Real estate experts warn that these mistakes make your home look cheap

Mistakes were (not) made.

Real estate experts warn that these mistakes make your home look cheap
ByChristina Wood
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Ready to revamp your space? Before you fall down the latest TikTok rabbit hole and end up buying some trendy item that is not your style, why not check in with some people who look at a lot of homes and know what ends up looking great — and not so great? We tapped the collective knowledge of the pros for advice on where to focus your money, what hype to avoid, and what to do right now to make your place look stylish and elegant. Real estate experts warn that these mistakes make your home look cheap. And they offer solutions that give all the bang for the least amount of bucks.


Mistake: Poor layout

Solution: Moving your furniture around to maximize space

"One of the most common issues I see in internal space is poor layout design,” says Andre Kazimierski, CEO, Improovy Painters of the North Shore, “which can make it awkward to move around in the space or use it efficiently." Play with the furniture arrangements by putting these furniture sliders under the legs so you can easily move big pieces around until you find the right arrangement. They have felt bottoms for sliding on hard floors or slick ones for moving easily on carpet.


Mistake: Having too much furniture cluttering your space

Solution: Move heavy furniture to free up more space

If you feel daunted by the advice to move furniture around, these moving straps can make all the difference. These straps go on both of your (and your friend of choice’s) forearms and allow you to lift furniture that’s way heavier than you otherwise could.


Mistake: Not enough or poorly-placed lighting

Solution: Placing lighting strategically in your space

"Inadequate or poorly placed lighting is also very common," according to Kazimierski. But it is so easy to fix. Stick these puck-style LED lights inside closets, on the underside of dark shelving, or as task lighting in your kitchen. They are great on stair risers, too, so no one falls on the stairs. They run on batteries, can be controlled with a remote, and turn off automatically.


Mistake: Dark walls in small rooms

Solution: Painting a lighter color on your walls

"Poor color choice is also an issue I frequently encounter, especially when it comes to smaller spaces,” says Kazimierski. “Painting small rooms a very dark color, for example, can make them look even smaller." If your space feels small, grab some of this interior paint and primer and fix that. Choose from 44 light shades that will create the illusion of space. Since the primer is built in, this will typically require only one coat.


Mistake: Old, outdated lighting fixtures

Solution: Installing flush-mount ceiling lights

"One of my personal ‘hidden gems’ when it comes to home decor is flush-mount ceiling lights,” says Kazimierski, “which provide beautifully even lighting that makes any room look more inviting." It is simple to replace a gaudy fixture with this LED flush-mount ceiling light fixture. It has a night-light mode for late-night low lighting and you can choose the light temperature to suit your preference and space.


Mistake: Rugs that are too big or too small for your space

Solution: Investing in a rug that's perfectly sized for your space

"The most common problem that I see when I go into a room is their rug size,” says Hannah Jones, a realtor, contractor, and property manager with New Build Homes. “A rug is a hidden gem decor item that many people ignore and just use as an afterthought. I believe that is the biggest mistake they can make!" Fix that mistake by replacing rugs with this low-profile, washable, and soft vintage rug. It comes in 11 colors and every imaginable size so you can get it just right.


Mistake: Stuffy & cluttered entryways

Solution: Entryway organization

"When I enter a house, I first notice how the space has been utilized,” says Nick Hedberg, a realtor with “Does the decor and layout clutter the space and make the room look stuffy?" Since people shed coats and belongings as they enter the home, clutter often happens at the entryway. Hang this appealing rail hook there to catch that gear before it turns into clutter. It comes in three colors and styles.


Mistake: Not creating "space" in tight rooms

Solution: Adding mirrors as a focal point

"Naturally, when I see a stuffy room,” says Hedberg, “my suggestion is to incorporate mirrors. A mirror is a piece of decoration that can give the illusion of space." This window wall mirror, for example, brightens the room by reflecting light while creating the illusion of a window. It comes in a pack of two and you can choose from 15 colors and styles.


Mistake: No under-cabinet lighting

Solution: Installing LED lights under your cabinets

"The under-cabinet lights are my personal favorite, so much so that I have installed them in my kitchen as well,” says Hedberg. “They are cordless, come in different colors, and can be stuck on the bottom of the cabinets easily. The best thing is that they are only (about) $5 each!" You can turn them on with the included remotes or by tapping the light and they shut off after an interval you choose so the batteries last a long time.


Mistake: Single-purpose furniture

Solution: Swapping in multifunctional furniture

"In my experience, the most common challenge is balancing functionality with aesthetics, especially in limited spaces,” according to Ryan Norman, the founder of Norman Builders. “Addressing this involves clever furniture choices and layout adjustments. For example, opting for multifunctional furniture, like ottomans with storage or convertible desks, maximizes utility without cluttering."

