Skip to main content

10 Affordable Interior Design Upgrades You Can Do Today

When SN and I bought our first home in 2007, we loved that it had an open floor plan, a two car garage, and was on a large corner lot in a desirable part of Albuquerque. We also loved...well, that was about it. Ours was just another plain box in our cookie cutter neighborhood, featuring the same white walls and not much else as all our neighbors. We spent the next few years upgrading our home and, when we sold it last year, the result of our effort was a 4-way bidding war.

We were just poor college kids back then. Here are a few of the affordable improvements we made.

Budget Interior Design Idea #1
Swap out some of your mirrors.

affordable mirrors
See the fancy mirrors above? Everyone thinks they're from Ballard Designs. Ours are actually from Michaels, which marks all of their mirrors down 50% every few weeks. These were about $35 each. We followed this same design rule for the mirrors in our new luxury home, forgoing the expensive mirrors our custom builder usually installed and instead supplying our own. We saved a fortune.

Budget Interior Design Idea #2
Upgrade some of your mirrors with decorative trim and moulding.

how to trim a mirror
You know those enormous wall-to-wall mirrors that come standard in builder-boring homes? I cringe when I see people on HGTV taking a sledgehammer to them. Giant mirrors make your home seem larger and they amplify available lighting, whether from a fixture or through a window. Rather than destroy them, easily upgrade their appearance by gluing decorative trim directly to the glass. Just be sure to paint or stain the front and the back, as you will see some of the back reflected.

Side note: I also cringe when I see an ad for MirrorMate Frames in a decorating magazine. I could've been rich!

Budget Interior Design Idea #3
Fake a tray ceiling.

how to fake a tray ceiling
A faux tray ceiling in your bedroom beats the heck out of a plain one. Simply choose a paint color that is darker than your wall color and separate the two with a piece of trim. In the photo above, we used Valspar Cream in my Coffee on the walls and as the border on the ceiling and Valspar Toffee Crunch for the "recessed" (but not really) portion of the ceiling. We painted the trim to match the baseboard.

Budget Interior Design Idea #4
Use designer wallpaper in small doses.

blue bedroom with wallpaper headboard
Rather than pay for several rolls of wallpaper, which would have been overwhelming in our guest bedroom anyway, I bought only one and used it to create a headboard. We used decorative trim as a border and painted the rest of the room a matching blue. Wallpaper is having a design moment right now and the current options include features like 3-dimensional texture, metallic and glitter finishes, flocking, and water resistance. There are even options that are easy to remove - perfect for apartment dwellers, indecisive folks, and anyone who has ever lost their mind trying to scrape away old wallpaper little by little.

Budget Interior Design Idea #5
Chair rail adds big luxury for a small price.

living room upgrade on a budget
Have you noticed a trend here? Trim and moulding are a budget designers best friend! It costs almost nothing, it can be painted or stained whatever color you need, and it comes in lots of sizes and patterns. Can you imagine the living room above without the chair rail? Our "crown molding" is also a frugal find - it's actually less expensive baseboard, just installed around the ceiling.

Budget Interior Design Idea #6
Don't pay full price for paint.

paint color
Paint is an inexpensive way to infuse personality into your home, especially when you take advantage of sales and mail-in rebates. You can find the best deal of all by periodically checking the mistinted paints available at your local hardware store. These are perfectly good buckets of paint that were mixed but not purchased. The color above was perfect for my husband's office and it was only $5 a gallon at Lowes. You can also find paint at ReStore, which is owned by Habitat for Humanity and is a great resource for a renovation, though their paint is not usually brand-new like the mistints.

Budget Interior Design Idea #7
Create privacy with lattice fencing.

affordable way to add privacy to a yard
When we moved into our home, one of the first things we did was price raising the block wall in our backyard. The estimate was outrageous, especially considering we'd just put all our savings into buying the house. A much less expensive option was to install weather-resistant vinyl lattice on the sides of our covered patio. Unlike raising the wall, this privacy solution didn't even require the approval of our homeowner's association.

Budget Interior Design Idea #8
Decals cost almost nothing.

welcome decal on a red front door
The charming "WELCOME" decal on our front door? It was only a buck at Dollar Tree. I hadn't been sure I would like it, but for the price it seemed worth a try, plus decals can be easily removed without affecting paint. Since moving into our new home last year, I've picked up a few more decals from Dollar Tree, including three colorful cactus that cheerfully surprise anyone who open our white kitchen cabinets.

Budget Interior Design Idea #9
Up the WOW factor of a room with a wallpaper mural.

how to decorate with wallpaper
It's hard to imagine our dining room without the tulips on each side of the fireplace. A single wallpaper mural divided in half, it was only around $100 from Home Depot. Be warned, however, that one affordable addition to your decor can lead to more and more spending - the mural required that we spray paint our chairs to match, which required a new rug under the table, which required a nicer chandelier, which of course required replacing the tile surrounding the fireplace, and so on.

