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Living Room Decorating Ideas on a Budget

Updated on August 25, 2011
Lily Rose profile image

I should have been an interior designer! I love decorating, home decor & taking on projects and helping others do the same.

Living room decorating ideas can help you create the room you desire.  In most homes, the living room is the central family “hub” where everyone ends up to curl up by the fire, watch TV, or to entertain guests. It is also the place that many people like to display collections, heirlooms, and special pieces, as well as hang treasured artwork. Mixing elegance with comfort in a well-used room such as the living room can be accomplished easily with a little creativity.

Give your space the perfect balance between form and function with affordable touches of style. Simple, unexpected details and subtle contrasting textures can give you that balance.

Decorating Tips:

  • If the floor is in poor repair, consider using a larger area rug. Perhaps even refurbish only the area of the floor that isn’t covered by the rug.
  • As with any other room, one of the least expensive ways to get more bang for your buck is to paint the walls; this can go a long way to helping you create a whole new look and may even be all that you need to do. Doing the painting your self can save you hundreds. Always test your palette before introducing major changes.
  • When choosing your color, make sure it’s something that you can live with. Yellows, light greens, and creams create a light, airy feel. Pastels (pinks, lavenders, blues greens) lend themselves to a restful, romantic feel.
  • Most colors have warm as well as cool hues. Warmer colors give your room a more intimate and secure feeling, whereas cooler hues give your room a more calming, restful feel. Complimentary colors, like different shades of the same color, can help unify a whole home’s décor, while contrasting colors add drama. Unite adjoining rooms of differing color with a single trim color everywhere.
  • Don’t be scared of bold colors, even in small spaces. You can always take it down a notch by using a lighter shade or by applying white trim.
  • If painting an entire room is not in your budget, try just doing one wall for a nice accent in the room.
  • Avoid high-gloss paint unless you’re walls are perfect (that never happens!) because this type of paint will show off every imperfection.

More Decorating on a Budget:

  • An easy and affordable way to add elegance to your walls is with the use of stencils – try a tone on tone effect for a more subtle, elegant feel and look.
  • Increase your decorating options by using, or making, double-sided, reversible curtains and pillows – maybe even sofa or chair cushions.
  • Extend the life of a pricey piece of furniture, such as a comfy chair, with the use of a slipcover used seasonally. Slipcovers are now pretty inexpensive and easy to find (try Bed, Bath & Beyond or Amazon.com) and you can buy extra sets for quick changes, perhaps for a new festive look or even for the holidays.
  • Search architectural salvage stores for saving money on interesting pieces.
  • Inexpensive upholstered pieces can be found at flea markets and if you’re able to get a good deal and see beyond the fabric on it, you can find inexpensive fabric at outlet stores and have it reupholstered for a fraction of the price of a brand new chair.

  • Built-in bookshelves with nice molding can be an inexpensive way to add architectural detail to a room and can be easy to install if you know what you’re doing, or know someone who does that can help.
  • Try to find a modestly priced cabinet to hide clutter, especially things like audio equipment. You can find cabinets in discount stores in every size and style these days.
  • Making simple, inexpensive changes can bring a dark winter palette into a lighter, more welcoming spring palette. A light colored slipcover on a chair or a tablecloth on a side or console table can accomplish this, as well as changing out a lampshade for a lighter one.
  • Hang a small collection of empty frames on a wall; it creates an open window effect that looks wonderful and can really play up a wall that has stripes or other wallpaper or stenciled design (looks great on a solid wall, too).
  • Often, seasonal changes only need a few inexpensive modifications to the room. New lampshades, tabletop treatments and fresh flower arrangements will often do the trick.
  • A mirror over a mantel can give warmth to and open up a room.
  • Change winter’s darker curtain panels for lighter, more airy ones. Curtains can make a dramatic change to a room.
  • Take your family and guests on a quick journey back in time with a decorative row of antique portraits.
  • Repurpose interesting finds, such as turning an old wooden stepladder into an informal plant stand.
  • A commonly found flea market find is vintage luggage; it can be used in lots of interesting ways to decorate your room. Stack three suitcases to create an attractive end table.
  • Do you have a collection of colorful china stacked in a cabinet? Hang them on a wall or display them to add color and interest to a space inexpensively. If you have a larger platter, try clustering the plates around the platter for a nice display.
  • For some whimsy, to make a small space feel larger, or to brighten a dim corner, cover a whole wall with framed mirrors. Paint all the frames the same color to unify them.
  • Candles always make for great inexpensive décor, with the added benefit of adding a touch of fragrance to the living room. Tip: for perfect burning, always trim the candle’s wick to the right length, which is about one-quarter inch, before lighting it.
  • I hope these tips help you create a cozy living room for you and your family. If you like these tips, be sure to check out budget decorating tips for your kitchen, dining room, bathroom and more.

