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Inexpensive Tricks to Trade Up Your Home Decor

Working on a small budget, but want a high end design look in your home? Here are some simple and inexpensive tricks to trade up your home decor.

Yes, we all look at beautiful rooms and homes on Instagram or Pinterest and want it for our own home.

Many of the spaces look high end and expensive.

So how do you create a high end look, when you have a limited budget?

After decorating three apartments and 4 houses, as a single working mom, I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve!

What Makes a Room Feel Sophisticated 

Let’s first talk about what visual elements make rooms feel elegant and sophisticated.

Interior designers are trained to layer fabrics, textures and colors to create gorgeous rooms.

What sets high end designer’s rooms apart is how they make your eye move around the room.

Here is a dining room from my favorite designer that has greatly influenced my own style.

Photo Credit: Ballard Designs

I actually got invited (as part of the Design Blogger’s Conference) to this show house in Atlanta.

Suzanne Kasler does REALLY soft and sophisticated rooms.

What I want you to see how how your eye moves around this room.

You eye goes to the stunning chandelier, the gorgeous artwork, the objects on the table and mantel, and the gorgeous high-gloss ceiling.

It’s all anchored by white wall and pops of soft gray blue.

When you break it down, the design formula is really simple:

  • A mix of upholstered, stained, and painted furniture
  • Interesting artwork and accessories
  • Beautiful wall colors
  • A rug that anchors the space
  • Statement light fixtures
  • Gorgeous window coverings

Guess what?

All of these things can be found on consignment, antique markets, at Home Goods, Facebook marketplace, at a garage sale, and on Amazon.

Of course Suzanne Kasler’s room spared no expense, but it can be used as a guide!

Find a room you love and find “like” items that mimic the color, style and shape to create a sophisticated look in your home. 

Shop affordable options


Create a Interior Designer Look Inexpensively

There are some little designer tricks that make a room look pulled together.

What I’ll be sharing is OUTSIDE of the BIG TICKET items, so it truly is affordable.

Affordable items to update your home decor:

  • Wall color
  • Drapery panels
  • Inexpensive framed artwork
  • Pillow covers
  • Throws and faux flowers
  • Basic accessories like books and small accent pieces
  • Cabinet hardware
  • Trays

Luckily, most everything can be found at affordable prices and just require a little practice to get it right.

When I tell you about these tricks, you will start to see them in rooms you love!

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8 Affordable ways to trade up the look of a room:

  1. Choose monochromatic color scheme: walls and drapes are the same color.
  2. Hang drapes at the ceiling and to the floor.
  3. Choose artwork that is unique and group pieces together to fill a wall.
  4. Mix three patterns in a room: small/solid, medium, large patterns.
  5. Group objects in uneven numbers and put them in a tray and stack books to fill vertical space. 
  6. Mix up furniture finishes for texture: upholstery, stained, metallic and painted in one room.
  7. Use faux flowers and throws to soften hard lines, add texture, and color. 
  8. Change out the hardware on furniture and cabinets.

Let’s look at some examples from around my home, so I can point out what I’ve done.

Not that I do everything perfectly, but it is a good place to start and point out some of the details.

Also, I’m not an interior designer but a homeowner like you!

Monochromatic Dining Room


If you want to know how to make that orchid arrangement…

How to Create a Faux Orchid Arrangement

You can see from the dining room I’ve done MOST of the things I am suggesting.

It’s also a very similar color to the beautiful room I showed you from Suzanne Kasler 🙂

The one thing that REALLY stands out in this room is monochromatic color palette.

What makes it extra sophisticated is that the walls and drapes match.

It gives the room a luxurious feel and softness.


The most affordable way to create this monochromatic look is to use ivory or white drapes.

If painting, BUY THE DRAPES FIRST and then match the paint.

How-to Choose Curtains and Drapes

If you live in an apartment with white walls, this look is for you!

It’s much easier to find a paint color than it is to find drapes to match a wall color.

