Unveiling the Subtle Things that Make Your Home Look Cheap and Tacky
Find out some of the things that make your house look cheap as we reveal the hidden elements that can instantly downgrade your home’s elegance so you can to avoid them.
Whether you want to sell your house or elevate your living space, cheap is never the look you’re aiming for. Most of us are on a tight budget, so we can’t renovate and buy the most expensive decor.
However, some tacky fixtures and features are easy to replace. Let’s look at which things make your house look cheap.
The primary thing that makes your house look cheap is clutter. Other cheap-looking features are budget flatpack and DIY furniture, poorly positioned lighting, awkwardly sized rugs, haphazard flooring, mass-produced or no artwork, overdone themes, badly installed unlined curtains, and vertical blinds.
I don’t have deep enough pockets to refresh my home every season, and those in rented accommodation certainly don’t want to invest in renovations.
Instead, I’ve got some easy ways to make your home look more expensive, classy, and elegant – by avoiding or removing the things that cause the cheap and tacky look.
17 Things that Make your House Look Cheap (Say Bye to the Cheap Look)
The most significant cause of a cheap-looking home is easy to fix: clutter. A cluttered home stops the flow of light and energy and undoes any intentional design work.
Unless you’ve done the Marie Kondo thing, you probably have too much stuff. I’m not saying we must all embrace minimalism: I adore the eclectic look. But there are two main areas guilty of clutter that can make the most beautifully decorated house look tacky.
#1. Cluttered Entrance Hall
The immediate impression people get of your home often stays with them, and a cluttered entryway makes your home look cheap, chaotic, and uninviting. Do the kids leave their shoes in a heap, bags piled against the wall, and dog toys all over?
If your family likes to store things near the door, create a proper space with functional storage like closed shoe racks and a lidded bench. Your entrance hall will look far more polished and sophisticated.
#2. Cluttered Kitchen
Look at any interiors pictured on Instagram or in a magazine, and you’ll notice that the kitchens are clutter-free.
Clear countertops, closed cabinet doors, and empty window sills immediately make a kitchen look classy and high-end. If you have too much stuff, consider cutting down on the crockery. (I found eight salad bowls in my cupboard, way too many for a family of three.)
Another feature that stops a home from looking high-end is sets of matching furniture, as if you’d bought the room from a catalog or flatpack supplier.
If you don’t have a big furniture budget, scour antique and thrift stores and welcome family heirlooms: antique and vintage furniture adds character and class.
#3. Flatpack Furniture
There’s no denying that flatpack furniture is cheap; the challenge is that it also looks cheap, especially if you’ve fitted out your home in matching sets. While flatpacks have their place (such as in your first apartment or for storage in the garage), they are poor quality and often blandly designed.
#4. DIY Furniture
Creating pieces for your home is satisfying if you’re a gifted carpenter. Upcycling second-hand pieces is also rewarding and saves money, especially if you have learned how to restore furniture.
However, weekend DIYers and crafters’ creations can be less than charming. One homemade piece in a room can be lovely and personal; a room full of pallet furniture or badly repurposed knickknacks looks cheap.
#5. Disproportionate Furniture
Furniture too large or too small for a room gives a cheap impression, looking like you threw bits and pieces together.
Intentional design means choosing pieces that work together, buying investment furniture, and waiting to find the right piece.
#6. Too Much Furniture
Having too much furniture in a home can indeed make it look cheap and tacky. First, an overcrowded space can give the impression of clutter and disorganization, instantly detracting from the overall aesthetic appeal.
In addition, an abundance of furniture may indicate a lack of thoughtful design and curation.
Moreover, excessive furniture can be associated with lower-quality or inexpensive pieces. When items are overcrowded, they may appear cramped, highlighting any flaws.
To avoid this, it’s important to prioritize quality over quantity. Select furniture that fits the scale of the room, and ensure there is ample open space for easy movement and visual breathing room.
#7. Bad Lighting
If your choice of lighting isn’t right for the space, you can end up with harsh overhead lights that make you blink or a dim room you stumble through. Either option makes your home look cheap.
The rule of thumb is three sources of light per space: windows, overhead lights, and lamps (floor or table). You need to increase the lighting when a room lacks abundant natural light.
Many home decorators think that more ceiling lights will solve the problem. You’ve seen the so-called “boob” light fixtures: they never provide enough light and always look like a budget option.
Overhead lighting always casts downward shadows, making the room darker. It must be supplemented with lamps that shoot light toward the ceiling, brightening a room immediately or with recessed downlighting to soften the light.
Stick-on strip lights are not the answer either. They tend to fall off the walls, looking really shabby. Instead, choose to add lamps. Even if you’re renting, you can change the light fixtures for a more elegant ambiance.
