12 Tips to Make Your Home Look Expensive From Actual Pros

Kristin Luna
Written by Kristin Luna
Updated May 25, 2022
Woman in her apartment hanging picture frame on the wall
Photo: AsiaVision / E+ / Getty Images

Nailing a magazine-worthy home doesn’t mean blowing your budget

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Real-life home remodeling looks nothing like TV shows will lead you to believe. The cold, hard truth is that the majority of homeowners don’t have bottomless production-level budgets. If you’re doing multiple projects at once, the toll of the cost of home reno will likely have you choosing where to splurge and where to skimp. Not sure where to start? We asked industry pros to share their favorite budget-friendly hacks to help stretch your remodel project even further.

1. Make a Big Impact With Small Changes

If budget is a concern, upholstery is one place you can quickly go overboard. Brittney Forrister, owner of mobile boutique textile firm the Lot Showroom, advises prioritizing smaller items that pack a big visual punch instead of redoing all your upholstery at once.

“If you're on a budget but want to make your home feel custom, recover items that don't require a lot of fabric yardage—like small footstools or dining or side chairs with only a seat that needs to be recovered,” Forrister recommends. “This allows you to use a beautiful fabric for a custom look, without having to spend a lot of money on fabric. And chances are, you can do the job yourself with a staple gun and some patience!”

2. Pick the Right Sheen for Your Walls 

Paint can go a long way in making your home look high-end on a budget. Equally as important as picking the right paint color—museums and art galleries usually opt for a super bright hue like Sherwin-Williams Pure White or Benjamin Moore Cloud White—is choosing the right paint sheen. In general, using a flat finish will make the space look super polished. Taking care to tighten the paint job by doing proper prep work and clean cut-ins is also an inexpensive method of ensuring that the final product is picture-perfect. 

Pro tip: Don’t skimp on the paint quality.

“When you are buying paint, the cost of the highest quality will actually pay for itself over the years (and give you a look that is amazing),” says Angi Expert Review Board Member and North Carolina-based home builder Bob Tschudi.

3. Invest in Original Art Over Time

Building up a collection of original art can be a lifetime of work, but just remember that a little art can go a long way in a home. Think quality over quantity and consider investing in those large, statement pieces that are going to stick with you over the years (or finding original works at thrift stores or antique markets). One rule of thumb to follow? If you find a piece you’re in love with, buy it now and figure out where to fit it in your home later instead of vice versa.

And even if your walls only feature a few bold pieces of art, be sure and spotlight them with proper lighting so that they truly are the star of your own home renovation show. “There are some great budget-friendly art sconces out there that really elevate the way your art looks in your home,” Forrister says. “This creates a museum-like atmosphere when you walk in a room.”

4. Splurge on New Cabinets

One purchase you’re never going to regret investing in is high-end cabinetry. When you skimp on cabinets, it shows very quickly in everyday wear and tear. Invest in a quality set of cabinet boxes and hinges, and you can always change out the faces or pull hardware or repaint them in the future when you want to alter your aesthetic.

“There’s nothing that says luxury like a slow-close cabinet door or drawer,” says Tschudi. “Since cabinets are relatively expensive to install, spend the extra money with the remodel now, or you will regret it later.”

5. Consider Repainting Hardware and Fixtures

Silver kitchen hardware on white cabinets
Photo: Bogdan Kurylo / iStock / Getty Images Plus

A new set of hardware, be it in your kitchen or bathroom, can do a lot to change the vibe of a room. Some appliances can look high-end but actually come with a reasonable price tag. One example is toilets. A stylish, elongated toilet with all the parts can cost less than $150 and will add a bit of sophistication to your bathroom.

But most appliances tend to be some of the pricier line items in a remodel budget for the surface area it covers—especially if you have many drawers and doors and choose a more high-end finish, like gold.  Our tip? Consider refinishing your appliances instead of replacing them. A coat of paint can go far toward modernizing a room. 

If you’re close to maxing out your budget, skip out on buying new fixtures and cabinet hardware and, instead, spruce them up with a coat of metallic paint. This is a job you could easily DIY or get help from a local painter if you’re pressed for time.

6. Add Trim or Molding

One easy way to elevate the look of a room without a lot of work on your part is by adding trim, crown molding, or other decorative elements. Chair rails, a holdover from days when servants tucked up the furniture between meals, are a nice way to add visual detail to a room without breaking your budget. In addition, nailing up framed pieces of molding in the French style is a secret method of elevating a space.

7. Refresh the Front of Your Home

First impressions are important, and the first impression most visitors get of your house is the entryway. Want to level up the gateway to your home? Refresh your front door with a new coat of paint each year and also consider changing out the lighting on your exterior so that it highlights aspects of your building that are more attractive at night. Large trees or other sections of your yard that seem drab during the day will likely shine when the sun goes down. 

“​​Upgrading the curb appeal is one of the most important investments you can make when it comes to ROI,” says Matt DiBara, Angi Expert Review Board member and owner of DiBara Masonry. “It’s also the first impression that visitors and family will get of your home. The amount you will spend on a fresh coat of paint or to hire a landscaper will instantly transform the entire look of your home which will create a more welcoming feel upon entering your space.”

8. Layer on the Texture

Even if your house is filled with simple furniture and finishes, you can add throw pillows, Turkish rugs, and other accents to make your home look high-end. The addition of luxurious textures and multiple layers in your rooms is an easy and affordable way of amping up the energy of the spaces. If you’re not too savvy with home decor, you can enlist the help of a local interior designer

9. Refresh Your Linens

One of the more budget-friendly ways to upgrade your primary suite and other bedrooms is by updating your linens. Sheets, duvet covers, and towels receive heavier use than most items in your home and, as a result, start to show their age very quickly. If you want a look that will last you multiple years, opt for white sheets and towels as the color won’t fade over time. 

10. Finesse Your Flooring

While most hardwood flooring can get pricey, you can get lower-or utility-grade flooring at a budget-friendly price. A few hacks help finesse this inexpensive flooring, which tends to have cracks and knotholes.

“Some high-end designers have installed these floors and filled the cracks or knotholes with black epoxy, and then stained and finished the floors,” says Tschudi. “The result is amazing, and the total cost is less than carpet or vinyl.” 

A professional floor refinisher near you can help you achieve this low-cost project that yields a high-priced look.

11. Save and Splurge on Bathroom Fixtures

You can stretch your dollar further on the bathroom of your dreams by combining higher-end and more standard elements together, says DiBara.

“Splurge on one or two statement pieces such as a unique light fixture or claw foot bathtub while saving money using less expensive materials throughout,” he suggests. “For instance, good tiles are so readily available that cheaper alternatives will not only get the job done, but they will look good and have lasting durability.”

12. Never Cut Corners on Home Safety

While you can certainly implement some budget-friendly tactics in many home projects, when it comes to the health and safety of your home and family, DiBara says you shouldn’t try and cut costs. 

“Invest in the best health and safety improvements like mold remediation, ventilation, security systems, and making sure all elements of the home are within code,” he says. “The home should be the place you feel the safest and most secure. Don’t cut corners on making sure thorough inspections and necessary improvements are performed.”

While these may seem costly now, they’re an investment in your home’s future and regular maintenance can often prevent big bills and headaches down the line.

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