10 Ways To Make Your Home Look Expensive

Making your home look expensive and stylish is actually cheaper and easier than you may think.

By Paula Gallagher4 min read

My husband and I recently signed a contract on our very first house. It’s a new build that offered us some customization, like a soaking tub and a fireplace. It also offered us many interior design choices, which sounded amazing…until I learned we would have to make all of those decisions in one three-hour appointment – and all decisions would be final. Now, I am not an interior design person. I can’t plan out colors and textures and spaces in abstract in my head. I need to see it, touch it, be able to move it around with my hands, and even then, the results are just okay. So, the thought of having to design our entire house in three hours was completely overwhelming. 

After a mini stress attack, a pep talk from my husband on having a growth mindset, and over an hour on Pinterest, I felt a little bit more prepared to at least make choices based on what I liked. The big day came, and it was not nearly as bad as I had feared. The design center had samples of everything so we could put our cabinet color next to the countertop next to the flooring next to the hardware. By the end of three very busy hours, I felt pretty confident that my husband and I had made some great style choices for the bones of our house.

But then came the next hurdle: making all our furniture look good in our new home. So I turned to YouTube for information and discovered interior designer Kristen McGowan and her many instructional videos on what to do and what not to do if you want your home to look classy and intentional. 

Here are 10 tips from a professional on how to make your home look expensive (without spending big bucks):

Stick to One Design Style

Do you know your design style? It might be the most important thing to know when designing your house because it applies to every major room. Some design styles are rustic farmhouse, bohemian, traditional, mid-century modern, minimalist, modern, and maximalist. If you don’t know what your style is, check out this article on 13 popular design styles. Each design style has its own guiding elements. Once you know those, you can apply them to every room in your house.

Pick a design style, not a theme. Kristen says, “Themes should really stick to kids’ bedrooms.” For example, you can create a coastal, beachy home without using bowls of shells and paintings of ships. Choose colors, textures, and decor pieces that evoke coastal living without making the vibe kitschy. 

Be Cohesive

Similar to using the same design style throughout your house, finding ways to be cohesive will make your home feel expensive and intentional. Use the same color palette in all the main living spaces, especially when you can see from one room into the next room. Also, use the same hardware finish and style throughout the whole house, and that includes your light fixtures too!

Take Up the Right Amount of Space

One thing that makes your house instantly look cheap? When your furniture doesn’t fit the space it’s in – either too big or too small. To look really good, furniture needs to be proportional and the proper size for the space. It shouldn’t take up the whole room, but neither should a big room only be occupied by small furniture. “Emptiness tends to make your home look cheap and unfinished,” Kristen says. She recommends the three foot rule: Between each furniture piece and between furniture and the walls, there should be three feet or more of space. 

Hang Curtains

Say bye-bye to blinds and hello to curtains! To get maximum effect from your curtains, hang them as close to the ceiling as possible and as wide on the wall as possible. You want your curtains to almost touch the floor. This will create a “wide, expansive look.” Also, buy lined curtains – that will make the curtain have more weight and structure and prevent it from looking limp. Kristen recommends pinch pleat curtains, as well as using curtain rings for hanging. Lastly, make sure all the curtains throughout the house are the same, especially those you can see from the outside looking in. 

Buy Solid Wood Furniture

Cheap furniture will make your home look cheap, there’s no way around it. But quality furniture costs money. What’s a girl to do? Buy secondhand! Search for solid wood pieces at thrift stores, Facebook Marketplace, estate sales, and Habitat for Humanity resale stores. Get quality for less money, and if you’re a DIY kind of girl, keep an open mind for pieces you can refurbish.

Shiny Doesn’t Mean Expensive

Yes, diamonds are a girl’s best friend, but not rhinestones. Avoid glitzy, glam, sparkly decor and furniture. It might give off fancy in the marketing photos, but it doesn’t actually come across as fancy and expensive in real life. Truly high class homes say “money” through textures, organic materials, high quality, and craftsmanship.

Create Styled Moments

Styling your spaces makes them look intentional, crafted, and artistic. You could style a small space, like your entryway table, or a whole room, like your bedroom. For example, don’t put your bed in the corner against the wall. Center it on the wall and put a nightstand on either end. This anchors the space and creates symmetry. Another space you could style is your entertainment console. Make sure your entertainment console is at least a foot wider than your TV and use the space on the ends to create a little vignette with a vase, books, and decor. Remember the rule of three when creating these little vignettes.  

Add Visual Interest

There are two simple ways to add visual interest to a room: mixing textures and adding patterns. You can incorporate various textures or patterns with rugs, throw pillows, throw blankets, woven baskets, or smooth wood decor. When you’re mixing patterns, use one large scale pattern and one small scale pattern. 

Coordinate Your Plants with Your Design Style

Have you ever thought about which plants match your interior design? I certainly never had! Kristen recommends choosing indoor plants based on the colors and style of your home. Potted palms wouldn’t jive well in a rustic farmhouse, for example! Fiddle leaf figs have more vibrant green leaves and would pair better with more vibrant colors. Olive branches and eucalyptus are softer, more muted, and bluer and would pair better with more neutral home colors.

Clean and Organize

It doesn’t matter how much money you spend on interior design – if your house is messy and cluttered, it’s not going to look expensive. Here are some of Kristen’s tips for cleaning and organizing:

  • Take all pictures, notes, photos, calendar, etc. off your fridge. Since your fridge is the largest item in your kitchen, it draws the eye too it. This means if your fridge is messy, it can make the whole kitchen look messy and distracting. If you really need to use the fridge, use the side of it as it’s less noticeable. Or, buy a magnetic, clear plastic calendar with dry erase markers for the fridge. It’s more streamlined and less visually distracting. 

  • Invest in matching clothes hangers across your entire home. It will make closets look more organized. You can also organize your clothes by color to enhance the organized effect. 

  • Clean your mirrors and your windows, especially if you have large windows or sliding glass doors.

  • Use decorative boxes and baskets for storage.

Closing Thoughts

Many of these tips and tricks can be easily accomplished on a budget or by working with what you already have. Have fun revamping your home!

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