Set this storage ottoman, for example, in front of an armchair as a footrest or drink tray. You can store game controllers, remotes, and other items that otherwise create clutter under the lid. It comes in 16 colors.


Mistake: Ignoring functionality for aesthetics

Solution: Installing a desk that you can convert

Another trick is to use furniture that disappears when you aren’t using it like this wall-mounted folding table. When you need a desk, pull it out and work. Otherwise, it lays flat against the wall, taking up no space. It works well as a laundry folding table, workbench, or vanity, and comes in five finishes and three sizes.


Mistake: Not creating distinct zones

Solution: Creating a distinct zone in each room

"By reallocating space smartly, like creating distinct zones within an open-plan area through rugs and furniture placement, spaces become more efficient and visually appealing," says Norman. Set this natural fiber runner rug, for example, at the entry door to create a place to put on or remove shoes. Or use one to define a living room area or kitchen workspace. It comes in nine colors and every imaginable size and the texture feels wonderful underfoot.


Mistake: Ignoring small details

Solution: Adding in unique items to bring texture to your space

"One of my favorite hidden gem decor items is unique, handcrafted ceramics,” says Norman. “They add a textural and personalized touch to any space." This ceramic flower vase, for example, has a simple shape and handmade look yet you can choose from six shapes and all are affordable.


Mistake: Not decorating shelves & coffee tables

Solution: Placing decor items on coffee tables & shelves

"Whether it's a beautifully glazed vase or a quirky sculpture, these items introduce character and serve as conversation starters, enriching the storytelling of the home's design,” Norman says. “They're perfect for shelves, coffee tables, or as centerpieces, adding depth and dimension." Set one or more of these decorative balls on the coffee table, mantle, or entryway table to give that spot dimension and visual interest.


Mistake: Going cheap on linens

Solution: Investing in heavier fabrics & linens

"Fabrics like heavy drapes, plush rugs, or soft throw pillows can significantly alter a room's ambiance, making it feel warmer and more inviting,” according to Norman. These natural linen curtains, for example, punch way above their price point and give the room a luxury feeling in any of the 23 colors. They come in every imaginable size so you can dial in that floor-pooling effect for any window.


Mistake: Not enough soft textures

Solution: Adding a throw blanket

This faux fur throw, too, adds a lot of texture for the price. And it feels delicious against your skin. Drape it over your favorite chair to layer texture and to cover blemishes or worn fabric on that piece of furniture. It comes in 18 colors and three sizes so feel free to add several to your living room or bedroom.


Mistake: No throw pillows

Solution: Investing in soft throws

Throw pillows give a couch or chair a softer look, bring a punch of color or texture to the room, and warm the look of your space. They are also a great place to lay your head when you need a quick nap on the couch. These velvet throw pillows excel at all of this. The texture is rich and lush, there are 50 colors to choose from, and there are sizes to slide over any pillow or pillow insert you have or want.


Mistake: Not enough storage

Solution: Adding storage baskets around your room

"For those seeking an affordable yet impactful piece of decor, woven baskets from Amazon can be a stylish and practical addition,” says Norman. “Priced under $35, they serve multiple purposes — from storing blankets and magazines to housing indoor plants, these baskets add a natural, textured element that is both functional and aesthetically pleasing." These lined storage baskets come in five colors and four sizes and have a bit of beaded bling to make them fancy.


Mistake: Clutter in obvious places

Solution: Storing things you need in chic storage boxes

"I tend to spot clutter, a messy yard, chipped paint, and harsh lighting first,” admits Andrew Helling, the founder of Helling Homebuyers, a Nebraska-based property investor. “A quick tidy up and some storage boxes can make a huge difference for clutter." This can be as simple as putting small items in these storage bins with bamboo lids so they are out of sight or collected together.


Mistake: Neglected lawn

Solution: Doing low-lift yard maintenance

"For the yard, a simple mow and weed can boost your curb appeal,” says Helling. You don’t need much for this. A couple of carefully chosen tools — like this hand weeder — will help you get weeds out of the grass and flower beds. Grabbing the root with the pronged fork stops those weeds from coming back so quickly.


Mistake: Chipped wall paint

Solution: Fixing chips on your wall paint

"Chipped paint? A weekend with a paintbrush can freshen up your space dramatically," says Helling. Even easier is this brush pen. Fill them with the paint colors you used to paint your walls and trim and they will always be ready to pull out for quick touch-ups. They fill like a syringe and keep air out so the paint stays fresh for years.


Mistake: Harsh lighting

Solution: Switching to warmer lighting

"Swapping harsh white bulbs for softer, warmer lights can instantly make your home feel cozier,” says Helling. This is as easy as changing a light bulb. Unscrew that harsh bright white bulb and replace it with one of these LED dimmable light bulbs. Now you can dim the lights whenever you want the vibe to be more relaxing. Even without dimming them, the light is soft.


