38 Cheap Tricks Designers Use To Make Homes Look Way Better

We only recommend products we love and that we think you will, too. We may receive a portion of sales from products purchased from this article, which was written by our Commerce team.

Originally Published: 

When it comes to creating the home of your dreams, you may be buying into a major myth that is keeping you from making changes: that you have to spend a lot of money to score pieces that look elegant and give rooms an instant upgrade. But here’s the thing: Even interior designers rely on affordable pieces to bridge the gap between a bare bones home and one that is spectacular and customized to suit your style. But you don’t have to take my word for it — I reached out to several interior designers who weighed in to give you these 38 cheap tricks designers use to make homes look way better.

You may be surprised to learn that the most relied-upon tricks don’t always involve major pieces like plush sofas and ornate dining room tables. A crisp set of towels, a trio of brass candlestick holders, or a Greek-inspired bust that you can mount to your wall and fill with greenery are not going to hurt your wallet but will add a stately aesthetic to different rooms in your home. Something as simple as swapping your salad bowl for an acacia wood bowl with straight sides — or incorporating a mid-century Sputnik chandelier into your kitchen or living room — will make an enormous difference.

All of the picks on this list are cheap or relatively affordable — most cost less than $50 — and you can shop with the confidence of knowing professional interior designers give these a big thumb’s up.


The Decorative Vase That’s A Work Of Art

Don’t just think of a vase as a vessel for flowers — some, like this white infinity vase, are conversation pieces all on their own. "A fluted infinity vase has a trendy composition and shows you have style,” Erin R Hackett, owner and principal designer at Hackett House Studio, tells Bustle. “And this one is only $20!" In addition to being affordable, the pretty ceramic vase is designed to mimic the fluidity of water and has two compartments for arranging flowers and greenery.


These Glam Ceramic Vases In A Money-Saving Two-Pack

Another pick that comes highly recommended by Hackett, this ceramic vase duo adds instant glamor to any room. The handcrafted pair has a cylindrical shape and features a unique compressed detail at the top that makes them stand out. The set comes with one white and one bronze vase.


A Greek And Roman-Inspired Statue Planter

Give your garden or living room a museum-inspired dash of elegance while also providing the perfect space for your favorite plant. This statue head planter is made from cement and can be mounted to a wall to save space. Keep in mind this planter doesn’t feature a drainage hole, but is well worth it, according to Hackett. “"This would look so cute with some philodendron spilling out,” Hackett says.


These Natural Seagrass Woven Baskets

"Baskets from high-end retailers can be pricey, but there's tons of lower cost items on Amazon, like this seagrass set with handles,” Hackett says. This handwoven basket duo have handles and can multitask as planters or storage for any item. They add a beautiful natural element to any room and cost less than $30.


An On-Trend Planter With A Weave Design

Following home decor trends can often come at a cost: but that isn’t the case when it comes to this ceramic weave pattern planter, which brings a modern element to your home but costs less than $35. The indoor/outdoor planter has a drain hole and measures in 7 inches in diameter. "Cane decor is very much in style, but can be incredibly expensive,” Hackett says. “An item like this planter is a great way to incorporate the look without breaking the bank (and it's definitely in my shopping cart as we speak!).”


These Brass Candlestick Holders For Dinner Parties

According to Mary Patton, owner of Mary Patton Design, an elegant set of candlestick holders add intrigue to your living room or dining room space and don’t have to cost a fortune. "I love a mix of cream and white tapered candlesticks,” Patton tells Bustle. “They look great on dining and coffee tables. These candlestick holders are also super cute." The vintage-inspired candlestick trio comes in different heights with gold brass single heads and a sturdy base and can accommodate single long, tapered candles.


A 6-Pack Of Soft White Towels You Can Monogram

At first glance these towels may seem quite plain. But the white cotton towels, which are soft, highly absorbent, and come in a pack of six, can instantly brighten your bathroom. Plus: they give you the option of personalizing them for an elegant touch, which is a trick designers rely on to make homes look more stately. "Amazon has great inexpensive white towels,” Patton says. “You can take them to a local monogram shop to customize.”


A Practical Pillow Insert For Gorgeous Living Rooms

Patton says this synthetic down pillow insert is another great go-to for a better-looking home. “They are better than down, hold shape beautifully, and are very budget friendly,” Patton says. The 24-by-24 inch insert is hypoallergenic, with a polyester and cotton blend shell that makes it machine washable. This one accessory gives you the freedom to play around with beautiful shams in different colors and textures to immediately change the look of your room.


