Cheap Tricks: 10 Inexpensive Design Elements to Upgrade Your Home
Whether you’re building a new home or you’re looking to upgrade your space, you’ll find that little luxuries can add up. What might seem like a few bucks here and an upgrade there can totally blow your budget, especially if you have Versailles taste on a suburban budget. But you shouldn’t have to spend a ton to make your home look higher end. Stretching each dollar and knowing where to spend gives you the most bang for your buck. Try some of these inexpensive tricks to make your home look more luxurious without totally breaking the bank.
1. Install Woodwork
Thanyakan Thanapanprasert / Getty Images
Custom woodwork usually carries a hefty price tag. Still, if you use it judiciously, just a few accents can have a huge impact on the final product. Installing molding panels on one accent wall, for instance, can change the whole look of a room. By the same token, a well-placed chair rail can completely transform a room from cheap to choice.
2. Consider Built-Ins
Download it / Getty Images
Bookshelves and nooks make a home look more custom, and a custom home looks more expensive. Custom elements are always cheaper to install during a build, so ask your contractor to build in a few bookcases, some shelving or niches. If you’re renovating, you can mimic the look of built-ins by placing bookshelves alongside an entertainment center or beside your bed.
3. Add a Backsplash
irina88w / Getty Images
Dollar for dollar, backsplashes are one of the cheapest ways to make a big impact in your home. They add color and texture on the cheap for a quick weekend project. The trick to ensuring your backsplash looks expensive is to choose a medium-sized tile in a classic shape, like subway tile.
Think outside the kitchen when it comes to installing backsplashes. They look equally elegant in bathrooms, mudrooms and even as an accent on neutral furniture.
4. Create a Palette
Download it / Getty Images
Your home is a reflection of your personality, so it can be tempting to make your mark using different colors in each room. But while different bright colors and patterns in every room is a fun way to decorate, it doesn’t exactly scream luxury. Creating a consistent color palette throughout your entire home will sustain flow from room to room for a more expensive look. The bright side? You’ll save on buying paint in bulk!
5. Tone it Down
ismagilov / Getty Images
While deciding on a color palette for your entire home, consider going with a neutral theme. It might not be the most exciting choice, but neutrals always look classic and expensive in a home. Don’t worry, you can always add color with textiles and accessories. It’s impossible to get bored with neutrals when you have endless decor possibilities. Just think of your neutral walls and furniture as a backdrop and accessories as your splashes of color and personality.
6. Mix Metallics
You may have heard that matching metallics and finishes when decorating is practically the Golden Rule of design. But mixing up your finishes can give your home a custom, elegant look by directing focus. Give your most eye-catching fixtures more attention by choosing them in a different metallic than the other fixtures in your home. An elegant gold faucet will have more of a luxurious design impact if most of your other fixtures are silver.
7. Upgrade Lighting
sl-f / Getty Images
If you have a little room in your budget for upgrades and are wondering where to spend it, go for lighting. It’ll be one of the more inexpensive items on the upgrade list (especially when compared to things like cabinetry and flooring) and can make a huge visual impact. When your light fixtures are luxurious, chances are your guests will assume the rest of your home has high-end finishes, too.
8. Frame Your Mirrors
petekarici / Getty Images
Builder-grade mirrors are notoriously basic. That’s because buyers usually focus their upgrade dollars elsewhere, leaving inexpensive but boring plate mirrors that lack style and substance. Luckily, framing mirrors is an easy project that gives your home plenty of character. You can even have your hardware store cut lumber to size so all you need to do is stain and install.
9. Emphasize Texture
rilueda / Getty Images
Something you’ll notice in high-end houses is the emphasis on texture over pattern and color. That’s because luxury builders know that while trendy patterns come and go, high-end texture is always in style. If there’s anything that the chevron craze of 2013 taught us, it’s that what was popular one year can be mass-produced and common the next.
Opt for textured wallpaper instead of patterned or decorate with neutral, textured throw pillows to warm up a room. You’ll be co-opting a high-end look without spending more than necessary.
10. Rest Your Eyes
Artem Perevozchikov / Getty Images
One of the best-kept secrets in high-end homes is the principle of “resting the eye.” Designing every inch of your space so that it’s bursting with accessories, texture or intricate pattern can make even the most expensive home look cheap. Therefore, make sure your eyes have somewhere to rest. Whether it’s a warm, neutral wall, a simple piece of furniture or an uncluttered shelf, less-decorated spaces give the eye relief (and are inexpensive to create). Overdecorating is a rookie mistake, especially when you want an upscale look. Make sure you’re not adding too much of a good thing.
Choosing a few upgrades and adding in luxurious design elements might require a little more creativity, but it doesn’t have to break the bank, either. They say you can’t buy good taste, and that’s a good thing. It means any budget has room for style.
Compare internet speeds from top providers in your area.