Easy Home Updates That Only Look Expensive

Outdoor seating area with wooden furnishings and string lights. Photo courtesy of @undecorated_home on Instagram.

Check out these wallet-friendly ways to add some glamour to your home. Photo courtesy of @undecorated_home on Instagram.

You don’t have to be a millionaire to give your home a touch of luxury. There are plenty of easy home updates you can make without spending a fortune, and many can take your home from nice to niiiiice, if you know what we mean. Some updates can make a huge difference when it comes time to resell your home, too, attracting the attention of buyers looking for homes that offer tons of extras.

Here’s a peek at what some design pros consider the top home updates that can make your home look — and feel — more luxurious.

Add architectural details

Nothing distinguishes a room like beams along the ceiling, crown molding, a chair rail, or wainscoting. All of these can be implemented rather inexpensively, especially if you’re handy enough to do some of the labor yourself. Another simple idea: Pair a ceiling plate with a dramatic light fixture for a fancy mix of old and new.

 Wooden beams and copper pendant lights. Photo courtesy of Michael Browning, @michaelwb, on Unsplash.

 Photo courtesy of Michael Browning, @michaelwb, on Unsplash.

Replace your hardware & door knobs

Think of hardware like the accessories you pair with your best outfit — they can either make or break the vibe you’re going for. If you’re taking a second look at your kitchen and bath hardware, consider mixing metals, a top home design trend this year, which gives you free license to mix and match. Another option is to rethink your interior doorknobs, which are often overlooked but seen (and touched) daily. Changing those out can have a big impact in making your home look polished.

Refresh your outdoor furnishings

Perhaps no other pieces of furniture take a beating more than the outdoor variety. From wind and rain to extreme heat and cold, outdoor furniture can look weathered faster than a Northeaster can blow through. If you can’t afford to replace tired-looking al fresco furnishings, try replacing or even reupholstering the cushions. Look for durable fabrics in high-end styles (geometric if you’re a fan of modern or floral if you’re more traditional). An inexpensive storage bench made for the outdoors can serve as a safe spot to store these when the weather turns bad, extending the life of your new cushions and pillows.


A wooden storage bench with cushions and boots inside. Photo courtesy of Reelinki. 

Photo courtesy of Reelinki.

Consider switching to white cabinetry

Nothing is more luxurious and timeless than an all-white kitchen, and even if your cabinets are looking dated, a coat of crisp white paint can work wonders. The two most preferred by designers are Benjamin Moore White Dove and Sherwin Williams Alabaster, says designer Tessa McAullif of Bungalow 2 Designs in Winter Park, Florida. The trick to getting it to look sleek is to use a spray gun for a more even look. Go for high-gloss versions if your counters and backsplash are more on the dull side and they’ll look even more contemporary — and expensive.

Re-tile small spaces

While you’re not going to retile an entire floor or wall without spending quite a bit of money, you can re-tile a backsplash or foyer for a lot less. Like a canvas for your room, the right tile in the right pattern can pack an unbelievable punch. Glass tile looks expensive and is extremely popular right now making it easier than ever to find a color and pattern you love without spending a fortune. Consider tiling your space in a herringbone pattern, a favorite of top designers, for an even more polished look.

A butler's pantry with white cabinets, a quartzite countertop and a herringbone tile backsplash. Photo courtesy of @mytexashouse on Instagram. 

Photo courtesy of @mytexashouse on Instagram.

Add a wall mounted faucet or a range hood over your stovetop

For as low as a few hundred dollars, you can add either of these “extras” to your kitchen, though it’s best to do this if you’re also planning to redo your backsplash at the same time. The wall mounted faucet makes filling pots with water infinitely easier, so you no longer have to carry heavy pots from the sink to the stove. Whether you opt for slick steel or the charm of rustic wood, range hoods add a functional, architectural focal point that can be a real showstopper.

Organize your laundry room and pantry

It’s tough to keep these high-traffic spaces clutter-free, but doing so will make a huge difference in how they look and feel. Joanna Teplin and Clea Shearer, the founders of the Home Edit, a Nashville-based organization and design company, suggest removing as much packaging as possible for the products you store in these rooms, then grouping them according to function. Use clear storage bins for items you need to see, such as those in the pantry, and use an erasable marker to label the contents. Otherwise you’ll be pulling out tons of bins and boxes every time you need something. Finally, consider glass containers (with scoops!) for sugar and flour in the pantry and detergent in the laundry — they’re relatively inexpensive but make these items look a thousand times better.

Pantry full of snacks and drinks neatly organized with clear and woven containers. Photo courtesy of Neat Method. 

 Photo courtesy of Neat Method.

Follow the 10-20% decluttering rule

While it goes without saying that piles of papers and kids’ toys convey the opposite of luxury, those aren’t the only things standing in the way of a clutter-free home. Many designers adhere to the following rule: Walk into every room in the house and remove 10 to 20 percent of what’s there, even if that means storing away accent furniture and extra pillows, then rotating it out from time to time when you want to change up the look of each room.

Freshen up your linens

Who says those plush guest towels are only for guests? You can find luxurious looking towels and bed linens at discount home stores these days, making it easier than ever to turn a ho-hum bedroom and bath into a hotel-worthy look. “Consider monogramming them for an extra touch of pizzazz,” McAulliff says.

A bed made with white linens in a bright, cozy bedroom. Photo courtesy of Zevy Joy. 

Photo courtesy of Zevy Joy.

Raise your window treatments

This is a designer trick that provides the illusion of taller ceilings, making a room appear larger and more expansive. Keep treatments lightweight to ensure plenty of natural light washes into the room. The darker a room, the dingier and more drab it will look.

Spruce up your garden

It used to cost a fortune to light your garden, but thanks to newer, low-voltage, inexpensive systems, it’s easier than ever to get the look for less. You can also freshen up the landscaping with a small water feature or a garden path made of inexpensive gravel and pavers.

Outdoor seating area with wooden furnishings and string lights. Photo courtesy of @undecorated_home on Instagram. 

Photo courtesy of @undecorated_home on Instagram.

Ana Connery is the former content director for the Parenting Group and has edited several magazines, including Florida Travel & Life and Cooking Light, where she oversaw the construction of the FitHouse program. She lives and writes from her Florida bungalow.

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