Designers Totally Swear By These Cheap, Clever Things They Do To Upgrade Their Own Homes

Give your home a glow-up with these affordable products.

Written by Veronika Kero
Designers Totally Swear By These Cheap, Clever Things They Do To Upgrade Their Own Homes
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If you've been dreaming of upgrading your home but think you can’t afford it, think again. You don't need a trip to an expensive boutique, professional crews, and new furniture to make your place look like it's worth a million bucks. That’s because polled interior designers on the tricks they use in their own homes, and you can find so many of their favorite home improvement products all handily available on Amazon. Keep scrolling for gorgeous decor, affordable upgrades, and genius tricks that will make every room in your house look like it belongs in a magazine.


Adding Light To A Room With A Statement Mirror

Add a statement piece like a hanging mirror to “create the illusion of more space and add brightness to a room,” wrote Artem Kropovinsky, the interior designer and founder of Arsight. This frameless mirror puts all the focus on its unique shape and sleek, beveled edges. It’s simple to install and can be hung with or without the included iron chain. It’s also available in four other shapes in the same listing.


Making Things More Cozy By Layering Rugs

Kropovinsky wrote, “Layering rugs is a popular trend that can create a cozy [...] vibe.” When layering rugs, Kropovinsky suggests “try layering a natural fiber rug over a patterned rug.” This handwoven rug is made from renewable natural fibers that are as durable as they are beautiful. It’s reversible and comes in three different shades and 18 different sizes and shapes to fit in with your decor in any room in the house.


Keeping Up With The Trends With A Patterned Rug

To lay under a textured rug, you’ll want to try this patterned rug. Its classic-but-unfussy pattern is machine-woven and anti-slip, so it can handle being placed in high-traffic areas. And because it is a medium pile, it won’t obstruct doorways. The natural fibers are also stain-resistant and non-shedding.


Making Rooms & Windows Appear Taller With A Curtain Rod

By installing a curtain rod well above windows, Lockwood Grovenburg says that you’ll “make the walls feel taller and your overall space seem larger.” This curtain rod comes in gorgeous finishes like gold-toned brass and shiny nickel, and all the hardware you need for installation. The rod is available in three expandable sizes (from 33 to 180 inches wide) within this listing.


Decluttering With Sleek, Lidded Storage Bins

“Decluttering by using closed storage is key because it really frees up space within your house in an aesthetically pleasing way,” wrote Melissa Lockwood Grovenburg, director at D+K. This six-pack of lidded storage bins keeps everything concealed and dust-free within its durable plastic walls. The BPA-free material is perforated to allow for ventilation, and the bins can be stacked to save even more space.


Filling Corners With Faux Plants That Don’t Have To Be Watered

“A few strategically placed plants can make a big difference in the overall look and feel of your home,” wrote Mike Semegen, owner and project manager for Hello Home Studios. If you don’t have a green thumb, he recommends looking for “faux plants or plastic plants that you won’t need to worry about [...] keeping alive.” According to one reviewer, this set of two 15-inch faux plants “absolutely look[s] real.” And because they come in sleek white planters, they will match with any decor.


Creating More Pleasant Lighting With A Dimmer Switch

To instantly “create instant, flattering mood lighting,” Nicole E. Roe, the principal designer at R. Nickson Interiors, recommends opting for dimmer switches. Models like this one offer you the ability to control your lighting with your voice via Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Microsoft Cortana devices — or through the free smartphone app. You can set your lights on a schedule and turn them off even when you’re not near the switch.


Making Rugs Feel More Plush With A Non-Slip Pad

In addition to keeping things in place, Roe appreciates a “super thick” rug pad like this one because of its ability to “[absorb] more sound and [make] an affordable rug feel lush.” The felt pad is one-third of an inch thick, offering extra cushioning to soften each step. And because it’s covered in raised rubber dots on both sides, it provides double the grip to prevent curling or sliding.


Framing Their Mirrors To Elevate A Bathroom

To “make everything look more elevated and expensive,” Stefanie Mullen, a San Diego-based interior designer, says it’s as simple as placing something like this self-adhesive molding around a builder-basic bathroom mirror. You can install this durable PVC molding without tools to frame your mirror. Plus, the adhesive backing is moisture-proof, so you won’t have to worry about it peeling off or cracking from humidity.


