You Can Make Your Home Look Expensive Without Spending Big—Here's How

Updated 03/27/17

Unless you're a seasoned interior designer, making décor decisions can be a daunting process: How high should these curtains be hung? How big should my dining room rug be? How do I make my mismatched vintage pieces work in my space? While decorators have this knowledge intrinsically embedded in them through years of practice, we are left scratching our heads or turning to Google (and hoping we get it right).

Today, we're shedding light on the decorating faux pas that may be letting your overall décor down. Little did you know that you may have made small decorating mistakes in the past that are making your space look less expensive than it actually is. Luckily, these aren't hard (or costly) to fix. They say design is in the details—so arm yourself with this knowledge and upgrade your home to be the best it can be—without breaking the bank. Ready to elevate your décor to the next level? Fix these mistakes now.

Mistake #1: Curtains Hung Too Low

blue dining room
Tessa Neustadt ; DESIGN: Amber Interiors

Hanging curtains too low and narrow will make your windows seem smaller than they actually are. Instead, hang them as high and wide as they will go, leaving just a few inches of breathing room from the ceiling. It may cost a few extra inches of fabric, but the result will be well worth the investment.

best linen curtains
Pottery Barn Belgian Flax Linen Sheer Drape $69
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Mistake #2: Builder-Grade Hardware

black and white kitchen
Courtesy of Elizabeth Roberts

In newer homes especially, hardware tends to be what is called "builder grade," which is the low-cost stuff contractors get in bulk to outfit large development projects—and it can make your home look cheaper than it actually is. A simple hardware swap on your kitchen cabinets, bathroom vanity, and doors can go a long way in making your place feel elevated.

best brass hardware
Rejuvenation West Slope Drawer Pull $29
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Mistake #3: Uncomfortable Seating

gray sectional
Douglas Friedman ; DESIGN: Kara Mann

The projected comfort levels of a space can make or break how expensive it actually looks. Just picture yourself lounging in this gorgeous deep sectional above to understand what we mean. When shopping for seating, prioritize sofas with a deeper seat and longer seat cushions to raise the comfort levels.

best sectionals
West Elm Shelter 2-Piece Terminal Chaise Sectional $2498

Mistake #4: Stock Art

french interior
Courtesy of Nicolas Schuybroek Architects

Generic stock art—especially the prints that we've seen over and over—can instantly cheapen a room. The good news: There are tons of great websites that sell original art for not much more than big box stores so you can have original art without the price tag.

"Shapes Print 2" by Anna Ullman $95
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Mistake #5: Disorganized Clutter

minimal bathroom
Douglas Friedman ; DESIGN: Kara Mann

It doesn't take a ton of space to make an interior look expensive—it just takes less clutter. Take the bathroom above by interior designer Kara Mann, for example. Everything on display is curated and in its place. The rest is stored away. Hide smaller clutter like toothbrushes in medicine cabinets, toys in baskets, and clothes in closets to instantly elevate your space without spending a dime.

Carl Aubock Medium Hook $250
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Mistake #5: Rugs Too Small for the Space

boho dining room
Tessa Neustadt ; DESIGN: Amber Interiors

Rugs that are too small is the quickest way to make your space look less expensive than it actually is. In dining rooms, make sure the rug extends two to three feet behind each chair. In living rooms, ensure that the front legs of all major pieces of furniture are sitting on the rugs. If you can fit all legs, even better. Is the rug that you want over budget? Layer a smaller size on top of a larger inexpensive jute rug to get the look without the price tag.

Keivan Woven Arts Vintage Turkish Oushak Rug $2485
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Mistake #7: Relying on Overhead Lighting Only

eclectic living room
Tessa Neustadt ; DESIGN: Amber Interiors

Rooms that only have overhead lighting are rarely flattering. Instead, layer various light sources around the room. Alternate between sconces, table, and floor lamps. Three lamps positioned in a triangle around the room is the quickest way to flawless, flattering light.

Thomas O'Brien Antonio Adjustable Two Arm Wall Lamp $483
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Mistake #8: Too Many Vintage Pieces

black and white living room
Douglas Friedman ; DESIGN: Kara Mann

We love a good vintage piece—but too many of them can make your space feel disjointed. Instead, mix your vintage furniture with more modern pieces, and restrict your color palettes to keep a unified look. The same pieces will look much more elevated if the room has a curated feel, rather than an eclectic one.

West Elm Kinsey Magazine Side Table $199
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