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Dining Room on a Budget: 3 Tips to Avoid that Cheap Look

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From the moment you walk in the door, first impressions are everything. And when it comes to your dining room, you don’t want guests thinking, “Gee, this looks like it was put together on a tight budget.” But how do you achieve an affluent look without breaking the bank? We asked three top interior designers to weigh in on the subject and share their best tips for avoiding a cheap dining room. Here’s what they had to say.

Use Quality Materials—Even if They’re Affordable

“One way to avoid a cheap-looking dining room is to use quality materials, even if they’re affordably priced,” says designer Lara Hutcheson of Form & Function Consulting in San Francisco. “For example, rather than selecting particle board cabinetry from your local home improvement store, spend a little bit more money on real wood cabinets. The same goes for flooring and lighting. Use materials that are stylish and well made, even if they’re not designer brands.”

Hutcheson also recommends buying used furniture and accent pieces from consignment stores or antique dealers whenever possible. “You can find high-quality dining room tables, chairs, sideboards, and china cabinets for a fraction of what you would pay for new pieces,” she says. “Just be sure to have them cleaned and refinished before bringing them into your home.”

Finally, keep in mind that quality doesn’t necessarily mean expensive. “There are plenty of affordable retailers selling beautiful dining room furniture,” says designer Rebecca Pogonitz of GOGO Design Group in Chicago. “So do your research and shop around until you find something you love.”

Incorporate Personal Touches into Your Décor

Pogonitz also believes that incorporating personal touches into your décor is important when trying to avoid a cheap look. “One way to do this is by using family heirlooms or vintage finds as part of your table setting,” she says. By adding these personal touches, you’ll give your dining room character—and make it feel like home.

Think Outside the Box When It Comes to Lighting

“Lighting can make or break a room—and unfortunately, good lighting can be expensive,” says designer Amy Bubier of B HOME Interiors in Boston. “One way to get around this is by shopping at flea markets or antique stores for unique light fixtures.”  If you don’t have time to scour flea markets or antique stores, get creative with the lighting fixtures you already have. “For example, if you have an old chandelier that’s seen better days, try spray painting it white.”

With a little creativity and elbow grease, it is possible to achieve an upscale look without spending a small fortune. By using quality materials (even if they’re affordably priced), incorporating personal touches into your décor, and thinking outside the box when it comes to lighting, you can easily transform your dining room from drab to fab—on a budget!

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