Designers Working On A Tight Budget Swear By These Expensive-Looking Home Upgrades Under $35

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Written by Veronika Kero

Whether you’re a homeowner or renter, renovating and decorating your living space are some of the most costly things you can do in life. Luckily, you can have a bougie house on a budget. Just take some inspiration from these professional interior designers who know just how to avoid some of those big bills.

Even luxury design professionals know how to fill your home with vases and cushions that look luxurious without the hefty price tag. How do I know? I asked them for their best budget-friendly home upgrades.

Avoid hiring electricians with fixtures that you can install yourself, like this picture light, or take the easy way out with a peel-and-stick kitchen backsplash that looks like just real tile.

There are a ton of fabulous but affordable products to update and upgrade your home in this list — and the best part is they're all under $35.


These Floating Shelves That Can Each Hold Up To 20 Pounds

“These shelves provide a high-end look without the high-end price tag,” says Kate Diaz, interior designer and co-founder of Swanky Den. “The sleek white design is versatile and will complement any décor style, while the triangle shape adds a unique touch that is sure to get noticed”

For just about $25, you’ll receive three floating shelves of different lengths to either stack together or use in separate rooms, depending on whether you want to use them to store bathroom products, books, or just about anything else since they can each hold up to 20 pounds. The sturdy bamboo board is supported by expensive-looking gold triangle hardware. No drilling is required for installation.


A Glass Vase That Looks Like An Elegant Antique

After seeing this glass vase on her table at a restaurant in California, Kim Turner, principal and designer at Kim Turner Design, and advancement director at Dwell with Dignity, felt compelled to find it online and I’m glad she did. “Splurge on one beautiful vase and use it for fresh flowers,” she says. “They look vintage and ‘collected’ and could be used anywhere in the house easily.” The handcrafted jar is made of 100% recycled glass and will bring a high-class feel to any centerpiece.


This Modern Glass Carafe That Comes With A Matching Glass

For a chic addition to your bedside or a functional serving tool, grab this glass carafe that Turner also recommends. “A bedside carafe is functional and is a special touch if you are hosting guests. I recommend one where the cup fits inside the carafe, not over it to make sure the liquid doesn’t run down the outside of the carafe,” she explains. Made of thick, lead-free glass, this carafe and tumbler set is durable and has a narrow neck that allows for easy pouring, even in the middle of the night.


A Diffuser With Reeds That Last For Nearly 2 Months

“Have a signature scent so your home always smells welcoming. A reed diffuser is a great alternative to a candle. The darker natural colors of the reeds in this one are a good complement to most decors,” Turner explains. “I usually peel off the label if I can or turn it to the back. Guests might not remember exactly what the fragrance was, but they will remember that your home always smells nice.”

This particular reed diffuser is smoke-free, flame-free and you can adjust the strength of the scent by adding more reeds into the jar. The fragrance lasts for 50 days, giving you nearly two months’ worth of rejuvenating lemon peel and sandalwood scents.


These Smart Bulbs That Can Be Controlled Via Voice

Since no interior design project is complete until the correct lighting has been applied, Devin Shaffer, lead interior designer at Decorilla Online Interior Design, says you won’t regret picking up these smart bulbs that emit a beautiful LED warm white light. “Layers of light are the secret to making a house feel like home. Swapping out old light bulbs with controllable bluetooth bulbs immediately connects a dweller with their space,” he explains. Not to mention that they can be dimmed and even set on a timer using the app or your smart devices like Alexa or Google Assistant.


These Embroidered Throw Pillow Covers With A Chic Pop Of Color

“No matter the price of a sofa or living room seating set, if the right accent pillows aren't incorporated the room will feel incomplete, “ says Shaffer. To avoid that, grab these adorable embroidered throw pillow covers. The neutral base with the pops of color will pull the whole room together, all while being minimalist enough to not take over the space.


These Striped Throw Pillow Covers Made Of Soft Linen

Shaffer let us in on a little industry secret with these striped throw pillow covers. By layering neutral colors, the super soft linen covers will actually create a bit of contrast without knocking your color scheme completely out of whack. He explains that makes these ideal for transitional spaces. The base of the covers has not been dyed, so they will have the comforting look of natural linen all with a low price tag.


