10 Things That Make Your Home Look Cheap

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If you are reading this post, you probably have an interest in interior design and decorating. In the process of developing a sense of style, you’ve probably made some decorating faux pas without even realizing it! Everyone has different tastes and styles, but for a home that feels collected, curated, and timeless read on to learn about all the things that make your home look cheap and how to make your house look more expensive!

hallway that is dark and has empty walls, things that make your home look cheap
same hallway painted bright white and has wall molding and a photo gallery, how to make your house look expensive

Decor clutter

We collect things over the years and don’t realize how it affects our homes until we focus on making a change. Decor clutter makes your home look cheap even if it’s nice stuff. However, knick-knacks will always be out. No one needs or wants to see a bunch of dust-collecting figurines. Everyone has different tastes, but if you want a contemporary curated home avoid the mistake of overdecorating.

The Problem: Trying to fill every blank space with decor. Just because you have an empty spot on your wall or your mantel doesn’t mean you have to fill it.

• Over-decorated mantel

over decorated mantel that makes your home look cheap
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• Too many pillows

too many throw pillows on a sofa
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• Decor on top of cabinets

cluttered decor on top of kitchen cabinets
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Overdstuffing your sofa or bed with throw pillows is such a design turn-off. Pillows are pretty, but you need to allow enough space for yourself or your guests to sit comfortably without having to rearrange the whole setup.

The Solution: When it comes to shelf styling or decorating surfaces like console tables – less can be best. There are some basic rules for decorating – use pieces with varying heights, create a triangle with decorative objects, and make sure you have things that are the proper scale for the space. A little too big is better than a little too small.

• Appropriate amount of throw pillows

elegant living room demonstrating how many throw pillows should be on a sofa

Sofa | Rattan boxes | Drapes | Coffee Table

• Layered texture and scale

perfectly styled shelves that make your house look expensive and intentional

Iron candle holders | Brass drawer pulls

Matching furniture sets

This is a big one! Furniture isn’t cheap so don’t make the mistake of spending money on a matching furniture set only to find out you’ve committed a design crime. The collected and curated look is reflected in the way we style pieces that complement each other. Whether it’s with colors, materials, or patterns, coordinating your furniture is how to make your home look expensive.

The problem: Rooms with matching furniture lack character. Nothing is more boring to a designer than looking at the same furniture repeated in a space.

• Matching bed and nightstand

matching furniture in bedroom creates a boring look
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• One large piece of furniture

outdated living room decor that makes it look cheap and tacky
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The solution: Mix and match furniture that has different colors and textures. Add some visual interest with a variety of materials and fabric choices to achieve a high-end look. This was one of the main ways I updated my 90s home decor in every room!

I have two West Elm Marin sofas covered with the same velvet material, one is white and the other is a warm camel color. To round out the space, I brought in two white boucle chairs with a different style that contrasts with the traditional lines of the bench seat sofas.

Mixing furniture is a design concept that should be used everywhere in your home. My dining table and chairs don’t match but they complement each other very well.

The same goes for the bedrooms in my home. The upholstered beds make it easy to choose a coordinating nightstand style – make sure it’s the right height!

• Cane bed and white nightstand

how to mix and match bedroom furniture to make your home look expensive, cane bed, white nightstand

Bed | Rug | Nightstand | Lamp | Quilt

• Upholstered bed and black nightstand

minimalist bedroom with upholstered bed and black nightstand, elevated space with a blend of texture and materials with contrasting colors

Bed | Nightstand | Lamp | Knit blanket

Overly themed spaces

Not one knowledgeable designer will come into your home and suggest using themed decor. You can achieve a coastal look without having seashells and pictures of the ocean all over your home.

The problem: Decor that looks like grandma’s “room in a bag” from JC Penney. Using too many colors or printed motifs everywhere. These are things that make your home look cheap and tacky too!

