Designers Say These Are The Easiest & Most Impactful Home Upgrades You Can Make For Under $35

Interior design pros give their favorite tips.

Written by BDG Commerce
Originally Published: 
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Though many of us decor enthusiasts would love to go ahead and get that Breuer chair or Mario Bellini sofa ASAP, those are likely to be once-in-a-lifetime purchases. And, in truth, you don’t need to splurge on big-ticket items to refresh or revolutionize your space. According to the interior designers we consulted for this article, these are the easiest, most impactful home upgrades you can make for under $35 on Amazon.

You’ll discover that it’s often the little details that work the hardest to alter the ambience of a room. Scroll on to shop easy, impactful home upgrades, all hand-picked by expert designers.


Swap Out Your Shower Curtain For A New One

Jen Dallas of Jen Dallas Interior Architecture & Design Studio recommends “changing your shower curtain with a fresh one,” or even just swapping out your shower curtain hooks with new ones. She continues, “I like to think of shower curtains as a changeable layer. Think seasons and what the weather feels like outside and how that relates to how you wish to feel on the inside of your home. If you live in a colder climate [that’s] darker for the winter, choose a bright color for your shower curtain.”

This YoKii shower curtain has a farmhouse-chic vibe that’ll upgrade the overall look of any bathroom, and it’s sold in four versatile colors, from goes-with-everything white to bolder (but still neutral) blue.


Upgrade Even The Most Utilitarian Items, Like Salt & Pepper Mills

"I believe utilitarian things you use everyday deserve to be beautiful too,” says Lauren Sullivan of Well x Design. “Upgrading your salt and pepper mills instantly increases the luxe factor of your kitchen space — in both form and function.” These salt and pepper mills aren’t just sleek, but the set is a top-seller on Amazon, with over 7,000 perfect five-star ratings.


Add Low-Maintenance Centerpieces To Your Tables

Amy Youngblood, the owner and principal designer of Amy Youngblood Interiors, says a “great centerpiece for a main cocktail or dining table” is an inexpensive way to really make your room pop. “If you prefer fresh flowers, save money by selecting them yourself at the grocery store versus a florist and pick less expensive flowers such as daisies and carnations. For a longer lasting centerpiece, there are lots of faux arrangements that look very real,” she explains.

If you don’t have the time to constantly be buying fresh flowers, but don’t care for fake flowers, either, dried flowers — like this pampas grass bouquet, which doesn’t require any watering — are a low-maintenance alternative, and they’ll last you basically forever.


Organize Bathroom Essentials In Glass Apothecary Jars

Duenas also recommends buying glass jars to keep your bathroom essentials organized. You can use them for Q-tips, cotton balls, makeup sponges, hair ties, dental floss sticks... and you can also pick up another set for things like candy, sugar, and teabags in the kitchen.


Use Flameless Candles To Give Your Home A Cozy Glow

Tara Dennis, co-founder and director of Archie Bolden, recommends picking up some battery-powered candles. “Another thing I’ve done is go onto Amazon, and I bought those fake candles that are battery operated (LED) and have a remote to them. They're actually candle wax, so they feel just like real candles. I have them placed everywhere all around my apartment, and they make it feel super luxe,” she says. “It automatically throws really interesting shadows around the space at night. So rather than real candles, which can drip everywhere and be annoying, these ones are just to give a bit of a glow, which makes it feel so much more luxurious.”


Give Kitchens & Closets An Elevated Look Using Under-Cabinet-Lighting

Verruto has one last recommendation for TZR readers: under cabinet lighting. “[It] creates an elevated look but having it hardwired might not fit everyone's budget,” she says. “Fortunately, these dimmable, under-cabinet light strips are super affordable and will give your kitchen a custom look without having to undergo major electrical work.” You can use them in dark closets, cabinets, and pantries, too.


Take Your Organization Game To The Next Level With A Lazy Susan

“Turn tables, lazy Susans, revolving trays… whatever you want to call them, these twirling trays make all the difference to any space they’re used in,” says Erica Thompson of Organized By Design. “Turn tables create a jewelry box for your condiments. Suddenly your olive oil, spices, salt and pepper mills, go from ho-hum to extraordinary.”