These Chic Acrylic Drawer Handles That’ll Go With Any Decor

Plenty of Shaffer’s clients have been excited about these acrylic drawer handles, and they will probably be the most versatile piece of hardware you own. Put them in the kitchen, bedroom, office, or bathroom because their crystal clear design and brushed nickel hardware will really go with anything.


A Luxurious Candle That Has A 35-Hour Burn Time

Melanie Thomas, a Los Angeles-based interior stylist, reminded us that a home should not only look styled but smell it as well and recommends this chic candle. “A home not only should look styled, but there are other senses involved, namely smell,” she explains. The scent options (like eucalyptus and chamomile or pine wood) smell as good as the matte black jar looks. The rich essential oils will fill your home with an aroma that can burn for 35 hours.


These Sturdy Curtain Rods With A Pretty Sheen To Them

Yasmine El Sanyoura, home designer at Opendoor, says that she has these curtain rods in her own home, so you know they’re worthwhile. “These curtain rods are minimal yet so chic, and they come in three different finishes to best complement your home style. I always recommend these (and even have the black rods in my own home), so I can attest to their quality and style,” she notes. They’re adjustable, too, so they work with a variety of window sizes throughout your home.


These Pleated Curtains That’ll Bring An Upscale Vibe To Any Room

You’ll need something to go with the rods, of course, and these pleated curtains are just the thing. El Sanyoura recommends hanging these chic curtains closer to the ceiling instead of right above the window and allowing the lightweight linen to sweep the floor for a high-end look.


A Large Woven Basket That’s Perfect For Storing Blankets & Wires

“Even the most expensive homes start feeling less charming with a pile of jumbled up electrical cords in the corner. The same goes for clutter around the house! To elevate your spaces, utilize baskets like these to create additional storage around your home for everything from extra throw blankets and toys to your TV wires and gaming console,” El Sanyoura states. The strong cotton can handle quite a bit of weight, and the reinforced handles make this woven basket easy to move around.


An Old-World Design Runner With A Ton Of Size Options

El Sanyoura believes that runners are a great way to add character throughout your home. “Runners are a great way to add character throughout your home in long hallways, entryways, the kitchen! They can look great layered over a neutral rug you might already own, or even carpet flooring for added personalization. These rugs from the Loloii Sky II rug collection are sure to elevate your space, and no one would believe you got them for less than $30 through Amazon,” she says.

These runners are available in 14 different sizes and nearly 20 different patterns and colors, making them ideal for any space of any size or style.


This Sleek Picture Light That Can Make Any Picture Or Mirror Look Luxe

Nothing is better than a beautiful light fixture that actually doesn’t need an electrician to install. This slim picture light (available in bronze, nickel, and brass finishes) will seamlessly fit into your decor adding just a touch of luxury. Tilt the head 120 degrees to have a better view of your makeup or El Sanyoura suggest placing the fixture over a piece of art for some added attention.

“A simple way to not only add light, but some luxury as well is battery-operated sconces. These won’t require an electrician to wire, and will instantly upgrade your space. These modern picture lights can be placed over your artwork to give it instant class,” she says.


This Microfiber Duvet Set That Stays Wrinkle-Free

El Sanyoura approves of this microfiber duvet set that’s lightweight and breathable enough to keep you cool throughout the entire night. The set allows you to amplify your neutrals with a duvet cover, two pillow shams, and two standard pillowcases, all made of a super soft material. The bottom button closure is a sweet touch that will keep your duvet cover secure yet easy enough to remove when it’s time to machine wash.


A Super Soft & Warm Cotton Knitted Blanket

“With lighter sheets, consider a throw blanket to add additional texture and color,” El Sanyoura says while recommending this chic cable knit throw blanket. Made of 100% cotton, this blanket comes in over a dozen different colors, including this stunning sage color that’ll work with any color palette. It also weighs a little over two pounds, adding tons of warmth and coziness to your bed or couch.


