Your home could be so much nicer if you tried any of these cheap things, according to designers

Home experts give us their top tricks.

A composition featuring a cover for a tissue box made of leather and a thickly knitted blanket that ...
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Home may be where the heart is — but oftentimes, spending time indoors is much less enjoyable when your space is outdated. Worn-out counters, plain walls, and stale rooms can make any home feel uncomfortable — but updating them can also cost a pretty penny. Thankfully for both of us, I’ve reached out to a handful of designers to find out their cheapest tips and tricks when it comes to making any home look nicer.

From peel-and-stick wallpaper to white marble contact paper, the professional advice you’ll find below can be applied all over your home. I’ve also made sure that each tip can be applied to a wide variety of tastes — regardless of whether you’re into farmhouse decor or prefer a more industrial vibe.

So what are you waiting for? These designers know what looks best, especially when it comes to upgrading your home. Keep scrolling for more.


These throw pillow inserts that’ll make your cushions look plush

Styling your couch is as easy as adding a few throw pillows, but if they look a little limp? Kevin O'Gara, the product and interior designer at Kevin Francis Designs, recommends swapping out the inserts with ones that are larger than the cover. “The easiest designer trick to making your throw pillows look much nicer is to use inserts that are 2 [inches] larger than the cover size,” he tells Mic. O'Gara also suggests buying 22-by-22-inch throw pillow inserts if the covers you have measure 20 by 20 inches.

Luckily, these inserts come in a variety of sizes, ranging from 12 inches up to 28 inches. The plush fiber fill gives them a soft feel, and it quickly rebounds once you’re done with your nap. Though if you’re looking for the pillows to really make an impact, O'Gara also suggests opting for larger pillows. “I also hardly ever use pillows smaller than 18 [inches] — you often need bigger pillows than you think for balancing large pieces like a sofa or sectional.”


The soft white light bulbs that are perfect for bathrooms

The right lighting can make a huge difference in whether a room feels stale or homey. According to O'Gara, “Designers also prefer to use soft and warm white bulbs — soft white for functional areas like bathrooms and kitchens, and warm white for living and bedroom spaces.”

With that in mind, these soft white bulbs are a smart alternative to the ones you currently have in your bathroom. Not only are they energy-efficient, but they also have a lifetime of up to 15,000 hours — so it’s highly unlikely that you’ll need to change them out anytime soon.


A book that adds style to plain coffee tables

Sometimes, adding decor to your coffee table is an easy way to make any living room look nicer — but if you aren’t sure what’ll look good, don’t worry: O'Gara tells Mic, “The styling secret that all designers use is coffee table books – they may be the most important accessory you can add to your home!” He continues, “Whether you’re using them on a table or shelf, they are key to adding varying height to your decor and give a lived-in look to your space.”

Not only is this coffee table book available for less than $25, but it’s also filled with fun record covers from the ‘60s and onward. And at nearly 2 inches thick, you have options when deciding how to style it: Place items on top to create a stunning centerpiece or stack it amongst thinner books for some visual variety.


This candle that adds a touch of glamour wherever you put it

Sometimes the smallest, cheapest items can make a big impact. With that in mind, Jolynn Hansen, an interior designer and the CEO, founder, and lead designer at Lofty Designs, LLC, recommends using candles to make your space feel homey. “Find a few candles that you love and place them around your home,” she explains. “Have one or two lit throughout the day to offer a welcoming scent along with the warmth of candlelight. This can go a long way to make a drab space feel fab.”

With thousands of positive reviews, it’s clear that this candle is a solid choice for less than $20. It’s made with 100% natural soy wax — and despite its small size, it can burn for at least 35 hours. Plus, the rose gold glass jar is sure to look good wherever you put it. “The scent is amazing, and the candle looks beautiful on our console table,” wrote one reviewer.


These LED candles for a cozy affect without the flames

Speaking of candles, this pack of LED ones is a smart pick for anyone looking to achieve that sense of hominess (but without the flames). Plus, you likely won’t have to buy replacements like you would real candles, as the LED bulbs last significantly longer than regular wicks. They also flicker like real flames, and each order even includes a remote so that you can control them from the couch.


