The Zero-Cost Way to Give Your Dining Room New Life

10 Inexpensive Tricks To Make Your House Look Expensive

The Zero-Cost Way to Give Your Dining Room New Life

While there are many reasons why homeowners decide to take on home improvement projects, it mostly boils down to adding value to a home. From fresh paint jobs, landscaping and total room renovation, the goal is to make a home look nicer or more expensive.

According to the 2017 TrueCost Report by Home Advisor, homeowners are spending more money on home improvement, with an average amount of $5,157 spent on home projects in 2016 with predictions to spend far more in 2017.

For some homeowners, spending an extravagant amount of money on home projects just isn’t a reality. Instead of depleting your savings account or running up your credit card to renovate your home, consider smaller-scale changes that can transform your space.

We’ve broken down the top 10 inexpensive tricks to make your home look expensive, with insight from professional home stagers and designers that’ll get you more bang for your buck.

Illuminate With Lighting

Let there be light! An easy and cost-friendly trick to make a room in your home look more expensive is by incorporating lighting pieces that are interesting and expressive.

According to Glamour, there’s no one-way to achieve a luxurious glow in your home, but rather to think of lighting as “the jewelry of the room,” accessorizing your space as you would an outfit.

Lean toward pieces with an interesting shape, finish or design detail, focusing on attention-grabbing lighting that will make a statement in a room. Arrange the lighting in various heights and bulb sizes to create a dramatic effect that eliminates unflattering shadows.

Teris Pantazes, co-founder of, suggested LED lightbulbs, as they are cost and energy efficient as well as long-lasting, eliminating the effort of replacing your bulbs frequently.

Maximize With Mirrors

Mirrors and lighting go hand-in-hand, as a few strategically placed mirrors, paired with the perfect lighting, can create the illusion that your space is far larger than it actually is. Simply hang your mirror across a lighting source, a window or lamp light, to create this illusion.

“Hanging a larger-than-life mirror not only increases its functionality, but it also widens the space and makes it feel larger by reflecting the room back at you,” explained Doyle James, president of Mr. Rooter Plumbing.

Maximize this trick by hanging an assortment of mirrors in various sizes and shapes, creating an eclectic and artistic design on your walls.

If simplicity is your aesthetic, a singular, large statement mirror can create a polished and elegant finish on the wall.

Minimize Furniture

When it comes to making your home look more expensive, follow the minimalist approach of “less is more” when decorating your home with furniture and accessories.

“When a house has too much furniture and too many accessories, the space can easily feel small and overwhelming,” said Stephanie Jacobs, home stager and re-designer in Atlanta.

Instead of filling your space with unnecessary furniture pieces, Jacobs says to keep your furniture minimal with items that you need versus those you simply want in a room.

“The best way to begin the process of de-cluttering is to go through each room and asking yourself what purpose each object and piece of furniture serves. If you have extra chairs for seating that no one ever uses, maybe it’s time to get rid of them,” Jacobs explained.


However, you don’t have to completely clean out your space in order to achieve an expensive aesthetic in your home. By incorporating a few key pieces in a room, you can add to the overall comfort and flow of your home’s design.

For example, hanging curtains near the ceiling will create a luxurious and upscale look in your home, as long curtains will give an illusion that your room is larger.

By placing a few plump throw pillows in your seating area, you simultaneously create a comfortable and stylish tone in your home. Try choosing a few fashionable pillows with fun, but minimal designs.

You don’t need to compromise your budget in order to fill your home with nice décor. Try shopping affordable home décor shops online or in store to achieve the look you’re going for.

Cut A Rug

If you have wood floors, or any flooring other than carpet in your home, adding a rug can make a space feel cozy and inviting. It can also be the finishing touch in your living room or bedroom, adding that final décor detail to pull the room together.

However, make sure your rug is proportional to the space you’re placing it, because  using too small of rugs will make your space look less expensive, and smaller, than it actually is.