We loved our wallpaper mural so much that installing another was one of the first improvements we made to our new home.

Budget Interior Design Idea #10
Add a small patch of (always) green grass.

faux grass idea
I loved looking out our kitchen window at the green grass in our yard every summer. It was also lovely dappled with snow every January. And it was the most beautiful of all while listening to the neighbors mow their lawn again and again and again. Once you've had AstroTurf, you'll never go back. It's already a budget-friendly option when you factor in all the things you won't have to buy to maintain it, but the upfront investment can be lowered by purchasing remnants from a landscaping store, as we did.

If you enjoyed this post, please (pretty please?) share it.

interior design facebook

interior design pinterest
Thank you!

Comments

  1. Not all states require locksmiths too have a license before they can be
    hired. You can tell your trusted family about this plu
    they should knoiw about where it's kept. Secudity is
    a very common issue plus a person must take care off it every now and then.

    ReplyDelete
  2. My partner and I stumbled over here coming from a
    different web page and thought I might as well check things out.
    I like what I see so i am just following you. Look forward
    to going over your web page again.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hmm is anyone else having problems with the images on this blog loading?
    I'm trying to determine if its a problem on my end or if
    it's the blog. Any responses would be greatly appreciated.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Yesterday, my blog made a whopping 2 cents. I'm blogging just for your comments! Thank you for making my day.

Popular Posts from Kitty Deschanel:

Jessner Peel Photos: A Blogger's Before & After Guide to Chemical Peels

A Handy "Before & After" Guide to Chemical Peels - 7/6/18 Update
Since posting my Jessner peel photos, detailing the stages of the process, and writing my chemical peel blog review back in 2013, I've had quite a few Jessner peels (my favorite) and TCA peels. However, I've saved a ton of money over the past 6 months by doing my own chemical peels at home. At my last professional peel, I made a note of the product being used and did some research when I got home. I was able to buy the exact same one, Dermalure Jessner Solution Acid Peel 14%, from Amazon for less than the cost of a single peel. I also use Dermalure's AHA/BHA Acne Cleanser, which I apply before the Jessner. (Side note: There's currently a 1-star review for the at-home peel that complains "I had to deal with days upon days of gross peeling and flakey chunks of skin falling off my face (and I have super oily skin). If I happened to laugh really hard on a particular day or take a big bite ou…

The Ultimate Amerisleep Mattress Reviews Blog Post

Best Amerisleep Promo Code as of : $250 Off and free shipping both ways...not that you'll want to return it.

This is the ultimate Amerisleep mattresses blog post, featuring unbiased reviews collected over more than 6 years of ownership, photos, videos, FAQs, and more. There's additional sleep and Amerisleep-related information if you click my How to Sleep Better tab above. As a chronic insomniac (yes, even as a baby - my family insists I was a nightmare), the struggle to improve my sleep night after night is my life.


Memory foam mattress in a box - the future is here!

Disclaimer: 
These Amerisleep mattress reviews are NOT sponsored. Not in any way whatsoever. Unlike other "impartial" reviewers out there, I did NOT receive my Liberty Bed (AS3) for free. All of the opinions here are 100% my own. This is not a sponsored blog post and I have never been employed by Amerisleep. Unlike other "unbiased and impartial" sites out there, which churn out mattress reviews da…

Instant Pot Explosion

While you're here, please be sure to check out my Instant Pot recipes: Creamy Enchilada Rice and Cranberry Oatmeal with Quinoa
We love our Instant Pot, the digital pressure cooker that seems to suddenly be in every home. You can't mess up - just throw in random ingredients and you'll get something yummy every time. It's foolproof. At least, that's how I used to feel about our Instant Pot, until the explosion...

Ack! We just moved in and look what I've already done to my brand new, all-white kitchen!
I tried to re-seal the vent but the pressure was too high to cooperate. I'm honestly not sure what went wrong with this batch of oatmeal. I've made it a million times. The Instant Pot was only about halfway full.

Here is the link to my extra-healthy Super Oatmeal Instant Pot recipe, in case you are curious or a fan of the delicious. It probably won't explode when you make it.
Oatmeal? More like a batch of tasty homemade glue.
 I was bummed that my quic…

Dream Home Dreaming

*Update*
We've finally broken ground on our mountain dream home! Can you believe it? Even more surprising, we actually managed to work a good chunk of this list into our actual design. See below for details.

*Another Update*
We've finished construction and are finally living in our mountain dream home and it's even better than I'd hoped! Here is a sneak-peak of our new kitchen and living room. Click the "Decorating" button above for more photos.

