There’s never been more interior design inspiration at our fingertips than there is right now. Between magazines, blogs, Instagram, and Pinterest, most of us aren’t short on ideas of how we’d like our living space to look. The thing many of us are short on? Cash money. Not to worry–I’m raising my hand too.
It may feel discouraging to not be able to order your dream couch or investment light fixture for your living room (yet!), but that doesn’t mean we have to resort to living in an uninspiring environment. You don’t have to make do with fluorescents and clutter in order to stick to your monthly budget. Keep scrolling for seven budget-friendly updates you can make to your living room that will have you quickly enjoying all the creature comforts of home.
1. Swap overhead lights for table lamps
If I’ve said it once I’ve said it a million times: stop using bright overhead lights at home. Studies show that softer, warm light inherently makes us feel more relaxed, while cooler, bright light (often found in overhead lights in office or commercial spaces) increases our productivity and makes us feel more alert. Nine times out of 10, your living room is meant for unwinding. Opting for table lamps (Hot tip: use warm-colored light bulbs) is one of the quickest and most foolproof ways to immediately change the vibe of your space. Plus, table lamps add a sculptural element and double as art.
2. Add an accent chair
If you can’t afford to replace a worn-out sofa, try elevating the overall look and feel of your space with a less expensive accent chair. I’d recommend choosing something that you can see continuing to evolve with your space over time as you are able to make updates. These chairs from Tanieka of This Borrowed Home were sourced from Craigslist, and their versatile size and shape means that they can easily move all around the home.
3. Infuse pattern and texture with throw pillows
Adding throw pillows to your seating areas is a great solution if you’re finding that your space feels unfinished or lackluster. The best thing about this update is that it’s minimal commitment, so you can swap patterns and textures with the seasons, or your mood! I love velvets and rich colors in fall and winter, but generally opt for neutrals and linen textures in warmer weather. While there are plenty of high-end pillows on the market that can break the budget, you can also find tons of budget-friendly options at places like Target, Wayfair, Amazon, or Etsy.
4. Style your coffee table
It doesn’t have to be much, but even adding a candle and a jar of flowers to your coffee table will do worlds for your living space. Fresh or faux flowers add height and texture, while items like candles and coffee table books infuse color and bring in sculptural elements. This update can be easily adjusted to suit your lifestyle, so feel free to go as simple or as extravagant as you please.
5. Hang thrifted artwork
I have a bad habit of letting artwork sit in boxes for months after moving into a new home, but I’m always stunned by how quickly a room comes together once I finally hang up all of my thrifted pieces. Art can quickly bust the budget, but there are always tons of options to choose from at the local thrift store, making it easy to get away with spending just a few bucks. I love the way vintage art immediately adds soul to any room, no matter how cookie cutter the bones may be.
6. Create stylish storage with woven baskets
Clutter can quickly kill the vibe of your living room, but we can’t always help the reality of having ~stuff~, especially when it comes to kids or those of us who work from home. Instead, keep extra storage on hand by way of woven baskets, which can quickly become home to everything from toys to extra blankets, or, in my case, notebooks and a computer keyboard. This update is incredibly functional and affordable–most thrift stores will have extra baskets you can scoop up for just a few dollars–but it also adds a ton of texture to an otherwise simple living space.
7. Replace the furniture set with second-hand accent tables
Furniture sets are incredibly tempting, I know. Who doesn’t love a one-stop shop where you can buy your side tables and coffee table all at once? Sadly, this approach doesn’t leave much room for juxtaposition, which is a key ingredient in just about every home that you’ll see gracing the pages of your favorite design magazines. Even if replacing the entire set isn’t possible at the start, try swapping out one or two of the accent tables for a second-hand option that contrasts the others. This quick trick will immediately lend a bit of character to the space and make your entire living room feel more collected and personal.