15 (Almost!) Free Living Room Updates

Don't let a barely there budget keep you from creating a room you'll love living in. Get creative with our 15 ideas for updating your living room for next to nothing.

Coastal Decorations

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 Rate My Space user nyclq

Living Room Chalkboard

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.

valencich chair ottoman

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.

Living Room and Library

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.

Magnificent Mirror

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.

Striking Stenciled Staircase

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.

Bench Side Tables

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.

Living Room with Complementing Curtains

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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