Making Their Bathroom Fancier With Hotel-Quality Disposable Hand Towels

In order to make his guests feel as though they’re staying at a fancy hotel, Luis Hernandez, a senior interior designer at D+K, stocks his bathroom with thick disposable hand towels. The linen-like alternatives add an elegant touch and show that you’ve put thought into every detail. Each piece in this 50-pack is super thick and absorbent.


Keeping Extra Blankets Or Slippers In A Rope Basket

“[A] way I like to achieve that high-end hotel feel is buying multiple pairs of slippers to share with guests to help them feel more relaxed and comforted,” wrote Hernandez. This rope basket can store many pairs of slippers or keep extra blankets and pillows handy. The woven basket is made of 100% of cotton and it can be easily moved from room to room as needed by grabbing onto the convenient built-in handles.


Transforming Their Home Into A Spa With Smart Bulbs

Hernandez suggests equipping lamps and fixtures with smart light bulbs to “help create a spa-like feel throughout your home.” This two-pack has the capability to adjust temperature, color, and brightness. They can be controlled using smart speakers like Alexa or Google Assistant or from a free app. You’ll be able to turn your lights on and off (whether you’re home or not), and you can put them on a timer as well — setting the mood and saving energy all in one swoop. The bulbs last for two years with normal use.


Installing Floating Shelves To Free Up Counter Space

Nichole Abbott, a FLOOR360 interior designer, suggests installing “floating shelves in the kitchen or bathroom to hold the items you usually have cluttering [your counters.]” These intersecting shelves offer the “instant upgrade for your space” Abbott says decluttering can achieve. The four floating shelves create a modern geometric design that can be used to display small objects or hold the essential skincare products that you reach for every day.


Upgrading Your Switch Plates

Abbott wrote, “If the coverings for your lights and outlets are mismatched, chipped or missing buy a set of matching new ones to create an overall polished look.” This set of three switch plates has clean lines and comes with matching screws. There are also matching outlet covers available.


Switching Up The Vibe With New Throw Pillow Covers

Kropovinsky wrote that picking up new throw pillow covers “can easily switch up the look of a room without breaking the bank.” This set comes with four 100% velvet covers that are available in seven different coordinating color sets and six different sizes and shapes (in the same listing). They feature contrasting piped edging borders and a different color on either side. Need matching inserts? This set is well-rated.


Bringing Life Into A Room With Live Plants

If you’re looking to “add natural beauty to your home,” Kropovinsky recommends adding indoor plants to the mix. He says they can “promote a sense of calm, and can help purify the air.” This pack comes with three different plants that can efficiently filter indoor pollutants (species vary depending on availability). Each plant comes in a lightweight planter with bottom holes for easy watering and draining.


Upgrading Basic Fixtures With Eye-Catching Pendant Lighting

Upgrading your builder-basic light fixtures doesn’t have to be a pricey proposition. Kropovinsky wrote that you can "upgrade your basic light fixtures with something unique and eye-catching, like a [...] pendant." The unique, sophisticated design of this pendant light fixture will bring an element of dimension to your home. The matte black fixture is easy to install; you can customize their lengths to a maximum of 52.6 inches. Each light can take up to a 60-watt bulb.


Adding Sophistication To Any Space With A Gold-Toned Lamp

While this minimalist lamp is also available in white and silver finishes, Kropovinsky says brass- and gold-toned options add glamour and brightness to even the most boring rooms. Place this simple design in your bedroom, dining room, or foyer for a modern touch that will tie everything else together. The lamp is 13.5 inches tall and takes one 40-watt bulb.


Incorporating Cozy Texture With A Faux Fur Rug

"Incorporate texture into your space with a shaggy or faux fur rug for a cozy and dimensional effect," wrote Kropovinsky. This faux fur rug comes in a few different shapes and sizes so that it can be spread out in front of your bed, fireplace, or couch. The fluffy fibers are hypoallergenic while the bottom has a lining that is gentle on floors. Grab it in white for a classic look or switch things up with any of the five available colors and eight shapes and sizes.


