• Sun. Dec 3rd, 2023

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Designers Say These Cheap Things For Your Home On Amazon Are Pure Genius

Ask any interior designer for an insider tip, and they’ll likely tell you that you don’t need to spend a fortune to transform your home. In fact, sometimes it’s the smallest-ticket items that make the biggest difference in how your space looks, feels, and functions. Another juicy secret? Amazon is a goldmine for finding those brilliant fixes. Case in point: Designers say these cheap things for your home on Amazon are pure genius — and all of their recommendations cost less than $50.

So, what qualifies as “genius,” according to the dozens of decorators we interviewed for this article? Some of these recommendations are streamlined swaps for common household items, like sculptural vases in place of traditional ones, or smart bulbs that create a customizable ambiance. Elsewhere, you’ll find some low-lift, high-impact ways to update your interiors — think peel-and-stick wallpaper and luxe pillow covers — as well as genius solutions to annoying problems around the house. Never again will you need to deal with scuffed floors, pilling furniture, or messy cables.

You don’t need to have a designer on speed dial. Instead, consult this list of cheap, genius things that’ll upgrade your home in an instant, which all come personally recommended by interior decorators from across the country.


A Sculptural LED Floor Lamp That Looks So Expensive

“Lighting in any room can take a space from meh to glam in seconds,” says Jarret Yoshida, an interior designer based in New York. In particular, Yoshida favors energy-efficient LED lighting in sculptural shapes, like this gorgeous round light, which he describes as “a real favorite of ours.” He explains, “When it’s off, it looks like a minimal sculpture we would see in a museum. Thanks to its floor dimmer, this fixture casts a dramatic light for contrasting the volume of a room or provides soft focused reading light.” No one would ever believe you found this for under $50 on Amazon — in fact, Yoshida says, “we use this lamp for clients with six figure budgets and much smaller ones as well.”


These Peel & Stick Covers That Shield Distracting Lights From Your Devices

Interior designer Kristy DeGina says that these light-blocking LED covers “make a subtle but noticeable impact in a space.” She advises sticking them onto “any and all electronics,” from TVs to cable boxes to power strips, adding, “this can give your space a seamless look without the distracting glow from various colored lights in a room.” This sheet comes with 100 stickers in various sizes, and they won’t leave any residue behind if you choose to remove them.


This Pair Of Sheer Drapes That Add Airiness & Texture To Your Space

“My number-one recommendation to transform any space is adding sheers or drapes,” says Brianna Scott, an NCIDQ-certified designer based in New York. Scott confirms that Amazon can be a goldmine for finding “affordable options with all different colors, lengths, styles, and textures,” and they’ll all “immediately make a space feel more put together and luxe.” These sheers are a particularly fabulous find — they ring up at well under $15 for a pair, boast almost 10,000 perfect ratings, and come in 16 chic shades, including the classic, diaphanous white pictured.


A Pair Of Luxe Velvet Throw Pillow Covers

For Scott, Amazon is also a go-to resource for finding throw pillow covers — another “super easy way to update a space.” A best-seller on the site, these pillow covers are sold in a set of two and are rendered in luxe velvet that’ll “repurpose existing pillows someone may have to give them new life,” Scott says. Choose from 38 gorgeous shades, from neutrals to jewel tones.


These Faux Potted Plants That Look Just Like The Real Thing

No worries if you’re not blessed with a green thumb — Kathie Chrisicos, award-winning interior designer and founder of Chrisicos Interiors in Boston, says that faux greenery makes just as much of an impact as real plants. “These naturally-inspired creations require no maintenance (less a regular dusting) and add a layer of accent that can work in any space, adding variety, versatility and a natural pop of green,” she explains. But not just any faux plant will do. For a look that’s elevated, not tacky, Chrisicos recommends paying “particular attention to the quality and style of the container — choosing ceramic, metallic or cement — to house your plants or trees.” This set of three faux potted plants are so realistic-looking, since they have a matte finish, rather than a shiny one, and they come in cement-inspired planters that look equally at home in farmhouse, industrial, or modern interiors.


