Every once in a while, I get to visit a truly grand home in which every piece is obviously there on purpose, nothing is cobbled together, and there are no placeholders. I love these homes—especially because I love their residents—and have tried to find ways to incorporate what makes them work into my own decidedly more humble abodes. Here are five ways to fake fanciness, without looking cheap.
Buy frames in bulk.
Art makes a home feel more personal and intentional, and coordinating/matching frames can make museum postcards, children's art, menus saved from meaningful meals, and photo booth strips look gallery-worthy. If you find a cheap frame you love, buy as many as you can afford and add/switch out art whenever you're in the mood.
Pro Tip: IKEA makes stylish frames for super-cheap, like the Ribba, for example, or consider unifying dirt-cheap secondhand frames with the same paint color to fake the funk.
Pick a palette, and stick with it.
Kristen's living room features Target pillows, an IKEA sofa, a Target rug, and a Society6 art print, and the whole is much swankier than the sum of its affordable parts because it's cohesive. Commit to a unified palette, add affordable coordinating pieces whenever you come across them, and keep everything looking totally intentional and chic.
Pro Tip: H&M sells a ton of $5.99 pillows in a wide variety of colors, perfect for every palette.
Minimalism is your friend.
Buying fewer pieces is inherently cheaper than buying more pieces, and, fortunately for those of us on a tight budget, we live in a time when minimalism is coveted. While it's nice to have a dining table and chairs, bench, buffet table, bar cart, rug, art and a chandelier in a dining room, all you really need is a table and a place to sit (and maybe a place for cocktails). The resulting look will be dreamily spare—and much cheaper.
Pro Tip: If you're going for the minimal look, choose the simplest version of each piece that you can find/afford, such as IKEA's $199.99 BJURSTA expandable table.
Display beloved details.
If your home is full of fascinating pieces that mean something to you, there's a very good chance that your guests will be too busy asking you about the stories behind them to notice that your textiles are frayed or your furniture is banged up.
Pro Tip: Groupings are your friend. A matchbox might look like clutter on its own, but group it with a ceramic tile, a souvenir postcard, and a seashell, and you've got yourself a vignette.
Make your intentions clear.
You might have noticed that I keep using the word "intentional." That's because I consider it the most important element when it comes to making a home look attractive and expensive—and because decorating a home intentionally is a major luxury. In fact, when the title says, "Make Your Home Look Expensive," what I mean is "Make Your Home Look As Though You're Lucky Enough To Decorate It They Way You Want With Pieces That Actually Function." If you can't afford to choose and purchase pieces that you love or update pieces when they're worn out or broken, you're dependent upon hand-me-downs, curb finds, garage sale bargains, and whatever you can create and/or jury-rig. This means faking intentionality whenever possible. You can do that by carefully fluffing and placing your throw pillows rather than just leaving them scrunched down wherever, keeping all horizontal surfaces free of clutter, displaying your saved monthly bus passes as art, and using your clothes/accessories as decor .
Pro Tip: When you're struggling to be able to put your home together, it's so easy to get discouraged. Try to avoid being all, "Whatever, nothing will help" when it comes to the look of your home. Stacking clutter into neat piles is very effective, and cleanliness is next to fanciness.