Thompson explains that “organizing elements usually default to clear, white, or woven items,” while black elements, on the other hand, bring a sleek and chic aesthetic to the kitchen. The perfect solution, then? This modern black Lazy susan organizer.


Give Your Home A “Total Olfactory Redesign” With Wood Incense Bricks

“One of the most impactful ways to elevate your home is invisible. Sounds a little crazy, but it’s true,” says interior designer Jackie Terrell. “My secret to a good smelling room is natural wood incense bricks. These little bricks are small, but once lit, they transport you to an entirely new scent destination. My personal favorite is the Piñon scent. It smells like winter; when you’re all warm and cozy curled up by the roaring fireplace. Best part? It’s a total olfactory redesign for under $10.”


... & Throw Pillows

Hansen says that “You can find really cute accent pillows or throws at Target, on Amazon, or even at your local dollar store. These additions are simple but go a long way to make a home feel cozier and more welcoming.” To prove her point, we dug up this set of four velvet throw pillow covers that come in the prettiest complementary colors, and you get all four for just $30.


Replace The Hardware On Your Cabinets & Furniture

“For a small space, replace hardware,” suggests Jessica Mintz of Jessica Mintz Interiors. “This would really only be possible in a bathroom or on one dresser because it will add up quickly in a kitchen, but you can change a whole look through new hardware, particularly if the finish or style is dated,” she explains.

Amber Guyton of Blessed Little Bungalow also recommends updating your hardware. “[It’s] usually the last thing people think about when updating a space, but it's a low-lift change that can be pretty affordable... Take a look around your home and identify media consoles, dresser drawers, and cabinets that may need a pull or knob upgrade. These can usually be updated to something less generic and much fancier for less than ten bucks a pop (or cheaper)!” Case in point? This set of 10, gorgeous brass knobs that cost less than $15 on Amazon.


Keep Things “Organized” & “Cohesive” Using Accent Trays

Trays are “[a] great way to keep things organized and looking cohesive,” says Reya Duenas of Reya Duenas Design. You can buy trays made of all sorts of materials, from woven fibers to wood, but marble ones add a particularly luxurious touch. Place them around the house as catch-alls for things like salt, pepper, and oils in the kitchen; hand soap and lotion in the bathroom; or a candle and a succulent on your bedside table. (The options are literally endless.)


Add Warmth Indoors & Out With Twinkly String Lights

Jolynn Hansen of Lofty Designs has another lighting hack: twinkle Lights. “A string of small twinkle lights runs anywhere from $5 [to] $25 and can add warmth to any space,” she explains. “I like to run these along a media console under the TV, throw them in a clear vase for *aesthetics*, or even place them on your dresser to warm up the room,” she adds for inspiration.


Use Scented Candles To Impact The Ambience Of Your Home

Duenas also recommends using candles to add “warmth and comfort in a room,” a sentiment that’s echoed by Jolynn Hansen of Lofty Designs. Hansen says, “A nicely scented candle can instantly take a room to the next level. Not only do they look pretty, but they can make the home smell amazing which impacts the experience upon entry.”

This candle, from La Jolie Muse, comes in a beautiful glass vessel that can be repurposed once you’ve burned through the wax, and it’s offered in several soothing scents, such as rose and oud, lavender, ocean breeze, eucalyptus and sage, sea mint and spruce, and many more.


Embrace Storage Baskets Made Of Natural Fibers For Their Aesthetic & Functional Purposes

Duenas suggests investing in some natural fiber storage baskets, which “will add a great natural aesthetic to a space while helping you maintain a clean and organized environment.” (She recommends materials like rattan, jute, and hemp in particular.)

This one is made of jute and — while aesthetically pleasing — has a minimalist enough look to fit in with any style of decor, both antique and modern. Use it for laundry, kids’ and pets’ toys, spare blankets, or even a plant for just a few ideas.


Make A Statement With Stick-And-Peel Wallpaper

Peel-and-stick wallpaper “makes a statement in a room,” says Duenas, and that’s just one of its many selling points. It’s also cheaper and much easier to install than traditional wallpaper, and — best of all — it’s renter friendly. With its elegant floral print and neutral color scheme, how pretty is this one? (Though you can find almost any other design imaginable on Amazon.)


