In an ideal world, we would all have a professional designer at our disposal to make our spaces exude comfort, luxury, and sophistication. Sadly, reality can bite, and our wallets run dry. Luckily, there are ways to get a custom, upscale look without breaking your budget. With a few simple adjustments and strategic styling techniques, you can create a space that feels regal on a shoestring budget.
Not convinced? We've interviewed numerous interior designers, decorators, and style experts on MyDomaine, and these are some of the best tricks we've learned. Read on for 23 tips to consider whether you're completely redecorating or just looking for a quick update.
Mix up Your Textiles
A sofa, chair, throw pillows, and drapes that are all in the same fabric and texture will almost certainly make your space fall flat. Swap out bland throw pillows for a variety of textures and sizes to easily add dimension. Even if you're color-averse, just adding in a few hues that are a slight variation of the neutrals you already have will liven up the space. Try a light mustard, dusty pink, or soft lilac if you can't commit to a brighter palette.
Freshen It up With Flowers
You don't need a wallet-busting mega-arrangement to add luxury to your space. A simple (read: cheap) bouquet from the grocery store can be all you need to add sophistication. Besides, it's all about how you arrange the flowers and the vase you arrange them in. First, separate the bouquet by stem type then create several small arrangements to spread around your home. The dent in your wallet (and time) is minimal, but the impact on your home is monumental.
If there really isn't anything you like at the grocery store, take a wander outside and cut a few trimmings off a tree or plant then place it casually in a table or floor vase. The greenery will really brighten the space.
Upgrade Your Hardware
You've probably heard this one before, and for good reason. Swapping out your standard hardware for something more modern and chic will immediately elevate your space for pennies on the dollar. Give it a try on your kitchen cabinets, bathroom vanity, or bedroom furniture to give new life to a dated space.
Declutter, Declutter, Declutter
Clutter and mess are decidedly un-chic. It's one thing to have a generously styled bookshelf or mantelpiece, but too much stuff can look cheap and chaotic. Pare down your accessories and edit your collected possessions to just those few favorites (à la Marie Kondo) for a look that feels elevated and classic.
If you're unsure where to start, set a few simple and actionable goals to store and organize your home. You'll also feel better for it mentally and physically.
Grab a Roller and Add a Fresh Coat
Nothing gives off a personalized and custom vibe more than perfectly hued walls. Roll up your sleeves and get your paint brush out of storage to get the look for less. Painting a room or a single wall in your home is a simple DIY that promises to have a major impact in any space. There's nothing quite like the transformative effect of crisp white walls or dove gray cabinets.
Thrift Like You Mean It
As they say, one man's trash is another man's treasure, and we couldn't agree more. Keep an eye out for thrift stores, garage sales, flea markets, and your grandmother's trash pile to score vintage and modern decor on the cheap. Sometimes all it takes is a little elbow grease to turn a dud into your new favorite piece.
Take the Time to Style Each Area
Most professionally decorated spaces emphasize the art of surface styling. Give your furniture the spotlight it deserves with a few simple yet expertly styled pieces for an overall richer experience. Once you've edited down your decorative accessories to your favorites, make sure to purposefully arrange them in an eye-pleasing manner. There are a few simple tips you can apply to arrange your coffee table, mantel, and indoor benches.
Swap Your Lamp Shades
Get a personalized look by switching out the standard stock shade that came with your lamp for a different option. This will help add dimension and make a big-box store lamp appear unique and special. There are so many affordable options too—cool girls are losing it over a $5 pendant shade. It's also a great way to buy into a micro-trend without spending big.
Fool the Eye With Curtains
Many luxurious and expensive homes have high ceilings and are flooded with natural light. Fool the eye and get the look by hanging your drapery and hardware as high and close to the ceiling as possible—never directly above the window frame. This will draw the eye up and give the appearance of a loftier space. Add sheer curtains to really soften the light that comes in and fill the room with a warmth that is cozy yet feels expensive.
Buy Matching Sets for Your Essentials
Although we recommend avoiding sets when it comes to furniture, nothing looks more deliberate, neat, and chic than a set of matching containers on a vanity or kitchen counter. Using liquid soap in a dispenser and transferring cotton swabs from a box into a coordinating container elevates the entire look. It's relatively inexpensive to make the upgrade, but the overall impact on your bathroom is enormous. You'll feel like you're on vacation in your own home.
