Here are 50 Cheap, Easy Design Ideas to Instantly Update Your Home, from Apartment Therapy,
A good design trick can elevate your home in minutes, but an easy and inexpensive one could change the way you decorate. To prove our point, we rounded up 50 affordable and foolproof design ideas that will instantly update your place.
From statement walls to color-blocked towels, here are 50 ways to transform every room of your home on the cheap.
1. Art Matters
A large-scale print or painting, like the colorful abstract style we spotted in Rena Thiagarajan’s San Francisco apartment, transforms a living room wall into an artful display in seconds.
2. Make a Statement [Wall]
Turn an empty wall into the focal point of your living room by painting it in a bold hue or applying some patterned wallpaper similar to this mural we saw inside Mila Moraga-Holz’s colorful Los Angeles home.
3. Mount Some Floating Shelves
Install a floating shelf (or three) on a sliver of your living room wall to score some vertical storage space, just like we saw in this stylish London flat.
4. Lean in
A leaning ladder-style bookshelf, like the one from Wayfair we spotted in Josh Young and Ignacio Martinez’s Chicago living room, offers plenty of extra storage opportunity without taking up too much floor space.
5. Create a DIY-Style Display.
Hang up some of your favorite photos in clean, straight lines to turn a narrow wall into a custom art display, just like we saw in Jamie Lyn’s eclectic Los Angeles rental.
6. Bring in a Bar Cart
A well-placed bar cart, like the acrylic one we saw in Sarah Ashley Schiear’s Brooklyn apartment, turns a cramped living room corner into a surprisingly functional space.
7. Color-Code Your Books
8. Make Some Magic With a Mirror
A statement mirror, like the oversized one we spotted in this gorgeous Boston carriage house, is a quick and easy way to bring some drama into your living room without overspending.
9. Use Your Rug for Color Inspo
Let a multicolored area rug serve as the starting point for your living room color palette, just like we saw in Ainsley Gardner and Brandon Stewart’s New York City apartment.
10. Pile Up
No budget or room for a bulky bookcase? No problem. Take a cue from Anna Korkobcova’s San Francisco apartment and simply make piles of your books on the floor for an unexpectedly hip arrangement.
11. Lose Your Headboard
An eye-catching work of art or wall hanging, like the geometric-style stunner we spotted in Megan Pflug’s woodsy Greenville, New York, home, is a clever way to create the illusion of a headboard (without actually having to buy one).
12. Float On
A strategically-placed floating shelf turns a slanted wall into a storage-savvy space, just like we saw in the attic bedroom of Justin and Meg’s Toronto rental.
13. Darken up the Space
Consider painting your bedroom in a dark but sophisticated hue, like the shade of black Catherine Ashton used in her London, England, home, for a dramatic look that won’t overpower the rest of your decor.
14. Play with Textiles
Mix and match an assortment of materials and textiles, such as the fringe wall hanging and woven bedding in Ashley Hosmer’s Los Angeles bedroom, to create a layered look in an earth-toned room.
15. Lean a Mirror
Looking for a renter-friendly way to open up a small bedroom? Follow in Kate and Jennifer Hawkrigg’s footsteps and lean an oversized mirror against the wall to create the illusion of more space—no hammer or nails necessary!
16. Add Some Color
If you can’t actually paint your bedroom, incorporate some colorful decor items, such as the orange plant stand and bright blue media console we spotted in Anna Rafferty’s Chicago home, to jazz up the underwhelming walls.
17. Get Graphic
Bold geometric shapes and lines, like the black-and-white rug and artwork inside Amanda J Franz’s bedroom in Portland, Oregon, can make a big impact in a neutral space.
18. Put a Plant on it
A well-placed houseplant, like the one we spotted in Andy Barlow’s Portland, Oregon, home, brings a pop of color and personality to a nightstand, while purifying the air in your bedroom.
19. Style Your Nightstand
A thoughtfully arranged nightstand setup can make a stylish statement in a pared down space, just like we saw in this Los Angeles bedroom.
20. Play up Imperfections
Embrace an awkwardly-shaped bedroom wall by covering it in some playfully patterned wallpaper or an eye-catching paint job, just like Alison and Jeff Allen did inside their Minneapolis, Minnesota, home.
21. Get Creative With Tea Towels
A distinctive tea towel, like the tie-dyed one hanging from Jessica Cook and Ryan Taylor’s Ipswich, Massachusetts, stove, brightens up an earth-toned kitchen (and is super inexpensive and easy to make on your own!)
22. Hang up Art
If you thought your kitchen wasn’t a good place to put art, think again. Hang an interesting print or painting up, like the colorful abstract artwork we spotted above the stove in Hannah and Marc’s Nashville home, to elevate your entire kitchen in minutes.
23. Paint Your Cabinets
Cover your ugly old kitchen cabinet fronts with a fresh coat of paint, like the rich green hue we spotted in Emily Yeskel Rubin’s Bethesda, Maryland, home, and it’ll look like you remodeled your whole kitchen (for just a fraction of the cost).
24. Plant Power
Who knew a couple of houseplants brighten up a dull kitchen corner? This set up pairs herbs with a snake plant to make quite the statement.
