Reader Gets a Budget-Friendly Living Room Update

If you’re tired of your living room’s decor but can’t afford to get new furniture, this is for you.  I had a reader ask how she could take her farmhouse living room and make it modern.  She has a dark brown leather sofa and that needs to stay, even if her current style goes.  

Like all trends, they change with time and your taste will too.  That doesn’t mean you have to be stuck living in a space that you don’t like anymore.  You can change your style by changing a few things at a time.  But the first few can make all the difference in how your living space looks and feels

I wanted to give you the ideas I shared with my reader.  You can change just three things in your living room and get a whole new look without replacing the expensive pieces like a couch.  


living room before



In this case, she had two large dark brown sofas that are not going anywhere. Excuse some of the blurry spots, I’m trying to learn Photoshop.  

Pictures tell the story better than words can do.  The first photo is her living room as it is today.  Here’s what I would change to give it a fresh look, without replacing everything.  

I added a new area rug, some new art, a plant, two light fixtures (a lamp and a pendant) and a few throw pillows (green and oatmeal).  

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I don’t recommend trying to change the color palette of your entire home if you are trying to make small gradual changes. Instead it’s easier to add accent colors that you like for a new look. For example, this room had a neutral color scheme. I added touches of green in the pillows, the art and a plant. You don’t need green walls to add some green if that’s a color that you like in this season.

Floor Planning for Long Living Room

Based on her images, I’ve laid out the floor plan as it is now with an alternate placement of the TV. This is long living room and the TV is all the way down at the long end. Read more about floor planning for your living room.


floor plan before


floor plan after

If you have a long living room, it really helps to divide the space up and rugs are a great way to separate the spaces. The windows in this room are actually a sliding door, so this room needs space to walk through the middle.

If you have a room you’d like to change, but you can’t afford to change everything at once it’s possible. Send me a photo along with two inspirational photos of rooms that you like.  Even better if you send an email with some context along with it.

What if the room has carpet?  

Carpet can make a room feel dated if it is not in good shape.  I couldn’t tell if the carpet in this room was old or brand new.  I decided to opt for a rug OVER the carpet because I think rugs are a great way to define the space.  

If you liked this, you might like how to modern minimalist living room on a budget or French country living room or this living room makeover.

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  1. Brilliant ideas Andrea – you’re great at this! I love the new look of the room, and moving the TV was really smart. Thanks for the inspiration!

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