Pro Tips: How to Make Your Home Look Expensive on a Budget

What makes a home look ‘luxurious’? As a seasoned Chicago realtor with nearly four decades of experience and having seen thousands of homes, I believe it’s often not about the money spent on furnishings but about small, clever ideas that come together to create a masterpiece. Here are some of my top tips for elevating your home’s elegance without a lavish budget.

  1. Paint: The Foundation of Elegance

    A superb paint job is essential – encompassing trim, doors, walls, and sometimes ceilings. Opt for neutral colors to create a timeless, sophisticated look. My top pick is “Simply White” by Benjamin Moore.

  2. Lighting: Setting the Mood

    Upgrading to small-profile LED fixtures can make a significant difference, especially when refreshing your ceiling. Consider the temperature of the light bulbs and the strategic placement of interior lighting.

  3. Tech Upgrades: Smart and Current

    Incorporating modern technology in moderation can enhance your home’s functionality and appeal. Simple updates to control panels and new features can make a significant impact.

  4. Landscaping: Curb Appeal

    Your front yard is a reflection of your home’s overall aesthetic. Maintain a simple, lush, green, and healthy landscape to enhance your property’s curb appeal.

  5. Staging: Personalizing Your Space

    Evaluate your furniture and consider replacing or rearranging pieces that are outdated or worn. Look for modern, budget-friendly options from places like or CB2 to refresh your space.

  6. Bedding: Luxury Hotel Style

    Choose white or neutral bedding with a splash of color. Use the hotel fold for a refined look and add a few tastefully chosen decorative pillows.

  7. Hardware Upgrades: Small Changes, Big Impact

    Replacing old cabinet knobs and door handles with contemporary hardware can instantly modernize a room. Select finishes that complement your home’s style.

  8. Artwork and Mirrors: Reflecting Elegance

    Enhance your home with artwork that resonates with you, like original photographs, lithographs, or graphic works. These pieces don’t have to be expensive; supporting young and upcoming artists can bring unique flair and personality to your space. Art allows you to continually refresh your home’s atmosphere by rearranging or changing pieces. Complement this with mirrors to create a sense of openness, making your space feel larger and more inviting. Remember, it’s about creating a personal touch that reflects your style.

  9. Textiles: The Power of Fabric

    Revitalize your space with a thoughtful selection of curtains, throw pillows, and blankets. Opt for luxurious fabrics in a harmonious color palette, focusing on the interplay of different textures within the same color family. Combine smooth silk with rough-spun rugs, or rich velvet with sleek satin, to create a captivating contrast in texture. This approach not only adds sophistication but also prevents a monotonous ‘matchy-matchy’ look, ensuring your space feels stylishly coordinated yet effortlessly chic.

  10. Flooring: Clean and Pristine

    Keep your floors immaculate. Professional cleaning for carpets and polishing for hardwood floors can rejuvenate your space. Area rugs can add warmth and texture and define the spaces.

  11. Declutter: Less is More

    A clutter-free space feels more peaceful and elegant. Organize and remove unnecessary items to embrace a restrained, yet cozy approach.

  12. Personal Touches: Unique but Understated

    Integrate personal elements such as family photos, heirlooms, or travel souvenirs in a manner that enhances, not overpowers, your living space. Celebrate your passions or hobbies by weaving them subtly into your home’s decor. Display select pieces of your work, or curate a tasteful photo gallery showcasing moments from these activities. This approach allows your home to tell your story in an elegant, understated way, creating a space that’s uniquely yours while maintaining a balanced and harmonious atmosphere.

  13. Have Fun!

    Embrace your creativity with a touch of restraint by dedicating one room to fully showcase your unique personal style. Powder rooms are ideal for this playful experiment. I’ve encountered powder rooms transformed into Roman spas, enchanting Harry Potter-style libraries, or spaces of lavish extravagance with real velvet or silk paneling. The beauty of focusing on a smaller space like a powder room is that you can indulge in more luxurious materials, like that ultra-expensive wallpaper, without breaking the bank. It’s a chance to make a bold statement and inject fun into your home, while keeping the rest of your space more universally appealing.

Transforming your home into a luxurious haven doesn’t require a hefty budget. With these thoughtful tips, you can create an elegant and inviting atmosphere that enhances your everyday living experience. Remember, it’s the small, thoughtful choices that make the biggest impact in creating a space you love.

Luxury Home Styling