A Fabric Shaver That’ll Make Drapes & Upholstery Look Brand-New

A recommendation from New York-based designer Susanne Fox, fabric shavers can be used to remove pilling from your sweaters and coats, but don’t sleep on their potential uses around the home, too — you can also run them over upholstered furniture, and even heavier drapes, to restore their appearance. Fox recommends this “life-changing” rechargeable fabric shaver, which combines three ultra-sharp blades and a powerful suction to lift fuzz, threads, and pilling from all kinds of fabrics, without damaging more delicate materials.


This Handheld Steamer For Sprucing Up Creased Drapes

A handheld steamer “can work great on drapery, depending on the fabric type,” Fox advises. Even though this one has a compact, lightweight design, thousands of shoppers report success using it on larger items, including drapes, thanks to its 240-milliliter capacity that’ll run continuously for 15 minutes when it’s full. Of course, you’ll end up using this on all your clothes, too, making this some of the easiest under-$25 you’ll spend all month.


A Clever Magnet That Indicates Whether Your Dishwasher Is Clean Or Dirty

You can slide this dishwasher magnet to indicate whether it’s dirty or clean, so you (or whomever you live with) don’t have to remember when you last ran it, or accidentally fill a clean dishwasher with dirty dishes. Clever, right? Another recommendation from Fox, this is one of those simple things that’ll make an outsized impact on how efficiently your home runs.


This Chic, Rotating Bamboo Platter You Can So Many Different Ways

Why keep your spice collection hidden and cluttered when you can keep it neatly organized (and beautifully displayed) on a rotating table, per Fox’s recommendation? This one is made of pure bamboo that not only adds a natural design element to your kitchen, but is also long-lasting and easy to clean. You’ll find plenty more uses for it, too — it works particularly well as a chic serving dish for apps, desserts, and condiments when you have friends over.


A Rechargeable Electric Lighter So You Can Safely Light Candles, Fireplaces, & More

For another simple but impactful home upgrade, replace your cheap Bic lighters with this electric lighter, as Fox advises. The long, flexible neck lets you light short, tricky wicks without burning your fingers, and the flame is wind- and weather-proof, so it’s also ideal for bonfires or barbecues. Not to mention, it comes in seven sleek metallic shades, and to store it, you can hang it up by the hook at the end to save drawer space. It charges up via USB, but Amazon shoppers confirm it has an impressive battery life.


These Chic Scented Reed Diffusers In A Selection Of Timeless Scents

Fox also favors scented reed diffusers — they always look chic, and they’re a safer, less fussy way to infuse your home with inviting fragrances than candles. With its sleek, modern black packaging, this diffuser from Craft & Kin is a particularly refined choice. Take your pick from three sophisticated fragrances: ‘Lavender Woods,’ ‘Patchouli & Amber,’ and ‘Pine & Clove.’


A Handy Outlet Extender To Consolidate Your Cords

Streamline your cords and cables with this outlet extender, which is equipped with six outlets, two USB charging ports, and a soft LED nightlight that can dim or turn off with the press of a button. It’s one of Fox’s recommendations, and over 45,000 Amazon shoppers who awarded it a perfect five-star rating can attest to its genius. As one wrote, “Love the night light feature. Easy to install, saves space instead of having a power strip sitting on counter.”


Some Cloche Vases For A Fresh Spin On Traditional Flower Arrangements

“When it comes to creating a beautiful centerpiece, try purchasing cloche bud vases in bulk from Amazon and arranging them with a few fresh florals. The look is clean, modern and a bit whimsical,” says Abby Evans, junior commercial designer for Metal + Petal. This order comes with ten bud vases in varying shapes and vintage-inspired designs that look gorgeous clustered together, or showcased individually on a tabletop or mantle.


A Pair Of Smart Bulbs With So Many Cool Features

“Wall lighting adds so much elegance and mood to a space,” adds Evans. “If you are renting or can’t swing electrical work, mount your sconce and use battery-operated light bulbs to prevent any invasive installation. The look is intentional and elevated.” Not only are these plug-and-play smart bulbs so easy to install, they’re also equipped with so many customizable features — they’re dimmable, color-changing, and can be set on timers or schedules, as just a few examples — and they’re compatible with both Google Home and Alexa, so you can control them with your voice or an app.


