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According To Designers, These Cheap Home Updates Make The Biggest Impact

If you’re interested in making a home upgrades, and you’d like to do it without spending a penny more than absolutely necessary, you may want to sit down for this one. These savvy designers have some ideas for how to make a big impact in your home — for cheap. You don’t have to call in professionals to knock down walls or spend days on expansive installations to refresh your space — all it takes is a key purchase (or purchases, if you’re so inclined) and your home can feel transformed.

The ideas here range from absolutely no effort required beyond opening up the package, to minor installations and painting, which means there’s something for every DIY level and decor style. So roll up your sleeves (or not, if that’s not your style), and get ready for the creative energy to start flowing.

Sarah Stacey, owner and lead designer of Sarah Stacey Interior Design, explains, “Updating accessories throughout your house can be very visually impactful within a budget — be creative with what you choose as an ‘accessory.’ You can use simple everyday objects that you already have and display them instead of hiding them in a cabinet.” Case in point is this plug-in word clock, which reads the time in text as opposed to numerals. It’s functional, fun, and a conversation starter — all in one piece.

Another example of a simple accessory that can make a statement — and that helps you follow Stacey’s advice — is this wood knot piece. Perfect as a bookshelf or coffee table accent, it has aesthetically-pleasing round edges and a smooth surface that pairs well in nearly any space. It’s available in three colors (black, white, and natural.)

“Replacing drapery and window treatments can make a huge change to a space — you don’t realize how much visual space windows take up until you add a really impactful treatment to them,” Stacey says. This velvet curtain panel, for example, is thick, plush, and lined, plus it comes in more than 30 colors so you’re sure to find a favorite.

“This may seem obvious, but you should always spend the most money in the areas of the house that you spend the most time in,” recommends Stacey. “If you never use your formal dining room, then don’t splurge on a new table, if you spend all of your day in the living room then, instead, put your budget into a graphic coffee table that you love and brings your joy.” To accentuate your favorite spots in your home — wherever they may be — try this set of wireless LED lights. They can be controlled via the included remote and even have dimmer and timer options. And they’re battery-operated, so you’re not limited by cords or plugs.

“This sconce light is my absolute favorite thing on Amazon — the design details make it look five times the price, easily. Since it is so affordable you can easily get multiple and have them throughout a space,” Stacey says.

The vintage metal design and ceramic shade work well with multiple decor styles, too — you’ll be reminded of your good taste every time you use it.

Owner and lead designer of The Heartland Interior Design Tara Miller recommends paint as a way to make a major update in your home for a relatively small price point. “You can paint your walls a statement color, or paint them really dark for a moody vibe. If you want to take it to the next level, you can even paint your ceiling!"

Not sure where to start when it comes to selecting paint? This interior/exterior paint from Montage Signature Paint comes in 18 elegant colors, so you’re likely to find one that suits your space without feeling too overloaded by your options.

Lighting is another way to make a big impact without a big price, Miller says. These vintage pendant lights, for example, are sleek, stylish, and the very definition of statement lighting. Line them up over your dining table or kitchen counter, position one in your entryway, or revitalize your home office area. They come in a set of two or three, and the necessary screws for installation are included, too.

"It’s a proven fact that buyers look at these two rooms first: the kitchen, followed by the primary bathroom,” says Miller. An updated kitchen sink area can be an easy yet impressive enhancement, like this arc pull-out faucet. It adds contemporary style and clean lines to your space, making one of the busiest areas of your home all the more pleasant. Choose from matte black or brushed nickel finishes.

If you’re not in a position to make a permanent change to your kitchen, per Miller’s advice, you can still put your best foot forward with an accent rug (pun intended). Choose a long and slim style as a runner, and consider a coordinating piece to go in your eating area. This chic rug comes in seven sizes, and in seven different prints — and, you can start by ordering a sample before committing to the entire thing.

Not to be outdone by your kitchen sink, this modern copper bathroom faucet set is a great choice for one of the other busiest part of your home. A matching pop-up drain is included, and it features a strainer basket to discourage clogs — so not only does this set look great, but it makes for smoother maintenance, too. Choose from four elegant colors.

