10 Big Decor Changes (That Look Expensive!) on a Budget

colorful pillows

image: Getty

Creating the home of your dreams doesn’t have to be a bank-busting task. From designing your own furniture (easily) to refacing your fireplace to replacing flooring, here are 10 ways to make big changes on a budget.

  1. Make your own furniture. This sounds daunting, but even a novice can make magic with a little know-how. Unexpected items can be hidden treasures. For example, a stack of wooden crates (readily available at art supply and home improvement stores) can be varnished, connected and used as a shelving system. The varnish adds an elegant touch, while the unit brings rustic functionality to any room.
  2. Ever notice how much better you feel after you’ve tidied up a room? The same mood-lifting concept applies to light. Brighten up any space with lighting that reflects your favorite decor style. It’s easy to channel retro flair with a vintage-inspired lamp sourced from an antique store. Or go modern with something sleek and monochromatic. Even outdated lamp styles can turn into treasures if you’re willing to unleash your inner Van Gogh — spray paint and stencils make for a fun rainy day project.
  3. Mantles decorated with photographs may be homey and cozy, but can also appear a bit cluttered. A collage of photos hung on a wall in the family room offers a more streamlined way to show off your favorite memories. To achieve an understated, pulled-together look, place black and white photographs together in monochrome frames (a neutral shade looks chic and remains classic).
  4. The fireplace has the potential to be the warmest, coziest part of the house, but it won’t feel very inviting if you aren’t happy with its design. Refacing the fireplace is relatively simple, depending on the look you want. If you currently have a brick surrounding, you can cover the bricks with a scratch coat and follow with stucco in a smooth finish. Finish with a row or two of decorative accent tiles for a luxurious finishing touch.
  5. Sometimes a little makeup is all it takes. Revive an old desk with a coat of fresh paint and replace old fixtures with new, modern handles.
  6. Old fabric can really date a room. Add a quick update with upholstery, and don’t be afraid to branch out. A worn-out chair gets a new life when its wood is painted and its fabric is changed. The addition of nailhead trim can add quite a glamorous touch, too. A strong pattern accents an entire room and instantly changes the appearance of any space.
  7. Curb appeal is everything. Whether you’re creating a footpath, adding flowers or replacing the mailbox, little changes can really stand out. To improve the overall appearance of your home, refinish the front door. Even the grandest, most elegant wood will grow dull over time thanks to the elements, but a fresh stain will brighten the door and give your home an exterior facelift.
  8. Get creative with your hues. The living room can be completely transformed by changing the overall color scheme. Place new throw pillows on the couch and chairs — this is especially striking on neutral-toned seating. Repaint the walls in your shade of choice, and consider painting the ceiling white. It will open up the room, lending it a more airy appearance.
  9. The bathroom is one of the easiest spaces to upgrade. Replace a tattered vinyl curtain with a thick, sturdy fabric curtain, line the counter with candles and place small bundles of fresh flowers around the room. It’s the little things that make the biggest difference.
  10. Refresh the entry, bedroom or living room with a beautiful area rug that expresses your home’s personality. From vibrant patterns to strong colors, rugs dress up the room and offer a quick and affordable way to change the look of your floor with little effort.