Mistake: No entryway organization

Solution: Clearing your entry strategically

"Pretty much every home could use some entryway organization — a few hooks for coats, a shoe rack, or a small bench with storage underneath,” says Helling. “It keeps the entrance clear and makes life a bit easier." This shoe storage cabinet will let you store your shoe collection right where you put shoes on while bringing style to that entryway. It comes in three colors.


Mistake: No storage in your entryway

Solution: Add a bench for shoe storage

This bamboo shoe rack holds several pairs of shoes and gives you a place to sit while you put them on and take them off. Choose a color to match your other entryway pieces (there are three colors) and turn that hallway, mudroom, or foyer into a functional space that keeps clutter from spreading into your house.


Mistake: Ignoring curb appeal

Solution: Adding low-maintenance outdoor lighting

Mount these simple, solar outdoor lights over the garage door, on the porch, or on walkway fences to brighten the outdoor spaces you use. "Outside, motion sensor lights add security and convenience,” says Helling. You can set them to turn on at dusk or to turn on — or get brighter — when they sense motion. Your home will be safer and more appealing from the street. There is no wiring required since each one has an integrated solar panel.


Mistake: Neglecting home tech upgrades

Solution: Swapping in a smart thermostat

"A smart thermostat can be a game-changer for comfort and saving on energy bills,” says Helling. This Amazon Smart Thermostat lets you turn the heat or AC up or down by shouting at your smart home AI, which means you don’t have to get out of bed to turn the heat up or down. “Small changes,” he says. “But they make a big difference."


Mistake: Letting weeds grow in your yard

Solution: Tackling unruly weeds in your yard

If you’re up against bigger patches of weeds in your lawn, this tool can make it easier to weed your yard without having to bend down. The four-claw steel head design and extra-long bamboo handle makes it easy to get your yard clean with very little effort.


Mistake: Dark porches

Solution: Switching out old light fixtures

"Updating the outdoor lighting made a huge difference at a house I worked on a few months back,” says Helling. If you have no wiring to your porch, this can feel daunting. But these solar-powered lanterns mount to your wall and draw power from the sun. Even better, the lights turn on automatically at dusk, and turn off again at dawn. This is a pack of four.


Mistake: Dark outdoors & yards

Solution: Adding solar path lights

Helling says, “Swapping out old fixtures for sleek, energy-efficient ones and adding some solar pathway lights transformed the place. It's one of those changes where you step back and think, ‘Wow, why didn't we do this sooner?’” Lighting the pathway is so easy and affordable, too. You can stick the lights in the ground in five minutes and enjoy the upgrade immediately.


Mistake: Rugs out of place

Solution: Laying a rug pad or gripper under your rugs

"One eyesore I often notice is when rugs are out of place,” says Seamus Nally, CEO of TurboTenant. “This can easily happen, especially when you have pets or kids running around. So, I always recommend using nonslip rug pads for all of your rugs, whether they are doormats, hallway runners, area rugs, or kitchen/bathroom rugs.”

These rug corner grippers install in seconds and won’t hurt the floors. “Nonslip rug pads help to hold your rugs in place where they are meant to be, which helps you avoid your rooms looking uneven or crooked due to the incorrect direction or placement of your rugs."


Mistake: No task lighting

Solution: Introducing task lighting into your space

According to Eric Bramlett, realtor and owner of Bramlett Residential, "Quality task lighting and the flexibility of furniture placement they provide really enhances functionality.” You can stick a wireless LED puck light to the interior of a display cabinet, under kitchen cabinets, or in a dark closet. Tap the lens to turn them on. There is no need to run wires. “You'd be amazed what a few well-positioned lamps can do," he says.


Mistake: Not using light to distract from problem areas

Solution: Installing light to misdirect attention

This clever LED wall-mounted sconce is another smart way to add lighting to your space. They are wireless and rechargeable and you can change the color with the remote. "Not only do they bring life and softness,” Bramlett says, “their placement can disguise problem areas or draw your eye to architectural details.”


Mistake: Excess furniture & clutter

Solution: Packing away unnecessary things

"In any space I'm tackling,” says Bramlett, “the first change is always removing excess furnishings and possessions.” Pack the linens that are crowding rooms and closets and off-season clothes, blankets, and more into these storage bags and put them into storage to clean out the closets and living spaces. “You'd be amazed how much better you can see the potential once the canvas is clear!" He says.


