30 (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 30 ideas for updating your living room for next to nothing.

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Photo By: Kim Cornelison (Styled by Elizabeth Demos)

Photo By: Bethany Nauert

Photo By: Raquel Langworthy

Photo By: Emily Followill

Photo By: Alan Gastelum

Photo By: David A. Land

Photo By: Robert Peterson, Rustic White Photography

Photo By: LifeCreated

Photo By: Kim Cornelison (styled by Kate Jordan)

Photo By: Dror Baldinger

Photo By: Christian Torres

Photo By: H. Camille Smith

Photo By: Matt Blair

Photo By: Emily Followill

Photo By: laurenedith.com

Photo By: Ashley Gilbreath

Photo By: Julie Soefer

Photo By: Sarah Dorio

Photo By: Ashley Gilbreath

Photo By: Margaret Rajic

Photo By: Hendricks Churchill

Photo By: Robert Peterson, Rustic White Photography

Photo By: Tomas Espinoza

Photo By: Emily Minton Redfield

Photo By: Shannon Lazic Photography

Photo By: LifeCreated

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.

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 the how-to: Add Nail Head Trim to Furniture

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 faraway color or texture.

From: James Farmer

Make It Work

Rather than remove the room's original radiator to create more space, the interior designers at The New Design Project covered it with a decorative wooden ledge, creating a wide shelf for sunning plants and displaying books and knickknacks.

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 these stripes seen in 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, mimicking the sky, draws your eye up and makes rooms feel more airy and open.

See More Photos: 8 Reasons Designers Are Painting Ceilings

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.

See More Photos: 20 Best Plants for Cleaning Indoor Air

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 featured in HGTV Magazine.

Divide and Conquer

Another way to create privacy and distinction between spaces in your home is by hanging curtains with a tension rod. Depending on your space, this option may work better than a room divider. Curtains can easily be pulled closed to hide the clutter and bring a soft, luxurious feel to any space. 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. 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, an old trashed drum-style lampshade transforms into a trendy treasure simply by adding Greek key upholstery tape trim.

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. Natural basket drawers bring a neutral texture to the room and add extra storage to keep the room feeling relaxed and tidy.

Make Time to DIY

Metal, Roman numeral house numbers and a battery powered clock creates a functional focal point in this living room. You can create a similar look by sourcing items 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 a salvage yard.

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 for wallet-friendly options.

From: James Farmer

Be Trendy and Thrifty

Create your own sunburst mirror and add a designer touch to your space. 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.

Get the how-to: Create a Sunburst Mirror

Get the Wallpaper Look for Less

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.

Get the how-to: How to Stencil a Focal Wall

Reimagine Antiques

We all have hand-me-down pieces that, with just a little imagination, could be put to good use as something new. Designer Ashley Gilbreath turned an antique armoire into an entertainment center that stores blankets and conceals the television when not in use.

Give Ready-Made a Custom Touch

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.

Get the how-to: Customize Ready-Made Draperies

Invite Drama With Contrast Doors

Liven up your living room doors with a coat of contrasting paint. Go bold with moody hues like black or navy, or opt for an airier approach with subdued shades of taupe, rose or oatmeal. Bonus: this project takes two days max to complete and will totally transform the look of your space.

Show Off Your Reading List

Skip shopping and work with what you’ve got! Dust off your coffee table books and style them strategically to create art-worthy impact in your living room. This chic stack features glossy hardcovers in varied turquoise hues to create an eye-catching, ombre effect on the table.

Go Monochrome

Dial-up the drama in your living room or den by painting your ceiling and millwork to match your walls. The monochrome approach will wrap the room with color and create an elevated, jewel box effect in space. Pro tip: use the same paint color in different finishes to bring dimension and add movement to the design.

Frame a Flag

Fill that empty wall or the blank space above your mantel with a framed vintage flag. Recycle the faded flag from your front yard or pick one up from your go-to thrift store to keep this project budget-friendly. The piece will offer the same stylistic impact on a space as oversized art would, while bringing texture, character and classic Americana charm to your design.

Add High Contrast Trim

Take notes from the designers at Hendricks Churchill LLC and frame out your living room with punchy, painted trim. Their country cottage living room sports glossy, olive green crown molding and window trim to accentuate the custom millwork featured throughout the design. All you need to recreate this striking look at home is a small amount of paint, a steady hand a few hours to spare.

Make a Perfect-Match Abstract

Stop window shopping overpriced artwork online and pull out your paintbrush instead. Put the forgotten leftover paint sitting in your garage from past home projects to work and create a one-of-a-kind piece that pairs seamlessly with your furnishings, walls or millwork.

Repurpose Bedside Lamps

Up the ambience in your den with a pair of new (to the room) side table lamps. Flank your sofa with your old, matching bedside table lamps to wash the space in soft, cozy light and bring symmetry to the design for a polished final look.

Try a Brick Facelift

Give your dated and drab brick fireplace a new lease on life with a few coats of paint. The bolder, the better. The designers at Duet Design Group show how it’s done, giving this traditional fireplace a moody makeover with a deep teal hue in a glamorous, high-gloss finish.

Install Artistic Firewood Storage

Keep your firewood within reach and create a statement-making visual in one fell swoop by creating a unique firewood storage design. The designers at Steele Street Studio use this unique holder to draw the eyes up, accentuate the height of the room and bring natural texture to the white fireplace’s façade. Reimagine the holder at home or achieve a similar effect by storing stacked logs under a bench against the wall or in an open weave basket next to the hearth.

Modernize Lights With Matte Black Paint

Turn back time and give your outdated light fixtures a fresh look with matte black paint. Gold and brass hues are tricky to recreate using spray paint, but matte black is a failproof finish that will add crisp, modern contrast.

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