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A few weeks back we took you on a before and after home tour of my parents dated 90’s home renovation. Clearly they have transformed the look and feel of their home with a re-imagined floor plan and new finishes, all while working with a modest budget.

Our home on the other hand is a new build. While we had the privilege of choosing all the finishes in our home prior to construction, we also planned for upgrades down the road.

To keep building costs down, we opted to go with several builders grade finishes. Over the past 5 years we’ve been able to tackle some of these areas creating a custom high end look on a budget.

Even though there are still several projects around our home I’d like to tackle, the upgrades we’ve added so far make a dramatic difference.

Join us today for my home tour. You’ll learn some of our favorite design hacks to make your home look more expensive on a budget.

design hacks that create a high-end look

If funds weren’t in the equation and you’re drawn to a high-end look, chances are you’d already be halfway there. You know what you like, items would be purchased, then all the elements would just need to be put together.

Reality is, many of us either don’t have funds for these types of purchases or even if we did, we’d rather use our money elsewhere.

Here are a few of our favorite design hacks to make your home look more expensive all while keeping it budget friendly.

  1. Paint to accentuate architectural details or create a focal point.
  2. Layer in lighting. Swap out builder’s grade light fixtures and incorporate task lighting in each room.
  3. Add window treatments. Whether it be curtains or a roman shade, window treatments help dress an otherwise empty window, soften the room and make the space feel complete.
  4. Use large scale artwork. A large piece of art automatically gives a wow factor and makes your space feel larger. When art is too small it can bring the room in and make the space feel smaller.
  5. Add wall moldings. From picture molding, board and batten, bead board to shiplap, incorporating any type of wall moldings immediately makes the home feel more custom and more expensive.
  6. Add built-ins. Similar to wall moldings, built-ins create a very customized look while adding a focal point to a room.
  7. Add or refresh an existing fireplace. What adds character and architectural detail more than a fireplace? 
  8. Shop for dupes. If you can’t swallow the cost of a name brand item, shop for a similar look from a different brand. You might even create the same high-end look by refreshing thrift store finds.

home tour

home exterior curb appeal

Starting off with the exterior of our home, curb appeal is everything. Nothing gives a better impression that you care for your home than a well manicured lawn and maintained flower beds.

Being a new build, we had to put in everything from a sprinkling system, grass and flower beds. We chose to incorporate shrubbery and perennials into our design to add variety with different shapes and textures. This also minimizes the need to plant new flowers annually unless we choose to, making this a low maintenance yard.


home tour entryway

Upon entering our home guests are welcomed in to our entryway. Here we have incorporated many of our favorite travel photos and memorabilia with this eclectic collage wall. To help ground this space we have placed this awesome bombay dresser in the center.

After traveling to England with my husband I painted the front of the dresser with the British flag. Clearly, the whole travel theme spiraled from that point. Not only is this space is a great conversation starter, but also each element in our entryway has a unique story.

We also swapped out the builders grade lighting to this unique orb chandelier we made.

home tour

Main Living Area

living room before fireplace installation
living area wall before fireplace installation

Continuing on with our home tour, we enter the living room. This space has received the largest facelift so far. To keep costs down while we built our home, we opted to install the fireplace down the road. The exterior framing of our home included a bump out for the future fireplace, while the interior was finished with sheetrock concealing this opening.

By adding the fireplace ourselves, it allowed us to save quite a bit of money and we were also able to customize the design without being limited to only a few builders options.

fireplace upgrade
DIY fireplace upgrade

You can see how we installed the fireplace insert, made the fireplace mantle surround, installed the brick veneer, crafted a faux wood beam mantle and restored vintage corbels in each given tutorial.

Valentine's Day Craft Idea for your Mantle.

Now our living room finally has that great architectural detail creating the perfect focal point in this space. It’s been fun to swap out the mantle decor with each season. This room now feels cozy and complete.

living area view into kitchen

Heading into the dining area, a simple yet effective way to update the look is to change the basic light fixture. Here we have installed a similar orb chandelier as the entryway to create continuity throughout the home.

Dining area

home tour dining area
dining area home tour

The kitchen wont be included in our home tour today as the entirety is in the original basic builders grade state. However we have some big plans for this space!

Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for future posts in this area. We have several budget friendly upgrades we plan to implement that will customize the look of the entire space as well as increase functionality by gaining more work surface.

But for now, I have to be patient as we finish the basement projects first. (Our home can only handle being torn up so much at a given time!)


DIY mudroom upgrade

Built-ins are another great way to add customized storage creating that high-end look. 

The original floorplan included a simple wall mounted bench in this space. But I had big plans!

We had them exclude the bench from the plans knowing we would soon install this custom mudroom storage system.

mudroom built-in detailing

Now we have plenty of additional storage space and this built-in gives this space a wow factor.

Home Tour Bedroom Ideas

Master bedroom

master bedroom before

Our master bedroom has quite a different look as well. This room didn’t receive much attention the first few years other than a fresh coat of paint. The room wasn’t bad per say, but it definitely lacked character.

A couple years ago this room finally received the attention it was screaming for.

calm coastal master bedroom retreat

Indeed this space is now completely transformed with a neutral color pallet which automatically creates a high-end look.