A chunky knit throw blanket for added texture

Hansen also suggests changing up the textures in your home to help make it feel more expensive. “Using throw blankets in your living room and bedroom will go a long way to add texture for a more luxurious feel, as well as adding another layer to create a more customized look,” she tells Mic. “Whenever I need to brighten up a space, I will gravitate towards chunkier knit throws or cashmere if I'm going for an elevated look.”

As far as knit throw blankets go, this one might just be one of the chunkiest available on Amazon. It’s made from double-knitted faux wool, giving it a chic feel whether you drape it across your couch or snuggle underneath it on a cold night. Unlike some blankets, this one is also resistant to shedding, fraying, and pilling.


This lightweight blanket made from faux cashmere

If that chunky throw blanket is too heavy for comfort, consider opting for this lightweight blanket made from faux cashmere. Not only is it incredibly soft, but the decorative fringe along the seams makes it look way more expensive than $22. Choose from 11 colors, ranging from spa blue to trendy beige.


The faux succulents that look just like real plants

Hansen also tells Mic, “As a designer, I like to recommend the use of real plants (succulents, snake plants, and money tree are some of my favorites), however faux plants have become just as prevalent and can lend the same feel for less.” And while you know that these succulents are fake, they look real enough from afar that guests should easily be fooled. Plus, each one arrives potted in a stylish planter.


A snake plant that’s easy to grow

If you’d prefer real plants over fake ones, this snake plant is a smart pick that even the laziest owners can keep alive. While it grows best near a sunny window, it can still tolerate being placed in shade — and each order even includes a decorative planter pot. The best part? It’ll already be about 20 inches tall when it arrives (from planter base to leaf tip), so there’s no need to wait around for it to grow.


This money tree plant with thousands of positive reviews

Not only does this money tree plant thrive without needing a ton of sunlight — but according to fable, it’s also rumored to bring luck to anyone who owns one. Each order includes the pot you see pictured above — and with thousands of positive reviews, you can rest assured that it’s more than worth its reasonable price. “I can’t get over how beautiful this tree is,” raved one happy shopper. They continued, “It arrived well packaged and in fantastic shape, with plenty of new growth and no broken leaves or branches.”


The LED light strip that’s shockingly easy to install

A dark home can feel unwelcoming, which is why it’s never a bad idea to incorporate lights throughout your space. “One of my secret weapons to make a home look expensive that's also budget-friendly is through the use of LED strips in hidden places to create a ‘halo’ or backlit effect,” Leah Li, the founder of Visone and NCIDQ-registered interior designer, tells Mic. “In a regular home, great places to add indirect lighting using LED strips are places such as the underside of upper cabinets [and] backside of the medicine cabinet. You can even create ceiling perimeter lighting using simply crown moulding and LED strips, it is an easy DIY project that instantly lifts your home.”

While installing lights might sound complicated, this light strip makes it incredibly easy by eliminating the need for any hard wiring. Instead, it relies on three AA batteries (which are not included) to provide hours’ worth of light — and the adhesive backing means you can even stick it right into place without any drilling.


These light bars that you can control remotely

Some areas in your home, like tall pantries or shelves, can be difficult to reach. Thankfully, these LED light bars come with two remotes so that you can easily turn them on or off, put them on timers, as well as adjust their brightness from afar. They only require three AA batteries (which are not included) to work — and each order also includes double-sided adhesive so that installation is a total breeze.


A ladder bookshelf that you can turn into the “focal point of the room”

Shelves are a great place to display decorations, but if your book collection is taking up most of the space? Sarah Bowen, a UK-based interior designer and the founder of Spruce Up!, suggests arranging your books in a way that turns your shelves into an eye-catching piece of decor. “There's nothing more eye-catching than seeing a bookshelf organized by color as you walk into a room,” she tells Mic. “Of course, the way you sort your bookshelf is a long-debated topic. However, most interior designers would argue that organizing by color is the only way. It automatically makes your books the focal point of the room.”

