While the kitchen and bathroom often take priority when it’s time to renovate, the living room is the first place decorators look when their home needs a revamp. As the first room guests see, it should reflect your personal taste. But what if your champagne style is at odds with your canned-beer budget?
But before you get started, there are a few things you should consider first.
- What is your design goal?
- How much room do you have to work with?
- How will the space be used?
- What pieces can you keep, and what needs to be replaced?
To get you started, we compiled twenty key tips for making your living room look luxurious and timeless (and only seem expensive).
Hang Large-Scale Art
Create a focal point and give your space wow factor by hanging an oversize piece of art by itself on one of your living room walls. The look is chic and high impact, with little hassle. Keep your eyes peeled at flea markets and thrift stores for large pieces at reasonable prices, or get creative and make your own if you’re decorating on a budget.
Simplify Your Styling
A cluttered, overaccessorized living room can look messy and disorganized, rather than chic and sophisticated. Pare down your collection and only retain pieces that have sentimental value. A simplified space will enable the remaining elements to really shine, and it will keep you on budget.
A simplified space will enable the remaining elements to really shine, and it will keep you on budget.
Camouflage Your Television
Nothing brings down the feeling of sophisticated luxury in a space quite like a huge black television placed front and center. If fancy mirrors that conceal the TV aren’t in your budget, visually minimize the presence of your screen by creating a gallery wall or salon-style art arrangement around it. Although it won’t entirely disappear, the frame of the television will blend in with the other artwork and distract the eye. Plus, with a few thrifty finds, this idea works on any budget.
Use an Interesting Textile
Give your living room a custom look by using vintage or antique textiles to make throw pillows or cover small pieces, like seat cushions or upholstered stools. An antique Turkish rug is another simple way to instantly create visual intrigue. The unusual fabric will inject your room with a unique element and personalize your space. Alternatively, add a textural throw over a sofa or chair to ramp up the cozy factor.
Incorporate a Sculptural Item
Prevent your room from becoming a sea of straight lines and circular forms by introducing an element with an interesting shape or unique silhouette. A tree-root coffee table or unusual side chair will feel like a piece of art in your living room, adding an unexpected and wholly artistic component to your design (even on a budget).
Include a Piece With History
Give your space a sense of wisdom and incorporate a piece with patina and age. Anything from a mirror to a small side table or accessory will do the trick—the older the better.
Decorate With a Mix of Textures
A layered, thoughtful mix of materials and textures will give your space a custom-designed, luxurious look. Mix metals, glass, wood, textiles, and leather items to create a dynamic, inviting space.
Light the Way
Updating light fixtures can instantly change the feel of your living room, without overhauling the space. Try different lampshades, or swapping out your chandelier, or even just rearranging your light sources to see where you can call attention to high-use areas, or recess less optimal parts of the living room.
Edit Your Color Palette
Fine-tune your living room aesthetic by honing in on an obvious color palette. For example, identify several of your favorite hues and edit from there. Narrowing your color scheme will make your living room pop.
Update Those Throw Pillows
Swapping out throw pillows to match season or mood is a quick way to infuse new energy into your living room, on a budget. Play with color, texture, and pattern, as well as placement: Beyond the couch, consider the armchair, chaise lounge, the bench.
Create a Story With Vignettes
If you think a singular piece of décor may look out of place on its own, try arranging a collection of similar pieces to create a unique vignette. They could tell a story on your coffee or console table: Of family heirlooms or travel mementos, for example.
Consider the French Door
Chic French doors can visually open up a space, serve as windows, or a divider between rooms. There are a variety of styles to choose from, including sliding doors for a space-saving touch. They may even play double-duty as the focal area of your living room.
Shake Up Your Furniture
For a living room update that costs only your time and energy, a new furniture arrangement may be just what your space needs to feel fresh. Arrange according to feng shui design principles, or for small spaces, find ways to make your room feel expansive.
Choose a New Focal Area
Survey your space to determine which part of your living room you could play up. If much of the focus has been on the large-scale artwork above mantle, would it do well behind the couch, for example? Or, what might rearranging your plants do to shift where eyes are naturally drawn to?
Give Walls a Treat
Another way to add texture to your living room is with patterned wall panels or wallpaper. From the delicate florals of Farrow & Ball’s sustainably sourced wallpaper to the peel and stick ease of Stikwood wall panels, there are limitless ways to air your creativity in this way.
Add bounce to a lackluster living room with a fresh coat of paint. “I find it’s the cleanest, crispest, and it always brightens my spaces,” New York-based designer Tali Roth once told MyDomaine. If white isn’t your thing, opt for a warm neutral color, so it’s still versatile enough to play well with décor.
A surefire way to make sure a living room’s pieces fit and play well together like a jig-saw puzzle is to go custom. For example, invest in a custom couch or day bench that fits perfectly in that odd space.
Swap Window Treatments
Practically speaking, a great set of window treatments can better augment the amount of light or shade in your living room. On the other hand, they can also tie an entire room together, whether you’re after drama (do this by “hanging your curtain hardware as close to the ceiling as you can,” said Keriann Coffey, Style Editor at Joss & Main, in a previous MyDomaine interview), or whimsy—think natural materials and airy fabrics.
Mount Your Television
Another way to give your living room a clean, streamlined look is by mounting your television to the wall (goodbye, tangle of chords!) But first, determine whether your wall can handle the weight, and remember to measure your walls, advises this MyDomaine article on the 5 questions you should ask before mounting your TV to the wall.
Plunge Into Complete Makeover Mode
Contrary to some opinions, there are instances in which working with a professional designer may offer cost-savings. Because designers pay trade pricing on materials, their clients enjoy these discounted prices. Their expertise also mean they can show you exactly where to invest, or to cut corners.