55 Cheap, Easy Design Ideas to Instantly Update Your Home

updated Aug 1, 2023
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(Image credit: Emily Billings)

A good design trick can elevate your home in minutes, but an easy and inexpensive one could change the way you decorate. To prove our point, we rounded up 55 affordable and foolproof design ideas that will instantly update your place. From statement walls in the living room to color-blocked towels in the bathroom, here are 55 ways to transform every room of your home on the cheap. 

Explore ideas by room:

Living Room

Credit: Lauren Kolyn

1. Include some greenery.

Plants are one of the easiest and least expensive home decor ideas, simply because they have the ability to elevate just about any space. We love the touch of color these houseplants offer in this Toronto apartment.

(Image credit: Stephanie Strickland)

2. Art matters.

A large-scale print or painting, like the colorful abstract style we spotted in Rena Thiagarajan’s San Francisco apartment, transforms a living room wall into an artful display in seconds.

(Image credit: Jessica Isaac)

3. Make a statement [wall].

Turn an empty wall into the focal point of your living room by painting it in a bold hue or applying some patterned wallpaper similar to this mural we saw inside Mila Moraga-Holz’s colorful Los Angeles home.

(Image credit: Viv Yapp)

4. Mount some floating shelves.

Install a floating shelf (or three) on a sliver of your living room wall to score some vertical storage space, just like we saw in this stylish London flat.

(Image credit: Aimée Mazzenga)

5. Lean in.

A leaning ladder-style bookshelf, like the one from Wayfair we spotted in Josh Young and Ignacio Martinez’s Chicago living room, offers plenty of extra storage opportunity without taking up too much floor space.

(Image credit: Bethany Nauert)

6. Create a DIY-style display.

Hang up some of your favorite photos in clean, straight lines to turn a narrow wall into a custom art display, just like we saw in Jamie Lyn’s eclectic Los Angeles rental.

(Image credit: Lauren Kolyn)

7. Bring in a bar cart.

A well-placed bar cart, like the acrylic one we saw in Sarah Ashley Schiear’s Brooklyn apartment, turns a cramped living room corner into a surprisingly functional space.

(Image credit: Jessica Isaac)

8. Color-code your books.

Organize your book collection by color and let your bookcase double as the centerpiece of a subdued living room, just like we saw in Cupcakes and Cashmere founder Emily Schuman’s sunny Los Angeles home.

(Image credit: Emily Billings)

9. Make some magic with a mirror.

A statement mirror, like the oversized one we spotted in this gorgeous Boston carriage house, is a quick and easy way to bring some drama into your living room without overspending.

(Image credit: Elaine Musiwa)

10. Use your rug for color inspo.

Let a multicolored area rug serve as the starting point for your living room color palette, just like we saw in Ainsley Gardner and Brandon Stewart’s New York City apartment.

(Image credit: Kim Lucian)

11. Pile up.

No budget or room for a bulky bookcase? No problem. Take a cue from Anna Korkobcova’s San Francisco apartment and simply make piles of your books on the floor for an unexpectedly hip arrangement.


Credit: Lula Poggi

12. Add Cool Seating

A neat chair is a great way to add both visual interest and functionality to your bedroom space, and this cool armchair spotted in a Barcelona apartment is no exception. Toss a throw pillow in it for a splash of color – and comfort.

(Image credit: Rikki Synder)

13. Lose Your Headboard

An eye-catching work of art or wall hanging, like the geometric-style stunner we spotted in Megan Pflug’s woodsy Greenville, New York, home, is a clever way to create the illusion of a headboard (without actually having to buy one).

(Image credit: Marie-Lyne Quirion)

14. Float On

A strategically-placed floating shelf turns a slanted wall into a storage-savvy space, just like we saw in the attic bedroom of Justin and Meg’s Toronto rental.

(Image credit: Ellie Arciaga Lillstrom)

15. Darken up the Space

Consider painting your bedroom in a dark but sophisticated hue, like the shade of black Catherine Ashton used in her London, England, home, for a dramatic look that won’t overpower the rest of your decor.

(Image credit: Ashley Hosmer)

16. Play with Textiles

Mix and match an assortment of materials and textiles, such as the fringe wall hanging and woven bedding in Ashley Hosmer’s Los Angeles bedroom, to create a layered look in an earth-toned room.

(Image credit: Justice Darragh)

17. Lean a Mirror

Looking for a renter-friendly way to open up a small bedroom? Follow in Kate and Jennifer Hawkrigg’s footsteps and lean an oversized mirror against the wall to create the illusion of more space—no hammer or nails necessary!

(Image credit: Kristan Lieb)

18. Add Some Color

If you can’t actually paint your bedroom, incorporate some colorful decor items, such as the orange plant stand and bright blue media console we spotted in Anna Rafferty’s Chicago home, to jazz up the underwhelming walls.