When you’re placing furniture on top of the rug, ensure that the rug extends a certain amount of space with each type of furniture. For example, dining room chairs should have three feet behind each chair and furniture should have at least the two front legs sitting on the rug.

Fresh Paint Job

While painting the walls of your home may be one of the more expensive and time-consuming tasks, there are a few things you can paint in your home that will give new life to your existing furniture and appliances.

Start by revisiting the older pieces in your home. Do you find you’re stuck with cabinet colors that contradict your kitchen’s color scheme? Grab a fresh can of paint and try painting them a neutral shade, grey.

Apply the same concept to any other outdated pieces in your home. For example, Amy Bly, a professional stager from Great Impression Home Staging and Interiors, recommended painting older wood or unattractive furniture with easy-to-use chalk paint, in shades of gray or white.

Install Molding

If you consider yourself or a friend to be particularly handy, installing moldings or trim in your home is a great way to make your space look more expensive and polished.

Crown molding can be installed for very little money if you do it yourself. It’s can be the perfect finish to a larger room in your home, creating continuity between wall and ceiling. While white looks best for a clean and polished look, you can also add a pop of color to a room by painting your molding.

You can even add molding to your baseboards, ceiling beams, columns, ceiling medallions and chair rails, but the key is to not go overboard. Pick subtle areas in a larger room in your home to add molding.

Upgrade Hardware

You don’t have to drop thousands of dollars on a total kitchen renovation project. By simply switching up the hardware finishes in your kitchen (drawer pulls and knobs) you add elegant details that are sure to stand out in your kitchen.

“This is one of my go-to updates with staging and redesign: Giving a kitchen, bathroom, or outdated piece of furniture a totally new look,” said Jacobs. “It’s something the homeowners can do with minimal costs and elbow grease.”

Jacobs suggested to look for stylish and inexpensive pieces, found at most bulk hardware stores. You can also stop by your local hardware store, flea market or antique shop for expensive-looking knobs and pulls that are elegant and unique while still affordable.

Use Fresh Flowers And Greenery

Stop and smell the roses by incorporating fresh flowers and greenery into your home.

Flowers are an easy and inexpensive way to add a pop of color and texture into various rooms in your home. By adding a decorative vase, filled with store-bought or local garden flowers, you add a level of hospitality and comfort to your space.

Since the cost of buying fresh flower arrangements can add up, try your hand at arranging your own bouquet from grocery store flowers. Not only is it easy and inexpensive, you’ll be able to show off your amateur arrangement skills to your friends and family.

If you’re looking for more neutral colors in your home, try buying greenery, which not only allows more decorative opportunity, it’s also pretty easy to care for – even if you don’t have a green thumb!

Curb Appeal

Put your best foot forward by incorporating a few quick and cheap updates to the outside of your home that will reap the biggest impact.

For example, painting your front door with a bold color will give your home a “signature look,” says Monica Higgins, former licensed real estate agent turned construction manager. Not to mention, painting your door a bright color will add new life to your home using far less money than it costs to buy a new door altogether.

Don’t stop at the front door! Installing large or unique house address numbers is another inexpensive way to add value to your home. Higgins suggested an elegant finish that complements the exterior color palette and fixtures of your home.

Low Cost, High Impact

Shelling out the big bucks on home renovation and improvement can be a pressure point when you’re trying to add value to your home. But you don’t have to empty your savings account to make your space look expensive.

By incorporating these 10 easy and inexpensive tricks into your home, you’ll reap a large impact that’ll transform your space.


The Zero-Cost Way to Give Your Dining Room New Life

The Zero-Cost Way to Give Your Dining Room New Life
Julia Robbs

Dining rooms are an oft underused space. In our busy modern lives, we tend to eat dinner at the kitchen counter, in front of the TV, at the restaurant—basically everywhere but the room where eating was intended.

If you are one of the lucky ones that have a dining room in your home—or even if your dining area consists of a squeezed space between your kitchen counter and your sofa, we've got just the right tips to help you make the most the space. 

