bookshelves and cabinets, give everything in your home a place.  Eliminate clutter with a critical eye.  Not only will you find yourself enjoying your home more, but it will go a long way in making it appear more luxurious!


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1 comment

  • Great tips Alicia!! I love all those ideas and they will really help me. Thank you!

    Kristi Oscarson

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