This Color-Changing Lamp That Creates Instant Ambiance

According to Simran Kaur, founder of Room You Love, interiors are trending away from neutrals and toward color — think of it as the interior design world’s answer to dopamine dressing. For an easy and functional way to infuse your home with color, try a color-changing table lamp like this one, which cycles through 256 color modes with the touch of a button to create any ambiance you want. “With lamps like these, you can get the spiritual, romantic, party, peaceful or clubby mode on, with just a flick of a switch! How cool is that!” Kaur says.


A Pair Of Ceramic Vases In A Modern, Interlocking Design

Designers often lean on small design details to majorly upgrade a space. Kaur says, “modern vases with a matte finish, elegant colors, and sleek, minimalist, and abstract designs instantly add a contemporary flair to any space.” This set of two unique, interlocking (but separate) ceramic vases look like fine art pieces, so they’ll look equally beautiful with or without flowers in them.


This Essential Oil Diffuser With So Many Unique Functionalities

Like Fox, Kaur recommends infusing your home with fragrances as an easy way to elevate the overall feel of your home. This essential oil diffuser is yet another alternative to candles, and it has so many functions other than radiating aromatherapeutic scents throughout your home — it also works as a clock, cool mist humidifier, speaker, and mood lighting, and since it’s Bluetooth-compatible, you can control it from any device.


A Set Of Floating Shelves For A Clean, Minimalist Storage Solution

Not only do floating shelves save floor space — a limited resource in most homes — they also make your home look “modern and organized,” according to Kaur. Available in four wood finishes, these floating ledge shelves are perfectly minimalist, and they come with all the hardware you need to mount them. You’ll find a use for these shelves in almost every room, whether that’s for spices in the kitchen, decorative objects in the living room, or a selection of toiletries in the bathroom.


This Peel & Stick Wallpaper Inspired By A Heritage British Brand

If you’re itching to refresh your walls but don’t have the bandwidth for a major renovation, consider peel and stick wallpaper, a genius recommendation from John Linden, an interior designer from Los Angeles. This design solution is “an easy and affordable way to give your home an instant facelift,” according to Linden, and these days, it’s “available in a variety of colors and patterns to suit any décor.” Inspired by the heritage British design brand Morris & Co., this floral peel-and-stick wallpaper would look lovely in traditionally designed homes, or provide a chic and cozy contrast to modern interiors.


These Cord Concealers That Can Be Painted To Blend In With Your Walls

Patricia Tram, a registered interior designer at Strut Interiors in Dallas, Texas, says that she loves these cord concealers, which she calls “Great for any application, but best for individuals that are renting but still want a chic wall mounted TV or illuminated artwork.” She adds, “They will tuck away the messy TV and cable cords and can then be customized to match your interior décor, whether you have a painted wall or want to continue your peel-and-stick wallpaper over it.”


A Set Of 3 Storage Baskets To Make Sense Of Clutter & Chaos

“Piles, stacks, and heaps of junk we tend to accumulate can cause unnecessary stress and weight we don’t need to carry, and we don’t even realize how much visual chaos can affect us,” says Tram. “In lieu of open shelves with accessories and books, try investing in decorative boxes or baskets that will hide and categorize your valuables. Baskets [like these] can add a natural texture to painted or lacquered bookcases and shelves […] You’ll feel more at peace looking at your decluttered home and chic and functional décor.”


These Peel & Stick Tiles That Look Like The Real Thing

According to Jen Stark, a master gardener, home improvement expert, and founder of Happy DIY Home, “You don’t have to break your budget to upgrade the look of your home, especially if you shop online.” Stark continues, “One of my favorite things to buy is peel-and-stick faux-ceramic tiles. These work well as backsplashes, and they allow you to give your home the tile accent without spending a ton. They come in a huge range of colors to fit any decor, and it’s a fairly DIY-friendly project to tackle in a weekend.”