The Rattan Sleeve Pitcher For Water, Flower, Or Utensils

Interior Designer Kate Lester at Kate Lester Interiors lists this woven rattan sleeve pitcher as one of her favorite cheap picks that elevate any home. Whether you use it as a water pitcher, a decorative vase, or even as a creative vessel to hold utensils, the metal pitcher is durable enough to last, but is also an eye-catching accessory, thanks to its earthy woven sleeve.


A Rustic-Looking Natural Jute Table Runner

Instead of focusing on an intricate print or pattern or relying on bright colors to make an impact, this natural jute table runner puts the emphasis on quality and texture. Another recommendation by Lester, this affordable runner measures 16 by 72 inches (and comes in two other sizes) and is made from 100% jute with tasseled edges. Use it to add rustic charm to dining room and kitchen tables.


These Dishwasher-Safe Glasses That Won’t Break

Store your stemmed wine glasses away for the moment and give your home a modern upgrade with these low-maintenance and affordable unbreakable wine glasses, which lack a stem and are made from strong, BPA-free tritan. Each glass in this set of four holds 12 ounces, can be used for other beverages, and are perfect for your patio parties. This highly rated pick is recommended by Lester and it even comes in seven colors.


An Acacia Salad Bowl That Looks Beautiful On Tables

One of the easiest and cheapest ways to make your home look and feel better, especially when you are entertaining guests, is to jazz up your dining room or kitchen table. This acacia wood serving bowl is an elegant piece to add to your party, one that measures 10 inches in diameter and can hold a substantial amount of salad or fruit, but is also beautiful, from a design perspective. Lester recommends adding this affordable pick to your home for a simple and effective upgrade.


These Classic Throw Pillows For A Pop Of Color

Adding a jolt of color to a neutral room draws your eye to the space. Lester recommends these pillow covers, which blend a classic striped aesthetic with bold colors like navy, green, and red. This pack of two covers is designed from a cotton and polyester blend and is machine washable. The pillows are not included with these covers, but can be found here and on this list.


A Statue Of David Bust For Old-World Charm

Interior Designer Maureen Stevens at Maureen Stevens tells Bustle that busts can be effortlessly added to your current home decor to incorporate an old world classic feel to a space and style it to look contemporary and expensive. “Busts are timeless, but also reference history and culture,” Stevens says. “They can be quite quirky, too!" This Statue of David bust is made from durable resin and measures 6 inches tall, making it the perfect bookshelf divider or coffee table talking piece.


This Cozy Lux Fur Throw Blanket

Another luxurious pick by Stevens, this faux fur throw blanket adds texture and color to a sofa or chair and warmth to your everyday living. It measures 50-by-60 inches and comes in 10 colors like gray, golden yellow, and white. “Add sophistication, texture, and warmth to a space,” Stevens says. “They look luxurious (and quite real!) and can be used with any design aesthetic. And let’s not forget the best part…they are super soft and cozy!"


These Sumptuously Soft Velvet Throw Pillows

"When I think of velvet decor, I think of sophistication and class,” Stevens says when recommending this velvet throw pillow cover duo, which costs just $12. “If you want to go one step further, combine velvet with a hue that looks high end too. I’d suggest a deep indigo (or navy) color. Deep indigo (or navy) plus velvet is the perfect combination for a luxury throw pillow...but at an affordable price!” These pillow covers have a hidden zipper, come in nine colors, and you can score them in 33 colors.


A Coffee Table Book About Beautiful Living

Not only are splashy hardcover books perfect for adding visual appeal to a coffee table, but some — like Live Beautiful by Athena Calderone — are art imitating life, considering they improve your room and provide inspiration for future design projects. "Styling with coffee table books is one of my favorite ways to elevate a vignette in the home,” Interior Designer Tiffany Leigh Piotrowski of Tiffany Leigh Design tells Bustle. “We love the neutral tones and simple font on the spine of Athena Calderone's eye swoon, plus, the content inside the book may give you some more ideas for creating a beautiful home!"


The Distinctive Brass Grinders For Coffee

Your life will be infinitely improved by the addition of pepper and coffee grinders in your kitchen, right? So why not make them show-stopping accessories that are functional and fun? This duo is designed from hand-made brass and includes a 9-inch flat and 7.4-inch bowl grinder, both with cool, old-timey handles that grind pepper and extra-fine coffee. “When it comes to your kitchen countertops — the details matter,” Piotrowski says. “We love this brass salt and pepper mill set to for a special touch to the items left on your counter.”


