What makes a living room look cheap? 5 things to avoid, according to designers

A well-curated home begins in your living room – designers urge against these quirks for a space that continues to impress

colourful living room with patterned wallpaper, sofa and ottoman
(Image credit: Future/ Carolyn Barber/ Kate French)

As the space that you are likely to resort to after a long day and the place where your guests will lounge – there is a lot of pressure on your living room.

As the most frequented space (by you and your guests), it's only inevitable that you'll want to get your living room ideas right. However, your design decisions matter in all rooms, and therefore, knowing what makes a house look cheap (on the whole) is always a good idea.

As with all spaces, the way you decorate your living room is entirely personal, and you should do what feels right personally – and what makes you happy. Though, knowing what is on a designer's avoid list is never a bad idea, especially if you're thinking of elevating your room in time for party season. Here's what the experts urge against – and why. 

What makes a living room look cheap? 

You may already know what makes a kitchen look cheap and what makes your bedroom look cheap, but what about the most sociable space in your home? Here, designers reveal all.

1. Too many small furnishings

neutral living room with antique furniture and art

(Image credit: James Merrell / Future)

'Many think if it's a big space or even a small space, you need multiple pieces of furniture to fill the space. This is far from the truth,' says Chrissy Jones, an LA-based designer at Twenty-Eighth Design Studio

The designer explains that if you choose to fill a room with a lot of small pieces, it will end up looking 'cluttered, uneasy on the eyes and crammed without any cohesive design direction.' Instead, you should opt for larger, more meaningful pieces that have the correct dimensions for the space. 'Less (and large) really is more,' Chrissy says.

2. Excessive glamor

A cream living room with a marble fireplace below a gold circular mirror

(Image credit: Brent Darby/Future PLC)

When used in moderation, mirrored furnishings, diamonds, and platinum accents have their place. However, Chrissy warns that if you have too much glamor in a room – especially regarding small living room ideas

'Adding too many of the glam-styled pieces can make your room look like a wedding event venue,' the designer says. 'Instead, choose a mirrored framed mirror and a tufted sofa instead and pair them with modern accents.'

3. Unmatched or inconsistent flooring  

Coastal living room ideas with blue and yellow color scheme

(Image credit: Jake Curtis)

If you've read up on what type of flooring is best for a living room, you may already know about the influence your floor has on your space. Therefore, it is unsurprising that designers urge against having multiple different flooring materials throughout your space. 

'Unmatched flooring gives your room a 'pieced together' and cheap feel,' says Mike Semegen from Hello Home Studios. Giving your room a more consistent look with new matching flooring will give your space a more coherent look for a home that looks expensive, always.  

4. Using outdated pieces 

living room with pink sofa, patterned cushions, patterned rug and marble fireplace

(Image credit: Future/ James Merrell)

Some interior styles are fleeting, so it's important to know when to move with the times – arguably in your living room more than any other space in your home. 'While the traditional style still exists, mixing pieces will help ensure your room doesn't look dated and on the cheaper end,' Chrissy says.

5. Too much clutter 

living room with yellow walls black sofa and framed portrait and old standard lamp

(Image credit: Brent Darby)

'Too many accessories, disorganization, and everything out on the dresser can really cheapen up your [room],' Chrissy says. You can make great investments in your furniture, however, if there is too much clutter, the designer warns that your space will feel 'downgraded.' 

You should, instead, opt for clean-lined furniture that hides clutter and 'use enclosed pieces of furniture to hide all of your personal items.'

Best places to buy furniture and furnishings 

Megan Slack
Head of Celebrity Style News

Megan is the Head of Celebrity Style News at Homes & Gardens. She first joined Future Plc as a News Writer across their interiors titles, including Livingetc and Real Homes, before becoming H&G's News Editor in April 2022. She now leads the Celebrity/ News team. Before joining Future, Megan worked as a News Explainer at The Telegraph, following her MA in International Journalism at the University of Leeds. During her BA in English Literature and Creative Writing, she gained writing experience in the US while studying in New York. Megan also focused on travel writing during her time living in Paris, where she produced content for a French travel site. She currently lives in London with her antique typewriter and an expansive collection of houseplants.