Need Inspiration?

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The gold of the area rug and vase here really make the couches pop, as well as the oversized pillows and wall colors.Nice, neutral living room.  The leaves, apples and pillows add just the right amount of pop.  The contrast of the sofa color and dark tables works, too.This room has a nice classic look that will last.  The collection of platters on the wall adds a nice touch.It's a little hard to see, but these curtains reverse to a neutral cream quilted fabric; a great way to change the look of your room.Example of nice slipcovers.Built-in bookcases add a nice feel to any room.Stenciled tone-on-tone walls.The throws in this room give it a warm, cozy feel.Old step ladder turned plant stand.
The gold of the area rug and vase here really make the couches pop, as well as the oversized pillows and wall colors.
The gold of the area rug and vase here really make the couches pop, as well as the oversized pillows and wall colors.
Nice, neutral living room.  The leaves, apples and pillows add just the right amount of pop.  The contrast of the sofa color and dark tables works, too.
Nice, neutral living room. The leaves, apples and pillows add just the right amount of pop. The contrast of the sofa color and dark tables works, too.
This room has a nice classic look that will last.  The collection of platters on the wall adds a nice touch.
This room has a nice classic look that will last. The collection of platters on the wall adds a nice touch.
It's a little hard to see, but these curtains reverse to a neutral cream quilted fabric; a great way to change the look of your room.
It's a little hard to see, but these curtains reverse to a neutral cream quilted fabric; a great way to change the look of your room.
Example of nice slipcovers.
Example of nice slipcovers.
Built-in bookcases add a nice feel to any room.
Built-in bookcases add a nice feel to any room.
Stenciled tone-on-tone walls.
Stenciled tone-on-tone walls.
The throws in this room give it a warm, cozy feel.
The throws in this room give it a warm, cozy feel.
Old step ladder turned plant stand.
Old step ladder turned plant stand.

Before & After - Seasonal Changes:

Before - Fall/Winter
Before - Fall/Winter
After - Spring/Summer
After - Spring/Summer
Before - Fall/Winter
Before - Fall/Winter
After - Spring/Summer
After - Spring/Summer

Comments

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    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

      This is really beautiful and very, very tasteful. Thank you for sharing.

    • Lily Rose profile image
      Author

      Lily Rose 6 years ago from East Coast

      And thank you for visiting!

    • Easy Fit Inc. profile image

      Easy Fit Inc. 6 years ago from Woodside, NY

      I absolutely love your "before" and "after" photos! It is amazing what you can accomplish with cushion covers, wallpaper and a little vision. I love using inexpensive things like slipcovers, paint and area rugs to completely transform a room. It is fun when friends make a big fuss over what feels like small changes!

    • candle62 profile image

      candle62 6 years ago from London

      This is really beautiful, Thank you for sharing.

    • rugsforall profile image

      rugsforall 6 years ago

      You are right, bold colors are way to go these days.

    • Anna K. Linden profile image

      Anna K. Linden 6 years ago

      That room with the grey walls and sofas is stunning. I think I am going to try to copy it. Thanks for the tips.

    • imatellmuva profile image

      imatellmuva 6 years ago from Somewhere in Baltimore

      Hi Lily Rose. I love repurposing so I really enjoyed this hub! I'm going to see how I can use some of these ideas. Thanks!!

    • aleida_77 profile image

      aleida_77 6 years ago from Los Angeles

      Isn't it amazing what we can create using little creativity? Beautiful hub. Love all the photos.

    • Lily Rose profile image
      Author

      Lily Rose 6 years ago from East Coast

      Thank you for all your great comments!

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