The key: Make it inviting, fill up the space with useful accent furniture, and ensure it's the most irresistible space in your home.

With eye-catching furniture, layered dimmed lighting and comfortable seating, we bet you won't want to spend another evening away from your dining room. Best of all—you can achieve this dream space no matter the size of your room.

It's all in having the right measurements to work with, and applying a few key rules. Ready to give your dining room a much-needed makeover? Follow these handy rules.

Original Illustrations by Stephanie DeAngelis

The Table: For a more formal style, start with a rectangular table. You'll want to leave around 42″ to 48″ between the table edge and the wall—minimum. 

The Chairs: The maximum table size you can comfortably fit in your dining room will determine the number of chairs you can fit around the table. Aim to leave 24″ to 30″ for each dining space so everyone feels comfortable.

The Rug: Your rug should have a minimum of 24″ of extra room on all sides of the table, but err on the side of larger, if the space allows. 

The Layout: With this layout, pay special attention to the focal point of the room. Position a buffet and artwork on the wall opposite of the doorway to make the room feel fuller. then, wherever there is dead space, add an accent piece of furniture: a console, a chair, a plant. 

Original Illustrations by Stephanie DeAngelis

The Table: Most designers prefer round or oval tables for a more conversational and casual feel. If your space allows it (or if it's squarer in shape), opt for this more laid-back layout. The same spacing principles as above apply.

The Chairs: For round tables, you'll need a bit of simple math to determine the number of chairs. Use this handy formula: diameter x 3.14 / 24. Be mindful of not choosing chairs with arms that are too long or deep, as these will touch under the table and make it difficult to store away.

The Rug: Go with a square rug if you can find one the right size. If your room is more rectangular, you can also choose a longer rug, but make sure the measurements meet the above requirements for chair clearance for the chairs at the shortest end.

The Layout: With this layout, center the table in the room as much as possible, and hang a chandelier or pendant above. With the leftover space, create symmetry with pairs around the room: plants, benches, or bookcases are all strong pieces that can balance out your room.

Original Illustrations by Stephanie DeAngelis

The Table: If your room serves a dual purpose, arrange your dining table to one side of the room following the measurements required for clearance. Hint: an oval table usually fits around the same amount of people as a rectangular one, but is a little more economical with space. To save space, consider using a table with extendable leaves.

The Chairs: If your table is close to a wall, make sure everyone has enough clearance to get their chairs comfortably and walk the room. 

The Rug: Use a rug to visually separate the two purposes that your room serves. For instance, you may choose to only put a rug under the living room area, or have matching or contrasting rugs under both spaces. Try to avoid having a rug in high-circulation areas, if you can to minimize tripping.

The Layout: Pay special attention to storage and flow around the room. You don't want to overcrowd the space to make it difficult to circulate, but you also want to have enough storage for both dining and living needs.

Suzanne KaslerAdele Four Tier Waterfall Chandelier$3669


New WorksCovent Chair$1015


West ElmWright Dining Buffet$1040


West ElmOrb Upholstered Dining Chair$240


GubiDining Table$2879


J. Randall PowersBrooks Table Lamp$549


KnollSaarinen Dining Table$8068


MuutoCover Chair$499


ECarpetGalleryJules Oushak Rug$296


Opening Images: Julia Robbs; Stadshem; Monica Wang.

Next up: How to arrange your bedroom furniture for every room size.


5 No-Cost Tricks to Sell Your Home Faster

The Zero-Cost Way to Give Your Dining Room New Life

You decided to sell your house, and you can’t wait to buy a new place. There's just one thing standing in your way: You've got to close the deal on your current one first. You just hope it doesn't take months to get an offer. You want to sell your house fast!

Well, there’s one tried-and-true trick that’s proven to reduce your home’s time on the market. A study by the Real Estate Staging Association found that homes staged before listing received an offer in just 23 days on average. That’s 90% faster than those who waited months after listing to bother staging.1

If your budget’s tight, you may think you can’t afford to stage your home. But Dawn Kirkland, a real estate agent in Birmingham, AL, offers five free tricks to help you sell your house quickly.

