Interior Designers on How to Make Cheap Furniture Look Better

  • Insider spoke with interior designers about budget-friendly hacks for upgrading cheap furniture. 
  • Adding fresh paint, new upholstery, or upgraded hardware are some of the easiest tricks.
  • For a more creative project, you can add interest to bedroom furniture by making a DIY headboard.

Insider asked interior designers to share their favorite ways to make cheap pieces look more expensive. 

Here’s what they said:

Spruce up a cheap sofa by replacing the legs

dog sitting on a couch in a decorated living room complete with artwork, a rug, and plants

Trying a new leg style can revamp the whole couch.

FollowTheFlow/Getty Images

Brijé Alexandra, the principal designer at Harper + Parkyr Design House, told Insider you can upgrade your couch by changing its leg style. 

“Double-check the existing sofa-leg measurements to ensure the new legs are stable after the switch,” she added. 

If your sofa’s legs aren’t removable, use paint to give them a new look. 

Use metallic paint to upgrade a glass table

Interior designer Kim Depole of Depole Design said it’s easy to give a cheap glass table a luxe upgrade.

“Use silver or gold paint to cover the underside of the glass tabletop,” she told Insider. “Since the paint is on the underside, you won’t have to worry about spills.”

You can also use gold or silver leaf to create the look. 

Contact paper can change the look of a table or countertop

red arrow pointing toward a marble-looking kitchen counter

You can buy contact paper that mimics marble.

Xi Bai/Shutterstock

Contact paper can add texture and color to flat surfaces. 

“Dress up your kitchen counter, dining table, or similar flat surfaces with contact paper,” Alexandra said. “Many contact papers come in peel-and-stick versions for easy application.”

Look for a waterproof product if you’re using it in your kitchen or bathroom. 

Make your own headboard out of vintage finds

Add visual interest to a bedroom by pairing a cheap

bed frame
with a DIY headboard. 

“I love using old doors to create headboards,” Depole told Insider. “Be sure that the headboard is wider than the bed and at least 7 feet in height.”

Other DIY headboard options include vintage window frames, tapestries, or large pieces of framed art. 

Reupholster your cheap furniture in a nicer fabric

hand holding a tool to reupholster the under side of an ottoman

Reupholstering is a fairly simply DIY project.

Kateryna Omelianchenko/Shutterstock

Anthony Stransky of Anthony Charles Interiors told Insider that new fabric can make chairs and sofas look high-end.  

“Reupholstering a low-end piece in more luxurious fabric will cost significantly less than paying for premium furniture,” he said.

You can add details like tufting or folds to further enhance the look.

Create a conversation-starting piece with spray foam

Typically used to seal cracks, polyurethane-based foam creates a fluffy texture when applied to a surface.

“This easy technique can be used to ramp up the drama for most accessories or furniture,” Alexandra said. “Simply spay the foam and cover with a coat of paint.”

Apply the foam outside to help avoid inhaling the fumes.

Swap out the hardware on cabinets and drawers for a more unique look

arrow pointing to gold hardware on piece of wooden furniture

Updating the handles on a piece of furniture can make it look totally different.

Nataliia Zhekova/Shutterstock

If you can’t afford new furniture, consider replacing the hardware on your drawers and cabinets.

“You can swap out those generic handles or pulls with more aspirational options that will cost less than an entirely new piece of furniture,” Stransky told Insider.

Antique shops are a great place to search for unique hardware.

Use pricier accessories to accent cheap furniture

“You can accentuate your larger, less expensive furniture pieces with more expensive accents from premium brands,” Stransky said. 

Add a nice throw or pillow to your sofa or splurge on an eye-catching decor piece for a lower-end table.

Get your dining chairs refinished at an auto shop

A new coat of paint can transform cheap dining chairs.

“I love to take old chair frames to car refinishing shops,” Depole said. “You can have them refinished in so many cool colors, including metallics.” 

Call the auto shop ahead of time to make sure it’s willing to repaint furniture.

Disguise a worn-out couch by adding pillows

throw pillows on couch

Throw pillows can distract from a cheap couch.

Andy Dean Photography/Shuttershock

“One of the easier ways to upgrade a plain sofa is to add amazing pillows,” Depole told Insider. 

If you can sew, you can even make your own covers using luxurious fabrics.

Try adding doors to a cheap bookcase

“You can create a custom storage unit by adding cabinet doors to an old wooden bookcase,” Depole said. 

Make sure to measure everything first, then paint or stain the unit to create a seamless appearance. You can also add premium hardware for added style.

Paint your old furniture for a fresh look

hand painting a brown wooden end table light blue

A fresh coat of paint can elevate a piece of furniture.

Hydr Ercn/Shutterstock

Your furniture might just need a fresh coat of paint.

“What I love to do is add a bold color to a piece with a simple silhouette, such as a wooden stool,” Stransky said. 

You can also modernize traditional furniture with a coat of high-gloss paint or a lacquer finish.