These mounted towel hooks are jewelry for your wall — they add style and shine. Hang multiples by the shower to separate bath towels in rotation or mount one by your sink for easy hand towel access. They come in sets of one, two, or three, and you have five finishes to choose from. All necessary hardware for installation is included (which many happy buyers report to be a cinch).

“I really love these large cotton linen blend pillow covers in olive green,” Miller says, “because green is such a calming color for your home.” Not only will the color of these covers be a welcome addition to your space, but added cushions on chairs, sofas, or even beds always increase the cozy factor. These covers come in 10 different sizes, and 11 different colors so if you’re not quite sure about olive green, you still have plenty of great options. Hidden zippers also ensure that they’re easy to remove and clean, too.

“If you’re like me and don’t have a green thumb, I’m a HUGE fan of faux plants. Also, who has time to water them all?” Miller says. This trio of mini artificial plants looks great positioned side by side or you can spread them apart (on different bookshelves, for example) to help tie your space together. The matching pots and similar-yet-different greens are attractive and best of all, no maintenance is needed — except for the occasional dusting.

“This 6-foot fiddle leaf fig is literally my favorite,” Miller says. “Everyone needs a faux fiddle leaf fig.” This artificial tree — which promises 270 individual leaves — is a great choice to fill a corner or bare wall in your home. If 6 feet isn’t the right size for your space, it’s also available in 4-, 5-, and 7-foot options, too. Use the included pot on its own, or add a decorative pot or basket, since you won’t have to worry about watering. And though this seems pricey up front, it’s certainly cheaper than a full-grown fiddle leaf plant, which can run about $200 and be fickle to care for.

Yes, you can even use artificial plants outdoors, too. This faux plant is a great choice for a deck, patio, or your favorite windowsill or shelf. The included white pot matches well with multiple decor styles, and the leaves can be adjusted to suit your space, too. Buyers rave about how they can be bent and shaped.

“Even getting a new lamp can shine new light on your space,” Miller says. This wall sconce, for example, looks great next to your bedside, and it frees up precious nightstand space. Even better, it can be hardwired or plugged in, giving you lots of flexibility with your install. Choose between black or silver for the fixture itself, both of which come with a white shade.

When asked which area of the home to focus on to get the most bang for your buck, Maria DeCotiis, owner and principal designer of Maria DeCotiis Interior Design, said, “The kitchen! This is one of the most important spaces in a home and where you spend most of your time. By making simple changes in the form of fresh paint and accents, you can transform this space.”

Accents can be anything from decorative art pieces to functional baskets, to this sleek tiered corner shelf that makes a statement of its own while displaying favorite items. Choose from six colors, including rustic blue and rustic teal.

“Giving spaces in your home a fresh coat of paint is a great way to create big visual impact without spending too much! It's not just walls, give your cabinets a new paint job for an instant refresh,” DeCotiis says. This milk paint from Rust-Oleum works on walls, cupboards, furniture, and more. Even better, it goes on smoothly and spread easily with consistently high reviews. It dries quickly between coats, too.

“Wallpaper is another affordable way to upgrade your space,” DeCotiis says. She recommends choosing a more affordable wallpaper if you’re redecorating an entire space, or selecting a more high-end option to create an accent wall/focal point. For example, this peel-and-stick wallpaper is elegant and versatile, and can be applied and repositioned with ease.

“Swapping out accessories is an easy way to give your home a fresh aesthetic, be it artwork, throw pillows or tabletop pieces,” DeCotiis advises. “Even simple touches like this can transform a space into something that feels brand new!” Wall art is a great place to experiment, like this trio of framed minimalist art pieces. Each image is a versatile 11 by 14 inches, and you can select walnut, black, or light wood colors for the frames.

If you’re applying DeCotiis’s advice to tabletop accessories, then you’ll want to consider these glass candle holders. Display your candles with seasonal touches like pine cones in winter, leaves in fall, sand in the summer, dried petals in the spring — the possibilities are practically endless. They make great centerpieces when you’re entertaining, too.