A simple board and batten wall was installed creating a much needed focal point in this space.

calm coastal master bedroom retreat

To complete this room makeover on a small budget, we also incorporated a few second hand items and refinished a few pieces of furniture. 

We saved thousands alone refinishing our bed frame to look like my inspiration piece from Restoration Hardware. Their bed cost a whopping $2795, while our DIY version cost only $35!

(You can see every DIY project we did in this space with corresponding tutorials here.)

large scale art

One of my favorite elements in our bedroom is the large artwork opposite from the bed that conceals our TV! To learn how we created this hidden TV cabinet see our detailed tutorial.

calm coastal master bedroom retreat

Utilizing our local classifieds the light fixture in this space was also swapped out for just $40.

calm coastal master bedroom

Teen Navy and Kelly Green Bedroom

teen bedroom

Next up on our home tour are the kids bedrooms.

At the time we moved our oldest was 9 years old. I let him choose the color scheme and we ran with that. In fact, his room evolved into an industrial travel theme.

His bed was sourced from our local classifieds. To personalize it to flow with the rest of the room, I applied spray paint to each of the drawer fronts.

This collage of art is purposely centered above the bed to draw the eye upward which leads to this awesome striped ceiling and DIY industrial light fixture.

diy industrial light fixture in teen bedroom in home tour
teen bedroom industrial desk area

In addition, the desk was also a DIY project made from pine boards and electrical conduit and joints.

For more information on this cool teen room and tutorials on each of the DIY projects including how to paint the perfect stripes on a textured surface, click here.

Boys car themed bedroom

car themed bedroom collage wall

For the most part, our home has a neutral color pallet of grey, white and navy with an additional pop of color here and there.

Without a doubt, all that went by the wayside in this energetic car themed bedroom!

Unquestionably, you will never meet such an avid car lover as my youngest! In my opinion, this is one of the funnest themed bedrooms around!

tool chest dresser car themed bedroom

I believe that this cool tool chest dresser is one of my favorite furniture flips to this day. You won’t believe what this piece of furniture looked like before!

Certainly creating this collage wall with both vintage and new elements creates a colorful focal point.

personalized wall decor in car themed bedroom

Again the adjacent wall has been personalized with floating wall shelves to display all of his toy cars, Instagram inspired artwork and these truck grates that display old photographs of our relatives and their classic cars.

car themed bedroom license plates on dresser front
wagon shelf decor in car themed bedroom


Finally other DIY’s in this space include this clever wagon shelf, throw pillows, route 66 wall art, unique headboard idea and striped curtains. To take the complete tour of this energetic room and see all coordinating tutorials click here.

car themed bedding
route 66 wall art in car themed bedroom
window treatments

tween french country boho bedroom

Next up on our home tour is this tween french country bedroom with a touch of boho flair.

Actually our little girl was just 3 years old when we moved in, needless to say she had outgrown her first bedroom.

Last year we spent the better part of the summer creating this more mature look. I feel that this bedroom now will grow with her. 

DIY built in desk and storage

Clearly a large must have for her new space involved installing this upcycled built-in shelving unit and desk.

In fact, now she has plenty of storage space for all her art supplies, including a large work area too.

DIY built in desk and storage
DIY built in desk and storage
french provincial dresser in tween bedroom

Indeed, there are so many favorites in this space I can’t pick only one!

This french provincial dresser is another great classifieds find! With a little bit of work we brought this piece back to it’s natural beauty. Clearly, it looks completely different from the before!

dresser top decor french country tween bedroom
home tour tween bedroom

Surely a couple more favorites in this space include this awesome french country style daybed we upcycled from 2 twin beds, and the bed crown we upcycled from an old sofa table!

If I am not mistaken, you won’t believe what these pieces looked like before!

french country chandelier in tween bedroom home tour

Lastly we transformed a dated brass chandelier into this french country wood look with a bit of paint and wooden beads.

Home Tour Office & Craft Room

DIY wall moldings

Last stop on our home tour is our home office/craft room.

The cool, calm and coastal vibe is carried throughout this space. We installed white shiplap walls and brought in all the color with furniture and accessories.

DIY wall moldings

This space was carefully designed with five different work stations so everyone in the family could have their own space at the same time.

DIY wall moldings
A vintage orange postal sorter is repurposed into a computer workstation with storage.

I believe one of my favorite pieces in this space is this vintage postal sorter which has been reconfigured into one of our work stations. It adds a bright pop of color and has plenty of storage for crafting supplies.

Sewing station set up with black countertop, vintage aqua chair. Above work area is an old crib frame which holds patterns and projects.

So thanks for joining me for our home tour. Of course we hope you were inspired to incorporate some of our favorite design hacks into your own home.

What elements or rooms appealed most to you? What other design hacks do you have that can make your home look more expensive?

Please PIN and share with your friends! Sharing is caring! If you’re new here, WELCOME! We love to meet new friends.

Say hi in the comments below, we’d love to hear from you. You can also learn more about us here.

Thanks for spending some time with us today!

And as always here at Sunny Side Design


modern coastal farmhouse home tour

Be sure to follow us on Pinterest for even more home decor and DIY ideas.

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You can also find our video tutorials on our YouTube channel.

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