This 25-Year-Old Completely Transformed Her Living Room on a Budget

Meet Amanda Risius, a blogger who is passionate about helping others create unique spaces in simple steps, similarly to how she’s redecorating her own home, room by room. She knows a thing or two about landing dream jobs and separating social media from real life — something we all need help with of from time to time. So far, she’s remodeled her living room and we got an up-close look at the beautiful end result. Up next, her straight-from-the-70s kitchen and, if her living room transformation is any indication, it’s going to be great.

Name: Amanda Risius
Age: 25
Square Footage: 270 sq. feet (living room only)
Rent or Own: Own
City, State: Council Bluffs, IA

You’re making over your home with your boyfriend, one room at a time. How did you decide what to tackle first?
Our house is small, so the main living area consists of our living room and kitchen. We spend 90% of our time in the living room and it’s the central room in the house, so it made sense to start there. I always suggest tackling the room you use most that needs the most help. You don’t want to spend time redoing a room first that you never use!



What’s the best starting point when seeking out decor and design inspiration? Do you start with specific pieces, a color palette, or a theme?
You should start by creating a new Pinterest board and only pinning images of interiors and decor you absolutely LOVE. They should be spaces that you could picture you (and your family) living. You can pin a variety of images like interiors, specific furniture, and colors you like. But they must all be images that make you happy when you look at them. Then once you have your Pinterest board of inspiration and know what you are drawn to, you will use it to form your color pallette, decide on furniture styles, and create your overall theme.

I always suggest tackling the room you use most that needs the most help.

Where do you draw inspiration from?
Pinterest is definitely up there on my list because it’s such an easy and free resource. But browsing cute shops, reading books and magazines, and looking online I find lots of inspiration as well. Recently I’ve taken the pressure off myself to come up with super unique ideas all the time, and now I just decorate for our home and what matters to us, and that’s made decorating a lot easier.

What’s the best budget-friendly, quick fix to freshen up any room?
Accessories! Just like when your outfit feels blah and you throw on a pretty necklace or fun shoes to amp it up, same goes for decorating. If your furniture and walls lack interest, add some throw pillows, hang art on your walls to add some personality, and style your coffee table with a couple books, a plant, and a candle so it looks intentional. These are relatively cheap things you can add that will instantly transform your room. Accessories are easy to swap out too over time whenever you want a change.



Is your boyfriend involved in the redesign and if so, how are you merging your styles?
He’s definitely involved because he helps with a lot of the projects, like installing new wood floors and redoing our bathroom. For the most part, I make all the design decisions and run my final choice by him. He trusts me and likes my style so it works well. He likes the rustic elements and modern designs as well.

Describe your decorating style and tell us how it has changed over time.
After struggling for years to really nail down my decorating style, I finally have a true understanding of what it looks like. A few years ago, I liked many different styles; I couldn’t pick just one. I constantly changed my mind and was redecorating to fit all these different styles I liked, but it was overwhelming because I never felt done and my decor never felt right. I was tired of not being happy with my home and it all stemmed from not knowing my decorating style, so I decided to change that. I did lots of research and some trial and error before I developed a system that accurately identified my decorating style that was catered to me and my lifestyle called, Find Your Signature Decorating Style. It’s a simple step by step system that helps you discover your signature decorating style based on your lifestyle and needs. My signature decorating style is modern rustic cottage, because I like clean modern furniture, with rustic accents like antlers and leather, and I like the beachy cottage color palette of lots of white, blues, and greys. Since finding my decorating style, I have a new perspective on decorating and want to help others find their decorating style too. It’s amazing how simple decorating is when you actually know what colors, furniture styles, and patterns make up your style.

How do you use minimalism and capsule concepts to design spaces?
I actually modeled my Find Your Signature Decorating Style system around capsule concepts because I like how it really simplifies things. Capsule concepts are systematic because it’s all based on creating a cohesive style that fits your lifestyle and I like that. Capsule wardrobes are so popular these days because it makes sense and it simplifies getting dressed, which can be a pain point for lots of people. I wanted to create something that did the same thing but for decorating.

How did you decide which pieces to invest in and which to save?
I invest in the bigger pieces we use most. Like our couch for example. The very first couch we purchased ended up being too big and bulky for the space, but the fabric also started to pill and it just didn’t look or feel quality. We moved that to the basement and looked for new couches, but this time, I actually properly researched what makes a quality couch. We ended up settling on our couch from Article that we love. We use it every day, so I wanted a good couch that would last for years. On the other hand, our coffee table was $50 on Craigslist. It’s all about balancing it out and deciding what you use most and want to last for years and years.