How to make a room feel pulled together and sophisticated:
  1. Using a monochromatic color scheme between the walls and drapes.
  2. Hang drapes as high up as possible on the wall and to the floor to add visual height. 
  3. Don’t use mass produced artwork. I LOVE Etsy for finding new artwork. 
  4. Use the same color of frames to group different pieces together.
  5. Mix  three patterns in each room among the fabrics and/or rug.
  6. Blend a variety of furniture finishes: metal, painted, stained, and upholstered.
  7. Have fun on the coffee table with stacked books and accessories in various colors and heights. 


You can see my rooms have something to draw your eye from side to side plus top to bottom.

That’s what makes a room interesting.

It’s a great budget saver to buy inexpensive prints in standard sizes and frame them with a white mat to highlight the artwork.

Vignettes and CABINET Hardware

Here is an example of grouping objects together on a table to create vignettes.

It goes beyond just grouping items in uneven numbers, but also varying heights too.

Look back at the coffee table now and you’ll see this.

Low, medium, and high objects together make it interesting vs. just a bunch of stuff on a coffee table!


In the foyer, this little corner has a lot of visual interest doesn’t it?

How to add style to a small space:
  1. Paint the furniture a fresh new color and added new hardware to trade up the look.
  2. Mix different finishes together: woven, metallic, and painted.
  3. Group objects together in a tray of varying heights.
  4. Hang a variety of artwork together to frame the space.
  5. Stack books and boxes for height.

Another place I love to use trays is in kitchen!

It clears clutters too and anchors objects together on a kitchen island.

sophisticated-kitchen-island-blue-hydrandgeas blue-hydrangeas-kitchen-island-blue-dining-room kitchen-glass-jars-counter-large-kitchen-island

In kitchens, place common items in glass jars to organize them for a neat and tidy appearance.

In these kitchen pictures, there is a lot to see!

Your eye moves around the room because there is interest from floor to ceiling and across the horizontal spaces. 

Yes, my kitchen pretty much looks like this most days because I’ve decluttered the counters.

how to trade up the home decor in a kitchen: 
  1. Group items in various heights and textures in a tray on the island. The books and jar act as one item of medium height. 
  2. Fill walls with artwork grouped in colors that complement the room.
  3. Combine textures between the fabrics in the room and furniture.
  4. Use a mix of cabinet hardware: pulls, knobs and cup pulls to make the cabinets look more high end. 
  5. Place faux flowers for a pop of color and texture. 
  6. Use glass jars for a cohesive look on counters: k-cups, sugar packs, tea bags, pasta, cereals, etc. 

Gallery Walls are Still a YES to fill walls

If you have a large blank wall, go for a gallery wall.

The way to keep it sophisticated is to make sure the frames are all the same finish.

Also, use various sizes but keep the frames in the same general style.


I have great tutorials and gallery walls and how to hang pictures:


Of course I practice what I preach! Here’s the last example.

Why does the bedroom look interesting?
  1. There are three sizes of patterns in the pillows
  2. Throws at the end of the bed add a pop of color and texture.
  3. Furniture is a variety of  finishes: painted, metal, and upholstered.
  4. Artwork is grouped on the wall.
  5. Accessories are grouped in threes and of varying heights.

Do you see it now 🙂

To help you EVEN MORE…I’ve covered ALL of this material in a recent Instagram LIVE.

Watch it by clicking the link INSTAGRAM LIVE

You’ve got this and can use these strategies to trade up your own home decor!


Some other helpful posts you may enjoy now that you are working on a room makeover:

My mission is to be helpful, so I hope I’ve done that!

I’d love if you would join the Porch Daydreamer fan club, so you never miss a post.

As my FREE GIFT to you, with email sign-up, a detailed paint sheen project guide! 

You will know the right sheen for every project…


Please consider following me on Pinterest and Instagram for daily inspiration.

Until next time…



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  1. YOU have wonderful taste! I love what you have done to your home. For me, I don’t use or like white walls, drapes, or paint. Thanks for the tips, I’m about to paint a bedroom and will match the drapes to the wall. Curious to see how this will look.

  2. OMG, this post is exactly what I need. To add to additional ideas/tips I already have. You nailed your home. It’s so fabulous, I would never want to leave it. Highland look, you nailed that also

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