Decorating a Living Room for You and Your Money

By Sarah Winfrey on 21 February 2008 (Updated 24 June 2009) 11 comments

You live in it. It's your work space, your meal space, your resting space, your relaxing space. It's where you drop your things when you come home and where you search for them before you leave again. It's your living room, the place where much of your life unfolds. It's easy to let this room be the "whatever" room, the room where all the old or natty furniture goes because you don't have another place for it or money to buy more. It's easy to not decorate at all, because everything will be moved around and will get dirty and so what's the point.

This room, however, sets the tone for your day. If you feel good about it when you walk through it in the morning, you'll feel good all day. If it's messy or ugly, you'll feel stressed or down. So make your living room a place where you can live, and live well. There are so many things you can do that don't cost much but make this room a better place.

Your Living Room Should Reflect You

Halo Living Room

What do you like to do? How can you make your living room reflect that. The room above was designed around playing Halo. If you like to read, maybe think about adding some creative book shelves. If you like photography, think about incorporating some of your own work into the room. A real llfe example sits in our living room and draws comments every day. My husband loves to collect toys from his childhood. He has an old Voltron who sits on top of one of our shelves. A little odd? Sure, but it's completely "us" and makes for some great conversation.

Your Living Room Should be Comfortable

Big Comfy Couch

You should be able to rest, relax, and do the rest of what you do in your living room without pain, awkwardness, or discomfort. Do not skimp on this! A little discomfort goes a long way towards raising frustration and irritation levels. If you need new furniture, search the sales. If you can't find anything that's affordable or that you like, try making your own beanbag chairs and couches. It's not crazy expensive, you can customize the fabric and the feel, and it's a great project for the whole family to work on together.

Change What Needs to be Changed Without Breaking the Bank

Bar Chairs Brought Back from the Dead

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW

It's easy to change the color scheme and feel of a room with a staple gun and some fun fabric. For chairs like those above, take off the seat, staple the new fabric on (be sure you pull tight!), and you have brand new chair! You can also staple fabric swathes to the wall, for come broader color change, or around pillows for some highlights (watch the staples on that one...it's easier than sewing, but you don't want to be inflicting puncture wounds!). I even know someone who recovered her whole couch this way!

It's also easy to change colors with some paint. Anything wooden can be painted, with the right preparation (check at your local hardware store for their recommendations, and sometimes paint prep can change with climate). Adding a little color to something old or battered can disguise the damage and make it seem as good as new.

Create some space by clearing off the tops of surfaces and the space on bookshelves between the book and the edge of the shelf. This will give your room some of that spacious, airy, contemporary feel with little to no work on your part.

Add some plants to your room for a more outdoorsy feel. If you're cautious about live plants, go to your local craft store and get some pretty dried or plastic plants. Displayed properly, no one will care that they're not real and you'll still have that vibrant, alive vibe goine on.

Use your storage space creatively. Maybe everyone in your home can have a basket of their very own, and you can cover those with creative material when they're not in use. Or maybe you have space under your end tables or inside your coffee table where you can store some of the items you use everyday. This adds to the general tidiness, doesn't cost much at all, and helps you feel like you have a handle on all that clutter!

Last, but not least, care for your carpet. Dirty carpet is frustrating and annoying, but it's easy to clean. Many carpet cleaning services offer special deals if you have them do more than one room or if your room is a certain size. You can also rent a machine and clean your own carpet, though the hassle involved here might make you wish you'd paid someone else to do it, particularly if you're living in a small space where moving your furniture around is an obnoxious job. Finally, you can get some rugs or make one yourself. They'll protect the carpet and add whatever color you choose.

Above all, decide to redecorate and the inspiration will come! Happy decorating!

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Myscha Theriault's picture

And specifically, amen to the following points:

1. A little discomfort causing exponentially more stress.

2. The ease and wow factor of staple gun chair cushion recovering.

I love affordable decorating ideas.

Thanks for the post.

Sarah Winfrey's picture

They're one of the most useful things I've seen...so many great things you can do...hey, maybe there's a post there!

 

Thanks, Myscha. 

Myscha Theriault's picture

I think there is absolutely a post there on ideas for a staple gun. I'm looking forward to your post on the subject.

Guest's picture
Olivia

I'm with you all the way. In scoping out our living room I realize that three objects were trash picked, five gotten at second hand places, two given, one from a yard sale and three purchsed with money (on sale). Plus personal knick knacks arranged nicely. Old English furniture polish, paint, rewiring and in one case recovering made them functional and bring the pieces together. I think if you're true to your own likes and dislikes your stuff works together.

Sarah Winfrey's picture

Wow, Olivia...that is true decorating on the cheap. Did you have to get the one piece recovered or did you do it yourself?

Guest's picture

Rip out that gross carpet and acid stain like I did. The whole process took less than a week and I LOVE the results. Easy to keep clean (especially with pets and kids) and I know the carpet isn't hiding some nasty dirt, dust, etc. that can keep everyone sneezing. I picked up the materials at a local store www.dcsurfaces.com for like $1 a square foot. Now you've inspired me to re-do the bar stools.

Guest's picture

it is really very cool particulary the colours i love the colour red

Guest's picture
noppies

Good to have you back

Guest's picture
Inez

Dont under estimate your own art for decorating. Your own art on the wall is a kick start every day. Especially if your not that artistic to begin with. Look at these ideas
http://www.canvaspress.com/ideas_gallery.html

Guest's picture

These are some great tips. One thing that I like to do is to paint one wall an interesting color. This alone, like one of the photos, can completely change the ambiance of the room. Just adding you favorite color to one wall can make you really happy. It does me!

Guest's picture
Sarah

In most living rooms, there's a spot that begs for attention—the mantel. Sometimes, to achieve a seasonal new look, all you have to do is spruce up this space. Add fresh flowers; take away some photographs to simplify the arrangement; or swap out artwork to introduce some new color and interest. Check out this seasonal change: http://cheapdecorating.blogspot.com.