Budget-Luxury: Spruce Up Your Home With These Easy, Cost-Effective Decorating Tips

Bohemian living room interior 3d render with  beige colored furniture and wooden elements and light blue colored wall.

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Make your home look like a million bucks by only throwing down a couple hundred. You can do so with some tips that align with the idea of “budget-luxury” fix-ups.

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Born out of the TikTok community, hashtags for #budgetluxury and #cheapestthing showcase how to look like you have a lot of money with any level of income.

There are tips for buying the least expensive items from designer brands to look like they’re part of your go-to style, and ideas for how to spruce up your home without investing a ton of funds. The latter is an especially ideal practice if you have rental properties or Airbnbs you want to make look more appealing.

Insider talked to one pro, Clare McLaughlin, who is a hugely successful TikTok star with 1.1 million followers and more than 25 million likes on her videos covering the budget-luxury trend. And she has the knowledge for it, too, having earned a master of fine arts degree in interior design and living in the luxury capital of the U.S. — New York City.

As she told Insider, the key is “being resourceful with your current living situation, and shopping on a budget for little upgrades that will make your home feel more expensive.”

One of her biggest tips is a surprising one — trying to show off with luxury knockoffs actually defeats the purpose. Budget pieces that have a faux luxury look, such as inexpensive linens with fancy lettering — what McLauglin calls “luxury signaling” — will come off as tacky. Instead, stick with basic designs that are made well.

Another big tip: Don’t buy anything that matches. Furniture in coordinating sets for the living room or bedroom will come off looking like a “furniture showroom,” she says. Instead, find one-of-a-kind pieces, antiques (which, she says, usually have better craftsmanship) and mix and match in a compatible way. Thrifting will also help with the budget part of the budget-luxury look.

Homes and Gardens says thrifting also helps you find unique furniture pieces with character, which is an important tip for making your home look expensive for less. H&G suggests going for wooden pieces and those with texture.

It also notes to not forget about small details like hiding wires from electrical equipment and changing up doorknobs, drawer pulls and light-plate switches. These inexpensive hacks will all come together in a big way for a luxe look.

Realtor.com has a few budget luxury tips, too. One is to invest in curtains that go all the way to the floor — drapes that are too short or tailored look “cheap,” it says. Think of how dramatic a floor-to-ceiling window can be and you’ll see why this adds instant fanciness.

Textiles are another big one that Realtor.com suggests — a fun mix of patterns and textures is great for throws and pillows in a living room. You can save some money by buying discount pillow inserts, going to a fabric store to pick up remnants or scraps you like and then sewing covers or hiring a tailor to put it all together. Doing so will cost significantly less than the cost of designer pillows.

McLaughlin says to have fun playing with prints and colors that go together, but be careful of going overboard — neutrals are always a safe bet and look crisp and modern. And for rentals that you might want to change up every so often, rather than paint, go for adhesive stick-ons for added decor detail or even a stunning backsplash.

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As Bustle notes, these sticky pieces replicate the look of real tiles with lock-in mosaic designs and the best part is, “you don’t have to worry about them getting damaged because they’re resistant to heat and moisture and can be easily cleaned.”

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