Give New Life to Old Artwork
If you're anything like us, you've probably got a pile of old artwork lying around that no longer fits your style. Give these pieces new life using paint, and maybe a few craft supplies. A cheap can of spray paint will go a long way in updating old frames, while you can get more creative with the artwork itself. Try your hand at painting a simple abstract shape (you can even cheat with painter's tape) or get out your craft supplies and let your creativity flow.
Switch Out Pillow Covers
Instead of buying all new throw pillows that can cost a small fortune, give your space an entirely new look by swapping out your throw pillow covers as a cheaper alternative. You can even switch things up seasonally to keep things fresh year round. Shop for inexpensive shams or DIY your own to save even more.
Don't Forget the Rug
Ground your furniture with a statement-making rug. Not only does it bring everything together, but it also lays the foundation and really sets the stage for the rest of the room. An area rug adds much-needed warmth, texture, and color, and the larger the rug (and more of your furniture arrangement you are able to comfortably include on it), the more custom and luxurious it will look.
Even if you have a rental apartment with carpeting, adding a rug on top will help define different spaces and add that certain something (while conveniently hiding mystery stains, too).
Update Your Fixtures
Nothing brings a room down faster than dated, builder-grade fixtures. Consider updating things like faucets and light fixtures to immediately upgrade your space and better suit your personal style. And while you don't have to spend a fortune to get drastic results (hello spray paint!), consider splurging on extras like touch-responsive faucets for a truly luxe feel.
Add a Touch of Tile
Elevate your kitchen or bathroom with an eye-catching tile design. If you've got a large surface area to cover, opt for always trendy and affordable subway tiles. Or if you've got less square footage to cover, consider splurging on handmade tiles for a more custom look. Experiment with different tile layouts to see what captures your style best.
Layer up On Textiles
One of the easiest ways to make your space look cozy and inviting yet chic and intentional is to layer textiles—think throws, blankets, pillows, and other comfy accessories. Experiment with pattern, color, and texture to achieve the look you want.
Invest in Window Treatments
Many major retailers offer semi-custom window treatments in a variety of fabric and trim combinations using your window's specific measurements. If you're in need of some advice before making the investment, we asked celebrity interior designer Nate Berkus to shed light on the world of window treatments once and for all.
"My go-to is typically a shade mixed with flat drapery panels that skim the floor," Berkus tells us. "But I tend to create interiors that are a little simpler and a little less ornate. I don't really reach for fussy window coverings as a general rule."
Refresh Your Doors
Add a touch of drama and personality by painting your doors (inside or out). You might be surprised at how drastically such a simple change can affect the vibe in your home. And the best part? Since it doesn't require much in the way of materials or time, you can repaint as often as you'd like for a totally different look.
Stick to Neutrals
For a guaranteed sense of calm, stick to a neutral color palette in your space. Don't get us wrong—we love a bold and colorful room, but bright colors can more quickly become dated. Neutrals rise above trends and are always in style, so you won't have to worry about redecorating. Swap out artwork, decor, or light fixtures when you're craving a quick refresh.
When in doubt, remember that less is usually more. A few chic, quality pieces will make your space look more elevated than an abundance of lower-quality pieces. The same can be said for decor—pick a couple of statement decor items to let sing and accent with just a few smaller accessories that complement your space.
Light up a Room
When lighting up any room, aim to layer the three types of lighting: ambient, task, and accent. Ambient lighting is usually your main source of light, including natural and overhead lights. Task lighting is exactly what it sounds like: a lamp or fixture that helps you perform a specific task like reading or cooking. Accent lighting is what you use to highlight specific features and often comes in the form of sconces or specialty fixtures.
Fake a custom look and add architectural detail to any cookie cutter room with floor-to-ceiling book cases. Most furniture chains carry affordable stock bookcases that can be customized to your specific space. Go with wood tones for added warmth and drama or stick with classic white for a fresh look.
Accent With Aromas
While all the rage in health and wellness these days, aromatherapy can also play a role in interior design—nothing reinforces the tone of a room quite like scent. Candles and essential oil diffusers are a fool-proof way to add ambiance to any room with no more effort than the flick of a wrist. Just remember never to leave a burning candle unattended.