Hardware is an inexpensive accent that can look fancy, explains DeCotiis. “For example, replace a tired chrome doorknob with a brass one to instantly create expensive-looking accents in your home.”

This door knob option, for example, looks classic yet contemporary, and you have the option to choose between keyed entry, locking, and more for security and privacy. Plus, if brass isn’t your preference, there are nine choices for the finish, as well as different styles, too (peek at the Brookshire if you’re a Bridgerton fan).

Tile work is an area that has a vast array of price ranges, so don’t immediately assume that you’re going to max out your budget. DeCotiis explains, “You can find inexpensive porcelain floor tiles that look and feel like marble/natural stone, but are much cheaper. They are also very durable.”

You might always want to consider tile stencils, which mimic the look of tile without the effort (or cost) of installation. They’re reusable and versatile and are useful on floors, walls, furniture, and more.

“For drapes, you can also find ‘linen-look’ polyester that is much more affordable but still stylish,” DeCotiis shares. Another perk she adds, “Linen also tends to stretch, whereas polyester won't.”

This pair of linen blend curtains is worth your consideration; they’re light, airy, and they bring a soft and sophisticated texture to your space that feels earthy and natural. Seven sizes and eight colors are available, each of which features tab tops for smooth opening and closing.

Darcel El-Amin, interior designer and owner of Designs by Darcel, agrees with fellow design experts who speak to the importance of kitchens and bathrooms. She also recognizes that they can be expensive to update. But “...You can save money in these spaces as well. Did you know that you can paint the tile? You can also add peel-and-stick backsplashes.”

This set of self-adhesive tiles, for example, emulates the classic look of subway tiles. Choose between plain white, or black, white, or grey marble options. And don’t worry — you don’t have to apply each tile individually since they come in roughly 12-by-12-inch sheets.

El-Amin also points to hardware as another high-impact, low-cost option. “Change cabinet handles and knobs. These are all tasks that you can take on yourself and save money.” A minimalist and modern set of pulls is a great place to start, as they’ll instantly update your space — and each one takes no more than a few minutes to install. Sets range from as few as five per pack to 50, and they’re available in both matte black or brushed nickel.

If you prefer handles over knobs, these stainless steel cabinet pulls are for you. With an overall width of 5 inches, they’re aesthetically pleasing and comfortable to use. Buyers rate their value and easy installation especially high, with one buyer reporting, “They gave my restored cabinets a clean, modern look that could easily be incorporated into be a rustic, farmhouse, contemporary or traditional design plan.” They come in black, brushed brass, and satin nickel, and in sets of one to 60.

“Another way to update the look of your home is to swap your accessories — pillows, curtains, rugs, and wall decor,” El-Amin advises. “You can change these out little by little as you run across interesting items in stores or online. I always suggest the use of neutral furnishings and adding in trendy accessories because accessories can be changed throughout the years for relatively less money.”

Case in point: these throw pillow covers have a soft yet stylish texture and an invisible zipper so you can easily swap them out or remove them for a wash. Four square sizes and one rectangular option are available, along with 17 solid colorways.

El-Amin tells Bustle, “The biggest, most impactful thing that you can do is update your paint colors. Walking into a space that has a brand new color palette can feel like walking into a whole new space ... If you're not sure what colors to use, check out the color of the year from the top paint companies. You can also consider wallpaper for accent walls and small spaces.”

You can keep costs low by going the DIY route with your painting, El-Amin also says. This paint and primer in one can also help you save steps. It’s available in 42 earth tone and neutral colors with a variety of finish options, too.

Julia Dempster, founder of Julia Dempster Design, says, “My number one rule is always overscale, for example even if your artwork is small in size, you can frame it an a really large frame and mount to make it a real feature.” This highly rated photo frame, for example, can hold either an 8-by-10 inch or an 11-by-14 inch photo (and it comes in other sizes for even more options). Two hangers allow for landscape or portrait display, and there are three color options to choose from (black, gold, and silver).

