14 Low-Cost Updates That Will Make Your Home Look Expensive

whit living room with neutral tones
Photo: Jeff Herr

Give your home a high-end look without embarking on an extensive and costly remodel. A few quick, low-cost updates can make your home appear newer, larger, and more upscale. Give your space fresh appeal with these budget-friendly ideas to make it look more expensive.

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Paint Trim

black-and-white staircase in entryway with table and peacock print
Joyelle West

Trimwork highlights your home's features, drawing extra attention to walls, windows, staircases, and more. Painting trim an updated color can further define these elements and contribute to a high-end look. Cover dated-looking woodwork with a fresh coat of white paint, or choose a contrasting trim color, such as black, for a distinctly modern effect.

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Create the Illusion of Higher Ceilings

cottage style contemporary living room with blue curtains
Brie Williams

Soaring ceiling heights are a striking feature in many expensive homes. If physically raising the ceiling height isn't within your remodeling budget, use window treatments to create the illusion of a taller ceiling. Hang curtain rods closer to the ceiling, and opt for long, flowing drapes to give the room a grander feel.

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Add Pattern with Peel-and-Stick Wallpaper

Vanity and floral wallpaper
Sarah Dorio

Boldly patterned walls can create an upscale feel, but the treatment doesn't have to be expensive. Because peel-and-stick wallpaper tends to be less pricey than the traditional variety, it makes a great budget-friendly update for your home—and it's much easier to apply. Try this wall treatment in a small space, such as an entryway, powder room, or laundry room, to add major style while keeping costs low.

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Start with a Neutral Color Scheme

whit living room with neutral tones
Jeff Herr

Have you ever noticed how most high-end homes are awash in neutrals? Neutral color schemes feel calm, clutter-free, and classic. Bring high style to rooms by choosing neutral hues for anything that's expensive to update, such as floors, fixtures, and upholstery, and using accessories to introduce bold colors and textures. A neutral base lets colorful accents take center stage.

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Improve Interior Doors

kitchen counter seen through metal sliding door along wooden wall
Brie Williams

Interior doors don't have to be solid and boring. Beautiful, space-saving pocket doors or sliding barn doors are worth the splurge. Not only do they elevate a room's style, but they also can be used to create separation within open floor plans. For a quick update, you can also simply paint your interior doors a fresh color.

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Update an Old Light Fixture

neutral-colored dining room with fiddle leaf fig tree
Jonny Valiant

If that eyesore overhead makes you cringe every time you flip the light switch, ditch it! Swapping out an old light fixture for a new one instantly updates the ambiance of your space. You can easily tackle the job yourself with no electrician needed.

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Kick Up the Contrast

kitchen with striped rug
Helen Norman

If your kitchen has an island (or you're planning to add one), consider using tonal contrasts to spark some interest. Painting the island a contrasting hue is a simple way to customize your kitchen with color. By limiting the shade to the island, you can quickly update your kitchen while keeping costs low.

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Coordinate Finishes

newly renovated bathroom with black-and-white tiles
Julie Soefer

Give a bathroom or kitchen a sparkly new look by coordinating hardware finishes. Replacing mismatched accessories with new, coordinating pieces is an affordable update that will make your space look polished and luxurious. Consider outfitting fixtures with matte black hardware for a sleek, on-trend look that will age well.

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Add Dimension with Molding

bedroom with black and white wall and flower painting
Brie Williams Photography, Inc.

Give plain walls a paneled look by adding narrow strips of molding. This treatment, known as picture-framing, is a simple way to draw eyes to certain areas of the room. Keep the spacing even and the edges aligned for a symmetrical, eye-pleasing look.

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Transform with Tile

white subway tile gray kitchen cabinets open shelves
Greg Scheidemann

Tile creates a beautiful, timeless surface and can deliver a lot of style on a small budget. Subway tile is an affordable option for kitchens and baths, so you can keep costs low and achieve a stunning look. If you have cash to spare in your remodeling budget, consider introducing a second tile design in a different color or size to add interest.

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Upgrade Your Walkway

The front entry sets the tone for your home, so a few updates here can go a long way. A new walkway is a small investment that will work wonders for your landscape and carry your home's friendly facade to the street. See how you can upgrade your walkway to complement your exterior.

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Fake a Built-In Look

floor-to-ceiling bookcase built-ins mirror chairs
Kim Cornelison

If you like the look of library-like shelves but don't want to splurge on a custom design, use bookcases to create the appearance of floor-to-ceiling built-ins. In this living room, four tall bookcases were stacked and secured to the wall with anchors. To reinforce the built-in look, consider adding trim along the top of the shelving units.

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Make the Ceiling Stand Out

white decorative ceiling medallion light fixture
Adam Albright

Architectural details are a great way to make a home look expensive. Turn the ceiling into a focal point with this simple trick: Embellish the area around a light fixture's attachment with a lightweight, polyurethane ceiling medallion. Decorative ceiling medallions are available in various sizes and can be painted in your desired hue.

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Make the Entry a Focal Point

home exterior front entrance pillars black door
Ed Gohlich

You might not have the cash for a full-on exterior makeover, but improving your entryway can make a big impact on your home's curb appeal. Use a dark hue to make the point of entry pop, then flank the front door with tall planters. Finish the look by adding symmetrical plantings on either side of the walkway.

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