With five finishes to choose from (pickled oak, walnut, grey, cherry, and black), this ladder bookshelf looks good on its own — though it’d look even better with some color-coordinated books stacked on top. It’s also made from real wood, and can also be mounted to the wall for added stability if needed.


The 3-D panels for texture on your walls

Not sure what to do with that blank wall? Bowen tells Mic, “Adding texture is an excellent way to transform a bland wall into an eye-catching focal feature.” And while certain textures can cost a pretty penny, Bowen says the upside is that “it can conform to any budget.” For example, these 3-D panels are available for just $60. Each order comes with enough to cover up to 32 square feet — and since they’re made from lightweight PVC, you shouldn’t have any trouble installing them with double-sided adhesive if you’re renting.


A cabinet-friendly paint that comes in so many colors

A full-scale kitchen makeover can easily cost thousands of dollars — however. Zara O’Hare, the interior design consultant at Land of Rugs, tells Mic that simply changing the color of your cabinets can revamp the space without breaking the bank. “One of the best things that you can do to improve the look of your home without spending too much money is re-painting your kitchen cabinets and installing new handles,” she explains. O’Hare continues, “Depending on the size of your kitchen, you can get this all done for less than $50 and, when done right, you will find that the look of your kitchen has been completely transformed!”

The only trick is that some paints are thin, requiring multiple layers in order to completely hide the surface underneath. Thankfully, this paint from Jolie delivers opaque coverage without any priming or sanding necessary beforehand. It also dries within about 30 minutes — and with more than 40 colors to choose from, you shouldn’t have any trouble finding one that suits your kitchen.


These stylish cabinet pulls that are made from stainless steel

Now that we’ve updated your cabinet colors, it’s time to swap those outdated handles with these sleek pulls. They’re made from rust-resistant stainless steel, with a brushed surface that helps keep visible fingerprints to a minimum. You also have the choice of three different finishes: satin nickel, brushed brass, or black.


A tool that helps you install cabinet pulls correctly

Regardless of what size your new cabinet pulls are, this tool can help you make sure that you drill the holes correctly. Each order comes with two templates that help you align horizontal and vertical pulls ranging from 64 millimeters up to 160 millimeters, as well as a 3/16-inch drill bit. Many reviewers appreciated how it made installing handles “much easier” — and one even wrote, “We had 22 handles to install in our kitchen. Within one hour they were all on and all exactly even.”


The collapsible bins that help you hide unsightly clutter

Katie Kochelek, an interior designer as well as the owner and CEO of Ten Key Home & Kitchen Remodels, has a simple fix when it comes to fixing up your space: “To make your home look better without spending any money, clear out the clutter.” But if you’re a little short on storage space? These storage bins are an easy way to hide clutter on shelves, in closets, or even underneath beds. They also collapse down flat, which means they won’t add to the mess when you aren’t using them. Choose from 10 colors, including classic black, bright green, and more.


These storage bins that help you organize pantries & fridges

Cleaning sprays, flour, and soda cans — these storage bins are a simple (yet effective) way to tidy up clutter throughout your kitchen. The clear walls make it easy to see what’s inside without having to unpack anything, while handles on the front and back give you somewhere to grip when pulling them off shelves. They’re also stackable, shatter-resistant, as well as BPA-free.


The insulated curtains that add some color to the room

Once you’ve organized every inch of clutter in your home, Kochelek says that it’s time to tackle the smaller details. “From there, little touches, like the right choice of curtains, accent pillows, thrifted prints to hang on the wall, house plants, all of this can make a big visual difference without costing too much,” she tells Mic.

Not only are these curtains available for less than $35 for one pair, but they also feature a thermally insulating layer that can help block the sun’s warming rays. The result? You may notice your room is cooler than usual — and you even have the choice of more than 15 colors.


These accent pillows that come in trendy colors

Now that your windows are covered (pun intended), it’s time to add a little style to your couch with these accent pillows. They’re made from soft velvet, with durable chain stitches to help keep frays and tears to a minimum. The zipper is also hidden, which helps keep snags from happening. The best part? You even have the choice of four different sizes, as well as seven different color combinations.