(Image credit: Dawn Photo)

19. Get Graphic

Bold geometric shapes and lines, like the black-and-white rug and artwork inside Amanda J Franz’s bedroom in Portland, Oregon, can make a big impact in a neutral space.

(Image credit: Heather Keeling)

20. Put a Plant on it

A well-placed houseplant, like the one we spotted in Andy Barlow’s Portland, Oregon, home, brings a pop of color and personality to a nightstand, while purifying the air in your bedroom.

(Image credit: Jessica Isaac)

21. Style Your Nightstand

A thoughtfully arranged nightstand setup can make a stylish statement in a pared down space, just like we saw in this Los Angeles bedroom.

(Image credit: Emma Fiala)

22. Play up Imperfections

Embrace an awkwardly-shaped bedroom wall by covering it in some playfully patterned wallpaper or an eye-catching paint job, just like Alison and Jeff Allen did inside their Minneapolis, Minnesota, home.


23. Hang a Chalkboard

A chalkboard in the kitchen is one of our favorite home decor ideas on the cheap, since you can make it functional, funny, chic or well, anything, really. Keep your grocery lists, add some daily inspo that you’ll see while sipping your morning coffee, or write notes for loved ones for a simple way to connect on the fly. We love the one found in this kitchen.

(Image credit: Emily Billings)

24. Get Creative With Tea Towels

A distinctive tea towel, like the tie-dyed one hanging from Jessica Cook and Ryan Taylor’s Ipswich, Massachusetts, stove, brightens up an earth-toned kitchen (and is super inexpensive and easy to make on your own!)

(Image credit: Julia Steele)

25. Hang up Art

If you thought your kitchen wasn’t a good place to put art, think again. Hang an interesting print or painting up, like the colorful abstract artwork we spotted above the stove in Hannah and Marc’s Nashville home, to elevate your entire kitchen in minutes.

(Image credit: Liz Calka)

26. Paint Your Cabinets

Cover your ugly old kitchen cabinet fronts with a fresh coat of paint, like the rich green hue we spotted in Emily Yeskel Rubin’s Bethesda, Maryland, home, and it’ll look like you remodeled your whole kitchen (for just a fraction of the cost).

(Image credit: Sandra Rojo)

27. Plant Power

Who knew a couple of houseplants brighten up a dull kitchen corner? This set up pairs herbs with a snake plant to make quite the statement.

(Image credit: Celeste Noche)

28. Forge Some Vertical Storage

A tiny kitchen is no match for some well-placed wall storage. Score your own vertical storage scheme by mounting a few floating shelves around your stove, just like we saw in Elissa Hall’s Portland, Oregon, kitchen.

(Image credit: Bethany Nauert)

29. Paint the Ceiling

Also known as the “fifth wall,” your ceiling can transform into the focal point of your kitchen with one colorful coat of paint, just like the blue one we saw in Carrie Hayward’s Los Angeles abode.

(Image credit: Sarita Relis Photography)

30. Find a Flashy Rug

An eye-catching accent rug brings some much-needed color—and character—into a neutral kitchen, just like the Southwestern-inspired one we spotted in this Memphis kitchen

(Image credit: Nancy Mitchell)

31. Create Contrast

A dark-painted wall adds depth and dimension to an all-white kitchen, just like we saw in this dramatic Brooklyn townhouse.

(Image credit: Esteban Cortez)

32. Get a Storage Cart

An inexpensive storage cart, like the one we spotted in Cai Haun and Britt Maton’s San Francisco rental, turns a cramped kitchen corner into storage-savvy nook in seconds.

(Image credit: Evi Ritter)

33. Try a Hanging Rail

Searching for a cheap and easy way to carve out some more storage space in your kitchen? Hanging rail systems, like the IKEA FINTORP series, mount seamlessly to your wall to help free up countertop space—and organize all sorts of other spaces—just like we saw inside Evi Ritter’s Scandi-style house in Västervik, Sweden.

Dining Room

Credit: Janet Kwan

34. Create An Eclectic Gallery Wall

Your dining room doesn’t have to be boring just because you’re on a budget. For home decor ideas for a dining room on the cheap, simply grab some eclectic items and hang them on the wall gallery style. We love the wicker collection in this Toronto home, but you could use just about anything, from framed photos to mirrors or even postcards. 

(Image credit: Bethany Nauert)

35. Find Some Stools

A petite pair of stools turns a tea table into a dining nook in no time, just like we saw in Savannah Farris-Gilbert’s Los Angeles home.

(Image credit: Diana Paulson)

36. Add Some Color

Colorful dining chairs, like the pale blue ones we spotted in Diana Marsh’s Michigan abode, bring a pop of personality to an earth-toned dining table.

