What Makes a House Look Cheap: 7 Things You’re Doing Wrong

Knowing what makes a house look cheap will prove invaluable when designing your interior. It will help you avoid making these common mistakes and make your home look sleek and sophisticated.

Even if you’re decorating on a budget, there’s no reason your space should look cheap. In many cases, the things that make a house look cheap don’t even reflect wealth. In fact, there are many economical ways to make a home expensive.

What makes a house look cheap

Fill a room with a matching flatpack; Piles of clutter and disproportionate furniture are all factors that can make homes seem cheap. Luckily, they’re easy to avoid, and there are plenty of other affordable alternatives that will help your system shine.

Below, we share what makes a home look cheap along with expert advice on how to avoid it.

1. Matching flatbed furniture

White living room with Schumacher's Full Circle fabric curtains, Jungle

(Image credit: styling Katrin Cargill / photography jan Baldwin)

Evoking a college aesthetic — and not in a good way — filling a room with flat-matching furniture is sure to make your space look cheap. Instantly identifiable by their soulless square design and flimsy particleboard construction, they add very little to interior design.

Instead, invest in used pieces with character. Often available at a much lower price than flatpack, they will also be sturdier and infuse your space with personality. Plus, you can rest easy knowing that the piece you’re buying has already survived decades in the home and is likely to continue for many more years. If you want to broaden your search, learn how to buy antiques online to effortlessly bring character to your home.

If you’re buying used pieces that need updating or don’t quite match your color scheme, you can also learn how to restore wood furniture and paint wood furniture to ensure that they really work in your space.

Although the flatpack may not be the perfect fit for the main rooms of your home, it still has its place. Flatpack can prove invaluable in hidden spaces, such as garages, to provide abundant storage, helping you reduce clutter in your home.

2. Incoherent ground

Gray and white living room with open dining area

(Image credit: Folding chair Design Co/ Verrier)

Flooring Ideas play an important role in defining the look of your space. The wrong color, the wrong texture or the wrong material can cause an entire scheme to fail.

“Inconsistent hard flooring like LVT and laminate in different rooms will make a home look cheap. Many people want to save money by choosing flooring other than hardwood and there’s nothing wrong with that. However, stay consistent! Putting one type of ‘wood look’ in the kitchen in an oak color and then changing it to another type of material in gray in the living room can be a disaster,” says Jennifer Walter, owner and lead designer of Folding Chair Design Co. (opens in a new tab).

Choose a color and use it everywhere. I also find that grays in wood alternatives tend to make a home look sterile and staged. This can make a house look cold and unnatural.

3. Too much clutter

white hallway with whitewashed wardrobe, round mirror and golden chandelier

(Image credit: Vanessa Lentine)

It doesn’t matter that you’ve read all the home decor tips and followed the latest furniture trends, if your home is then filled with clutter, it will still look cheap. Piles of clutter will instantly negate all your good interior design choices.

Therefore, it is essential that you have plenty of storage ideas to help you keep your home neat and tidy. There are also plenty of decluttering tips that will help you organize a bedroom or any other room in your home. You can also take inspiration from minimalist home staging to help your home achieve that high-end professional look.

4. Avoid overdoing the chintz

Matthew Williamson light for lighting and interior design advice

(Image credit: Matthew Williamson)

While chintz certainly has its place in home decor, too much chintz will take your interior from sleek to messy.

“Decor really plays a part in elevating your home. So when chintzy, the piece will look cheap. That doesn’t mean you have to break the budget on décor, but find pieces that match the style of your home and are more unique than mass-produced,” says Amy Youngblood, lead designer at (opens in a new tab)Interiors of Amy Youngblood (opens in a new tab).

5. Disproportionate furniture

Vintage shelf in the living room

(Image credit: Jody Stewart)

Even if you have chosen the best living room furniture, if it is too big or too small for the space, it will end up looking cheap. Therefore, it is essential that your rooms are the right size and shape for the space in question.

“Disproportionate furniture will make a house look cheap, almost like you threw everything you had together and hoped it would work. Invest in pieces that fit together well and fill a room’s space without crowding it. This can also include artwork if it is out of proportion on the walls of the space. Find a good balance between positive and negative space to help the flow of the room,” advises Amy Youngblood, lead designer of (opens in a new tab)Interiors of Amy Youngblood (opens in a new tab)

6. The wrong size mat

Modern living room with fireplace, white walls and green chairs

(Image credit: James Merrell/Future)

When it comes to choosing a rug, the size is also of utmost importance. ‘Scale the rug appropriately for the size of the room; a rug that is too small can instantly look cheap,” says Jessica Nelson of Design by Jessica Nelson (opens in a new tab).

With so many different sizes and shapes, decorating with rugs can seem overwhelming. The best way to find the right rug for your space is to use masking tape to mark out different sizes on your floor, this will help you understand how different sizes and shapes would work in your space.

‘For large living areas, it’s best to leave at least 12 to 18 inches of visible floor space between your large area rug and the wall. To unify the area, try to make sure the front legs of your couch and lounge chairs rest on the rug and overlap it by at least 8 to 12 inches (more is better). For open spaces, greater contrast between flooring and carpet will draw attention to the carpet, defining your space and creating a more intimate feel,” advises Therese Germain, commodity director at Ruggable. (opens in a new tab).

7. Unlined curtains

neutral bathroom with white bathtub, chandelier, marble tiles, black and white curtains

(Image credit: JL Design)

We all know the importance of good window treatments and there are plenty of curtain ideas that are sure to inspire your home decor. However, something that is often overlooked is the lining.

“Above all, draperies are the most effective way to elevate a home and are highly dependent on working with someone who is skilled in their craft.” When impeccably finished and include details such as hand-sewn trimmings, they instantly create a more personalized and elevated feel. For example, we always line the draperies four times so they are finished and visually appealing even from outside the house and always do this in a soft ecru or bone rather than white,” says Christian Ladd, Founder of Christian Ladd Interiors. (opens in a new tab).

How can I make my home more valuable?

You can make your home more valuable by eliminating clutter. Take inspiration from designer William Morris, who said “have nothing in your homes that you don’t know to be beautiful or think useful” and get rid of anything that doesn’t fit into one of these two categories. It will help you streamline your interior design, letting those beautiful pieces of furniture shine.

How do you make a home look high-end on a budget?

You can make a home look upscale on a budget by buying used furniture, being thoughtful about your decorating choices, and cutting down on clutter. There’s also a lot to be said for shopping in the sales – you’d be surprised at the high-end furniture and accessories you can find at such low prices.

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