5 Designers on How They’d Inexpensively Upgrade a Living Room

They share their favorite finds to pull off a high-design look at a wallet-friendly price.


The Designer: Donna Mondi, Chicago, Illinois

Photo by Studio Yagüe

Mondi’s style is a mixture of classic and modern, greatly influenced by mid-century modern and European architecture. Donna Mondi Interior Design surprises clients by fusing unlikely styles together to create something that’s never been seen before.


Whenever you can bring order to chaos, it’s a win. A basket like this makes organizing easy and so stylish.

To buy: Rectangular Basket With ZigZag Design, $30; zarahome.com.

Coffee Table Book

A great coffee table book is not only pretty to look at, but it can also spark interesting conversation, keep you company on a rainy day, and inspire readers with its eye candy-filled pages.

To buy: The Coveteur, $35; anthropologie.com.


Whimsical Pillow

Your guests won’t be able to take their eyes off of this edgy embroidered pillow. Toss it on the sofa alongside more solid throw pillow or on a side chair as an eye-catching accent.

To buy: Magical Thinking Embroidered Eye Pillow, $40; urbanoutfitters.com.


Parisian-Inspired Art

Incorporate a little piece of (affordable) Paris-inspired art onto your walls. Mondi calls that “trés chic”!

To buy: Graffiti Woman Art Print, $15; etsy.com.


The Designer: Lucie Ayres, Los Angeles, California

Photo by urbanoutfitters.com

As the founder of 22 Interiors, Ayres’ goal is to create happy spaces with colorful, California-cool designs.  

A Tapestry

A large blanket or tapestry will do wonders: Hang it on a wall as art (Ayres prefers to hang it taut, attaching all four corners to a the wall), drape it over a sofa or chair to soften the space, or even use it as a tablecloth.

To buy: Cactus Landscape Tapestry, $49; urbanoutfitters.com.


Temporary Wallpaper

Stripes are a classic, and this removable wall strip is no exception. Bonus: it’s so easy to install and the design options are endless. Consider orienting the stripes diagonally or creating a pattern on the ceiling.

To buy: Tempaper Self-Adhesive Removable Wallpaper Stripes, $13; target.com.



The flicker of a candle really helps to set the mood in a space. Arrange a few of these flameless versions around a room to create instant ambiance.

To buy: Lavish Home 3-Piece Led Candle Set, From $18; amazon.com.



The Designer: Christine Markatos Lowe, Santa Monica, California

Photo by worldmarket.com

From Northern California to the East Coast, Lowe’s designs have no boundaries when it comes to location. She uses her art background to curate fresh and elegant interiors.

Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree

Houseplants instantly add color and life to a room and an organic shape within the room. A large tree, like a fiddle leaf fig, helps to fill up space in a large living area because of the plant’s wide-stretched leaves. If you’re not such a green thumb, consider a faux version for the same effect.

To buy: Faux Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree, $180; worldmarket.com.

Modern Weave Storage Bins

One of the quickest ways to make a room look great? Clear up the clutter. These structured, woven storage bins are the perfect organizational tool, and they add a touch of texture to a simple bookcase.

To buy: Modern Weave Storage Bin, $50; westelm.com.


Fragrance Reed Diffuser

The sense of smell is one of our strongest senses (and one of the first things we notice), so filling your room with a beautiful aroma is a great way to make a lasting impression.

To buy: Be Peaceful Lavender and Eucalyptus Reed Diffuser, $13; target.com.



The Designer: Cheryl Eisen, New York City

Photo by barneys.com

As President & CEO of Interior Marketing Group, Eisen’s goal is to make the VIP treatment more attainable—minus the ego.


A simple bookstand with a beautiful tome opened up on top is an easy way to bring style into any room. A clear, acrylic bookstand offers dimension without too much visual distraction.

To buy: Acrylic Bookstand, $48; barneys.com.

Fur Throw

Faux fur throws can take a room from dull to luxe in a snap. Not only are they amazingly soft, but mixing texture and fabric in a living space also creates depth and decadence.

To buy: House of Hampton Glessite Faux Fur Throw Blanket, $97; wayfair.com.


Scented candles offer a quick way to create sultry, ambient light. They play to the olfactory senses and make a living space feel like a personal oasis.

To buy: Baies Scented Candle, From $34; nordstrom.com.


The Designer: James Tabb, Los Angeles, California

Photo by bejaminmoore.com

The Laurel & Wolf designer’s philosophy? Create a well-lived and well-loved space by incorporating quality furniture and historically relevant pieces.


Tabb opts for Benjamin Moore’s Arctic Shadows as a deep neutral backdrop. “It’s inviting and unstuffy, and it’s great for a family room or informal dining space.”

To buy: Arctic Shadows Paint; bejaminmoore.com for info.



Layered lighting is key to creating a finished look and inviting space. Opt for a visually interesting reading lamp in place of a standard table lamp for a more dramatic effect. The brass finish helps warm the space.  A floor lamp is also a great way to add height and interest to a lonely credenza or an otherwise boring corner. Pick diffused shades for softer and more ambient lighting.

To buy: Coleto Table Lamp, $86; allmodern.com. Stacked Ball Floor Lamp, $100; target.com.