Believe it or not, our budget was meager. Really! My husband built the coffee table from an olive trunk and did the thin brick backsplash himself. Eventually, he's going to take the brick all the way to the top of the ceiling. He also created the three-tier chandeliers (three chandeliers total - yeah, he's pretty great!). 
I was responsible for all of the shopping and decorating decisions and design details and layout. We had the tongue-and-groove installed upside down (rough-side down) with Sherwin Williams H…

A Nightmare Jessner Peel Side Effect

Almost as popular as my Amerisleep mattress reviews, the Jessner chemical peel post here on my blog has been a reader favorite for years. I'm still doing my own peels at home and still recommend this to anyone concerned about acne scars or wrinkles. However, last night I did have a Jessner peel scare.

As written before, timing is everything with a chemical peel. You don't want pieces of dead skin (yuck, right?) flaking off at work or at important social events. I've wanted to do one for months but things kept getting in the way, like extra days spent at work and our recent trip to California. Finally, last night I was able to treat myself to an at-home Jessner peel. (Using this product from Amazon, in case you want to try it for yourself.) I've done this so many times that the steps are automatic. I applied three layers of Jessner solution, brushed my teeth, and went to bed. Snuggled into our new mattress and a mountain of blankets, I fell into a deep sleep. I dreamed…

Cranberry Oatmeal with Quinoa - Instant Pot Recipe

In response to my popular Instant Pot Explosion blog post, I've had a few blog readers ask for my oatmeal recipe. This seems a bit odd...you guys aren't trying to recreate that gooey mess in your own kitchens, right? My recipe does make delicious, foolproof Instant Pot oatmeal. It's only for patient people though. Whatever you do, do not manually release the pressure valve at the end of the cooking cycle!

Super oatmeal. See the little specks? That's part of what makes it so super.
The best thing about my recipe is that it's much healthier than regular oatmeal recipes. Start your day with this and you can feel better about all those cookies and fried donuts and ice cream (I have a bit of a sweet tooth) you munch on throughout the rest of the day. This can also be made in a slow cooker or Crock Pot. I've been cooking up batches of my Super Oatmeal for years, long before I'd heard of the Instant Pot, and have even gifted the dry ingredients to health-conscious…

Family Size Bed (Because a King Mattress is Too Small)

Look! Up In The Sky! It's a Bird. It's a Plane. It's...

(cue suspenseful music)

DUN NAH NUH
What's bigger than a king-size Amerisleep mattress? An Amerisleep Superbed!

As you know, my nerdy engineer husband, SN, and I recently ordered two new twin XL mattresses from Amerisleep. The AS4 bed didn't work out for us (too soft and mushy for our taste) but we loved the extra-firm AS2 bed. It's perfect for people who sleep on their back (SN) and on their stomach (me). SN liked it even better than the AS3 bed we'd slept on since 2012 and I thought it was at least equal to that mattress, which is now making our relatives happy in the guest bedroom. The AS2 costs a little less than the AS3 and a lot less than the AS4. Who would have thought the less expensive option would be the better choice, right? Money really doesn't buy happiness.
(Okay, in all honesty, I think I prefer the AS3 just a hair over the AS2. Your first choice is usually the right choice.)

We loved our …

Look Extra Amazing This Holiday - Zenmed Giveaway

You already know this post is all about sharing details on Zenmed products, but let me start with a few photos to illustrate how difficult it is for a new beauty product, let alone several, to win a place in my daily rotation.


As you can see, I have quite a few beauty items - lotions, serums, cleansers, etc. - cluttering my bathroom counter. I could also use a new clock, but I'm sentimental and the one I received in Kindergarten still works so well.
That's not so bad, you think? Oh, it gets better.

There may be a beauty product addiction at play here. Vitamins too, but I've already confessed to that here on this blog. If I recall correctly, I said I was not going to keep purchasing vitamins and supplements because they are a scam and a waste of money, possibly even a detriment to my health. But here we are.

Now you know why SN built me so many bathroom drawers. You don't even want to know what's in the cabinets. (Drawer fronts coming soon...or so I'm told.)
As with …

Flooring Ideas

Ever since we purchased our 13.1 acre (gotta get credit for that extra 0.1 acre!) lot outside of Albuquerque last year, Sexy Nerd and I have devoted most of our free time to planning our mountain dream home.

We cannot make a decision about anything. At this point, it seems our best option would be to build a row of townhomes, each in a completely different style. On Monday, we would live in our colorful Victorian home, and later in the week we could switch things up in our ultra-contemporary, all concrete house.

Since I can't imagine our neighborhood HOA (or our budget) ever allowing such a thing, we really do need to narrow down our list of ideas.

Flooring is a tough choice. In our current home, we have premium laminate flooring. It stands up well against our rambunctious dogs, but is easily damaged if you unknowingly drip water onto it and let it sit, like by the dog's water bowl and the dishwasher. We also have real wood flooring on our stairs and our bedroom sitting area,…