Projects & Improvements

8 Designer-Approved Tricks That Never Fail To Look Amazing

updated May 3, 2019
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(Image credit: Cathy Pyle)

Of course it’s easy to get a home that looks like a million bucks if you spend a million bucks. A high-end look on a real-person budget—that’s a little bit more of a challenge. That’s where these time-tested tricks come in. Here are nine designer-approved ways to get a home that only looks expensive.

1. Use color to your advantage.

One of my favorite tricks for getting a high-end look is to paint features, like fireplaces, and built-ins, and even furniture, the same color as the wall. The monochrome look draws the eye and feels very cohesive and intentional. In his small London flat, Andrew used this look to great effect.

(Image credit: Mikael Lundblad)

Bonus: This can work in the kitchen, too. Don’t have the money for a fancy tile backsplash? Paint your backsplash in a scrubbable paint the same color as the cabinets, as seen in this Stockholm home.

(Image credit: The Makerista)

2. Make standard bookcases look built in.

This row of bookcases from The Makerista may look like an expensive custom build, but it’s actually a row of humble IKEA BILLY boockases, dressed up with trim to give them a built-in look. The library ladder is an especially nice touch.

(Image credit: Love Grows Wild)

3. Dress up plain windows.

Love Grows Wild has a relatively simple DIY for adding trim to plain old windows. This is a small detail that can really elevate the look of a room.

(Image credit: Studio DB)

4. Use expensive tile in small, high-impact applications.

I’m a huge, huge fan of colorful, bold tile, but I also know that that stuff can be pretty pricey. One budget-friendly solution is to use just a little bit of tile in a place where you know it’ll get a lot of attention, like in this unusual backsplash designed by Studio DB.

(Image credit: Pablo Enriquez)

5. Step up your hardware game.

Details can really make the room, and one detail that’s particularly important in a kitchen or bathroom (or anywhere you have cabinetry) is hardware. In Jessica and Scott’s New Jersey home, brass pulls are the perfect finishing touch for the kitchen. If you’re searching for budget-friendly hardware, check out our list of sources here.

(Image credit: Nancy Mitchell)

6. Add some architecture.

Adding a ceiling medallion is the perfect weekend project: It’s quick, inexpensive, and instantly elevates the look of a room. I love the contrast between the traditionally styled ceiling medallion and the modern light fixture in Allison and Matt’s East Village apartment. If you’d like to get the look yourself, check out our list of the best ceiling medallions.

(Image credit: Lana Kenney)

7. Give your doors a little love.

Painting a door in a bold color costs only as much as a can of paint, and, as you can see in this South African home, it’s a little change that can have a huge impact. Bonus points if you paint the trim, too.

(Image credit: Hayley Kessner)

8. Lay inexpensive tile in an unexpected pattern.

Subway tile is one of the most inexpensive tile options out there, and there are so many different and unexpected patterns you can create with it. In the bathroom of Sophie’s Australian home, just turning the traditional tile pattern by 90 degrees is enough to create a unique design that looks high-end but is actually quite budget friendly.