Updating Your Living Area on a Budget

"After" picture of our living room
"After" picture of our living room | Source

The thought of home improvements may cause some people to go into a panic and run for the hills but before you take off running consider the fact that you can update your living area for a very reasonable price. You do not need to have a large budget to complete updates in your home. All you need to do is sit down and come up with a budget amount that you are able to afford and go from there. Here is how we updated our living space for under $500.00.

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Before Our Living Area Updates


The house we live in had white paneled walls with a gold colored trim. But time had really taken a toll on the white walls. They were no longer the clean white color they originally were when the paneling was first hung. Now the walls had a yellowish tint with dull white patches making the areas where pictures and shelves had once decorated them. We really wanted to update this space but due to fear we just kept putting it off.

Finally we sat down and determined that we would just paint over the existing paneling because we knew our budget would allow us to make these updates. The next hard part was deciding on what color to apply to the walls because we knew it was a once and down type of deal. With four kids and four pets running around you really do not have the time to keep painting over and over again.

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Painting the Paneling

We visited our local home improvement center and purchased the supplies that we needed to complete our painting project. We had to purchase six gallons of paint in two different colors that we decided on. Four gallons were soft suede and the other two where brown leather. We also needed tray liners, rollers, brushes, and painting tape. With the supplies purchased and in hand we were ready to head home and get started.

We decided in advance to stretch this project out over a weeks time because with our busy schedule with the kids the amount of time we had to paint each days was about two to three hours. We started in the second half of our living room because it has less large furniture items. We applied the darker color to three of the smaller walls as an accent color to separate the space.

The next day while the kids were at school I tackled the molding along the ceiling and around the door and window frames along with the trim around the floor in this section of the living room. First I taped off the walls to prevent the darker color from getting onto the area we were going to paint soft suede, then I began painting. I have to admit painting the trim is a lot more time consuming than I thought it would be, so be sure to give yourself enough time to complete this task.

We allowed the trim to dry for one day before removing the tape and painting the walls in this section. We did not tape off the trim while painting the walls soft suede. Instead I used an edger tool to cover the areas close to the trim without getting any paint onto the already painted areas. After two coats of paint this part was done and we were ready to move onto to next part.

The first part of our living room is where we have all of our larger furniture such as, the TV, furniture, and end tables. We decided to paint the trim first and then do the walls one by one so that we did not have to more everything out of this room.

Once the trim was finished we allowed it to dry completely before beginning the walls. Each night we would move the furniture away from one wall in order to paint it and then the following day we would but it back where it belonged. Even though it took a longer period of time to get the job done it paid off because it was less stressful than trying to move about our daily routine with the living room ripped apart and in shambles.

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Updating Light Fixtures

The original light fixtures in our home where two vintage/antique crystal chandeliers. The chandeliers were very beautiful but they no longer fit the look of our "new" living room. So we needed to look for a replacement.

After walking through the isles of the home improvement center we found two ceiling lights that we both loved. The best part was that they were on clearance! We purchased to lights that would have cost us around $230.00 for just under $60.00. Now that is a bargain!!

I was also able to save us money by installing the new lights along with new switches myself. I thank my father for that because he always allowed us to help him with different projects when we were younger.

If you are unfamiliar with electrical wiring I would suggest hiring someone to do this work for you or having someone you know that does this type of work complete it. Electricity is very dangerous!

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Floor Improvements

After all the walls were painted and the new light fixtures in place the living room looked dramatically different. It even felt different. It went from being drab and outdated to new and fresh. The only thing holding back this rooms full potential was the 20+ year old carpeting.

We thought about the floor for about two months. New carpeting was out of the question because it would be too costly and we just could not afford it. I knew there was finished hardwood floors underneath the carpeting but we had no idea what condition it would be in after being covered 50 years ago. One day I just took a chance and started cutting the carpeting in an area that could be concealed if I made the wrong decision. I am glad I took this chance because the floors we uncovered we beautiful.

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Fixing Problem Areas

The hardwood floor was in great shape for the most part. There are some imperfects in the wood but that is what I wanted. I wanted the floor to have an inviting, lived in type of feel instead of a "don't walk on me" type of feel. If I wanted a brand new shiny floor I would have saved up for a new one, but in my opinion this floor is better than a new one. It has character and it is original to the house and not an upgrade.

There was a problem area in front of the door that was caused by carpeting becoming wet from shoes over the years. The floor boards were discolored and the surface was very ruff. I decided to tile this part of the floor to prevent further damage to the wood. I lightly sanded the floor where the tile would be placed and then cleaned up the dust so I could begin placing the tile. Once the tile was in place we place a raised molding around the edges to separate it from the rest of the floor.

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Completed Update Results

The results we got from our updates were awesome! The living room looks completely different. It feels fresh and new and the hardwood floor really makes a difference in the air quality inside of the house.

I purchased two 4x6 shag area rugs for our living room to add some softness to the floor for when the kids are playing with their toys. We paid slightly under $100.00 total for the two area rugs.

Home Improvements can be done on a budget. You do not have to spend a large amount of money to get the look you desire. Take your time and look at all of your options. By taking your time you can find less expensive ideas that will work for you!!

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Comments 6 comments

leahlefler profile image

leahlefler 4 years ago from Western New York

Our family room is in desperate need of improvement - I absolutely LOVE your hardwood floors! We have nothing but particle board under our carpet (yes, particle board - definitely not to code)! Painting is always a great way to spruce up a room (I need to repaint our family room soon)!


LucyLiu12 profile image

LucyLiu12 4 years ago from Boise, Idaho

Have you checked out younghouselove.com - amazing ideas that make me feel brave when decorating.


editsvcs profile image

editsvcs 4 years ago

A new coat of paint is a great inexpensive way to change the feel of a room. From the before and after pictures, it looks like you may have rearranged the furniture during this process too. Another great way to give a room a fresh perspective!


Robert Erich profile image

Robert Erich 4 years ago from California

Awesome article. It's a lot of work, but can be a lot of fun to fix a place up. I am in the process now. I definitely like your ideas of how to inexpensive improve things. We are going to be using a lot of paint and likely a few rugs for the messed up floors (temporarily). Voted up!


JillKostow profile image

JillKostow 4 years ago from Pennsylvania Author

leahlefler - Thanks! I was really lucky to find these floors under my old carpeting. Good luck with your painting! It will really make a difference in your room once you are done!


JillKostow profile image

JillKostow 4 years ago from Pennsylvania Author

editsvcs - Paint is definately an inexpensive way to change a room. So far we have painted the living room, kitchen, a bedroom, and both bathrooms in our home. This was the cheapest way to update those rooms and the results are amazing!

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