Personalizing A Wall With A Photo Gallery

According to Kropovinsky, "A gallery wall of framed artwork or photos can create a personalized focal point in any room." With this nine-pack of picture frames (that are available in natural finishes as well as solid colors), you’ll be able to showcase meaningful one-of-a-kind artwork and photos. Each frame is 12 by 12 inches and features lightweight plexiglass instead of glass. The included optional white mats have eight- by eight-inch openings.


Creating A Focal Point With A Set Of Mirrors

If you have bare walls, Abbott suggests buying a set of three wall mirrors because “the cluster of objects provides a design focal point and they will pull the room together.” This circular set (with lightweight plastic frames) comes in 17 different border options that resemble a sun, flower, or geometric shape. They also come in different shades of gold, silver, and black to seamlessly complement any room’s decor.


Modernizing The Space With Sheer Curtains (That Are Under $10)

To cover windows, Abbott wrote, “Window sheers [in neutral colors] are far more attractive and modern than Venetian blinds.” These sheer curtains are available in several neutral colors but they also come in fun pops of color like a gradient blue and light yellow. Abbott recommends window sheers “in the living room or bathroom, sometimes even your kitchen.”


Setting The Mood With A Scented Candle

Kathy Kuo, a design expert and the founder and CEO of Kathy Kuo Home, wrote, “A scented candle in a beautiful glass vessel is an easy and versatile styling element.” This luxe candle comes in a ton of relaxing scents like wild lavender and pine wood which can “set a sophisticated mood for your whole space,” according to Kuo. The soy blend has a burn time of 35 hours and comes so elegantly packaged that it would make a great gift as well.


Adding A Luxurious Touch With Faux Fur Pillow Covers

For less than $15, you can add a touch of luxury to any chair, couch, or bed with these faux fur pillow covers for what Kuo says is “an oh-so-easy upgrade or seasonal refresh.” Both pieces in this set of two are made with extra-long shaggy fibers, offering a rich texture that Kuo recommends. The pair comes in 21 solid colors (and five sizes), all with a smooth microfiber back and invisible zipper. Need inserts? This set is highly rated.


Switching Pillow Covers Each Season

According to Kuo, one of the easiest upgrades you can make to your home is simply switching out your cushion covers. This set of two comes in 11 colors including a soft white for summer and an olive green that screams fall. They’re made of a linen and cotton blend that is durable enough to be used outdoors — so you can show as much love to your patio as you do to your living room.


Making Their Couch Even Comfier With A Faux Fur Blanket

To match your new pillowcases, this faux fur throw blanket is just what you need to “complete a sofa transformation,” Kuo wrote. It has a reversible design with a variegated animal print available in eight colors, as well as a few sherpa-backed versions. The fluffy blanket is silky smooth and heavy enough to keep you warm, but light enough for use in all seasons.


Changing Decor Instantly With Peel & Stick Wallpaper

Melony Huber, the co-founder and design director of La Peony, suggests installing wallpaper to add design or texture to a plain wall. And there’s no need to hire an expensive professional — Hber wrote that this upgrade is “easy to hang and instantly changes the space’s feel.” The interesting geometric pattern comes in gold and silver, and each roll is 17.7 by 118 inches (to cover 14.5 square feet total) and can be trimmed to fit the space you have.


Giving Furniture & Cabinets A Refresh With New Pulls

Instead of spending thousands on new cabinets or dressers, Huber suggests buying new cabinet pulls to give everything an affordable refresh. This pack comes with 30 pulls made of durable stainless steel, and they work well for pieces in a room that’s been partially updated too — Huber wrote, “[They] can also change the look of an existing piece to match [the] new look of a room.” They’re available in a chic matte black finish, as well as brushed brass and satin nickel.


Making A Room Look Larger With A Full-Length Mirror

To create the illusion that a room is bigger than it actually is, Huber recommends leaning a full-length mirror on one of your walls. This one has an aluminum-alloy frame and glass that is coated with anti-shatter silver nitrate for safety. If you don’t want to leave it leaning, you can also hang it up or keep it on the included stand. It’s also available in a slew of other shapes, sizes, and finishes within the listing.