(Image credit: Ana Kamin)

37. Put a Throw on it

Take a cue from Ana and Patrick Kamin’s San Francisco home and throw a furry textile, like this $17 faux sheepskin rug from Amazon, on the back of a dining chair to instantly elevate your dining space on the cheap.

(Image credit: Magnolia Studios)

38. Mix and Match Materials

An eclectic mix of materials and furnishings, such as the rattan chair, glass-top table, and beaded light fixture in interior designer Tanya List’s Canadian home, creates a luxe, layered look for your dining room without breaking your bank account.

(Image credit: Emily Billings)

39. Make a Well-Lit Statement

A stunning light fixture, like the sputnik-style chandelier we spotted in Melissa Miranda and Ulises Serret’s home in Boston, adds a touch of drama and grandeur to a subdued dining space.

(Image credit: Marisa Vitale)

40. Add Artwork

Follow in Meghan and Jesse Arlen’s footsteps and hang up some eye-catching wall art to help define the dining zone inside an eat-in kitchen.

(Image credit: Lauren Kolyn)

41. Shape up

The clean lines of curvy furnishings do the talking in a monochromatic dining area, just like we saw in Signy Roland’s Toronto condo.

(Image credit: Lauren Kolyn)

42. Paint the Walls

Transform a cramped corner into a dramatic dining nook by painting the walls in a vibrant hue, just like Sydney Krause and Fabrice Bouty did inside their Montreal apartment.

(Image credit: Nancy Mitchell)

43. Go Green

An interesting plant display, like the hanging heartleaf plant and succulent setup we spotted in Summer Rayne Oakes’ Brooklyn apartment, livens up a neutral dining nook with all-natural elements.

(Image credit: Esteban Cortez)

44. Throw Down

A patterned area rug, like the rainbow-colored one inside Rachel Kaplan’s Oakland apartment, helps carve out a distinct dining area in an open layout space.


45. Add a Unique DIY Piece

If there’s room in your bathroom, it’s the perfect place for a small DIY cabinet. And what better way to hone your renovation skills than to display your piece and add a bit of functionality to your bathroom. For proof, check out this pretty pink piece

(Image credit: Melanie Rieders)

46. Upgrade Your Showerhead

Switch out your humdrum showerhead with a newer fixture, like the modern style we spotted in Sara Blake’s New York City apartment, to upgrade your entire bathroom in seconds.

(Image credit: Monica Wang)

47. Create a Functional Gallery Wall

Whoever said gallery walls couldn’t be functional has obviously never seen Sweatson Klank’s Hollywood, California home. Klank forged a salon-style display, complete with art and two tiers of wall-mounted shelving, on an empty bathroom wall for a stylish and storage-savvy display.

(Image credit: Carina Romano)

48. Apply Some Wallpaper

A little patterned wallpaper can go a long way in a tiny bathroom. Take a cue from Rachael and Rob Wetherington’s Philadelphia home and employ some printed wallpaper to make a big impact in a super small bathroom.

(Image credit: Brit Arnesen)

49. Go Deep

Dark painted walls, like the charcoal-colored ones we spotted in Brit Arnesen’s Kokomo, Indiana, house, are an easy way to bring some unexpected drama into a small bathroom.

(Image credit: Brooke Bennett)

50. Have a Seat

A dainty side chair doubles as a chic surface for storage when thoughtfully placed in a bathroom, just like we saw in Brittany Shields’ Atlanta, Georgia, home.

(Image credit: Bethany Nauert)

51. Color-Block

Who knew you could use your bath towels to create a colorful bathroom display? Clearly Joy Lofton, who used a couple of brightly hued towels to score a mod color-block-inspired scene in her Los Angeles bathroom.

(Image credit: Diana Paulson)

52. Switch Out Your Mirror

Searching for a quick and ultra sleek way to upgrade your bathroom on the fly? Switch out your sink mirror with one that better represents your own unique decor style to create a whole new vibe for your bathroom, just like we saw in Jesse David and Cali Green’s Traverse City, Michigan, abode.

(Image credit: Julia Steele)

53. Throw Down a Nice Rug

Why use a boring old bathmat when you can have a gorgeous rug in your bathroom instead? An eye-catching accent rug, like the vintage Persian-style one we saw in Jordan and Ryan’s bungalow in Nashville, Tennessee, will elevate your bathroom decor in no time.

(Image credit: Emily Billings)

54. Storage Baskets FTW

Never underestimate the storage potential of an attractive storage basket in your bathroom. Throw one on the floor next to the bathtub, or on top of the toilet like Kate Maclean and Nick Zigelbaum in their Chelsea, Vermont farmhouse, to store your towels, toilet paper, and other bathroom essentials in style.

(Image credit: Liz Calka)

55. Get Playful

Incorporate some fun (but storage-savvy) accessories, like the dinosaur toy-turned-toilet-paper holder we spotted in Grace’s Washington, D.C. studio, to bring some whimsy into your bathroom.