A wood frame hanger to display your prints

Displaying your prints will be easier than ever when you have this wooden frame at home. It’s made with four magnetic wooden strips that are meant to clamp around the top and bottom of your poster, and there’s even a piece of leather at the top that makes hanging the frame simple. It’s available in different colors and sizes, so you can choose the best one for your artwork.


The outlet covers that help brighten up your home

Speaking of small details, interior designer Beth R. Martin recommends swapping out your outlet plates if they’re looking a little worse for wear. “If your home is older, then chances are your electrical outlet covers are dingy, mismatched, or even cracked,” she tells Mic. “Replacement covers are only a couple dollars, and you only need a simple screwdriver to swap them out. This effortless fix will instantly make all your rooms look cleaner and more polished.”

While it’s tempting to buy cheap outlet plates, these night light ones are a definite upgrade that’s worth the $21 price tag. Installation is a breeze, as they snap right into place without any batteries, wires, or mounting necessary. Plus, the built-in sensor prevents them from turning on in the daytime.


A roll of contact paper that’s cheaper than buying new counters

“Dated countertops can be a major eyesore in your kitchen, but the price of a new install can be prohibitive,” Martin tells Mic. Instead, consider using this contact paper. It’s made from tough, water-resistant vinyl, and features an adhesive backing that lets you press it into place like you would a giant sticker. Plus, the glossy texture makes it look like real white marble, even when you’re up close.


These abstract prints that are already styled for you

Nichole Abbott, an interior designer at FLOOR360, suggests decorating your walls with some matching prints. But if you aren’t sure what sort of prints to choose, she tells Mic, “A set of three or four matching digital prints, that are all the same but different, in matching black frames.” Abbott continues, “Look for an abstract graphic shaped color scheme that will tie your room design together or contrast with your color palette.”

Not only are these abstract prints already coordinated to look good, but they also come with wooden frames included. Each one is individually wrapped to help keep them safe from damage while in transit — and the frames are available in three different finishes: black, white, or walnut.


An entryway shelf that helps keep you organized

Abbott also recommends decorating with items that look good and help keep you organized. “Anything you can buy that fits with your décor and helps you declutter is a design win,” she explains. “Look for an entry way organizer that fits your style that you can hang on the wall by the door. Then put your mail, your keys, your garage door opener in the organizer instead of cluttering your table surfaces and countertops.”

With space for mail, keys, and even small potted plants, this organizer is a solid choice when it comes to decluttering your entryway. It’s made of sturdy sycamore wood, and doesn’t require any assembly other than mounting it into your wall. Plus, the sleek white finish is sure to easily mesh with nearly any style.


This basket that helps you hide clutter in style

Running out of places to hide clutter? Ashley Daubert, an interior designer at Beam, tells Mic that “baskets can be used as decor, but can also be a great storage solution for clutter.” This basket that’s available for just $20 is made from woven seagrass and can also be used as a stylish planter cover. Choose from two shades: original or black stripes.


A tissue box cover that’s a step above the rest

There’s nothing wrong with having a plain box of tissues sitting out — but if you’re looking for ways to make it look nicer, Daubert recommends that you “cover ordinary household items (like a box of tissues) with something that is aesthetically pleasing.” This faux leather tissue box cover comes in more than 10 colors, ranging from classic white to a rich shade of wine. Many reviewers also wrote about how it’s “super cute” and feels “well made.”

However, tissue boxes are only one of the items that Daubert says is worthy of an upgrade. She says, “This sentiment can also be adapted towards other items such as olive oil bottles, hand soaps etc. which can elevate your countertop if decanted into nice ceramic containers.”


These stylish oil dispensers that are made from sleek glass

As Daubert mentioned, you can also transfer your cooking oils into these stylish dispensers if you’re searching for something that looks nicer than the plastic bottles they came in. The rubber stoppers help prevent leaks if they get knocked over — and the glass is even completely BPA-free. Each order also includes the rack you see pictured above, as well as a small collapsible funnel to help you transfer liquids with minimal spillage.