A Lightweight Muslin Cotton Throw Blanket

Throw blankets for living rooms and bedrooms are usually made from luxurious materials like faux fur and incredibly warm fleece. But if you’re looking for something that’s lightweight and feels like a dream to snuggle in, Piotrowski recommends this soft muslin cotton throw blanket. Designed with four layers, the quality blanket is breathable, soft, and hypoallergenic, with a 4.6-star rating and more than 2,000 reviews. It comes in white, gray, or light tan.


These Shutters That Make Exteriors Look Polished

Laura Landegent, NCIDQ, ASID, Realtor at Hom Yours tells Bustle she has seen her share of home improvements that are affordable and can make a huge difference in the look of your home. These vinyl window shutters frame your windows, adding a sweet and polished look to the exterior of your home without breaking the bank. Each set comes with two shutters and screws you’ll need to install them. They come in more than 25 sizes and three color options: black, white, or one that you can paint whatever shade you love most.


An Elegant Way Of Displaying Your Address

The address numbers on your home are one of the first things people see when they drive past your house. Why not wow them with a more elegant solution — Landegent recommends these floating house numbers that are made from sturdy zinc die-cast, are resistant to rust, and can withstand environmental factors like rain, snow, and UV light. To install them, create a pilot hole in wood, concrete, block, or bricks and screw them on. They come in numbers 0 through 9 and have a nearly perfect 4.8-star rating.


This Stainless Steel Mailbox With A Key

If you’ve always felt like it was strange that your mailbox could be opened by anyone, here’s the attractive solution. Another pick from Landegent, this stainless steel mailbox isn’t just as sturdy and rust-resistant as one gets, but it’s also super secure, thanks to a lock that comes with two keys. The top cover is water-resistant and transparent, so you can view whether you have mail before unlocking it. It comes in silver or black.


These Door Stickers That Look Like Stained Glass

Is there anything more majestic than stained glass? Installing the real thing costs a fortune, but you can get the look from these super cheap 3D door stickers, which provide a 3D visual effect that resembles stained glass. The adhesives, recommended by Landegent, could not be easier to use: remove them, stick them on glass windows and doors, and remove them whenever you want without ruining surfaces. They come in 22 designs, including designs like florals.


A Peel-And-Stick Wall Tile For Modern Backsplashes

Another non-committal decor option that won’t break the bank, Landegent credits these peel-and-stick wall tiles for giving kitchens and bathroom an upgrade without requiring professional help. The set of 10 vinyl tiles are resistant to moisture and heat (making them perfect as a backsplash behind sinks and stoves or even to spruce up laundry rooms). The gray, white, and black tiles look modern and fresh and can be effortlessly removed if you want to change up your space.


An Ornate Vent Cover For Ugly Air Vents And Ducts

Landegent recommends these ornate vent covers to conceal things like air vents and ducts in your home. Using nothing more than adhesive silicone (no screws necessary), these covers stay in place and add to your home decor. The grill is available in nine sizes.


The Indoor/Outdoor Planter That Comes In 35 Hues

You can never have enough beautiful planters to both display your flowers and provide color in your front or backyard. This 15-inch planter is a favorite of Landegent’s, who recommends snagging one (or a few) to jazz up outdoor and indoor spaces. It’s made of resin and is UV-coated to resist fading. It doesn’t have drainage holes at the bottom, but you can drill them in if you’d like. And it comes in 35 beautiful and unique color, including indigo speckle (shown here).


This Faux Fur Area Rug That Looks And Feels Dreamy

A soft sheepskin area rug can add so much elegance and opulence to your space. And this one is hypoallergenic, won’t shed, comes in five sizes and eight colors, and is highly recommended by Andra DelMonico, the Lead Interior Designer for Trendey. "Add a touch of luxury with a fluffy sheepskin,” DelMonico tells Bustle. “It could be used next to a bed as a rug, draped over a sofa or accent chair, placed in front of a fireplace, or layered on top of an area rug with a coffee table over it. For a sophisticated look, stick with natural colors, such as white, cream, champagne, tan, brown, or black."


These Sleek Pillow Covers With A Touch Of Leather

Designers rely on unique fabrics and textures to enhance areas of a home, and these pillow covers are one of DelMonico’s top choices because they incorporate just a sliver of leather (along with great colors) to make sofas and chairs stand out. "Instead of buying all new expensive pillows, you can cover your existing pillow with covers made from luxurious materials,” DelMonico says. “Try to mix your textiles for an elevated look. The changing textures add depth and a custom-designed feel to the room. Consider looking for covers that are leather, silk, velvet, or embroidered." These affordable covers come in a pack of two and have hidden zippers. They come in two sizes and four colors.


