As the name suggests, we do most of our living in the living room, this is where we can relax after a hard day at work, where we entertain our friends and where we watch movies with the family. Maybe you just moved into a new home and you have to start from scratch or maybe you’re a bit bored with how your living room looks right now.

But when you’re on a tight budget how do you go about creating the perfect atmosphere? Well, you’ll see from our suggestions that you can breathe new life into space and make it reflect your personal style without emptying your bank account and you don’t have to be a professional interior designer either.

The Basics of Budget-Friendly Decorating

When we plan on redecorating a room, our first thought is to watch a lot of interior design TV shows and buy a bunch of magazines with beautifully decorated rooms. Then we get upset because we realize that the furniture and accessories in those TV shows and magazines cost thousands of dollars which we can’t afford. Are we stuck looking at the same sad, plain walls and outdated furniture?

Of course not. We can learn a lot from those shows: how to coordinate colors, how to plan the layout of a room, how to use lights to enhance the appeal of focal points etc. The thing is they usually do it in the most expensive way possible. They take out everything from the room, replace it with high-end pieces they’re actually advertising for and they bring in a whole crew of people to help. Then the job gets done faster, looks for dynamic and is more interesting for the audience to watch.

When decorating on a budget, you have to do the opposite. You want to keep and repurpose the things you already have. You can use the knowledge you gained to figure out creative ways to adjust them to your vision. Let’s get to it.

First Step Is to Rearrange the Furniture

You can completely change the look and feel of a room by simply rearranging the furniture. The best part is it’s free. Sometimes the issue is that you have too many pieces that are blocking traffic or making the room look cramped.

Some general guidelines to arranging the furniture might help. You want to start by choosing a focal point. It might be your fireplace, the television set, a wall with artwork etc. Then you arrange the furniture around that focal point. One thing to keep in mind is not to push the furniture against the walls. Leave at least a few inches. This protects the paint on the walls and, despite popular belief, it makes the room appear larger, not smaller. Try it and compare.

Then you want to create conversation areas for when you’re entertaining. People should be able to easily make eye contact when talking, without having to bend their necks too much. The chairs and sofas should be facing each other and be close enough that you can speak in a normal tone.

Another factor is traffic flow. Leave enough space between the sofa and coffee table so you don’t struggle to move around. Same for the rest of the room. If you’re constantly tripping over furniture this isn’t what you would call a relaxing space where you can unwind.

We recommend you take measurements of the room and of the furniture and make sketches of the layout. There are lots of free apps that can help you do this if you don’t want to draw. This way you can experiment without moving the furniture around a zillion times and scratching the floor.

DIY Decorative Pillows

A few decorative pillows look great on the sofa and chairs. They make the living look cozier and more put together. Having said that, they have gotten rather expensive lately. Some stores sell them for $30 or $40 dollars apiece. That’s a bit much for just pillows. If you can sew a simple stitch you can easily make them by yourself. If not, you can just look for video tutorials online and learn it.

You can experiment with different fabrics, you just have to measure the pillow size of your choice, cut two matching squares of fabric, and place them on top of each other with the plain side facing outward. Then you pin them into place and start stitching. Leave about two inches so you can pull the fabric right side out.

To personalize them you can get a bulk ribbon to create a more romantic look and you can also print out patterns, images or quotes on transfer paper. Keep in mind that you have to print the mirror image which you then transfer onto the fabric with and iron. See? Super easy.

You Need an Accent Wall

An accent wall can give the room a more sophisticated appearance and it’s not at all hard to do. One option is to simply paint that wall a different color. The second is to use removable wallpaper with an interesting pattern that matches the color theme of the rest of the room. The third is to create your own pattern using stencils.

You can find ready-made stencils in home stores or you can look for patterns online. You’ll then trace that pattern onto cardboard. The part you’re going to be painting on is the one you need to cut. You stick the cardboard onto the wall and start painting.

The fourth option is to create a gallery wall. Then you can use art you make by yourself taking inspiration from the internet or, even easier, you print out interesting pictures that form a cohesive theme. You frame them and place them on the wall.

Add Some Greenery

House plants are an easy, inexpensive way to make your living room look brighter and livelier. Besides the aesthetic value, they’ll also improve air quality. It’s remarkable how bringing a touch of the outdoors inside the home can make it feel so much more inviting.

You can find matching pots that double as decorative elements and put them into those spaces that look like they’re missing something. Large plants tend to cost a bit more but you can buy several smaller ones and arrange them in groups. Just keep in mind that they need to get an adequate amount of light.