Creating More Dimension With Crown Molding

Just because your home didn’t come with molding trim doesn’t mean you can’t add some all on your own. Erin Klawiter, a professional designer known as Nifty Nest, believes that this small detail will add “architectural interest” and it’s easier to install than you may think. Thanks to the peel-and-stick tape, the crown molding clings to every corner, and it can be trimmed to fit your ceilings.


Bringing In More Ambient Lighting With A Sconce Lamp

For more ambient lighting, Klawiter recommends adding a sconce lamp. The one featured here has a vintage design with matte paint and quality brass construction. Plus, the bulb itself is controlled with a rotary switch to add to its retro feel. Install one next to your bathroom mirror or two in the bedroom, placing one above both nightstands. It’s available in seven colors at the listing including colors like blue, pink, and gray.


Adding Under-Cabinet Lighting For Convenience & Style

Not only will these touch lights add convenience to your life but they’ll also brighten up any area in your home that needs it. Klawiter suggests placing them underneath cabinets for a better view but they can also be placed along staircases and in closets. This pack comes with two pieces that project 45 lumens with a warm white glow. And because they come with both adhesive tape and screws, you can choose how you want to install them.


Hiding Vents With A Chic Grate Cover

For a surprising way you can upgrade your home, Mullen recommends switching out your grate covers. Putting effort into this seemingly small detail can elevate the entire feel of a room and “will automatically upgrade your home for a low cost,” she wrote. The steel plate is made with attractive cutouts that still allow air to pass through. The included screws are painted to match the cover and it’s available in three sizes in the listing for different vents.


Filling Space With A Cozy Runner

According to Mullen, there are lots of inexpensive runners on the market, and “adding one will fill the space and make it look nicer.” This neutral, textured option features a subtle geometric design with long tassels at the ends. The entire piece is woven from cotton, making it soft and washable. Scrolling through the four colors and 13 different sizes and shapes will give you an easy solution for that empty space that you’ve been eyeing.


Achieving A High-End Look With Blackout Curtains

Erika Soza-Mejia, an interior designer based in South Florida, suggests sticking to back tab panel curtains (versus rod pocket or grommets) because they “shape your curtains nicely while making them look high-end.” These highly rated blackout curtains come in six lengths and 20 colors to pull together the entire room. They’re made of high-density microfiber that blocks 85% of light and 100% of UV rays.


Creating A Calm Atmosphere With An Oil Diffuser

Julio Arco, an architect and interior designer at Bark&Chase, says that an oil diffuser can “create a relaxing atmosphere.” This heatless diffuser has a wood-print finish and comes with 10 essential oils (including peppermint, lavender, and orange). It has a light strip running through the center that can be set on seven different lighting modes and 14 different color combinations. It has four timer settings and an auto-shutoff feature.


Mixing & Matching With Patterned Throw Pillow Covers

To maintain a cohesive look without sacrificing “interest and rhythm,” Arco suggests mixing and matching throw pillow covers that have different patterns but are in the same color family. This cover comes in 14 different prints in a handful of muted colors. Their embroidered texture makes them look much more expensive than they actually are. If you need inserts, this set is well-priced and a reviewer favorite.


Adding Interest To Your Spaces With Sculptures

Arco wrote that sculptures “add dimension and interest to a space and can be a great conversation starter.” This wood knot sculpture can be placed on your mantle, bookcase, or even a desk as a paperweight. Because it’s made of real wood, the natural grains slightly show through all five beautiful finishes you can choose between. Despite its high-end design, you can add this piece to your home for less than $25.


Creating An Eye-Catching Display With (Shockingly Pretty) Faux Flowers

Leslie Dapper, the lead designer at Rumor Designs, is all for utilizing faux flowers. She wrote, “[they can] liven up a room and bring life into an empty shelf or corner. You can also use [them] as a focal point in an entry or stairwell.” This bouquet comes in six different styles and is made of plastic pieces that are UV-resistant to prevent fading. Plus, there’s a color scheme for every season.


Bringing In Art With A Sculptural Lamp

“A sculptural lamp can double as a piece of art,” wrote Dapper. This beechwood balance lamp is the perfect two-for-one. Its unique open shape won’t block your view, while its 3500k color temperature is gentle on the eyes. In addition to the gentle curve, the lamp features two hand-polished equilibrium balls that are functional — they turn the light on and off.