A Money-Saving Packing Of Four Pillowcases

The great pillow extravaganza continues with another pick from DelMonico: these canvas and leather pillow covers that come in a money-saving pack of four (that’s less than $7 per cover). The 18-by-18 inch covers include a brown faux leather case, a fun case with black tassels, one Farmhouse-style inspired pillow case, and a fourth one with a black-and-white pattern. These pillowcases have invisible zippers and add playful fun and texture to your home.


The Stunning Sputnik Chandelier For Less Than $50

Good lighting make really make your home come alive. This mid-century sputnik chandelier is the height of chic, but costs less than $50. It features four multi-directional light bulbs (you can also purchase versions with six or eight bulbs for more light) and it looks unique in any room, from kitchens to bedrooms. “Ditch the builder-grade light fixtures and replace them with a fixture of your choice,” DelMonico says. “This immediately gives your home a custom feel. You don’t have to choose an ornate chandelier that’s full of crystals for it to look expensive. Modern trends embrace high-quality materials and clean design."


A Dimmable Wall Sconce For Mood Lighting

Subtle lighting also makes a big statement in your home. DelMonico is a fan of this wall sconce, which can be dimmed to create the mood you’re going for in any room. Safe to install in damp spaces like bathrooms, the versatile sconce comes in four color options: satin brass, chrome, brushed nickel, or black. This pick also has a high 4.8-star rating and more than 1,4000 reviews.


This Simple, Statement-Making Drop Chandelier

Sometimes the simplest home accessories look the most elegant. There’s nothing too dramatic about this drop chandelier, yet that’s the beauty of it (along with its stellar under-$50 price tag). DelMonico recommends this highly rated lighting feature because it can be adjusted to different heights, features a long-lasting LED light pendant, and adds a modern, sleek touch above tables and islands in kitchens and dining rooms. Stock up on three or four of these lights to create a major look.


A Hydrangea Wreath For Mirrors And Doors

A hydrangea wreath is pretty, festive, and so easy to add to a number of areas in your home, from dining room mirrors to front doors. The 24-inch wreath is one loved by interior designers like Rebecca Langman, owner of Revision Custom Home Design, who tells Bustle this is one of her top affordable picks for making a big impact on homes. This one consists of green and white fake hydrangea with white berry details and a twig base.


The Indoor Snake Floor Plant In A Decorative Pot

A little green immediately injects natural beauty into your living room, den, dining room, or bedroom. Langman recommends this indoor snake Sansevieria floor plant, which measures two feet tall and arrives cradled in a decorative planter made from recyclable materials. This plant thrives in low light, so it’s best to place it by a window, and it comes in a number of other heights, as well.


This Pretty Storage Basket Handmade in Africa

You can support a fair trade company while also adding an accessory to your home that will increase storage opportunities and look beautiful while doing it. Langman suggests adding this basket to your cart — it’s handmade in Ghana, West Africa, and measures 14 to 16 inches across, with a handle adorned with a pretty orange stripe. Keep in mind that no two baskets are exactly alike, which means you’re getting a truly original piece, one that’s ideal for storing anything from remotes to magazine.


These Bright Blue Succulent Planters

If you love adorable succulents, give them a bright, beautiful home with this set of two blue and white ceramic planters, another affordable recommendation by Langman. The planters are painted with Japanese-style wave and floral patterns and each features a drainage hole at the bottom. Each planter includes two removable bamboo wood trays, though keep in mind that succulents do not come with the set.


A Soothing Set Of Himalayan Salt Night Lights

Langman recommends this set of two Himalayan salt night lights, which provide the benefit of a soothing amber glow and the ability to emit negative ions that may even fight fatigue, according to the manufacturer. But unlike similar lights, these won’t take up floor or shelf space and can be plugged right into outlets. The lights come with color-changing bulbs and feature a plug that can be adjusted 360 degrees.


This Practical Unfinished Sofa Table You Can Paint

This sofa table is more costly than the other pieces on this list, but Langman recommends it because it’s made of solid parawood, has a rustic unfinished look that you can personalize and paint the color of your choice, and is both practical and elegant. Place it behind your sofa and add candles, a bouquet of flowers or a plant, and eye-catching tabletop books to it. You can choose to have it delivered unassembled or assembled (which costs more money).

This article was originally published on