1. Channel Your Inner Neat Freak

You always knew your tidying tendencies would come in handy one day. Now it’s time to clutter-bust your way to buyers’ hearts!

Dawn admits decluttering isn’t rocket science—but it is the key to creating a pleasing environment. Pay particular attention to common junk magnets :

  • Kitchen and bathroom counters
  • Fireplace mantels
  • Laundry room shelves
  • Tabletops
  • Magazine racks

No decluttering advice would be complete without a call to streamline your closets. “If your closet is crowded, I’m going to think my stuff won’t fit,” Dawn says. Wow buyers by showing them how much space there is for stuff—not how much stuff there is in the space. 

Find expert agents to help you sell your home.

2. Rearrange the Furniture

Once all the clutter’s the way, take a step back and look at the big picture.

Does your home invite buyers to sit and stay a while? Can buyers flow freely through your home without bumping into things? If not, you’ve got work to do!

Start by putting bulky pieces in storage and moving furniture away from the walls.

 “Oftentimes, the room is arranged so the children can play in the middle of the room or the TV can be seen easily from every chair and sofa,” Dawn says. Buyers want to walk in and see an open—yet intimate—space that inspires conversation, not channel-surfing.

An experienced agent can lend a fresh eye and help you reimagine your home. “Go to different rooms and see if there are pieces that you can repurpose for the living room to get the effect you want,” Dawn suggests.

Buyers want to walk in and see an open—yet intimate—space that inspires conversation, not channel-surfing.

3. Think a Buyer

Cleaning your home for home showings is common sense. But many folks underestimate just how clean it needs to be.

This isn’t your run-of-the-mill weekend tidy-up. Think of it as spring cleaning on steroids.

 You’ve got to think about what buyers look for and get down to the nitty-gritty so that even the smallest details shine.

From ceiling fans and window blinds to baseboards and tile grout, no surface goes unscrubbed!

Don’t forget to get your windows squeaky-clean. “There needs to be as much light coming in as possible,” Dawn says.

4. Set the Table

Staging paints a picture for potential buyers so they can envision life in your home. “If I see that a family can live here, I will think my family can live here too,” Dawn explains. And nothing represents family life quite the dinner table.

That’s why Dawn recommends giving the dining room some staging attention.

Bring your good china, flatware and linens hiding. Or add seasonal flair with a dash of bold colors. You don’t have to go over the top with every piece of dinnerware you own. Keep things simple by setting just two places at the table or arranging a decorative centerpiece on top of a neutral table runner.

You can find loads of inspiration on Pinterest and Houzz.

If I see that a family can live here, I will think my family can live here too. – Dawn Kirkland, real estate agent

Find more staging tips and advice in our free Home Seller's Guide.

5. Bring the Outside In

Make your house feel home by taking advantage of what’s in full bloom right outside your door. “[Fresh flowers] are so inviting,” Dawn says. “They warm up a room and send the message that this is a really nice space to be in.

” If plucking decorations from your yard isn’t an option, stop by your local grocery store and pick out a fresh bouquet that’s already been prearranged.

If you run short on vases, display your finds in an antique pitcher or Mason jar for a touch of vintage charm.

And flowers don’t have to be the only star of the show. If you grow your own fruits and veggies, entice buyers with a bowl of fresh produce on the kitchen counter.

Use That Extra Cash to Sell Your House Fast

If you do have a little cash to spend, here’s what Dawn recommends to sell your house on a tight timeline and a small budget: “If you’ve got $400, I would spend it on paint and mulching the front yard.” Why? Because buyers give you about six seconds to make the sale—three seconds from the curb and three seconds from the foyer.

Of course, every home is different. Before you spend a dime freshening your home up, ask a real estate agent you trust for advice. A true pro knows what buyers in your area want and can help you maximize your home’s appeal without busting your budget.