This Minimalistic LED Lamp With A USB Port

James Stanley, principal and founder of James Stanley NY, was not mistaken when saying that “the right lighting adds the element of intimacy, soft or striking, from just a table or floor lamp, to overhead fixtures and pinspots, lighting is key in sparking happiness.”

To have complete control of that element, consider grabbing this LED lamp that gives you 10 different brightness levels and five different modes (like reading and relaxing). Both the flexible arm and base twist and turn so you can point the light where it’s most needed — all while charging your phone with the wireless station or the USB port.


These Roller Shades That’ll Cool Down Your Home

“Window treatments are a great way to get a new look in your home. Depending on the look you want, switching out blinds for light filtering roller shades in a simple color can do the trick,” Stanley says. For a barely-there blind that won’t take away from your view or interior decor, easily install these roller shades, which have sturdy fabric that will block out UV rays to reduce heat and glare, all while looking subtle in your home.


These Breezy Sheer Curtains With Pom Poms Lining The Sides

Stanley also says that “switching out your heavy draperies to light sheers could add that elegant update.” Similar to the previous window treatments, these sheer curtains give you a bit of privacy and sun protection without taking away all the attention from the rest of the room and still letting some light in. These beautiful panels will attract some attention, however, thanks to their sweeping design and fun tasseled edges. Meanwhile, the rod pockets made this a cinch to just add to any curtain rod in your home.


A Set Of Colorblock Throw Pillows That Have A Velvety Smooth Texture

Stanley says, “Accessories are the catalysts that tie your wall color, furniture and flooring all together. Pick pillows, area rugs, throws, coffee table books, small boxes, vases, candle holders, etc…that you absolutely love, have a personal meaning and complement your color theme.” And this colorblock set of throw pillow covers do just that. Each plush cover is velvety smooth with fun color combinations that’ll brighten up any room while adding some interesting texture.


This Peel & Stick Floral Wallpaper That Gives A Retro Touch To Any Room

Stanley also recommends this peel-and-stick wallpaper that requires no glue or paste so you can enjoy it’s beautiful vintage-looking flowers after an afternoon of DIY-ing. The pastels will bring an elegant touch to your space, while the green acts as a natural neutral that will work in bedrooms, living rooms, offices, and other spaces well.


A Fun-Colored Serving Tray With Side Handles

Interior designer Grey Joyner recommends this bold plastic serving tray that can perform a surprising number of functions. In addition to actually being used for serving your guests (or yourself), feel free to set it up as a perfume display, catch-all tray in your entryway, coffee tray for your living room, or vanity organizer. The cutout handles make it easy to move around so you can change your mind as you go.


These Stemless Wine Glasses With A Beautiful Iridescence

To switch things up from your classic clear glasses, Joyner suggests grabbing a set of these iridescent wine glasses that look so much more expensive than their $30 pricetag. The gold rim and rainbow sheen on the body will make any drink a bit more fun to enjoy, and the classic stemless look is so chic.


These Super Smooth & Comfy Velvet Throw Pillow Covers

These genuine velvet throw pillow covers that Joyner recommends will add a touch of elegance to any sofa, while adding much-needed color and texture to your space. The zipper is completely hidden so that the comfort and style is the only thing that anyone will notice. These covers come in over two dozen colors and seven different sizes, so there’s no excuse for bad throw pillows in your home.


A Crystal Cube Finial To Modernize Any Lamp

The best home style is in the details, which is why Ruthie Staalsen, CEO of Ruthie Staalsen Interiors, recommends replacing your lamp finials with for a true elevated look. This crystal cube pair will turn any lamp into the most luxurious lighting fixture while still matching with any room decor thanks to the minimalist design and clear finish with just a touch of gold.


This Faux Leather Ottoman That Can Be Used As Storage

For a touch of color and texture, Staalsen suggests grabbing this faux leather ottoman. The soft and beautiful material will be comfy to put your feet up on and useful when trying to dress up a room. And although it isn’t obvious in it’s designed, the stylish piece actually opens up to act as storage as well, so use it to store extra throw pillows, blankets, or even plush toys.