“Flooring is paramount,” Dempster says. “[A] large rug can transform a room instantly and cover a multitude of sins. The flooring choice will impact all other choices in the interior and would be one of my first design decisions as covers a large area and grounds all other choices.” If this is a tip that resonates for you, consider this vintage-style area rug. You have your choice of low-key neutrals, or even bright colors like yellow or turquoise to make a splash in your space. It’s stain-resistant and durable too, so it’s easy to maintain. It’s also a fan favorite with over 22,000 five-star ratings.

When it comes to paint, Dempster explains, “The largest space you have to cover is walls ... I love to carry the wall color onto the ceilings, it almost obscures corners and therefore it tricks the eye into seeing the edges, making the room appear larger.” If you’ve undertaken a large painting project, make sure to keep a bottle of touch-up paint on hand to keep it looking fresh and to protect your investment.

Speaking of your wall edges, this peel-and-stick wall moulding is an excellent choice for a simple yet elegant refresh. It’s self-adhesive, you can cut it to size, and it even has some elasticity that makes it easy to work with. It comes in 3- and 4-inch widths, and each roll gives you more than 16 feet of moulding. Color choices are creamy white, grey, black, and brown.

Dempster says, “I personally think lighting makes anything look more expensive, such as a picture light illuminating a framed artwork or a feature wall.” And you don’t need to be a museum curator to effectively light your artwork — this picture light is a great place to start. With brass, bronze, and nickel options for the finish, the arc shape makes placement and positioning a cinch.

If you’re not feeling picture lights, Dempster has more ideas. “Low level lighting will add a warm glow to a room,” she notes. “I recommend layering atmospheric lighting, floor lamps, wall lights, table lamps and candles to provide a rich, warm inviting interior.”

“I also love to add greenery to a room,” says Dempster. “[A] faux olive tree will always make a room look more expensive.” This artificial tree promises a realistic appearance right down to the faux olives on the branches but requires little to no upkeep; maybe just occasional dusting. It stands 32 inches tall, a versatile size that works well on the floor or on plant stands.

“Layering and limiting the colors to three will also make a room look elegant,” Dempster shares. “I love layering textures, rather than colors, so it enhances the materials. I love the contrast of silk against velvet and wool.”

Try a set of these faux silk throw pillow covers to take Dempster’s advice for a spin. They’re elegant with luxe sheen, and they come in rich, vibrant color choices like eggplant purple and aqua blue, along with classic neutrals and earth tones, too. They’re machine washable and feature a subtle zipper for easy on and off maneuvers.

If you’re focusing on textures, don’t overlook a plush blanket like this faux fur throw. The faux rabbit fur material is, as one buyer describes, “probably one of the softest I've ever felt.” It’s ultra comfy and cozy, with a striped faux fur side, and a more velvety underside. Toss it over your couch, bed, or a favorite chair. It comes in two versatile sizes and nine styles that are easy to match and coordinate with the rest of your space.

“Contrasting textures in neutral colors always stands the test of time,” Dempster tells Bustle. “Anything that adds contrasting textures and feels great is going to add richness to the interior.” A classic patterned blanket, for example, is a great addition to your living room or bedroom that works for most of the year (you can even take it camping in the summer). Not feeling neutrals? Black and white is classic, too, according to Dempster.

James Stanley, principal and founder of James StanleyNY shares, “Flooring is a key to making the home look updated, and in most cases that doesn’t have to mean replace, you might be able to just refinish them.” A floor polish and restorer fills and covers scratches and adds a sheen that will have them looking new and fresh. And, not only is it a fraction of the cost of replacing your floors, it’s much faster, too — it takes as little as 30 minutes to dry.

Stanley also recommends light fixtures as an area worth your attention. This modern sputnik chandelier light, for example, comes in four and six bulb options. Either style will not only light up the room — literally — but will add style and sophistication, too. Consider it for your entryway, living room, or dining room. It comes with gold or black finish.

“Peel-stick-removable wall coverings are one of my biggest go-tos for those face lift projects, and Amazon has plenty to choose from,” Stanley shares. Wall decals like these country leaves can be applied to almost any smooth surface, and they’re easily to reposition so you can find just the right spot and achieve just the right look. And then, enjoy them for as little or as long as you’d like. Once you take them down, no glue or residue is left behind.