This Glossy Contact Paper That You Can Use To Transform Any Surface

“If you’re looking for a way to upgrade your counters, try some glossy marble contact paper,” says Stark of another genius hack for upgrading your home on a budget. “It’s a nice way to give the appearance of marble to your surfaces (like counters) without actually splurging for the real thing and worrying about upkeep. Again, this is a DIY-friendly project, and it’s a super sticky paper that allows you to mess up, peel it off, and try again without having to toss the sheet and start with a new one.”


A Genius Motion-Detector Mini Light For Your Keyhole

“How many times have you fiddled for the keys and tried to find the lock at night?” asks Peyton Robinson, a professional interior designer and the head of marketing at Foter. Her solution to this all-too-common annoyance? “This motion detector keyhole light is a genius way to instantly detect when you’re trying to place the key into the keyhole and lights up to allow you to see what you’re actually doing. No more fiddling in the dark or trying to find your phone to switch on the flashlight.”


These “Socks” To Protect Your Furniture From Scuffing The Floors

“One of the best inventions that is simple and absolutely genius are silicone/rubber table and chair socks that you can add to the legs to prevent them from scratching the floors or leaving any permanent marks on the floors. That way, you can move your furniture around and not worry about causing any damage,” says Robinson. These come in two sizes, four colors, and will set you back just under $25 for a pack of 32.


These Mop Slippers That Make Cleaning The Floors Fun

Stephanie Hunt, the owner and lead designer of Flairhunter, recommends investing in a few pairs of mop slippers. “Microfiber and washable, they’re essentially like Swiffer shower caps that fit over your shoes and you can purchase in multiples and they come in different colors,” she explains. Plus, they can make cleaning the floors fun, too. “Especially for snowy or rainy days, we keep them in the office and for a break turn on the music and slide around the floors with them to music. It’s hilarious and useful. Kids can help mop the floors, your girlfriends with wine can help you out as well,” Hunt adds.


Bamboo Drawer Dividers That Can Expand To Fit Any Drawer

Another cheap but genius product for your home, according to Hunt? “Drawer dividers that are spring loaded to fit any width or depth of drawers are another personal Amazon favorite. They’re made from wood and look more expensive than they really are. Whether I’m dividing bathroom vanity drawers to achieve a more orderly organized collection of cosmetics and toiletries or kitchen drawers for utensils and kitchen prep tools, [they’re] my go-to,” she says.


A Clear Dome With Both Decorative & Functional Uses

In terms of decorative Amazon favorites, Hunt loves glass cloches on wooden stands, which she says “make for inexpensive functional gifts and household accessories, noting that “Amazon has countless options!” As for how to use them? “I’ll store a collection of something odd and vintage under them such as: skateboard wheels, cupcakes in a kitchen island, to one or two potted succulents under a larger one as a conversation piece. It’s unexpected, cost friendly and elevates even odd, everyday items.”


These Chic Brass Knobs That Can Breathe New Life Into Any Piece Of Furniture

Interior designer ​​Sarah Barnard recommends decorative knobs and hardware for upgrading your home without spending a ton. “One of the quickest ways to upgrade furniture is with new knobs and hardware. New hardware can significantly impact the look of a space, especially in areas like kitchens with many cabinets and repeating knobs or handles. Many options are available to give the home a fresh look and feel on any budget.” These knobs in particular are a fan favorite on Amazon, as they work in both modern and traditional spaces, come in five chic colors, and cost less than $25 for a pack of 20.


A Clever Way To Incorporate More Greenery Into Your Home

Barnard also loves wall-mounted planters, as “[they] can help introduce more plants into your home even when surfaces are limited.” She adds, “Indoor-friendly wall hangers won’t have drain holes to prevent water from dripping and often include hardware for easy hanging. Multiple planters can give options for designing a living wall and can be easily shuffled or arranged to fit in small spaces or challenging corners or whenever it’s time for a change.”