25. Forge Some Vertical Storage
A tiny kitchen is no match for some well-placed wall storage. Score your own vertical storage scheme by mounting a few floating shelves around your stove, just like we saw in Elissa Hall’s Portland, Oregon, kitchen.
26. Paint the Ceiling
Also known as the “fifth wall,” your ceiling can transform into the focal point of your kitchen with one colorful coat of paint, just like the blue one we saw in Carrie Hayward’s Los Angeles abode.
27. Find a Flashy Rug
An eye-catching accent rug brings some much-needed color—and character—into a neutral kitchen, just like the Southwestern-inspired one we spotted in Lynne Sutherland’s sunny Santa Barbara, California, home.
28. Create Contrast
A dark-painted wall adds depth and dimension to an all-white kitchen, just like we saw in this dramatic Brooklyn townhouse.
29. Get a Storage Cart
30. Try a Hanging Rail
Searching for a cheap and easy way to carve out some more storage space in your kitchen? Hanging rail systems, like the IKEA FINTORP series, mount seamlessly to your wall to help free up countertop space—and organize all sorts of other spaces—just like we saw inside Evi Ritter’s Scandi-style house in Västervik, Sweden.
31. Find Some Stools
A petite pair of stools turns a tea table into a dining nook in no time, just like we saw in Savannah Farris-Gilbert’s Los Angeles home.
32. Add Some Color
Colorful dining chairs, like the pale blue ones we spotted in Diana Marsh’s Michigan abode, bring a pop of personality to an earth-toned dining table.
33. Put a Throw on it
34. Mix and Match Materials
An eclectic mix of materials and furnishings, such as the rattan chair, glass-top table, and beaded light fixture in interior designer Tanya List’s Canadian home, creates a luxe, layered look for your dining room without breaking your bank account.
35. Make a Well-Lit Statement
A stunning light fixture, like the sputnik-style chandelier we spotted in Melissa Miranda and Ulises Serret’s home in Boston, adds a touch of drama and grandeur to a subdued dining space.
36. Add Artwork
Follow in Meghan and Jesse Arlen’s footsteps and hang up some eye-catching wall art to help define the dining zone inside an eat-in kitchen.
37. Shape up
The clean lines of curvy furnishings do the talking in a monochromatic dining area, just like we saw in Signy Roland’s Toronto condo.
38. Paint the Walls
Transform a cramped corner into a dramatic dining nook by painting the walls in a vibrant hue, just like Sydney Krause and Fabrice Bouty did inside their Montreal apartment.
39. Go Green
An interesting plant display, like the hanging heartleaf plant and succulent setup we spotted in Summer Rayne Oakes’ Brooklyn apartment, livens up a neutral dining nook with all-natural elements.
40. Throw Down
A patterned area rug, like the rainbow-colored one inside Rachel Kaplan’s Oakland apartment, helps carve out a distinct dining area in an open layout space.
41. Upgrade Your Showerhead
Switch out your humdrum showerhead with a newer fixture, like the modern style we spotted in Sara Blake’s New York City apartment, to upgrade your entire bathroom in seconds.
42. Create a Functional Gallery Wall
Whoever said gallery walls couldn’t be functional has obviously never seen Sweatson Klank’s Hollywood, California home. Klank forged a salon-style display, complete with art and two tiers of wall-mounted shelving, on an empty bathroom wall for a stylish and storage-savvy display.
43. Apply Some Wallpaper
A little patterned wallpaper can go a long way in a tiny bathroom. Take a cue from Rachael and Rob Wetherington’s Philadelphia home and employ some printed wallpaper to make a big impact in a super small bathroom.
44. Go Deep
Dark painted walls, like the charcoal-colored ones we spotted in Brit Arnesen’s Kokomo, Indiana, house, are an easy way to bring some unexpected drama into a small bathroom.
45. Have a Seat
A dainty side chair doubles as a chic surface for storage when thoughtfully placed in a bathroom, just like we saw in Brittany Shields’ Atlanta, Georgia, home.
Who knew you could use your bath towels to create a colorful bathroom display? Clearly Joy Lofton, who used a couple of brightly hued towels to score a mod color-block-inspired scene in her Los Angeles bathroom.
47. Switch Out Your Mirror
Searching for a quick and ultra sleek way to upgrade your bathroom on the fly? Switch out your sink mirror with one that better represents your own unique decor style to create a whole new vibe for your bathroom, just like we saw in Jesse David and Cali Green’s Traverse City, Michigan, abode.
48. Throw Down a Nice Rug
Why use a boring old bathmat when you can have a gorgeous rug in your bathroom instead? An eye-catching accent rug, like the vintage Persian-style one we saw in Jordan and Ryan’s bungalow in Nashville, Tennessee, will elevate your bathroom decor in no time.
49. Storage Baskets FTW
Never underestimate the storage potential of an attractive storage basket in your bathroom. Throw one on the floor next to the bathtub, or on top of the toilet like Kate Maclean and Nick Zigelbaum in their Chelsea, Vermont farmhouse, to store your towels, toilet paper, and other bathroom essentials in style.
50. Get Playful
Incorporate some fun (but storage-savvy) accessories, like the dinosaur toy-turned-toilet-paper holder we spotted in Grace’s Washington, D.C. studio, to bring some whimsy into your bathroom.