Decorating a living room can cost a small fortune — but it doesn't have to.
While it would be nice to go out and buy all top of the line items, for most people that just isn't realistic.
(And it's not necessarily the best way to create a great space.)
I want you to know you can still have a stylish space without breaking the bank.
Whether your living room is a blank canvas or a space that needs an upgrade, you just need to know how to invest your money wisely.
The secret to having a great looking living room without declaring bankruptcy is mixing top-of-the-line items where it really matters with less expensive pieces where it doesn't.
I put together this post so you know what to splurge on, and what you can get at a lower price — without sacrificing quality.
It’s time to get rid of the sofa you “inherited” from your mom’s basement. A good quality couch is the first investment you should make as you collect furniture for your new space; a sturdy, comfortable couch is worth the money. You can Scotch Guard upholstery to give it extra life and protect the fabric from stains and spills. If it’s in your budget, real leather is preferable to faux leather, as faux leather will split and crack. A sectional couch is a great option for entertaining, if you have the space.
Coffee tables run the gamut from sleek and slim to heavy double-duty storage pieces. Regardless of the style you choose, look for one that is made of real wood or thick glass, stable and able to withstand some wear and tear. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box: instead of a traditional coffee table you can use an old trunk or crate, or a large tufted ottoman that can also serve as seating. Thrift and vintage stores are great places to find unique and durable coffee tables at low price points.
A loveseat is a small, two-person couch. The loveseat is traditional in a living room to create the classic “L” shaped furniture arrangement. This shape allows for easy conversation and lets everyone see the focal point of the room, be it a television or fireplace. Loveseats generally match the couch, but could also be a surprise decorative element in more contemporary or eclectic spaces. If loveseats are out of your price range, or simply don’t fit in your space, consider purchasing an armchair or two to create a similar living room feel.
These days side tables can be purchased just about anywhere. If you find a pair that suits your decor for a good price snatch them up. Side tables don't get a lot of wear and tear so the quality isn't super important.
Rugs are expensive, but worthy of investment. As a design element rugs help “ground” the furniture and can define spaces in large rooms or lofts. They truly enhance a space and contribute a lot in terms of texture, pattern and color.
You get what you pay for when it comes to rugs. Cheap rugs wear out, pill, pull and curl quickly. Find a rug you love and pay a bit more up front for years of enjoyment down the road.
Bookcases or bookshelves not only add storage space, they fill out a room and make it feel lived-in. Plus, they're fun to style and showcase small treasured items, photos, favorite books and other beautiful objects.
Solid wood bookcases will be the most durable in the long-term, but something less expensive will do the job initially. If you're looking to add multiple bookcases, make sure to choose ones that have the same finish. Storage baskets and boxes can easily be added to most bookcases to create extra storage space.
Believe it or not, floor lamps can really make or break a space. Not only do they add height and vertical lines to a space, but they create another important source of light in the room in addition to overhead lights. They also go a long way in softening a space and creating better ambiance.
Look for lamps with a sturdy base. Consider selecting one that uses three-way dimmer bulbs and one that has multiple arms you can position in various ways. Even though it's a splurge, buying a nicer floor lamp doesn’t have to break the bank.
There are a ton of great options for cheap and stylish table lamps in store and online today, so there's no need to spend a fortune.
Take a look in stores like Target, Lowes and even Amazon to find some great deals. You'll see there's no need to spend a fortune on crystal lamps at a boutique store when you can find an acrylic version of the same thing for several hundred dollars less (and they often look identical). Also, if you enjoy DIY projects, check second hand stores because with a paint job and some new wiring, an old $10 lamp can look like a million bucks.
Investing in hardwood or stone floors (or any other high-quality material you desire) is a good idea. It's the foundation of the home and needs to look good and suit the space. It's not something you'll change for a long time so invest in the best materials you can afford at the time. You could also consider investing in under-floor heating if it suits your climate and lifestyle.
Art is highly personal. However, when you love a piece, you’ll likely be enthralled with it for the long haul. So go ahead and splurge on artwork if you absolutely love it. Not only will it add a sense of your personality to the room, but it'll also bring a richness and complexity to the space. It'll also likely bring you a sense of enjoyment, which is the most important detail of all.
Even if you eventually decide to redo your design, you can still make use of the artwork so don't worry about it going out of style. At least once a year I encourage people to change up their artwork and try moving pieces to a different room in the house. You may be surprised how much art can transform a room.
These items — blankets, throw pillows and bedding — go a long way in terms of pulling a room together. They’re instrumental in layering and can add a major sense of style to the space. They’re also perfect pieces for you to play with that can add a pop of color or a dose of pattern to your home. I even recommend to rotating them out the better align yourself and your home with every season.
So unless you’re investing in a well-made, neutral item that can blend with a variety of aesthetics, I recommend saving on your textiles.
Decor items are an area where you can save. Since these pieces generally don’t offer a specific function in the space and they're more for aesthetics, they’ll be the first thing to go when you’re ready for a new look. While they are the finishing touches for a room and they add interest and personality, there’s no reason to spend a lot of money on accessory items.
In fact, if you’re on a tight budget, I recommend sourcing these items from places like flea markets, antique stores, secondhand stores and yard sales. You never know what you'll find.
Windows are often focal points in rooms so it's worth spending whatever is required to make them look their best.
Use good-quality fabrics for drapes or roman shades. While they can be found for cheap, the difference is quite noticeable in terms of how long they last and how they hang in a space. High-quality fabrics will also provide your home with more adequate privacy.
Curtain rods are something you can save money on. Most of the rod ends up hidden by the drapery fabric, but you always see the ends (finials) and that's the part we want to focus on here.
Many companies make inexpensive curtain rods that have decorative finials. Opt for something stylish and simple so you don't draw attention away from the nice drapery fabrics.
I hope this sheds some light on how to invest your money (and not break the bank) while creating a stylish space.
You're going to mix top-of-the-line items where it matters with less expensive pieces where it doesn't.
Now, what about you...do you have any investments you're happy you made? Any you regret? Let me know in the comments below.
Design by Kara Mann
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