Where are your favorite places to find budget pieces?
Honestly, my favorite places are Craigslist for furniture like tables and shelves, IKEA for some furniture, thrift stores for unique accessories, Gordmans for super affordable decor and pillows, and Target. Gotta love Target.



What’s next of the remodel list and which room are you most excited about redoing?
Next up is the kitchen, which I’m most excited about! Currently, our kitchen looks like it’s straight from the 60s, original oven and all. We have plans to update the oven, install the same BuildDirect hardwood flooring that’s in the living in the kitchen, add butcher block counters and subway tile for backsplash. That’s the last major interior project we have besides painting all of the trim.


sofa, Article
wood flooring, Build Direct
Rug, Rugs-Direct
star pendant light, ATG Stores
woven wood blinds,
blue stripe pillow, Tonic Living
blue patterned pillow, Tonic Living
white patterned pillow, Tonic Living (no longer available)
tie dye pillow, Rebecca Atwood (no longer available)
coffee table, Craigslist
faux fur throw, ATG Stores
glass hurricane, ATG Stores
DIY IKEA hack built-ins
plant stand, West Elm
horse print, friend took photo, framed by Shutterfly
magnolia wreath, ATG Stores
DIY rustic full-length mirror
leather pouf,  ATG Stores
round rope mirror, Gordmans (no longer available online)
blue tufted chair,  thrifted
stripe blanket, Target (no longer available)
floor lamp, Target

  • GeoDiva

    While the room looks cute it seems impractical. How are you suppose to watch TV, sitting sideways?

    • Anna Fuertes

      this is exactly what I always think when I see the home tours in the site… everything looks pretty but to be honest these living rooms don’t look very practical to me if you are actually going to watch TV. Looks like they’re made to be photographed ;(

      • Amanda Risius

        I’m big on what works for us and being intentional with how our home is laid out. Our living room is long and narrow and it just doesn’t leave enough room when the couch is directly across from the TV. We have a large dog that likes to play and it gives her much more room, plus, you can lay down on the couch and watch TV straight on if you really want to 🙂

    • Kim

      Agreed. Also, a solid WHITE couch that “will last for years”? That you use “everyday”? Not likely. Unless you’re planning on getting it reupholstered.

      • Amanda Risius

        We use our couch a ton as it’s almost the only place to sit in our living room, where we spend most of our time. We usually have a blanket over it to keep our puppy from getting muddy paws on it. I chose a white couch because that’s what I like, but it’s definitely not for everyone. I do have to spot clean it with a damp cloth and that’s fine with me. If you take care of it, it will last much longer 🙂

      • Meaghan

        I have a white couch and a black dog and I’m on year 5. It has one tiny stain on one side of one of the flippable cushions but that is it. I think white is easier than many colors because I can bleach it.

    • Audrey

      Funny how people do things very differently! My husband and I rarely “sit” and watch TV; if we’re on the couch, we want our feet up so we’re always laying down. Therefore, positioning your couch perpendicular to the TV is ideal for Netflix-watching (and snuggling) 😉

    • Amanda Risius

      Yep! We don’t watch a lot of TV, so I’m usually sitting on the couch while working on my computer, or I lay down on the couch and can watch TV straight on. With our living room size and layout, it just didn’t work to have the couch right across from the TV. I actually had it that way for several months (you can see it on my blog) and switched it to the side and like it MUCH better.

  • Jennie Schultz

    Love the wood floors! Do you mind sharing the color, brand, and where you purchased them? We are in the market for new flooring ourselves.

    • Amanda Risius

      We love them too!! Pretty easy to install yourself as well. Here is the direct link to our floors–15044548

      • Jennie Schultz

        Thank you so much! 🙂

  • Nikki Laraja

    This looks great, awesome job Amanda!

    • Amanda Risius

      Thanks so much, Nikki!

  • This space turned out so well. I think redoing a house room by room is a great idea. It allows you to make sure that your home has a cohesive feel all while staying on a budget. I love the way you configured the space, it really opens the area up and brings an inviting feel. I can imagine everyone sitting in this space talking and having a good time.

    Charlotte |

  • ThoughtsoftheDay

    Beautiful room but I would not call this affordable! Sorry, missing the mark!

  • Adorable! I’m obsessed with using poufs as both functional eye-candy and a cute seat + foot rest.

    Cassandra Ann

  • Melissa Thompson

    I think for the majority the items seem affordable. Of course, if a renovation is planned you’ll have saved money for it. Also, so many things are Target or thrifted, which is so good on the wallet. I know that the shape of the room really matters where you place furniture. I think it looks great!