Add A “Human Connection To The Outdoors” Using Green Plants

"Real plants not only clean the air and provide health benefits, but they also enhance your environments by bringing in our human connection to the outdoors,” explains Duenas.

Similarly, Jennifer Verruto, CEO and Founder of Blythe Interiors, says, “Incorporating houseplants into your home is one of the easiest and most impactful ways to make your space instantly feel more inviting and welcoming. Whether our clients want real or faux, we always incorporate plants into our designs, and choosing a pretty vessel is just as important as selecting the plant. [...]”

Though many people aren’t aware, you can actually get real, live plants on Amazon — this one comes potted in a decorative, minimalist planter and costs just $20.


Maximize Your Wall Space With Floating Shelves

Verruto recommends a set of floating shelves — “We especially like using them in small bathrooms that have limited storage or could benefit from a little wall decor,” she tells The Zoe Report. “Not only do they allow easy access to our clients' everyday items, but it allows them to showcase their personality with fun decor items,” she adds.


Create An Organized & Visually Appealing Pantry With Glass Food Storage Canisters

“Creating an organized and visually appealing pantry is one of the easiest ways to elevate your home and your mood,” says Verruto, who suggests using “Clear storage canisters [to] make finding your snacks easier and more stylish.” In particular, she suggests this “eco-friendly, glass and bamboo option!”


Make Your Home Feel Cozier & More Welcoming With Comfy Throw Blankets

Hansen says that scattering throw blankets and pillows around your home is “a BIG one for making a space feel more dressed up.” While the options for throw blankets are pretty endless, this cooling blanket is a great value — and it’s so cozy. The silky-soft lightweight design is available in eight colors as well as five sizes. It’s also a fan favorite on Amazon, with over 20,000 positive ratings.


Add A Statement Vase To Your Living Room Table

“I love decorating living room center tables with a statement vase, with fresh flowers in it. They are so affordable and look so chic!” says Chenise Bhimull, an interior designer at ZFC Real Estate. With its ultra-modern design, this one feels right on trend and perfect for Scandi-chic and midcentury interiors — though it would also add a cool juxtaposition to a more traditionally decorated home.


Give The Illusion Of A Bigger Space & Add A Decorative Touch With A Gold-Rimmed Mirror

“I love adding mirrors with gold metallic edges on the focal wall of the living room,” says Bhimull, who explains that “they act as a decorative piece and give the illusion of a bigger place.” This one, with its cool circular design and sleek, modern look, would fit in with so many different design styles. It’s hard to believe you can score such a luxe-looking piece for less than $25 on Amazon.


Give Life To Your Space With An Indoor Floor Plant

“I absolutely love how indoor plants complement the overall warm tones of a living space,” says Bhimull, adding that “the plant gives life to the entire space by adding color.”

When it comes to indoor floor plants, palm plants are a classic choice, and you can get this real one for less than $25 on Amazon. Bhimull suggests choosing a planter that complements your home decor.


Save Money On Floor Renovations By Opting For Stick-And-Peel Tiles Instead

“My new favorite tip for a simple, yet dramatic, home decor upgrade is peel-and-stick floor tiles!” says Catherine Hooper of iSpy Home Design. “I was recently renovating a small laundry closet, and the tile quote was going to put us $2k over budget, so I hopped online to purchase a set of peel-and-stick tiles that would do the trick,” she tells The Zoe Report. “For less than $35, and only about 2 hours of my time, the space was completely transformed! They're especially useful for renters looking to cover an ugly vinyl kitchen or bathroom floor. My fave design right now is the terrazzo version that's just $21 for 20 tiles on Amazon. But you can do a single color, classic black and white checker, or even [a] marble looking finish. Such a great hack for those looking to make upgrades on a budget.”


Use A Dimmer Switch To Give Your Room A Cozier Feel

“Change a room's light switch to a dimmer, and make sure the lightbulb is a warm white. Having the ability to manipulate light in the room will create a cozier feel,” says Mintz.