#8. Haphazard Flooring
The floors of a house can make it a welcoming, beautiful space or a worn, shabby place. Think of the beauty of polished wooden floors in the sun compared to grubby wall-to-wall carpeting. The flooring’s texture, color, and material can all influence your home’s look.
Even if you aren’t able to put hardwood floors throughout your home, stick to one style of flooring throughout.
Moving from laminate in one room to tiles in another and carpeting in a third is haphazard and inconsistent. In the same way, if you choose oak-type flooring in one room, keep to the same kind of wood throughout.
#9. Awkward Rug Sizes
A rug can finish a room, drawing together colors and textures to create a harmonious space. However, it must be chosen to scale with the rest of the furniture. When a rug is too big or too small, it looks off-balance and cheap.
Too big a rug will reach the room’s walls, failing to demarcate a space and making the room seem cluttered and cramped.
A carpet with 12 to 18 inches of space all around focuses the eye on the mat and creates a room within a room. Too small a rug ends up “floating” around a room without furniture pinning it down.
Rather than guess how large a rug you need, tape the space out on the floor and measure carefully. Think of the carpet as a frame for a room, with the furniture fitting inside the frame.
The artwork you choose for your home expresses your personality and beautifies your space. Having no artwork or personal items or choosing cheap, mass-produced pieces can make your otherwise lovely home look cheap.
#10. Empty Walls
Having no artwork on your walls or shelves makes a house seem soulless. Unless you have carefully created a minimalist look, having blank walls is bland and lacks imagination.
#11. Mass-Produced Art
Buying some art for your home where you get the flatpack furniture immediately cheapens your space. Mass-produced items are impersonal, making a room look like a budget hotel rather than your home.
A design feature to be careful of is the gallery wall. Clustering a series of framed prints, photos, or paintings together is an excellent idea – so long as they’re not generic, mass-produced pictures.
Spending a lot on original and unique artwork is unnecessary: family members, friends, or art students may be willing to paint or draw something for you. Spend time at local markets and galleries to start your collection, and enjoy supporting the art community.
#12. Overdone Themes
While artwork should tie into the room, whether in color or flow, it looks a tad overdone if every artwork and ornament hammers on the same theme. Overdone themes end up looking kitsch and cheap.
Yes, I’m talking to you, nautical theme. Filling a shelf with faux anchors, lanterns, and seashells and covering the walls with seafaring images gives the impression of a budget seaside vacation.
By all means, display precious and sentimental items; don’t cheapen them by adding mass-produced schlock.
The same goes for faddy trends in interiors, like making a room all pink. The space will look fresh for a few months but turns tacky and unsophisticated overnight.
Another mass-produced trend that has run its course is word art – yes, the live-laugh-love brigade. While I agree wholeheartedly with the sentiment expressed, these signs and letters have become a sad cliché.
Please take note that I’m not talking about holiday decorations: the hallowed ground of Halloween and Christmas décor lies beyond questions of good taste and kitsch, as anything goes.
Window Treatment Mistakes
Window treatments are often the last item to be considered when redecorating. They’re pricey and expected to last for years, but they can look cheap and dated after a while. (You may want to read this article on choosing window treatments.)
#13. No Curtains
A room without curtains looks naked and unfinished. You don’t have to buy expensive curtains; choose some that add to the room’s décor. Windows highlight a room’s best features, especially if you have beautiful windows.
#14. Unlined Curtains
An immediate red flag in any home is unlined curtains. A curtain’s lining helps it drape elegantly and blocks sunlight that may fade the fabric. Even if you’ve chosen inexpensive drapes, a lining elevates the window treatment, making them look custom-finished and neat.
#15. Badly Installed Curtains
Installing curtain rails and hanging the curtains can make or break any drapes. Unfortunately, many of us don’t know how to hang curtains, leaving them short, which looks tacky.
Ideally, your curtain rail should be high to make the ceiling look taller, and the drapes should just touch the floor.
#16. Vertical Blinds
Blinds are a great choice if you want simple window treatments. However, stick to Roman blinds or roller blinds. Vertical blinds make a room look cold and cheap, like an office.
Once the pinnacle of respectability and elegance, chintz held sway in soft furnishings. Overdoing the chintz, though, makes your home look cheap and old-fashioned.
Final Thoughts on Things that Can Make Your Home Look Cheap
While renovating and updating your home can be expensive, it is possible to keep your home looking high-end on a budget. Avoid clutter, mass-produced budget furniture and art, and ensure your rugs and curtains fit well. Simple changes will transform your space into a comfortable, classy home.
Do you know of any other things that make your home look cheap? Add to our list in the comment section.