An Odor-Eliminating Candle That’ll Make Your Home Smell So Much Better

“A pet candle is amazing for getting rid of pet odors without covering them up with a heavy scent. They will make your house feel clean and fresh and mask the dog or cat scent,” says interior designer Andi Morse of one of her favorite cheap-but-genius products. This odor-eliminating candle comes in dozens of scents to suit anyone’s taste, from cozy ‘Fireside’ and ‘Falling Leaves’ to ‘Evergreen Forest’ and ‘Gingerbread Cookies.’ For less seasonal scents, there are also lots of classics like ‘Lavender Green Tea,’ ‘Lilac Garden,’ and ‘Caramel Latte.’


This Cable Management System To Conceal Unsightly Power Strips & Cords

Morse says, “A box or basket that conceals all of your cable cords is great for making your desk area feel and look better. It can be used in areas of the home for TVs, too.” To clean up your most cluttered electrical areas, pick up this cable management set from Amazon, which gets you two white or black boxes with sleek bamboo lids in different sizes.


These Plastic Organizers For Toys, Art Supplies, & Any Other Clutter That Needs A Home

“Plastic food containers can be used to store and organize food, but can also be used in playrooms for toys, offices for supplies, and other creative ways,” says Morse of a genius way to keep your home organized without spending a ton. The square shape of these plastic containers makes them handy for storing just about anything, and with this order, you get six for less than $20, so it’s a great value.


A Sleek Leather Pad To Keep Your Desk Protected

“I love a waterproof desk pad for all of our home offices. Who hasn’t spilled liquid that has gotten everywhere and possibly damaged our desk?” says Morse. “It also makes our desk look more organized and pretty. This is a great option for all of us!”


An Over-The-Door Organizer With More Uses Than You’d Think

“One item I love for home storage are over-the-door shoe holders,” says Morse of her final suggestion. ”They are great for storing shoes and getting them off of the floor, but also good for other storage solutions such as toys, rolled up T-shirts, socks and underwear… You can be creative but all the pockets are great for organizing pretty much anything from office supplies to food products,” she adds.


The Seemingly Simple Art Supply That Can Make An Enormous Difference

Jessica Sommer, VP of Maverick Design and Wedgwood Homes, calls spray paint “a genius, cost-effective option for updating so many items around the home.” What makes it so genius, according to Sommer? “Have an old, dated light fixture in an oil rubbed bronze finish? Turn it into a trend-forward fixture by spray painting it all white or black. Spray paint can also be used to update furniture and décor items and breathe new life into worn out pieces. This also works for hardware (think knobs and faucets),” she says.


These Under-Cabinet Lights That Can Give Your Kitchen A Custom Look

“Peel and stick under-cabinet lighting gives your kitchen a custom elevated look without the designer price tag,” says Sommer, adding that “Amazon has some incredible, cost effective, energy efficient and wildly easy to install peel and stick options with motion sensors that give your kitchen a high end look at a low budget cost.” These Brilliant Evolution under-cabinet lights are a prime example — they can be installed with either the included adhesive tape or mounting screws, and cost just $22 for a pack of two. They even come with a remote control so you can adjust the brightness from afar.


These Stencils That Can Make Plain Outdoor Patios Look Like Gorgeous Tiles

Now here’s a really genius idea from Sommer: “Amazon has great options for tile-look stencils that can be used to uplevel your patio or cement porch with a stencil and paint! This is a great DIY option to add that designer-look to any outdoor space,” she says. If you’re intrigued by the idea of this DIY project, these stencils are perfect — they have a timeless, Mediterranean-chic look that would work with nearly any style of decor.


A Clever Floating Nightstand For Small Spaces

“If you’re short on space in the bedroom, an amazing alternative to a traditional nightstand is a floating nightstand,” says Sterling McDavid of Sterling McDavid Design. This one costs just $25, but it looks so much more expensive than that. Choose from white, black, or walnut (pictured).


A Gorgeous, Modern Vase That Looks Like A Sculptural Piece

“It’s all in the details and texture is a sure way to instantly elevate your space; it can be something as simple as a clean fluted ceramic vase” says McDavid, who recommends this modern, sculptural vase that’s trending on Amazon. Choose from four colors — black, white, pink, or blue — and add a simple orchard stem or some eucalyptus inside.


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