“Great dimmer switch, easy to install and we like that you don't see any screws with the pop on cover plate. Nice clean look!” one reviewer reported of this best-selling dimmer switch from Amazon. Several other shoppers commented that they were able to install it in less than 20 minutes.


Add Both Height & A Decorative Touch To Any Space With Stacked Books

“Books are a quick and easy way to add both height and a decorative touch to any space,” says Jennifer Walter, owner and principal designer for Folding Chair Design Co. “Coffee tables, shelves, or even a little nook can benefit from a stack. Grab vintage ones for less, or pick them up at your local big box store. They’re easier to find now more than ever.”

Or, as an even easier alternative, pick up this stack of three fake books on Amazon, which are labelled with Paris, New York, and London titles, and make a great base for a candle or vase of flowers.


Replace Hardware & Hooks With Sleeker Brass Versions

According to Walter, “You don’t have to spend a lot on hardware and hooks in brass finishes [...] to make a big impact. The simplicity of a luxe looking finish wall hook or even a toilet flusher for less than $20 can elevate the entire room. In fact, often, we will leave a piece like a vanity or nightstand and only swap out the hardware!”

If you’d like to elevate your space with a more attractive piece of hardware, consider this brass wall hook that costs less than $10 on Amazon.


Build An Art Display Wall Using Woven Bowls

“A simple way to upgrade your home without spending more than $35 is to build an art display wall using simple items such as woven bowls,” says interior designer Stacy Garcia. “You can purchase bowls or hunt for finds in a thrift shop to create an art wall that adds colors, textures, and patterns,” she advises.

Amazon has lots of decorative woven bowls, like this one — you’ll find four unique (all equally gorgeous) designs on the same page. Or, if you prefer, you can buy pre-curated sets of bowls for a bit more money.


Purchase Cloche Bud Vases In Bulk & Arrange Them With Dainty Flowers

“When it comes to creating a beautiful centerpiece, try purchasing cloche bud vases in bulk from Amazon and arranging them with a few fresh florals,” suggests Abby Feltner, a junior commercial designer at Metal + Petal. “The look is clean, modern, and a bit whimsical. For vintage lovers, seek out vintage cigar boxes to stack your accessories and add height to your centerpiece.”


Refresh Your Walls With A Paint & Primer In One

Interior design firm Dekay & Tate says to “Get yourself a paint and primer in one,” as “a clean crisp fresh coat of paint instantly elevates any space.” This Country Chic all-in-one paint has a built-in primer, and it comes in three sizes and dozens of colors. With over 7,000 five-star ratings, it’s a bonafide best-seller on Amazon.


Don’t Underestimate The Transforming Abilities Of Mirrors

Multiple interior designers recommend using mirrors to upgrade and refresh your space. “Whether you buy a new mirror or a used mirror from a thrift shop or online source, a mirror is the first best way to enhance your space,” says Jana Rosenblatt of Jana Design Interiors. “Use it as is, give it a coat of paint for a pop of color or spray it with a metallic surface,” she suggests for a few clever ideas. “[The] trick is to hang your mirror directly behind a fabulous chandelier or contemporary pendant. It will reflect additional light and highlight your light fixture!”

Simran Kaur of Room You Love says, “You are losing the game of upgradation if you aren't using mirrors. There is such a wide variety of shapes, sizes, designs and textures to choose from that every corner of a home can look different and pretty with the right mirror in place.” Take, for example, these pretty, rustic wall mirrors. You can put them anywhere, and they can be hung square or rotated for a more diamond-like shape. Choose from black, white, and two shades of brown.


Give Your Home A Modern Touch Using Minimalist Decor Items

“Minimalist decor items, especially ceramic ones with matte finish are the easiest hack to make your home feel modern,” says Kaur. “They look sleek, curvy, thoughtful, and modern. The perfect conversation-starters. Take a look at [this one] for example. These ceramic vases make even ONE flower look [like] the most brilliant thing in the world. Plus, even if you don't put in them, anything at all, their sleekness and curves are enough beauty to behold!”