Mistake: Keeping outdated fixtures

Solution: Swapping in new hardware

"One easy win I recommend for any home is updating hardware like knobs and pulls,” says Adrian Pedraza, owner of The California Home Buyer, a professional house-flipping company. “It's inexpensive but so impactful." These pretty gold cabinet knobs, for example, will perk up boring kitchen cabinets and transform the entire space for very little money.


Mistake: Leaving walls bare

Solution: Putting up artwork on your walls

"I also always suggest adding artwork or plants wherever you can,” says Pedraza. These botanical wall prints don’t cost much but bring an elegant expression of nature to your space that is pretty and sophisticated. “They bring personality and disguise bare walls or shelves,” he says. They come in two sizes.


Mistake: Not having plants throughout your space

Solution: Strategically placing plants or faux plants

Set big plants in this indoor plant stand to give your greenery more impact and protect your floors from pots sitting in unseen water drips. They are simple and elegant but turn a plant into a substantial piece. It is versatile too. Flip it over to change the height.


Mistake: Not utilizing plants when your thumb isn’t green

Solution: Adding faux-plants to your space

Implementing Pedraza’s advice of adding greenery can be toufgh if caring for plants is more effort than you want to put into your home update project. This four-pack of small artificial plants will spruce up a bathroom, entryway, or windowsill and most people won’t notice they are inert and don’t need water or fertilizer. They are great for adding life to spaces that don’t have enough natural light to support plants, too.


Mistake: Piles of mail, bags, & shoes in your entryway

Solution: Placing a shelf in your entryway

"A simple bench or shelf by the door means no more piles of mail, bags, or shoes on the floor,” says Pedraza. This wall-mounted floating shelf will handle everything from bags to jackets, keys, and dog leashes and requires nothing more than a small stretch of wall. A shelf on top is the perfect place to drop sunglasses, mail, and a bit of decor.


Mistake: Not accenting your landscaping with lighting

Solution: Adding path lights

"Outdoor lighting makes a big impression too — both functional and stylish,” says Pedraza. It can be quite pretty and magical, especially if you stick these solar garden lights in amid flowers or ferns. “Pathway spots or soffit lights define your landscaping without breaking the bank."


Mistake: Not using wall storage

Solution: Installing floating shelves

"Since floating shelves are great for displaying trinkets, decor items, plants, and eccentric personal items, they brighten up any space in the house,” says Sal Dimiceli, Sr., owner of Lake Geneva Area Realty. Mount this floating corner shelf into a bathroom or stairway corner to transform an unused space into a memory, a charming vignette, or a practical place to stash perfume or toothbrushes.


Mistake: Ignoring your old backsplash

Solution: Protecting your backsplash from stains

"No one wants to look at a yellow, greasy, stained kitchen backsplash and island from the living room,” says Dimiceli. “A homeowner can create the illusion of renovation by upgrading or covering the kitchen backsplash and island." Covering a difficult-to-clean backslash or island is easy to do with this transparent film backsplash wall protector. Just peel off the backing and stick it over the tile or stone. It is easy to wipe clean and protects your expensive materials.


Mistake: Ignoring small & impactful lighting changes

Solution: Adding motion-activated under-counter & hallway lights

"Illuminate your home efficiently with LED under-the-counter lights,” suggests Seth Williams, real estate broker at Reference Real Estate. Under cabinet lights are, he says, “available for under $25 on Amazon. These motion-activated lights, running on AA batteries, require no electrical upgrades and can be placed in closets, hallways, or under kitchen cabinets, offering a modern touch with LED strip lighting." They even come with a remote that allows you to change the brightness and color of the light.


Mistake: Procrastinating changing your backsplash

Solution: Trying a subway tile backsplash

"Refresh your space with the cost-effective Amazon white subway tile backsplash from Art3D,” says Williams. “These stick-on vinyl tiles provide an easy-to-install solution, allowing you to achieve a chic look with the right grout, perfect for small spaces.” They come in several other colors, too, if you want to break from the white subway tile tradition.


Mistake: Not switching in new lights

Solution: Upgrading to soft-white & dimmable LED lights

"Transform your home's ambiance with a pack of GE Relax 60-watt soft white dimmable LED bulbs,” says Williams. “They are a great value at under $20. [They] upgrade your lighting to warmer tones, creating a more comfortable atmosphere and saving on energy costs with eco-friendly, dimmable models." There are four in the pack and, since they are LED they also last longer.


Mistake: Having old backsplash in your kitchen

Solution: Removing old backsplash to put in a new design

If you want to install new backsplash but are stuck with an old or outdated design, you can remove it. While calling a professional will ensure the best results, this removal tool has worked wonders for a lot of reviewers. One reviewer says, “I had a tile backsplash I had to remove and this thing was worth it’s weight in gold. Bonus, it left nearly all of my wallboard underneath in one piece so I didn’t have to replace it.”