The Guide to Decorating Like a Millionaire Without Spending Like One

Updated 01/24/19
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Whether you're an interior designer working with a client's funds or a homeowner using your own, we all have to deal with budget constraints. But if you ask us, there's something really exciting about that. Restriction leads to creative thinking, pushing your typical design process outside your comfort zone and getting thrifty—because we never pay full price for furniture. In our experience, it's in these moments that some of the best ideas happen and the coolest furniture discoveries are made.

So how do you decorate like a millionaire without spending like one? The secret's in the details. It's all about those smaller moments that speak to who you are and make your house or studio apartment feel like a home. To help your process along, we outlined a few simple tricks we use to curb our spending without compromising on quality, aesthetics, or personality. 

dial up the luxe factor with gold accents
gold décor—modern living room
A House in the Hills

Have you ever witnessed the transformative effect of gold in a room? Incorporating the gilded hue really boosts your space's luxe factor. To add the Midas touch, sprinkle in a few decorative accents, objets d'art, or occasional furniture in the metallic tone. Just because it's gold doesn't mean it's expensive, either. Track down stylish affordable options from some of our high-street favorites including Target, Zara Home, and CB2.

When it comes to gold, a little goes a long way, so don't overdo it. Keep it to two pieces in one room (three max) or you'll risk throwing off the balance. A metallic side table, a gilt-lined mirror, and a cool accessory in the shiny material are ample. Tone it down with some interesting vintage items—the patina will contrast well with the newness. Read on for our tips and shop our affordable picks.

Zara Home Large Black Marble Table
Zara Home Large Black Marble Table $299
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source low-cost vintage rugs on eBay
modern black and white living room
Alyssa Rosenheck

If we had to name one décor piece that really makes a room, it would be the humble rug, hands down. It has an uncanny ability to pull everything together and can really make or break a space. But finding the right one that's also within your price range can be challenging. These cool carpets can be pricey, especially when you're sourcing vintage varieties and want to implement Amber Lewis's style advice to "layer, layer, layer."

The answer? eBay. We have found scores of low-cost lovelies throughout our daily trawls of the popular online marketplace. There are amazing kilims and antique Turkish and Persian rugs at insanely affordable prices. The fun is in the hunt.

eBay Antique Turkish Konya Tribal Prayer Rug
eBay Antique Turkish Konya Tribal Prayer Rug $178
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cover an old table with decadent fabric
open plan kitchen
Fantastic Frank

This is one of our favorite tips because you get the biggest bang for your buck. For the cost of a few yards of fabric, you can turn any table, regardless of its condition, into desirable décor. For quality, economical finds turn to Home DepotMichaelsRough Linen, or Athena Calderon's favoriteSilk & Willow but a quick Google search will provide ample fabric store options in your area too.

Once you've found a few fabrics you like, purchase the minimum sample yardage to test them out in your house first before committing to the full size. It's amazing how good something can look in your mind, only to appear the exact opposite in reality. This small outlay will pay off in dividends.

Rough Linen Orkney Linen Tablecloth
Rough Linen Orkney Linen Tablecloth $130
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Michaels Indigo Pinstripe Chambray Linen ($2 and up)

hunt for unique finds on craigslist
a chic dining area
Fantastic Frank

Oh, Craigslist, how we love thee. Whether we're searching for great rentals or sourcing affordable furniture, you're also the first place we turn when looking for unique, rare, and one-off finds.

Type "midcentury" into the site's search bar and you'll be inundated with interesting furniture and cool curiosities in your local area. Look out for the end of lease clear-outs, closeout sales, and tenants who are downsizing from a house to an apartment. On extended searches, you can even discover cool up-and-coming designers selling their handmade designs. Craiglist is a venerable treasure trove for those willing to scroll and scroll… and sometimes scroll again.

Craigslist Mid Century Modern Chrome and Velvet Chair
Craigslist Mid Century Modern Chrome and Velvet Chair $180
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buy affordable original artwork online
modern living room
for MyDomaine

When we seek inspiration for our own homes, we often turn to celebrities. Why? Not only do they have the cash flow to purchase some of our wish-list designer furniture, but they also have access to some of the industry's top-notch talent and tastemakers to help them decorate. One of the big tickets in any celebrity living or dining room is the artwork. They are a major investment but totally worth the outlay, especially if you buy into the work of a renowned artist. But what if you don't have the funds to fork out for these masterpieces? We've discovered a few amazing online shops that offer insanely cool and original pieces at prices you can afford.

Some of our favorites are Exhibition A, Tappan Collective, Society 6, and Chairish, where you'll find everything from abstract paintings to limited-edition prints and original creations. Some of them, including Chairish, even let you search by color, which is super handy when you know exactly what hue you need for that blank wall in your bedroom.

Matt Hansel Landlubber Archival Pigment Print
Matt Hansel Landlubber Archival Pigment Print $250
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add greenery in unique planters
greenery in a living room
Claire Esparros ; DESIGN: Justin DiPiero for Homepolish

Aside from the aesthetic beauty, the healing powers of Mother Nature are reason enough to add greenery to your space. They add just the right amount of color in a minimalistic interior, brighten up a monochrome room, and add depth to small spaces. Don't believe us? These gorgeous houseplants prove it. If you don't have the cash for those trendy plants, then purchase affordable shrubs and trees to suit your budget, and invest in a cool planter instead—we predict these will be the next fiddle-leaf fig.

You can find cool low-cost planters at Urban Outfitters, Crate and Barrel, Etsy, Amara, and West Elm. If you love the idea of plants but don't have time, then low-maintenance plants actually thrive when neglected.

Rosenthal Tutenvasen Hellbraun Vase
Rosenthal Tutenvasen Hellbraun Vase $28
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try out a simple IKEA hack
a bright white bathroom with gold accents
Sugar and Cloth

If there's one thing we love more than IKEA, it's an IKEA hack. Since the whole world is onto this interior phenomenon, we certainly don't want our homes to look like they just leaped off the Swedish giant's catalog, no matter how pretty they look on paper. So if you want to add that millionaire's touch, then amplify the basics with a little IKEA DIY. Give its $40 bar stools a gilded makeover (there's your gold accent) and add some craftsman chic to your IKEA dresser by adhering a little leather to the drawer pulls.

Rejuvenation Hexagon Door Knocker
Rejuvenation Hexagon Door Knocker $8
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This post was originally published on June 7, 2016, and has since been updated.

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