I own an interior design company (which designed the above living room). We typically do high-end makeovers but I know having been in the industry for many years that sometimes homeowners don’t want to do a full makeover and instead just want to spend a few dollars to make a big impact.
And yes, it’s possible to spend very little to dramatically improve your living room. Below are your options. If you can spend a few hundred and incorporate a few of the suggestions, the change could be striking. In most cases, you’ll have to roll up your sleeves and do the work yourself.
FYI, the tips for your living room makeover below are around $100. Some are free. Some a few dollars. Some might be a tad over $100. The point is that all the options below are inexpensive options to dramatically improve your living room decor.
1. Update throw pillows / decorative blankets
If you don’t have throw pillows and/or blanket, you’re missing out on one of the least expensive, most effective way to improve your living room decor. Check out the following living room:
Picture the above living room without the splash of color the throw pillows offer. They also provide texture to the room design. Very effective.
2. Add an affordable area rug
Imagine the above living room without the area rug. It would be such a lesser design. It’s particularly effective in large, open-concept spaces because the rug demarcates the individual spaces in an open living area.
You can spend thousands on a rug but you don’t have to. Here are some options that are very budget-friendly:
This is a ridiculously inexpensive rug that would improve the look of many living rooms. Look around... you don't need to spend a fortune on an attractive area rug. This one is particularly popular.
3. Improve your walls
Paint an accent wall
4. Wall-mounted planters
I love wall-mounted planters, whether you use fake or real plants they look great especially on a white wall. Here’s a pretty cool option (but there are many to choose from). You can also get floating shelves (see below) and place planters on that.
5. Wall art
There is so much wall art to choose from, it’s ridiculous. You can spend $20 or $20 million and everything in between. Check out the example below. The art makes the room.
6. Add a mirror
Check out the above living room by Roselind Wilson Design. That mirror is a focal point of the room elevating it tremendously.
Paint all the walls (including adding an accent wall)
This is a no-brainer. A fresh coat of paint, whether all one color or an accent wall can make a huge difference. If it’s all white, consider a dramatic change to charcoal gray or vice versa. You really can’t make a bigger impact on a space than changing the wall color.
7. Update lighting
Lighting can make or break a room. For $100 or less, you can add some effective accent lighting to the space that makes a huge impact… with no need to hire an electrician. Here are some examples.
8. Cabinet lighting
Check out the two living room designs below. Imagine both without cabinet lighting. The cabinets would not serve the same focal purpose they do. Fortunately, cabinet lighting is inexpensive and easy to install (it really is).
9. Floor lamps
Floor lamps aren’t for every living room. In fact, most living rooms don’t use floor lamps but in the right space, they can be very effective in the decor. Check out the example below which is peppered with both floor and table lamps.
10. Table lamps
Below is a beautiful living room yet the two table lamps are the focal point from this perspective. It’s amazing how two fairly simple table lamps can be the star in a room. You can do the same without spending much money at all.
11. Add shelving
12. Floating shelves
Who doesn’t love floating shelves. Whether they span the room like the example below or are smaller such as the examples below the living room, they can literally turn a blah wall into something fetching. They really can.
A book shelf or bookcase works in almost any living room. It really does. The example below is an extreme example but I love it. You can buy inexpensive floor-to-ceiling bookshelves or smaller options that will make a big impact in your living room. It really will.
14. Rearrange furniture for a fresh look
Above is a simple living room layout we did as part of our 13 living room layout ideas article. You can use software or grab pen and paper and sketch it out quickly.
This is a free way to improve your living room.
2 key furniture arranging TIPS:
- When arranging furniture, do not block or hinder main walkways / entry / exit points in the space. This is key.
- Choose a focal point in the room and arrange around that. It could be wall art, accent wall, TV, built-in shelving, area rug… something that captures the eye when entering the room.
15. Add low-maintenance plants
Here’s a terrific example with how plants can elevate a living room space. It was designed by Keely Smith of JD Elite Interiors (the interior design firm I own). IMO, you can go overboard with plants but a few well-placed plants can work wonders. The one exception with overboard is if you create a “plant display” area in the space that can serve as a fabulous focal point. Just be sure to take care of them… a cluster of dead houseplants does not look good.
16. Add low-cost furniture
There are a good number of living room furniture items that enhance the space and won’t break the wallet. They include: