Wondering how to make your house look expensive? Well, next to the kitchen, the living room is arguably the most important room in the home. True to its name, it’s where life happens. It’s where guests gather, where you spend lazy evenings by the fire (or basking in the soft glow of Netflix—no judgment here), and, in most floor plans, one of the first spaces you see upon entering your home.
Don’t you want it to look luxurious? We thought so and our minds foray to steel doors and windows for a starter. Fortunately, you don’t have to spend busloads of cash to make it look like you spent a lot of money. We’ve consulted with our stable of design experts to uncover the sneakiest ways to create a plush-looking living space—all without emptying out your 401(k). In some cases, you won’t need to spend a thing! You’re welcome.
1. Incorporate layered lighting
You want to have a variety of light sources to add depth to the room. But you don’t have to empty your wallet to go glam on lighting. Davis loves hitting up Goodwill for lamp bases and Target for lampshades.
You could also hang a great pendant light in place of a traditional table lamp, says Christina Hoffmann, owner of luxury curated goods site Epitome Home. She also loves placing candles in pretty, reflective hurricane containers.
Another cheap trick that won’t require any labor: Try plug-in sconces, says Chicago-based interior designer Clare Barnes.
“Placing these next to furniture arrangements can be an affordable way to update a space without bearing the cost of rewiring a wall,” Barnes says. “Adding dimmer switches is another way to make a room feel expensive—this lets you adjust the lighting so a space feels warm and cozy.”
2. Add in textiles
Don’t fear—there’s a workaround: Hit up your local fabric store, where you can often find beautiful scraps for a discount—usually 60% to 90% off what it would cost if you purchased yardage off a bolt on the floor. Then find a tailor on Craigslist—Hoffmann estimates you can expect to pay $10 to $20 per pillow, depending on the size. You could also sew them yourself if you’re crafty. Pick up some feather inserts (Hoffmann loves Ikea’s) and you’re set! In the end, you can get a pillow that would easily retail for $100 or more for $30 or less.
Extra credit: If you find a remnant piece of fabric that’s 2 yards or longer, get an equivalent amount of a cheap, soft backing and make a throw.
“An oversized, beautiful throw casually draped in the room will make it feel more luxurious and expensive,” Hoffmann says.
3. Make sure your curtains hit the floor
Make sure to measure the window before you head to the store. You could also make your own on the cheap—just pick up a sheer, lightweight cotton fabric, and take it to your tailor or dry cleaner.
“You’ve got beautiful, billowy drapes for less than $35 each,” Hoffman says.
She recommends Ikea for curtain rods and brackets: “They are basic black, inexpensive, and aren’t distracting or noticeable.”
4. Invest in large-scale art
Resist the urge to hit up Bed Bath & Beyond for an anonymous beachscape, though—experts agree that the best art has personal significance. Check out secondhand shops and estate sales for pieces with a backstory. If you’re on a budget, get creative and do it yourself (all you need is a giant canvas from an art supply store and the medium of your choice).
5. Don’t shy away from texture
“The tactile feel of a wool sofa, the soft hand of a silk velvet pillow, or the supple texture of a quality leather are unmistakable luxury that you not only see but any guest can feel,” says Summer Thornton of Summer Thornton Design in Chicago.
If you’re on a budget, toss a faux-fur blanket or sheepskin throw on your couch, jazz up leather chairs with fun pillows in chunky knit cases, or incorporate brushed brass accent pieces on a reclaimed wood coffee table.