Staycationing? Update Your Living Room on the Cheap

Breath new life into your living room with these budget-friendly update ideas.
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If money woes has you vacationing at home this summer, now's a great time to tackle some of the updates you've been putting off. Let’s start in the living room — after all,  it’s where you gather with family and friends and often the first room people see when entering your home. To get you started, I’ve gathered a few of my favorite living room updates that will add a lot of style for just a little cash. 

With some lumber and trim, you could update your fireplace surround

Eclectic Living Room

Eclectic Living Room

A modern eclectic living room with dark wood furniture, tv, beige couch, and neutral color decor.

©Layla Palmer

Layla Palmer

Or hit yard sales or unfinished wood stores for a matching pair of bookcases to fake the look of built-ins

Built In Storage

Built In Storage

Add some style underfoot with a graphic rug:

Neutral Contemporary Living Room With Blue Sofa and Chaise and Graphic Rug

Neutral Contemporary Living Room With Blue Sofa and Chaise and Graphic Rug

Make a big statement for a relatively small chunk of change with a graphic rug. A rug can also ground your furniture arrangement and give the living room a more finished look. This gray and white graphic rug compliments the dark blue sofa and light blue chaise. A neutral chair and natural wood coffee table create a calm look to finish off this contemporary space.

Clear the clutter and creatively style your bookshelves

White Open Shelving With Mounted Antlers

White Open Shelving With Mounted Antlers

An open frame and set of mounted antlers hanging from this built-in shelving unit add depth and visual interest to this sitting area. When styling a bookshelf, don't limit your collection to the shelves.

From: Secrets From a Stylist

Turn dollar store hula hoops into a funky chandelier

Hula Hoop Chandelier

Hula Hoop Chandelier

Give new life to an old bench by turning it into two side tables



Photo by: unknown


Or give the room a whole new vibe by painting the floors:

Painted Wood Floor in White, Cottage Bedroom

Painted Wood Floor in White, Cottage Bedroom

Floors are often forgotten as a place to experiment with a paintbrush. Designer Sarah Richardson doesn't let these knotty pine hardwood floors remain bare. Adding to the home's nautical cottage look, Sarah paints thick, alternating stripes of blue along the floors. A layer of floor sealant creates a flawless, glossy look for extra appeal.

15 (Almost!) Free Living Room Updates

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Bring the Beach Home

Fill a kitchen bowl with souvenirs from a favorite vacation, then display it on your coffee table — or bookshelf or mantel — for a happy reminder of an enjoyable getaway that will add a touch of far-away color or texture. Design by HGTV fan nyclq

Spell It Out

Create artwork that speaks to you using framed chalkboards. Less expensive than you may think, this friendly focal point can be created for less than $20 by having boards cut at your local hardware store to fit vintage frames, then covering the wood with chalkboard paint. Design by Anissa Darnell

Punch Up the Color

Just a few graphic pops of color will modernize any living room, but this trendy look doesn't have to be expensive. Gourd lamps are all the rage now, but they were also a hot-ticket item 50 years ago, making them a frequent fixture at thrift stores, estate sales and flea markets. Toss in a few kicky pillows and your living room will have a fresh new vibe.

Focus on the Floors

Give hardwood floors that are past their prime a new lease on life with a coat of enamel- or epoxy-based paint. Choose a light color to brighten up a dark room or opt for a fashion-forward finish like stripes or diamonds, which you can achieve with painter's tape. Rely on a stencil for more intricate patterns like trellis, damask or Greek key. Design by Sarah Richardson

Light It Up For Less

Instead of hitting the store for a run-of-the-mill lampshade, take a look at items you already have on hand. Here, half of a kids' globe makes a conversation-starting shade for a vintage lamp base. Most cardboard globes are held together with a strip of adhesive, which makes separating the halves a snap.

Make Time to DIY

Disparate metal house numbers and a battery-powered clock movement create an off-beat-yet-functional focal point in this living room. Find the movement at your local craft store. House numbers are readily available at any hardware store, but you can save money while achieving a more interesting look by sourcing old house numbers at salvage yards or a rehab store. Design by Darlene Molnar

Get Framed

Put leftover pieces of fabric or wallpaper to good use by popping them into ready-made frames fitted with basic white mats. Check craft stores and mass retailers like Target and Wal-Mart for wallet-friendly options.

Add Nail-Head Trim

Give a plain-Jane ottoman the high-end treatment with these stylish little gems and a hammer. Available at fabric and craft stores, nail-head trim can be purchased as a continuous strip for a foolproof application or as separate nails for a more traditional look.

From: Erinn Valencich

Make It Work

Rather than remove the room's original cast-iron radiator to create more space, HGTV fan ColbyLucky covered it with a decorative wooden ledge, creating a wide shelf for sunning plants and displaying books and knickknacks.

Trendy and Thrifty

Adding a designer touch is a cinch with this project. Simply surround a small round unframed mirror (check your local craft store's candle department) with bare branches gathered in your backyard. Strip all leaves and limbs for a smooth look, then attach the branches to the mirror with hot glue.

Divide and Conquer

Designer Sarah Richardson turned a seldom-used niche into a kids' craft/play area in this basement family room. Curtains can easily be pulled closed to hide the clutter. Check bargain stores for inexpensive ready-made draperies or make your own using patterned flat sheets.

Add Drama With Stencils

Large-scale graphic wallpaper is a great way to kick up the style in your living room, but patterns like these can come with a high price tag. Save money by skipping the paper altogether and applying the pattern directly to the wall with stencils and house paint you already have on hand. Check your local craft store or sites like for a pattern that suits your style, then apply it to the wall with a stiff-bristled brush.

Repurpose Antiques

We all have hand-me-down pieces that, with just a little imagination, could be put to good use as something new. Designer Layla Palmer turned an old deacon's bench into matching end tables by simply cutting the bench in half and attaching the cut ends to the wall using a hidden bracket.

Ready-Made Meets Custom

Give store-bought drapes a custom makeover by adding a panel of fabric that coordinates with your living room's decor. If sewing isn't your strength, no-sew options include attaching wide ribbon or upholstery trim with fabric glue or simply taping off a section of the curtain and applying a block of fabric paint.

Corral the Clutter

If your living room is also the first room family enters, you're probably accustomed to seeing jackets, backpacks and books crowding the space. Tidy up and help kids stay organized by providing a dedicated area for stashing their toys and sports equipment. A shelf with pegs will keep jerseys, jackets and coats from piling up, while a large lidded basket is perfect for storing backpacks.

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