Six Ways to Make Your Home Look More Expensive

People often don't realize that the effort you make to organize and style your place can help you with your family's most important transaction: selling your home. The things you do to make your home more organized and inviting today will make your place more attractive to potential buyers in the future! So whether you're planning to sell your home soon or just thinking about doing it later, consider adding classic, beautiful, and functional touches to your space.   

I'm thrilled to have my friend Lauren Painter here to help explain how to make these changes in our homes without breaking the bank. Lauren is a local real estate broker with Baird & Warner here in Chicago and also created a blog, Neighborhooding, to help educate buyers, build a new audience for selling listings, and share the beautiful homes she finds along the way. I love Lauren's approach to this stressful and aggressive field and particularly love her behind the scenes tours of homes and how she highlights the variety of amazing neighborhoods in Chicago. So without further ado, here are Lauren's Six Ways to Make Your Home Look More Expensive:

In the world of real estate, a picture really is worth a thousand words--and a lot more than that in dollars. That’s why all homeowners want their home to look nice, but those homeowners looking to sell? They want their homes to look expensive at first glance, and preferably on the cheap.

These are my back-pocket tricks for ways I’ve spruced up my own home, and my listings, so that they sell for top dollar with minimal investment.

  1. Create or highlight details: Here we’re talking crown moldings, wainscoting, wider than usual baseboards--really any sort of extra, added bonus beauty. To install crown molding or wainscoting, check out my favorite DIY blog, Young House Love. If you’re already the proud owner of these sorts of details, make sure you’re getting maximum bang for your buck by using a contrasting paint color on surrounding walls so it really pops.

  2. Define spaces with vignettes: Nearly every buyer I work with wants an open floor plan. The struggle here is that a lot of open floor plans aren’t properly laid out, so room flow becomes an issue. Make your space make sense (and look bigger) by defining areas via furniture. For example: block out a family room area with a rug + sofa + two chairs facing the sofa. Define an office area with a desk. Even outside, show the size of a yard by setting up a sitting area and a fire pit area.

  3. Use space creatively: Instead of hiding a weird or oddly shaped area with a plant, or worse leaving it empty, think of creative ways of using all your square footage. Add some hooks for an extra “closet,” position a desk for a second workspace or add a few floating shelves for a built-in look.

  4. Add a backsplash: Just go ahead and bite the bullet if you don’t already have a backsplash. I can’t put my finger on exactly what’s behind the magic of a kitchen backsplash, but the end look is exponentially more polished, higher-end, cohesive and not to mention interesting. The Home Depot sells some great inexpensive tile options.

  5. Add an island: It’s not an accident that two of my tips center on the kitchen specifically. This is because all of the cliches you hear about kitchens are true, with the bottom line being: kitchens sell! And personally, I’ve yet to meet a buyer who doesn’t love an island. That doesn’t mean I’m saying go out and invest in a new granite island. Instead, invest in a much less expensive island on wheels (Ikea has a bunch), and suggest to buyers that your kitchen has the space for the island of their dreams.

  6. Update your light fixtures: One of the first places builders skimp is on light fixtures, which is funny since a great light fixture can really make or break a room. Consider updating large, focal point fixtures with something on-trend. Remember to use the right color bulbs--I like daylight or natural tones versus bulbs that cast a blue or white light. And, while the electrician is at it, have them install a dimmer!

How have you made your home look more expensive on the cheap?

Neighborhooding’s mission is to get to the bottom of why Chicagoans love where they live. To answer that question, the site features home tours and interviews with passionate homeowners from all over our beautiful city. As a real estate broker, Lauren’s buyers come to the site for education, sellers for marketing and everyone else, for a healthy dose of inspiration. To follow along, go to

Photos by: Neighborhooding and M Lindsay Photography.