30 “Things That Make Your House Look Cheap”
Whether you live in your first apartment or dwell in the same house for years, decorating interiors is quite a task. While some see it as a fun and fulfilling challenge, most people instantly feel overwhelmed by myriads of complex and, more importantly, expensive choices when trying to make their humble abode feel more put together.
Of course, there’s no arguing about taste being a matter of preference, and it’s great to make your home feel like you. But interior design is a tricky game to play, and certain solutions may not turn out as expected. So recently, TikToker Krishnan Rajaratnam, who goes by the handle @interiorbykrish, revealed several decor mistakes that might make your home look cheap, and people online are divided.
From crushed diamond mirror furniture to the "Live Laugh Love" type of decorations, we’ve gathered some common faux pas homeowners might want to steer clear of. So take out your notebooks, grab your pens, and decide for yourself whether you agree with them. Also, read on for our in-depth interview filled with handy tips from an award-winning interior designer Linda Merrill. Then if you’re interested in even more questionable home decor trends, then check out Bored Panda's previous piece about it right here.
The task of furnishing and decorating your home can be a daunting experience, especially when you realize how expensive it is. We reached out to an expert in the field, an award-winning New England-based interior designer Linda Merrill. She is a renowned author of the Surroundings blog filled with clever and creative solutions to help anyone lost in the design world to come up with stunning decors.
According to Merrill, there are plenty of simple tweaks for low and even no-cost decorating that are both beautiful and functional. For example, when searching for affordable furniture and accessories, the interior designer suggested looking at second-hand, consignment stores, or Facebook Marketplace — places filled with great pieces waiting for a new home.
"This is especially true if you live in an area with a mix of high-end homes and towns where more affluent people are redecorating more frequently and are more likely to be getting rid of better-quality furnishings," Merrill told Bored Panda. "Don’t be afraid of vintage pieces — they are better quality than low-cost items made today and with a little cleaning, painting or reupholstering, you could have a like new item for a fraction of the cost."
Another inexpensive solution that can make your pad look and feel more put together is paint. "[It] is relatively cheap for the impact it offers and while it requires labor, touching up tired paint on trim and walls, or repainting entirely will freshen up a space significantly." If you’re in a rental, Merrill has recently written a blog post with some ideas on decorating that will work as well, so be sure to take a peek right here.
Merrill pointed out that fabric is a reasonably-priced decorating option that can instantly make a difference. "I’m a big fan of the magic of fabric. It helps to be able to sew, of course. But when I was young and on a no-money budget, I would use sheets to make curtains, bedding, shower curtains and pillows. They come in such pretty patterns and are available at all price points," the interior designer said.
Of course, there are also several no-cost solutions that can make your residence look more put together. "For no money, spend time re-organizing, decluttering and simply re-imagining how you’re using your rooms and can you move things around. We hang a picture and then stop looking at it. Moving things around will make them feel like new (or at least seen!)."
The interior designer shared a few common decorating mistakes to have in mind when updating your space. First, she explained that old furniture that looks worn out should be repaired to give it a fresh look. "Rachel Ashwell marketed the Shabby Chic aesthetic, which is a feminine take on aged and used-looking items. It’s a gift to be able to turn chippy furniture and frayed fabric edges into a chic (and also expensive) brand. But in reality, nothing looks cheaper than chipped, tired-looking pieces," Merrill explained, adding that a bit of repairing and touching up will always up the whole look.
Another mistake some homeowners make is bad lighting. "Regardless of how expensive, or inexpensive, an interior is, if the lighting is terrible, it will look terrible," she told us. "Overhead bright lights are reminiscent of being under investigation. Hard on the eyes and makes you look terrible. Don’t rely on just a single ceiling light wherever possible." Merrill suggested avoiding this by simply adding a few table and floor lamps is key. "Also, dimmers are your best friend when it comes to lighting. Switching out standard switches for dimmers is a relatively easy DIY project that will give all your rooms flexibility in the lighting."
When it comes to timeless design choices that can instantly spruce up your home and require little effort, Merrill said that curb appeal is definitely something to consider. "Adding pretty pots of flowers, a fun doormat and a freshly painted front door will up the look overall. The author Edith Wharton said in her book The Decoration of Houses (pub. 1897) that the transition from outside to inside should be as smooth and easy as possible." According to the interior designer, the outside should set up what’s happening on the inside. "If the outside looks tired and lackluster, the inside will feel the same."
Of course, one of the most important aspects of making your house look stunning is rather simple — declutter. A messy home takes away from the charming space that might be lurking below, Merrill said. "Decluttering and having storage systems in place (such as baskets) to contain toys, clothes, etc., will turn a space around immediately. In the same vein, collections of small items (collectible teapots or action figures) are not elegant unless housed and displayed with intention," she mentioned.
If you’re in the middle of redecorating or feel overwhelmed by the daunting process of designing your own home, Merrill advised you to have patience and be flexible. "Everything is more expensive and is taking longer these days. Long-lead times are annoying but unavoidable much of the time. If you love something, it’s worth the wait. If it’s not worth the wait, you might not love it as much as you think."
Moreover, when it comes to what you need vs. what you want, she explained that our needs must come first. "For example, if you need a decent sofa and want it to be leather (which can be very, very expensive), this is the time to consider the second-hand furniture route. Genuine aniline leather will last for years. Bonded leather, which comes on cheaper pieces, will not last very long because all it is are micro-thin slices of the leather scraps applied to a paper foundation."
"Try to buy the best quality you can on seating and items that will be well-used. Tables get less physical use (usually no one is sitting on them, moving them a lot, etc.) so cheaper stylish versions can be found that will work quite well," she added.
No matter your decorating budget, you want to create an aesthetically pleasing space that speaks directly to you. "It’s fun to follow trends, but be sure you really actually like it in the first place. Just because everyone is doing gray doesn't mean you will like it. Don’t spend money on things you don’t love." And, most importantly, enjoy the process but take it seriously. "Whether you’re rich or poor, you don’t want to waste money or time," Merrill concluded.