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9 Affordable Design Tips to Upgrade Your Space

Make a room magazine-ready for less than $100.

One day, you’ll be able to furnish and decorate a room from scratch, hire an interior designer, and match your home to a cover of Architectural Digest. In the meantime, you might be on a tighter time/money budget. But you’d be surprised what a few small purchases can do to upgrade the look and feel of your home. Here are some affordable design tips to make a room magazine-ready for less than $100:

Image via

1. White Paint

An all or mostly white room speaks to us of luxurious hotel rooms and light, airy spaces — and absolutely no children or pets. Grab a gallon of paint and white-wash some of your old knick-knacks (vases, figurines, picture frames), furniture and even a wooden floor to achieve this monochromatic luxury. And if you do have children or pets, just be prepared to keep some paper towels on hand.

2. Canvas Drop Cloth

Take that white/off-white look one step further and drape one of these over your drab old sofa or armchair. One cloth is $25—just a tiny bit less than reupholstering or buying a new one.  Check out some great looks at Remodelista.

Image via Remodelista

Image via Remodelista

3. Throw Pillows

Of course, some of us need more color in our lives, and decorative pillows are one of the easiest way to make a living room or bedroom pop with the trendiest colors and patterns of the moment (teal, orange, geometric/floral patterns). Then when the trend passes, you can replace the covers or the whole pillows, no sweat.

4. Colorful Pendant Lights

Add pops of color (and retro cool) to the dining room or kitchen with one of these pendant lights, which can run as low as $78.

Image via

5. Fake Ceiling Moulding

This is a fun bit of Rococo flair that makes it look like your space (no matter how modern) is in a landmark, prewar house. They’re only about $8 and light as a feather, so installation isn’t going to land you in the chiropractor’s office.

Image via

6. Wallpaper Accents

Wallpaper is back in style, but you don’t need to go nuts with it just yet. Buy a single roll (there are stylish self-adhesive options at CB2) and use it to cover the inside-backs of bookcases or open cabinets.

7. Mounted Staghorn Fern

These sculptural plants look just enough like hunting trophies to make you laugh, and the texture they add is something the pros rave about. You can buy a plant and DIY the mounting, or you can buy one ready-made.

Image via DG style

8. Vases Full of Things

For those of us with black thumbs, this is a designer-approved option: Fill a few regular glass vases of rocks, pinecones, coffee beans, twigs or something and group them all together on a table.

Image via At Home in Love

9. Mirrors

Where you might normally hang a work of priceless art (or a poster of one), embrace your inner narcissist and hang a mirror ($75 for a nice one at Target). If you’re feeling industrious, you can make it look like an heirloom antique.

How have you spruced up your place on a tight budget?