How to make your home look expensive on a budget — try these 7 interior design hacks

Elegant living room with sofas placed either side of a roaring fire
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Who doesn’t want to live in a home looking elegant and luxurious? And while you may aspire to live in a house appearing more extravagant than your current space, you can still achieve the look without blowing your budget. 

With a few small tricks and clever interior design hacks, you can create an elegant home that looks like a million dollars. From decluttering hacks that don’t cost a dime to curating a few beautiful objects that add impact, you can achieve a luxurious home that looks impressive without breaking the bank.

Here, we share 7 interior ideas to upgrade your home on a budget that’s more about focusing on the details than being decadent with how much you spend.

1. Remove the clutter

Messy living room with clothes on sofa

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

You can clear out your space for free; all it will cost is your time. While it’s good to have personal items on display — it makes your house your home, after all — too many knick-knacks can make it look jumbled, leaving you with no clear focal point. 

Decluttering your home is a basic interior design hack, enabling you to create an elegant and expensive aesthetic without spending a dime. When it’s free, you’ve got nothing to lose, and you’ll end up with a calmer, tidier space. 

There are plenty of decluttering methods to help you get started.  Then, once you’ve achieved a clutter-free space, you can keep on top of it by following the one-in, one-out method

2. Open out the windows 

Full length brown curtains in a contemporary living room

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

A greater sense of space can be achieved by enlarging the windows. Without paying for extensive building work, the illusion of grandeur can be attained by raising the height of your curtain pole and extending its width. This will enlarge the window area and make it appear more luxurious. Your curtains can then be drawn back to show more glazing, while extra-long curtains will create a sophisticated drape effect on the floor.

3. Go rich with fabrics

Bed with grey bedding and luxury cushions

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Velvet, silks and faux fur are all highly tactile fabrics that add a rich and sumptuous aesthetic to an interior. And since they don’t come cheap, there are a few crafty hacks to get the look without paying big.

Fancy a pair of silk curtains? How about opting for a Roman blind instead? You’ll still get the look but won’t need nearly as much fabric for the curtain treatment. And even if you do decide to splash out on silk curtains, you can make them a focal point in the room and save elsewhere. I previously invested in a pair of chinoiserie silk curtains for my bedroom and got so much enjoyment from the design that I never regretted the price tag. 

However, with fabrics, it’s not a case of go big or go home. You can add small touches of velvet and faux fur within cushions and throws while resorting to a less elaborate textile choice for your sofas.
 

4. Light up and pair up 

Pendant lights

(Image credit: Shutterstock)
Hammel 1 - Pendant Light: was $96 now $66 at Wayfair

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This elegant pendant has a clear glass spherical shade with brass fittings. The shade measures 12 inches wide by 14 inches high and has a 60-inch adjustable suspension cord. It's perfect for positioning over a breakfast bar, dining room table of within a hallway.

Interior designers love to use lighting to add a sense of drama and glamor to a room. Think big, bold ambient lighting that sparkles and illuminates the whole room and carefully placed task lighting to provide more subtle light. 

For a ceiling shade, try this matt black cone light shade with a brushed brass interior ($50, Rejuvenation). I have something similar above my dining room table, and the metallic finish adds a touch of glamor without being overly showy.

Interior designers also like to work in pairs when lighting a home. Have you noticed how two identical table lamps are often placed on a table within a show home? Tall lamps with elegant, clean lines create a sophisticated aesthetic. This pair of gold lamps has elegant glass bases ($89, Amazon).

5. Revamp your furniture 

Close up of a pink painted dressing table in a small bedroom

(Image credit: Future)

There’s no need to spend fortunes on furniture to create an expensive aesthetic. Rather than spending much less on big store bargains with the reverse effect, upgrade what you already have, or seek out your local thrift stores for a solid piece of furniture.

Grabbing a tin of paint can also work wonders to revamp a table or chest of drawers that are past their best. I recently revamped my guest room and painted the top of an inexpensive console unit with a Farrow & Ball paint, adding a gold trim to the edge. The cost of the paint is minimal in comparison to buying a new piece of furniture. 

And if painting isn’t your thing, a simple swap of hardware can completely change the look. Again, for an elegant look, keep the design simple and choose a matt or brushed metallic finish. These satin brass cabinet knobs ($5, Home Depot) are elegant and understated. 

6. Think scale

Sofas facing each other in living room

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

The golden ratio in interior design is based on the theory of thirds and can be found throughout nature. It based on creating an aesthetic that is pleasing to the eye and is often referred to as the 60-30-10 rule and it's a must if you want to create a show home aesthetic in your own house.

The golden ratio helps balance the proportions in a room, from achieving the right equilibrium of furniture to hanging artwork correctly and balancing the dominant and accent colours. When the proportions are spot on, you’ll gain a perfectly balanced room pleasing to the eye. 

Take the living room as an example; the furniture should cover at least 60% of the floor space. If it’s lower than 60%, the room will likely feel too bare; if it’s above 60%, it will feel cluttered.

Start by focusing on proportion rather than size and how well the elements in your home fit together. A sofa won’t look nearly as good if it’s too small or too large for the space or if a beautiful rug takes up a fraction of the floor space. 

7. Go fresh with flowers 

Small ceramic vase of flowers on a side table

(Image credit: Shutterstock)
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A decorative, textured ceramic vase with a floral pattern, measuring 10 inches high. In soft beige, it will suit any room scheme and is ideal as a decorative feature with or without flowers.

Fresh flowers are an inexpensive way of turning up the style in your home. Creating a boutique hotel look, they add a touch of class to any room, and leave behind a beautiful trial of scent.

Whether you opt for glass or ceramic vases, keep the look expensive and choose styles that have clean lines and minimal pattern. 

Ikea’s Konstfull range of vases are designed by Ilse Crawford and start from as little as $7, the version in green-brown looks particularly elegant ($19, Ikea). 

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Camilla Sharman
Staff Writer, Homes

Camilla Sharman has worked in publishing and marketing for over 30 years and has covered a wide range of sectors within the business and consumer industries both as a feature, content, and freelance writer.  


As a business journalist, Camilla has researched articles for many different sectors from the jewellery industry to finance and tech, charities, and the arts. Whatever she’s covered, she enjoys delving deep and learning the ins and out of different topics, then conveying her research within engaging content that informs the reader. In her spare time, when she’s not in her kitchen experimenting with a new recipe, you’ll find her keeping fit at the gym. In the pool, stretching at a yoga class, or on a spin bike, exercise is her escape time. She also loves the great outdoors and if she’s not pottering about in her garden, she’ll be jumping on her bike for a gentle cycle ride.