Million-Dollar Design Tricks on The Cheap!

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

By Sam DeBianchi

You’ve seen me on television moving some of South Florida’s most glamorous properties with all the bells and whistles. While these beautiful homes have it all, they’re generally out of the budget for most of us. But that doesn’t mean you can’t achieve the million-dollar look for a fraction of the cost.

With most of us spending much more time at home these days, it's easy to get bored by our same old surroundings. In addition, with summer winding down and fall slowly creeping up on us, it's a great time to freshen things up with some new home decor. If money is tight like it is for a lot of us, I have good news: It’s easier than you think to do a beautiful home makeover on a limited budget.  

Here are 10 ways to affordably spice up your space:

Adding color is easy and inexpensive

New paint can immediately update the look, and the overall atmosphere of a room. Try a bold new color for your walls to liven up your living space. If redoing an entire room is overkill, consider painting just an accent wall for some stark contrast. When it comes to the colors you choose, keep in mind the “in” style today are light grays and off whites. When it comes to designing your own space, however, the reality is color is very personal and you should go with the colors that appeal most to you. Unsure of how bold you want to be? Try peel and stick color samples from places like Sherwin Williams. And for walls that need a bit more pop, wallpaper is very popular again and is another affordable way to add color and style to any space.

Change up the furniture

Rearranging furniture is another effective way to transform your home, and it won’t cost you anything. Try moving some items from one room to another, or swap the location of the bed and dresser, for example. Remember, a cluttered home can be an eyesore. Reorganize and utilize the space that you have. If something is taking up too much space and you're never going to use it again, get rid of it! Don’t be a hoarder. Simplicity is key to a clean-living space.

Furniture doesn’t have to cost a lot

Shopping from furniture stores can add up quickly, but you can often find reasonably priced items and even designer brands at other locations that you might least expect. Try your neighborhood Walmart or Target, for example. If you cringe when you hear that, think again. Both offer some beautiful options at great prices. Be sure to also check online retailers such as Amazon, Overstock and Wayfair, to find great deals on furniture and d├ęcor.

Save on labor

When purchasing budget furniture, a major downside is that it usually comes unassembled, and requires some do-it-yourself skills. If you're not particularly handy (like me!), finding skilled laborers can be pricey, but doesn't have to be. Checkout sites like Thumbtack and HomeAdvisor where you can find experienced professionals, bid on labor and save some money.

Little touches go a long way

Adding some inexpensive miscellaneous items is another way to enliven your space. Pick up some decorative pillows or maybe a new comforter. Consider adding some candles, a new lamp, or some other various knick-knacks. Try replacing some outdated picture frames or adding some new artwork. Checkout websites like and Etsy for some inspiration that won’t break the bank.

Go with secondhand items

It's not always necessary to buy expensive or brand-new items. Consider purchasing secondhand items for fabulous bargains. There's an endless selection on eBay to choose from. If you're looking for higher end merchandise, you can try sites such as West Elm, and search their "open box" deals for deep discounts. Secondhand doesn’t equal worn and used. Many times, rugs and chairs land here simply because someone didn’t like the color.

Wow them with the windows

A large window does more than just let light into a space. If done right, it can become the focal point of any room, and getting the window coverings right is essential. Installing some new curtains, shutters, or drapery can really enhance the appearance of a room. Besides that, they can provide extra functionality by blocking out light, heat and cold. This could help lower your monthly bills, which is also a welcome bonus.

Focus on flooring

Marble floors and hardwood are premium flooring choices. They look amazing but are very expensive. If completely redoing your carpet, tiles or wood flooring is out of reach due to budget constraints, consider buying a new area rug as a more affordable solution for a larger room. Adding accent rugs in smaller spaces can be effective in changing your home's look and making it feel luxurious. You can find any style you’re looking for and save money on websites like, Wayfair and Don’t forget about laminate wood flooring which has come a long way in recent years, and in many cases, you can’t even tell the difference between it and real hardwood.

Go heavy on hardware

Maybe you’ve been dreaming of all new kitchen and bathroom cabinets. If that’s not an option right now, start by changing the hardware such as knobs and drawer pulls. This is a very practical, yet inexpensive way to update a look quickly. Try matching the finishes between doorknobs, hinges, knobs, pulls, and other hardware like faucets and towel bars for a nice coordinated look. Check your nearest Home Depot or Lowes locations or look for more custom pieces on sites like Etsy.

Incorporate nature

Another nice touch these days is to bring the outdoors inside by adding plants and flowers. Choosing the right greenery can visually transform any room. It can make your home feel welcoming and provide a sense of tranquility. In most cases, just a little water and sunlight is all you need for healthy and great looking indoor greenery. If that's too much work, you can also look to faux plants which provide all the beauty of real plants, with none of the maintenance.

The takeaway

Home transformations are a great way to bring a much-needed change to your space. They don’t have to be a lot of work or break the bank. In fact, redecorating can be a fun and exciting activity. Sometimes a little change is exactly what you need to feel inspired and fall in love all over again with your home. The most important thing is to be creative and have fun with it.

Sam DeBianchi is America’s housing expert and the founder of DeBianchi Real Estate in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. She starred on Bravo’s hit TV show ‘Million Dollar Listing.’ She is regularly featured in the national media for her expertise in residential real estate and the housing market. and

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