These Gorgeous Holographic Flower Pots With Gold Bases

Staalsen also recommends adding colorful flower pots around your home, like these flower pots that have gorgeous holographic bodies and gold bases that’ll instantly catch your eye. In addition to being stylish, the ceramic body is functional with drain holes that promote root growth to keep your plants healthy.


This Set Of Chic Faux Coffee Table Books To Create Levels Of Decor

If the books you actually love don’t exactly have the prettiest covers, grab this set of decorative faux books to, as Staalsen says, “create layers” to the look of your coffee table. The books don’t have any pages, but the covers still look like upscale fashion books, all while you have the ability to add height and dimension to your space.


A 2-Wick Candle With A Ton Of Scent Options

Staalsen loves to set the mood with this two-wick candle that has over 140 different scent options including weathered tobacco, limoncello, pumpkin spice, eucalyptus and more. The jar itself has a minimalist, chic appearance that won’t overpower any other accent pieces in your home, all while making your space warmer and more inviting.


These Sturdy Drawer Handles That Come In A Gorgeous Brushed Gold

There’s a clear reason why luxury interior designer Charmaine Wynter recommends these beautiful brass drawer handles. The brushed gold or matte black finishes are an easy go-to for a modest, easy bathroom upgrade. The materials are sturdy and scratch resistant so you don’t have to worry about switching them out anytime soon.


These Down & Feather Pillow Inserts That Are So Plush

In addition to getting chic throw pillow covers for home upgrades, Wynter loves shopping on Amazon for pillow inserts. These super soft squares are made of both down and feather on the inside and covered in a durable cotton to make them last. Lounging on the couch has never been this comfy.


A Double-Vessel Vase That’s Minimalist Yet Enchanting

Although this vase is also available in a gorgeous faded blue color, Julia Dempster, founder of Julia Dempster Design, says that when selecting a color palette for your home, “it doesn’t get more classic than black and white.” This infinity-shaped bone china clay flower vase is a versatile piece that’ll look good in any room, all while adding some difference to your space thanks to its subtle lined texture.


This Set Of Hollowed Oval Vases That’s So Unique

For a more geometric vibe, Dempster suggests going with the modern design of these black hollowed oval vases. The set is an easy way to decorate that corner that seems just a little too empty, and the minimalist design and black hue will really pop on any shelf. Display them as they are or use them to hold some artificial flowers.


These Mini Artificial Eucalyptus Plants That’ll Liven Up Any Room

“If you want to highlight black-and-white décor while embracing your green thumb, consider adding a few faux plants to your interior,” Dempster suggests. This set of three artificial eucalyptus plants each have a life-like piece and come in a rustic looking pot that’ll make any space feel a bit more homey without you having to worry about watering.


A Heavy-Duty Door Handle That’s Easy To Install

Farah Dhalla-Singh, founder and CEO of A Lady's Touch Inc., says that “hardware upgrades are an inexpensive yet huge value add,” which is why this door handle she recommends should be a no-brainer. Both the matte black and satin nickel finishes will elevate the look of your doorway while also providing a level of protection with it’s heavy-duty lock and anti-saw rolling steel pin.


These Simple & Elegant Kitchen Knobs That Are Such An Upgrade

These round kitchen knobs look a lot more expensive than they actually are, but Dhalla-Singh calls them “a huge value add.” The black finish is actually made of stainless steel that will be easy to match to other decor. All screws that are needed are included, so installation is pretty easy for such an impactful upgrade.


A Beautiful Floral Wallpaper That Doesn’t Require Paste

Dhalla-Singh suggests “an inexpensive fixer upper is to add peel and stick wall paper to create accent walls.” In order to bring a bit more drama and appeal to basic walls, grab a wallpaper like this eucalyptus one. Available in both green and gray, the floral design is perfect to add to walls, stairways, or even cabinet walls. No paste is required — just peel and stick this waterproof, easy-to-remove paper.


A Peel & Stick Kitchen Backsplash That Looks Like Real Tile

Installing tile can be costly and time-consuming. If you want to avoid both issues, Dhalla-Singh says you can opt for this peel-and-stick tile backsplash that looks like the real thing. Despite being a faux product, the design is 3D, easy to wipe clean, and won’t discolor over time, making it ideal for bathrooms and kitchens.