Use An Essential Oil Diffuser To Enhance The Aroma Of Your Space

“Literally ANY place can feel good if it smells good,” explains Kaur, who says that “using some nice incense sticks, reed diffusers, aroma diffusers, or scented candles [is] a must.” For a long-lasting (and highly functional) option, consider this essential oil diffuser that also functions as a humidifier and alarm clock. All you have to do is add a few drops of your favorite essential oils and some water — so unlike candles and reed diffusers, it’ll never run out.


... Or Go With A Reed Diffuser Instead

If you do prefer a more traditional method of emitting scent, you can buy a reed diffuser instead. Reed diffusers don’t require any plugs or water, unlike the electronic diffuser above, and they also double as decorative accents. This one from Craft & Kin comes in three earthy scents packaged in colorful, minimalist vessels that can be repurposed as vases once the oil inside has run out.


Add A Sense Of “Coolness” & “Informality” With A Custom Neon Sign

If you love more playful, contemporary design touches, Kaur suggests adding “some modern neon lighting” to your space. “Neon signs or neon strip lights add a sense of coolness, informality, and a party vibe to your home,” she says. “Lights like these are a no brainer. You get them for dirt cheap prices and super good quality. With them, modernity knocks straight at your door.” Turns out, she’s right: For just $30, you can get a custom neon sign depicting the word or phrase of your choice.


Rid Your Kitchen Of Pesky Fruit Flies Using This Clever Invention

“Something that all homeowners have to deal with are pesky fruit flies. These flies can sneak in through an opened window or door and become a nuisance for everyone,” says Stefan Bucur from Rhythm Of The Home. “Adding a small fruit fly trap in your kitchen will help eliminate the flies and improve your quality time at home.” This plug-in option costs about $40 on Amazon, and according to hundreds of Amazon reviewers, it really does work.


“Improve The Functionality Of Your Home” With A Smart Home Device

“Adding a smart device like an Alexa or a Google Home device can drastically improve the functionality of your home,” says Bucur. “These can also sync up with your home and doorbell cameras to see when someone arrives or to monitor your home. These devices also sync with other home maintenance devices such as thermostats, robot vacuums, and air purifiers. Having these devices synced with a smart device will help you with daily tasks so you can focus on things that are important like spending time with your friends and family,” he explains. Not only can you get an Echo Dot for less than $30, but it also comes with a bonus smart bulb, so you can control your room’s lighting with the command of your voice (or phone).


Replace Your Sofa Legs With New Ones

“One thing in your home that can be replaced but many people overlook, are the sofa's legs,” says Bucur. “Sometimes you will love the way the sofa feels but the legs aren't the correct length or the correct style for your home. This allows you to customize your space and make it one of a kind. A set of sofa legs like these can instantly improve the visual appeal of your sofa.”


Add Interest To Your Nightstand, Shelves, Or Coffee Table With Artful Ceramics

Amanda Gunawan, founding partner of Los Angeles-based design firm OWIU, suggests “[sourcing] beautiful ceramics as vases, decorative objects, or flower pots” for your home. “In addition to using natural materials in my designs as much as possible, I also love sourcing beautiful ceramics for my plants,” she says. “Beautiful vases and other unique vessels are one of my favorite ways to decorate and can immediately add interest to your nightstand, shelves, or coffee table, and are easy to swap out.”

A ceramic vase, like this one, functions both as a flower holder and a decorative accent; fill it with fresh flowers, pampas grass, or eucalyptus stems, for just a few ideas.


Add A Unique Lighting Touch To Your Space

“While many lamps and light fixtures can be quite expensive, there are also so many interesting and unique options at an affordable price point,” says Gunawan, who recommends this cool mushroom lamp in particular (it’s sold in seven colors, including royal blue, light green, and pink). “Swapping out lighting is a great way to spruce up a space,” she adds.


Print Out Photos & Set Them In Simple Black Frames

One final tip from Dennis? Picking up some simple black frames and putting your own personal photos, or even stock photos, inside. Printing out photos costs nearly nothing (but she also notes that you can buy prints on eBay), and you can get a set of five frames for less than $25 on Amazon. Use them as decorative accents around the house, or to build a modern-looking gallery wall.

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