A rich residence doesn’t cost a thing.

Bookshelves by Kendall Wilkinson
Paul Dyer

If the rise of quiet luxury and bookshelf wealth is any indication, the design world is ready to get fancy. Gone are the days of putting discounts and deals on full display: Now, everyone is into putting their money right where they can see it—be it on an open shelving system or a really nice velvet sofa.

Admittedly, making your look more expensive sounds… well, expensive. After all, money doesn’t grow on trees, and you may not want to spend a pretty penny on new furniture or a silky set of sheets. But, as a pleasant surprise, you don’t need to dish out a lot of money to make your home look fancy. In fact, it’s entirely possible to create the illusion of an expensive space without spending a single cent. To help, several designers share their smart, effective, and totally free design tips to create a bougie space.

Declutter Your Decor

Shelves by Studio Collins Weir

Design by Studio Collins Weir; Photo by Adam Rouse

When it comes to making your home feel a little more luxe, less is often more—especially when it comes to your storage. “Shelves hold a lot of treasures and a lot of stuff; take time to clear out that pile of mail that’s been sitting there,” says Chris Weir of Studio Collins Weir in Sausalito. “This goes a long way to creating elevated and considered spaces.” Of course, just because you’re decluttering your surfaces doesn’t mean that you need to get rid of your belongings. Instead, stow superfluous stuff behind a cabinet or in that miscellaneous closet space.

Take an Audit on Your Art

Dining Room by Linda Hayslett

Design by Linda Hayslett; Photo by Lauren Taylor

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Turns out, a set of shelves isn’t the only place you should declutter: Your walls could stand to be refreshed, too. “Remove any ‘art pieces’ that are quotes on the walls,” says designer Alina Wolhardt, who splits her time between Los Angeles and Boston. “Those tend to make any decor look basic, and do not exemplify ‘expensive.'” She has a point: A picture may say a thousand words, but they may not breathe luxury into your space.

For a virtually free way to rework your walls, why not embrace your artistic edge and make your own piece? “You can easily do something fun one weekend and get a simple frame and then put it up in your home,” recommends Los Angeles designer Linda Hayslett. “Then you’ll have an original art piece that no one else would get because you made it.”

Pepper Your Home with Personal Items

Bookshelves by Kendall Wilkinson

Design by Kendall Wilkinson; Photo by Paul Dyer

Lived-in luxury doesn’t feel cookie-cutter. Instead, it features a carefully curated collection of items that tell a story. That’s exactly why Bay Area-based designer Kendall Wilkinson recommends cherishing “found objets.” “Interesting bookshelf design begins with displaying bibelots, a bud vase with freshly cut florals from my garden, and framed family mementos,” she says. “An artful arrangement makes for great conversation starters and tells a story about what is meaningful to you.” A chic conversation-starter? Yes, please.

Try the Trifecta Treatment

Coffee Table by Bandd Design

Design by BANDD/DESIGN; Photo by Ryann Ford

Speaking of your accessories, Sara Malek Barney of BANDD/DESIGN says it’s equally important to display your items with care. For the designer, who splits time between Los Angeles and Texas, three is the magic number. “Loosely derived from the principles of feng shui, arranging items in groups of three is representative of family and things that belong together,” she says. “Using an odd number brings well-balanced harmony and elevates a space.” Whether you’re stacking art books or showing off some vintage bud vases, a trio of items feels like a collection without feeling cluttered.

Grab Some Greens

Kitchen by Raili Clasen

Design by Raili Clasen; Photo by Karyn R. Millet

Ready to bring some life into your home without breaking your budget? Grab your gardening shears and head out to the great outdoors. “Big, oversized cuttings from your yard, or neighborhood trees add such a perfect layer to living spaces and are virtually free,” says Raili Clasen, a California-based interior designer and author of Surf Style at Home. “Place large cuttings in a water pitcher or vase on dining tables and kitchen islands for a next level addition to the room.” (And if you need some pointers on how to propagate your plants like a pro, we have you covered.)

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