The stylish soap dispensers made with amber glass

Now that your cooking oil is looking good, it’s time to swap out those plastic soap dispenser bottles with these gorgeous ones made from amber glass. The pumps are made from stainless steel, making it unlikely that they’ll rust over time. You also get five waterproof labels with every order: one for hand soap, hand lotion, dish soap, shampoo, and conditioner.


A peel & stick backsplash that won’t stress your wallet

Revamping your kitchen doesn’t necessarily have to cost hundreds of dollars. Devin Shaffer, the lead interior designer at Decorilla, tells Mic, “This peel and stick subway tile looks and feels just like ceramic or porcelain products and for under $150 a backsplash transformation will take your kitchen to a new level.” The strong adhesive backing ensures that it stays put — even when placed behind your stove — and it’s so water-resistant that you can even use it in bathrooms. But if you aren’t sure what color to choose? Shaffer tells Mic that “we love the retro twist of the teal and white options.”


These smart bulbs that are compatible with Alexa

Shaffer also recommends upgrading from incandescent light bulbs to a set of smart ones and tells Mic, “Don't forget the floor lamps and table lamps, as they provide ambient lighting that is also controllable and clever options such as these candelabra LED light bulbs are the perfect pick.” And not only do these particular bulbs let you adjust their brightness and color using your smartphone, but you can also control them using voice commands once synced with Google Home or Alexa.


A sleek peel & stick wallpaper that’s perfect for an accent wall

“A little wallpaper goes a long way,” Katie Simpson, interior designer at Mackenzie Collier Interiors (MCI), tells Mic. “Create an accent wall behind your headboard or freshen up your powder room by installing a peel and stick wallpaper that can easily be swapped out when you want a change.”

Not only does the geometric pattern on this peel-and-stick wallpaper make it a timeless option, but you also have the choice of two colors: gold or silver. It’s also thicker than some other peel-and-stick options, making it more wear-resistant as well as waterproof — and many reviewers even wrote about how it “looks great.”


The frames that are perfect for creating a gallery wall

While we’re on the topic of walls, Simpson also suggests putting your favorite memories on display with a gallery wall. She tells Mic, “Use frames with the same finish but a variety of different sizes to create a curated look.” Luckily, this pack of frames includes a variety of different sizes, making it look like you took the time to style them yourself. They’re made from natural wood, with real glass faces so that your pictures are easy to see. And if you aren’t sure where to put them? Simpson says that “I love the idea of scattering the frames along a hallway or up a staircase, drawing your eye from one place to the next.”


A chandelier that doubles as a piece of art

Simpson tells Mic, “Swap out your light fixtures to modernize your space. Install an eye-catching chandelier above your dining table which provides ambient lighting, while also doubling as an art piece.” This chandelier in particular is available for less than $60, and the style is undeniably modern. Choose from black or gold.


These floating shelves that can help open up cramped spaces

If your kitchen is feeling a little short on space, Simpson also suggests removing some of that upper cabinetry to create some breathing room. “Swap out some of your upper cabinets for open shelving,” she tells Mic. “This will allow your kitchen to feel bigger and create a space for you to style your favorite accent pieces.” These $20 floating shelves are the perfect sizes for spice bottles, condiments, or even just picture frames — and they even come in nine different finishes to suit any decor.


The curtains that add color without darkening your room too much

“You don't need to remodel to make your home look nicer,” Lily Zingman, the head interior designer and owner of Lily Z Designs, tells Mic. “Sometimes a new layout, color palette, and room accessories like a splash of color with pillows, window treatments, and art can liven up a space and make it unique!”

With more than 12 colors to choose from, these curtains are a smart buy for anyone who could use a little color in their home. While they do add some privacy to your windows, the sheer material still lets light shine through so that the room doesn’t become too dark. Plus, many reviewers wrote about how they’re “good quality” for how reasonable the price is.