• Matching windows, bedding, and furniture

things that make a home look cheap, having drapes, bedding and furniture with the same theme or motif
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• Lots of ornate decor in a small space

poorly decorated bathroom with multiple ornate decor items that make the space feel tacky and cheap
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The solution: Use colors and materials to create the “theme” in your home. For example, simply use lighter shades of blue and white to get the Coastal style you’re going for. Bring in cozy and relaxed materials like cotton and linen with driftwood and greenery that reflect the climate you are trying to emulate.

In my daughter’s bedroom the “theme” is vintage modern. This look was achieved by mixing decor with vintage details with modern colors and textures.

Think of it like season decor – you sprinkle your holiday decor in with what you already have. Most of your decor should be neutral; if you like animal print, add it in small doses. Maybe in the form of a throw pillow or decorative storage box instead of drapes or large area rugs.

Staying with a trend that has long passed

Do you know someone who fell in love with a hairstyle that became their signature look for decades? Well, some people do the same thing when it comes to decor. They find something they like and never make any updates. Time to get rid of the medallions, scroll art, and anything else that makes your home look cheap and outdated.

cheap looking medallion decor that is outdated and tacky
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scroll and medallion wall art that is outdated
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The opposite can be a problem too. Decor trends can change quickly and by the time you complete a room in the latest thing, the world has moved on to something else. Choose classic and timeless styles when it comes to big-ticket or permanent design items.

The problem: Incorporating all the latest trends all the time or not updating your decor at all.

home interior painted gray, gray floors, no character or personality, outdated style
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A few years ago, it was popular to decorate your home top to bottom with gray. Choosing the same color for the walls, furniture, and flooring can be too much. But can still use gray as an accent color. My current favorite paint color to use is SW Accessible Beige. However, my living room still has SW Agreeable Gray on the walls. But my floors are a warm tone which balances the gray on the walls.

The solution: If you don’t like what’s popular then skip it! You don’t have to keep up with the Jones to have a beautifully styled home. Bring in trendy things in small doses.

white boule bench styled in hallway

My favorite boucle bench!

While mass-produced art isn’t on the list of ways to make your home look expensive, the way to avoid “everyone’s house looking the same” is to find unique ways to style your favorite finds.

Decorating with word art

There is no living, laughing, or loving in a meticulously styled home – at least not on the walls. You don’t need signs to let guests know that you love your family, that friends and family gather in your home, or signs that designate a specific location.

The problem: Word art of any kind!

view of home interior with multiple tacky word art decor on the walls
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word art hung above a door
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The solution: Instead, hang a gallery wall with photos of your family to let people know you love them. I’ll even show you how to hang it! Take advantage of all the places you can place a piece of art, like a nightstand or bookshelf.

Photogallery wall that has an elevated look, designer, stylish, wall decor ideas

My post – How to Style a Big Blank Wall – has more tips on how to make your home look expensive without spending a fortune! This gallery is stunning, but I recently discovered a more affordable set of frames and they are great!

Multiple flooring transitions

I get it…flooring is expensive and the process of installing it can be messy and inconvenient. You have to move furniture around and the process usually creates a mess. Again, this is why I always recommend going with a timeless option – like oak wood floors – that I won’t have to update.

The problem: Multiple flooring transitions in the same space or visual line. Your floor plan shouldn’t look like a tri-state area on a map.

open floor plan with three different types of flooring ceramic tile, carpet, porcelain tile, different flooring makes a home look cheap and not well thought out
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Having several different types of flooring in an open floor plan makes it feel chopped up as if the layout was an afterthought. For large open spaces use area rugs and furniture placement to designate its purpose. There is no need to further characterize it with flooring.

The main living area of your home should have continuity.

The solution: If possible, use the same flooring materials throughout the main living areas of your home. This prevents tripping hazards at the transition points and creates a cohesive design. It’s better to spend the money upfront and get what you’ll be happy with in the long term than to keep replacing what you’ll find tacky over time.

