5 Ways to Refresh Your Living Space on a Budget

A full living room update — with new flooring, furniture and wall color — is the ideal home makeover. However, limited time and budget can make a full revamp out of the question. If you’re sick of your space, don’t underestimate the power of a few small changes.

“Decorating doesn’t have to burn a hole in your pocket or take months to complete,” said designer Vanessa DeLeon. “Set aside a weekend when you are looking for a change and a little upgrade. This is where you and your family are spending the most time, so it is really worth the small investment.”

Here’s five quick ways to refresh your living space, courtesy of Zillow Digs designers.

No. 1: Paint

“There’s no denying the transformative power of a fresh coat of paint,” said designer Dan Benedict ofBenedict August. And, most designers agree — a slap of fresh color on the walls is an easy and relatively affordable way to dramatically change up a space.

A bright jade statement wall livens up the living room by Vanessa DeLeon Associates.

A bright-jade statement wall livens up this living room by Vanessa DeLeon Associates.

Not sure what paint to choose? Try one of these:

  • Different shades of neutrals. Alissa Pulcrano, principal at Bright Designlab, suggests layering several shades of white in a room.
  • Bold color. Try it on an accent wall, “adding a necessary focal point,” says DeLeon. Or, test the limits with something more unexpected, like “a color pop on the edge of a door,” says Pulcrano.

No. 2: Millwork

When many people begin updates in a living room, millwork is not the first thing they think of. But, Benedict says it’s an affordable, yet impactful, change.

crown molding

White crown molding anchors mustard yellow walls in this living room.

“New, larger baseboards, casings and crown moldings are more affordable than you think. And once they’re painted, you’ll think you’re in a different house,” he said.

No. 3: Rugs

Although a rug is technically a room accessory, the wide variety of options available makes it a piece that can really tie a room together. Even layered over carpet, rugs can define or refine a space, says Benedict.

“A thoughtfully chosen area rug is a clever way to adjust how your room feels,” he said. “Too much dark flooring? Use a light colored rug. Want to warm up flooring that is too light? Choose a darker rug.”

A rug defines the seating area in a room.

A rug defines the seating area in a room.

For those that have kids or pets, DeLeon suggests trying a modular rug, which is a system of carpet squares that assemble to create a custom rug.

“The best thing about these modular pieces is if you accidently spill a glass of wine, you can easily remove the piece, wash it out and voilà, brand new!” DeLeon said.

No. 4: Furniture

Furniture, besides flooring, is one of the priciest ways to update a room, but sometimes a simple piece can go a long way.

“Try scouting out a vintage find — a classic chair, a contrasting side chair or two,” suggested Pulcrano. “Either paint or shine it up in all its eclectic glory.”

Benedict puts his money toward a coffee table.

A mid-century-style coffee table can be a room's statement piece.

A mid-century-style coffee table can be a room’s statement piece. Design by Robert Wylie.

“It’s a great way to anchor your living room and much less of a commitment than, say, a new sofa,” he explained. “Choose something unconventional or unexpected; it doesn’t even have to match anything else.”

No. 5: Accessories

Sick of your couch? Try an array of new pillows to change up the look.

“Buy some great decorative pillows from an online retailer,” said designer David Scott of David Scott Interiors. “Try West Elm, Room & Board or Crate & Barrel.”

Scattered pillows make an impact on a neutral couch. Design by David Scott Interiors.

Scattered pillows make an impact on a neutral couch. Design by David Scott Interiors.

The consensus with accessories, however, is less is more.

“Look to local designers for inspiration and original art to work into the design,” said Pulcrano. “Careful staging of accessories is a must. Go for minimal stuff with maximum impact.”

But maybe it’s just a time to declutter, says DeLeon.

“Get rid of things that you have no use for. Cleaning out the space will make it look like a brand new room,” she advised.

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Leigh Young

Leigh Young

Realtor - Veteran Specialist
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