20 Tips to Make Your House Look Expensive For $50 or Less
These expert tips will majorly upgrade your home.
You don't need to have an unlimited budget to make your home look more expensive. In fact, making simple tweaks and investing little to no money can make the world of difference. Best Life spoke to a number of experts, from designers and contractors to realtors, for tips on how to majorly upgrade your home for less than $50.
Philadelphia based realtor Mae Larimore Johnson, Elfant Wissahickon Realtors, CCSJ Team, spends a lot of time consulting with her clients on ways to make their homes look more expensive for potential buyers. One of her first suggestions is investing in some plants to infuse some life and color into your space. "Inside or out, upgrading your plant game is an inexpensive way to add a bit of lushness and luxury." Her suggestion? Orchids. "Think outside the box – put a plant on your mantel or on the wall to bring a pop of color and freshness to your space," adds Jennifer Verruto, Founder and CEO of Blythe Interiors. "Nearly every time a room is missing something, a plant fixes the problem."
Jennifer Matthews, Co-Founder and CCO of Tempaper & Co recommends her peel-and-stick wallpaper as an affordable way to add style to your home. "Whether you opt for delicate patterns, bold motifs, or textured finishes, the transformation will elevate the aesthetic appeal of any room," she says. "Tempaper & Co.'s new Damsel collection uses a faux-textured finish and beautiful metallic accents that are reminiscent of luxurious, age-old wallcoverings for a fraction of the cost."
Verruto recommends an inexpensive trick for upgrading outdated cabinets. "Builder grade or no hardware is a clear sign of an outdated kitchen." The solution? "First, if you have no hardware, definitely add it. We love a statement pull (instead of knobs). Pulls create length and drama, make sure to choose a finish that contrasts with your cabinet color. Upgrading your hardware will make a big difference – think black or gold for a more modern punch."
Walking into your bathroom and seeing a cluttered counter full of toiletries isn't a great look. "Put your unsightly, packaged toiletries in glass containers," suggests Larimore Johnson.
Command Brand partner Julian Thomas, DIY and Home Lifestyle Expert, recommends choosing to (and sticking to) a theme. "When trying to achieve an elevated or expensive look for less, I always recommend finding an interior design theme and sticking to it (without overdoing it of course)," he says. "Whether it's farmhouse, industrial or bohemian, deciding on a decor theme helps to take the guesswork out of sourcing materials and splurging on expensive decor that may or may not complement your home."
Larimore Johnson recommends adding reflective window film to add privacy and reduce sun glare. "It mimics expensive window glazing for a fraction of the cost and peels off when you're done with it," she says.
Dan Mazzarini, Principal and Creative Director of ARCHIVE recommends dimmable lighting. "You can make your home look luxe on a budget by prioritizing utility in your spaces. It's all about finding that sweet spot where functionality meets aesthetics – installing light dimmers works wonders," he explains. With a simple adjustment, you can create a warm mood or set the stage for a cozy movie night. He recommends Lutron Credenza Plug-In Dimmer and soft white dimmable light bulbs. "2700k temperature is a universally safe option!"
Beyond walls, you can use peel-and-stick wallpaper to upgrade smooth-surfaced furniture, says Matthews. "Dressing up cabinets, vanities, or even drawers with beautiful designs adds a layer of personality to otherwise ordinary furniture. It is also a great way to upcycle your favorite pieces," she explains.
Larimore Johnson suggests replacing your mismatched plastic and wire hangers with a fancy velvet set. "Joan Crawford will be thrilled," she jokes.
Get your sponges and cleaning supplies ready to add a little sweat equity to your home. "The most affordable way to make ANY space look expensive is to keep it clean and uncluttered," says Thomas.
Thomas also recommends getting creative with accent lighting. "This tip might sound intimidating as certain accent lights, like sconces and under-cabinet lighting, come with the assumption that it requires hardwiring to mount. However, there are a plethora of affordable, peel + stick lighting options," he says.
Building a gallery wall "is by far my go-to method on elevating any space on a budget," says Thomas. "When done right, gallery walls can be a trendy way to modernize any room on a budget. From souring artwork from flea markets to mounting said artwork using damage-free picture hanging strips to avoid any patchwork later down the road, gallery walls are always a crowd-pleaser."
Give your kitchen a makeover with a new set of organizers, "to whip that unruly pantry into shape," says Larimore Johnson.
Verruto also suggests tossing the "free" pillows your sofa came with. "It's time to say goodbye to those because they are boring and add nothing to your space," she says. "It's so easy to add some style and character to a room by picking some contrast pillows. This works whether you love color or prefer to stay neutral – as long as they don't disappear into the sofa, we approve."
While you might not be able to hire an interior designer, Thomas suggests consulting Pinterest for ideas. "Thoughtful consistency is a surefire way to elevate any space. I recommend finding inspiration from platforms like Pinterest and Spoak to help determine what your home's 'decor style' should be," he says.
After cleaning, Thomas suggests organizing. "I recommend investing in containers and hooks to keep all items neatly tucked away and organized. The human mind innately interprets order with pristineness," he says. "My favorite affordable way to do this is to invest in amber spray bottles and glass containers to keep any cleaning solutions out in the open. I also recommend investing in a variety of general purpose, damage-free hooks and caddies. Command Brand has some great ones including their Command Medium Utility Hooks or their Command Large Organizing Caddy."
You don't have to rely on hard-wired lighting fixtures to dress up your home. Plug in sconces – especially a set of two to frame a bed – offer a tailored and designed look to your space. And, no electrician needed. "Pay attention to scale – make sure you use a measuring tape to check the dimension on the new potential light and then go to the space and hold up the measurement. Bigger is usually better," says Verruto.
A 2022 survey from Zillow we mentioned earlier found that the color of your front door matters to homebuyers. For example, those surveyed said that they would pay $6,449 more for a home with a black door and $1,537 more for slate blue. Considering paint costs less than $50 per gallon, that is an investment worth making.
If you are looking to add some unique decor to your space, hit the local thrift store. Make sure to be intentional about what you buy, sticking to your theme. Also, consider adding some different texture to the mix like wood and metal.
Painting (the right way) can majorly upgrade a space to the tune of less than $50 per can. "I recommend using a bold color like emerald to add a sense of luxury," he says. "Paint is notoriously affordable, however to achieve a look for less, one will definitely want to take their time with the process to achieve those crisp paint lines that scream expensive."