Staycationing? Update Your Living Room on the Cheap
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:
Or hit yard sales or unfinished wood stores for a matching pair of bookcases to fake the look of built-ins:
Add some style underfoot with a 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:
Turn dollar store hula hoops into a funky chandelier:
Give new life to an old bench by turning it into two side tables:
Or give the room a whole new vibe by painting the floors:
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.
Put Memories on Display
Gallery walls aren't just trendy, they're also a great way to showcase artwork and favorite family photos along with souvenirs, like playbills or concert tickets. Choose frames in the same color for a cohesive look or really mix it up with frames in a variety of colors and sizes. See more of this classic-meets-quirky home, that was featured in HGTV Magazine.
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
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. Get more tips for nailing this look.
Give New Life to Old Stuff
Give a new look to items you already have with a fresh coat of paint. For a fun twist, use painter's tape to add a straightforward pattern like stripes. Image courtesy of HGTV Magazine.
Don't Forget the Ceiling
When reimagining your living room, don't limit the power of paint to just the furniture. Painting the ceiling a soft shade of blue, that mimics the sky, draws your eye up and makes rooms feel more airy and open. See more of this creatively decorated home, that was featured in HGTV Magazine.
Add a Touch of Nature
Adding even a small touch of the outdoors is sure to make your living room feel more alive. Potted plants are ideal because they clean the air but, if your thumb is brown, bring a cut branch indoors and pop it into a sturdy container for maintenance-free greenery.
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
Add a Little Drama
While dark gray paint may feel oppressive if used on all four walls, it's a great choice for a feature wall. By painting just the area above the built-ins, this saturated shade draws attention to the living room's focal point: the fireplace. See more of this home that was featured in HGTV Magazine.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Trendy and Thrifty
Adding a designer touch is a cinch with this project. Simply surround a small round framed mirror 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.
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 etsy.com for a pattern that suits your style, then apply it to the wall with a stiff-bristled brush. Do it yourself with our step-by-step instructions.
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 hidden cleats. Get step-by-step instructions.
Give Ready-Made a Custom Touch
Give storebought 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. Get more DIY drapery tips.