Rugs and furniture not to scale

Choosing the wrong size furniture and throw rugs will make a space look awkward and off balance. The most important thing you need to do is measure and then measure again. Knowing the dimensions of your space allows you to make better decisions when it comes to designing it. There are some guidelines to follow that will give you just the right fit so your home doesn’t look cheap!

bedroom with complementary furniture and bedding, stylish design elements, decor tip

The problem: An area rug that is too big or too small for the space. It gives the impression that you are not familiar with basic rules of decorating or at the very least, haven’t put much thought into it.

The solution: In the living room, your furniture should either be able to fit entirely on the rug surface or at least have the front legs of each piece sit on the rug a bit. Most people have the space for the latter. When measuring out your space, you’ll need to take into account the space to walk around your furniture and where tripping hazards may present themselves. See the diagrams below designed by Studio McGee and use them as a guide to help you find the appropriate rugs for your home.

Studio McGee area rug styling guide
Source: Studio McGee

Outdated window treatments

Like rugs, window treatments need to be the right size for a beautiful and balanced look. Window treatments should elevate the overall look of your design, not be an eyesore or the star of the show.

The problem: Using outdated drapes that are too short and not hung high enough – or nothing at all.

bedroom with matching bedding and curtains
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In this case, I recommend hanging the drapes much higher – probably at the ceiling. A longer rod will allow the drapes to extend further past the window giving the illusion that it’s taller and wider.

The solution: Get rid of all outdated window treatments like valances, cheap plastic roller shades, and vertical blinds. If you’ve put the work in to curate the rest of your home decor, don’t stop now. Read my How to Hang Drapes Like a Pro post for a fool-proof way to get it right every time.

Drapes should kiss the floor at the bottom and be hung high and wide above the window. This method creates the illusion of a larger window and makes a room feel more luxurious. Are you wondering how to make your house look more expensive? Add some stylish woven Roman shades and you’ll have a well-dressed window.

Wall treatments

Simply having painted walls in a light neutral color is more sophisticated looking than some elaborate accent wall or themed design. Sometimes less is best when it comes to wall treatments.

Dark shiplap accent wall
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bedroom with mountain range painted on wall behind bed
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wall in kitchen painted to with a tuscan looking mural
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The problem: Outdated paint applications, elaborate accent walls, and unflattering paint colors.

The solution: Keep it neutral when it comes to your walls. If you want to add details there are a few ways to do it that will make your house look more expensive and custom. Crown molding and millwork make your home look beautiful and refined. It is customizable to the style of your home and isn’t as hard as you think to install yourself! For more information, read my DIY wall molding and vertical shiplap tutorials.

wall molding that makes your house look expensive

Roman clay walls are trending, but do you remember when sponge painting was popular? Using outdated painting techniques makes your home look cheap and can be difficult to fix when you decide to make updates.

Other things that make your home look cheap are scuff marks and nail holes. Banged-up walls give the impression that you don’t care about details and the upkeep of your home. Home maintenance takes work and if your goal is to create a sophisticated and styled home, fixing these imperfections should be a priority.

If you want to take it up a notch, use neutral wallpaper to bring some character and color into your home. Contemporary wallpaper is much easier to hang and remove than the old stuff so don’t be afraid to give it a try. Head over to my wallpaper tutorial for inspiration!

Bad lighting

What constitutes bad lighting? There are a lot of factors that go into this one. Lighting is often not on a homeowner’s radar until the flaws are pointed out. Many people don’t realize that lighting needs to be designed like everything else in your home. It’s not just light fixtures that make your home look cheap!

The problem: Lighting that feels cold and unwelcoming. Only using overhead light sources. Too much light or not enough light.

The solution: It’s not hard to find the right lighting formula for your home. My Kitchen Lighting Design post goes into detail for that room, but the concept works for the rest of your home too.

For a warm and inviting home, I avoid daylight bulbs. The 5000k color makes everything look blue and cold while 2700-3000k gives a much cozier look. Not only should your home have overhead lighting, but you also need to add ambient lighting in the form of lamps, wall sconces, or under-cabinet lighting. Bonus points if your lights are on dimmer switches that allow you to control any lighting scene even further.

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