6 Game-Changing Upgrades Designers Make to Homes for $100 or Less

published Apr 10, 2021
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I don’t know who needs to hear this, but transforming your home doesn’t have to cost you a small fortune. It’s so easy to scroll through jaw-dropping renovations on Instagram, Pinterest, and even this site, assuming they must cost thousands of dollars, which probably makes your dream of a gorgeous space feel just out of reach.

In reality though, it’s possible to revamp your home on the cheap. According to some designers, all you need is creativity and a $100 bill! If you’re looking for some affordable ideas, you’ve come to the right place. Below a few design pros are sharing their favorite game-changing decorating upgrades that all come in under $100.

Update your accents.

As the saying goes, the devil lies in the details. Not only can small finishing touches change the look and feel of your space, but they can also be incredibly affordable. “There are truly endless ways to spruce up your home without spending a pretty penny,” says designer Bria Hammel. “Focus on accessories. Pick a specific area and some fresh new accessories like nightstands, a bathroom vanity, or a dining centerpiece.”

Just remember that each room has a different set of accessorizing opportunities. While a lush plant or an assortment of throw pillows can be a game-changer for a living room, the bathroom might call for a new shower curtain or bath mat. For designer Beth Diana Smith, her secret to a game-changing transformation is embracing natural elements.

“My recent obsession is using sculptural or carved wood end tables as a simple yet impactful upgrade,” she shares. “I literally just found three from HomeGoods — each under $100! — that are great quality materials like cypress root and solid carved wood. They can be used in foyers, living rooms, and any unexpected nooks or corners to create artistic, beautiful design moment.”

Pack on the paint.

ICYMI, a fresh coat of paint can go a long way. Instead of coloring all four walls though, consider a paint job that highlights an architectural feature in your space — or use paint to “fake” one. “When you want to upgrade your home on a budget, painting a room can go a long way,” shares Lauren Lerner of Living with Lolo. “You can either paint an accent wall in a bold color or use wood moulding to give the wall some interest before painting.”

For an even trendier take, get creative with a painted mural. There are plenty of ways to use paint creatively, even if you’re not a pro, from painting arches and shapes to focusing on just your ceiling or doorways. Fortunately, this is one trend that can be a lot easier than it looks.

Add a mirror.

Mirror, mirror on the wall: Who’s the fairest of them all? Well, your bathroom, if you want a game-changing upgrade on the cheap. “We’ve all experienced those bathrooms with an entire wall covered in one single expanse of mirror, ” explains Melissa Wagner, who works in creative and design at Havenly. “Let the wall breathe by swapping that out for an oval, rectangular, or round metal framed mirror instead.”

When you want to spruce up your vanity space or utilize an otherwise overlooked wall, a new mirror can bridge the gap between form and function. The million-dollar question: Which one should you buy? Check out these budget-friendly options, many of which are under $100.

Or if you want to utilize all your bare walls, EQ3’s Liana Thomson encourages you to think beyond the bathroom. “Shelves and ledges can hold books and art to add color to the room,” the accessories product developer explains.

Rethink your television.

If the past year has taught us anything, it’s that the television is a prized possession in most of our homes. Just because you love streaming doesn’t mean your screen needs to upstage the rest of your space.

“This may seem simple, but mount your flat screen on the wall and run the wires through the wall to the outlet,” says designer Kelly Martin. “It makes the wall go from ‘obvious rental’ to ‘I live here now.'” 

That said, if you live in a rental, you might not be able to run your wires through the wall. No worries, you can easily fake the look for free. Here’s how.

Credit: Sandy Saintilus

Beautify your bookshelf.

Want to spruce up your shelfie? According to designer Sandy Saintilus, it’s possible to give your storage an elegant edge for less.

“Everyone loves the look of designer books, but they’re as pretty as they are pricey,” she says. “Instead of spending hundreds of dollars on books you’re probably not going to read, pick up some books from Goodwill, take the sleeves off, and display them with the pages facing out.”

If this display method is too controversial for you — and you like to see those titles — all you have to do to spruce up your old titles is remove the jackets. Then you can colorize your books or arrange them by genre or size. Pick the method that works best for you.

Create a smart home.

Nowadays, almost everything possesses smart qualities, so why should your home be any different? If you want to get smart devices in a way that’ll actually be beneficial to your daily routine, rethink your lighting.

“With the ability to access everything on your phone and setting preferences, consumers are more likely to set automatic timing for their lighting systems, turning the lights off, or only having few lights on at a time,” says designer and HGTV star Chip Wade.”Swapping out the standard switches and outlets with high-quality smart options, like Legrand’s Smart Lighting collection, will most certainly catch your guests’ eye and have them delight in the improved user experience.”

Imagine: A space where you can dim the lights from the comfort of your couch? That’s a game changer!