Designers' Best Budget-Friendly Living Room Updates
We polled design insiders to learn how they would update a living room for less than $500. Bonus: They tell us their best no-cost (that's right, free!) decorating tip.
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November 25, 2014
Freshen Up With Pillows and Paint
"If a DIY decorator has only $100 to update a living room, I would start with the decorator's best friend: new toss pillows," says designer Sue Adams. She recommends you next harness the transformative power of paint. "Paint the walls a color that is elsewhere in the room but not dominant; for instance, pull a color from the curtains or new toss pillows." Design by Brian Patrick Flynn
Add Style Underfoot
For an under $500 update, designer Jennifer Jones of Niche Interiors says: "A graphic rug is a simple way to make a big statement. FLOR tiles are available in a wide variety of patterns and are a quick-and-easy way to create a customized rug on a budget."
For a free update, "Rearrange the furniture you have," says designer Sue Adams. Experiment with the room's layout, thinking about how you can have a comfortable conversation with someone sitting on another piece of furniture. "Create an intimate seating area. Pull the sofa off the wall if necessary." Design by Velvet Hammerschmidt
Light It Up
Living rooms are where you entertain guests and spend quality time with family, making lighting key for setting the proper mood. "Lighting can make or break any room. Add sparkle and drama with a pair of matching metallic table or floor lamps," suggests designer Jennifer Jones.
Make a Statement With Artwork
For a $500 update, designer Kathy Hoffman says: "expand your shopping list to include new lighting, interesting accents such as pillows or a decorative throw, and a piece of artwork for a focal point. Slipcover the furniture, if necessary. Start by shopping in your own home; there may be an unused bookcase in the basement or forgotten end tables stacked in the garage. Quality furniture should be treated as an investment. If it's not in your budget up front, make it a goal to save up for what you need and improvise in the interim."
Treat the Windows
The right window treatment takes a room from bland to beautiful. "Soften your living space with ready-made drapery panels," designer Jennifer Jones suggests. "If a standard-size window panel doesn't work in your room, simply buy the next size up and have them hemmed at your local dry cleaner. Drapes should hang one-half to one inch off the floor." Design by Jennifer Jones
Cut the Clutter
"In every space, it's important to clean," says designer Kathy Hoffman. "Clutter distracts guests from seeing the important pieces. This is especially important in the living room because it's often the room that gives the first impression of your home." A clutter-free room makes it easy to put your favorite things on display. "Over the fireplace, create one focal point with a few accent pieces. Display photos in nice frames alongside a small collection of books. Large collections should be displayed in their own space, whether in a bookcase or on a shelf." Design by Jennifer Duneier
Create a Focal Point
"Use colorful artwork or photography to personalize your space and create a focal point for the room. Enlarge your own photos or choose from thousands of prints on affordable sites such as Art.com or 20x200.com," suggests designer Jennifer Jones.
For an under $100 update, designer Kathy Hoffman says to use paint. "A fresh coat of paint goes a long way toward creating a new look in any space, and not just on the walls," she says. "Reinvent a piece of furniture by changing the color and the hardware, or give a tired, dark brick fireplace second life by painting it creamy white." Design by Anissa Darnell
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