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2-Day Living Room Makeover on Budget!

You are tired of the bland, slightly (or more than slightly, who are we kidding) outdated look and feel in your space but every time you start to dream up all the changes you’d love to see the excitement quickly turns to dollar signs in your mind.

Don’t despair!

Although you will still need some hard, cold cash to update that living room which irritates you every time you step foot in the door, you won’t need a lot of it.

Better still – it will only take 2 days. Really.

Well, ok, 3 if you decide you can handle a fast paint job.

I will choose a Living Room from the 90’s, as an example.

And by that I mean:

1) any one combination of these paint colors:

And, 2) of course, a brown leather couch:

(Yes, unfortunately, we’ve all had one, or still do, or know someone that does. )

Ok, so our room may look like something like this:

Are you with me so far?

Ok, great!

Now the fun can begin.

Day 1:

  1. Make a list of all the (budget-friendly) items we are going to be on the hunt for.Pro Tip: Be (loosely) specific! Item, size, color – should all be included. Benefit: This will greatly eliminate the decisions overwhelm while shopping, cut the shopping and the return time in at least, a half!
  2. Go Shopping!

    Here is a list of some of my fave’s:
    Home Goods/Home Sense
    Pier 1
    West Elm

    Pro Tip: Pace yourself and buy more than one option per item. Sometimes, even if you have a detailed list and a photo of your space (keep glancing at it while you shop, by the way), some things look very different in the actual space! Yes, you will need to trek back to the stores to return the unused items, however this part can be outsourced to your teenager, hired help or hubby. It’s worth the extra hassle! Benefit: You won’t have to agonize over the decisions while shopping and will only have to make one trip back to return, as opposed a few trips to keep trying to buy the items that may work.

Day 2:

  1. Unpack and style your space.
  2. Return the unused items.
  3. Treat yourself to a nice glass of wine. This was hard physical work!
    (Contrary to the popular belief that design is ALL fun and easy 🙂 ) Pro Tip: Plan to have someone help you. Benefit: Obvious! 🙂 It takes faster and way more enjoyable.

Let’s take a look at what we have found:

Not bad at all!

All the new items were sourced from the above-mentioned sources. And here is the breakdown of the costs:

The Total:  $650, plus or minus $100.


Select your paint color, apply paint samples to the wall and book your painter a few weeks in advance. Have the painter prime and paint the first coat of paint on Day 1, while you’re out shopping. Have him paint the second coat of paint on Day 2 and then unpack and style the space on Day 3.

Pro Tip: If the space lends itself to an accent wall (or two) – that’s a budget friendly way to freshen up the space without repainting the entire room. If not, painting the ceiling an unexpected color can also look super cool! Benefit: A fresh coat of paint GREATLY improves the look and feel in the space – the biggest bang for your buck, in my opinion. Just be sure to apply paint samples to every surface you’re planning to paint before committing to the color (the lighting hits each surface in a different way, make sure the paint undertones look good in natural and artificial lighting).

Check out the difference a fresh color can make – this is the exactly the same room we styled minutes ago:


  • Although your furniture and paint colors may be outdated, balance this out with the clean and modern style of the accessories.
  • The 90’s palette consisted of muted colors. Whites instantly brighten it up! Use white or ivory on the walls (i.e. art frames), on the couch (the pillows) and throughout the rest of the space.
  • Don’t be afraid to mix the textures (i.e. fur, woven, leather), patterns (i.e. organic with geometric) and color shades (i.e. teal, navy, light blue). Include an unexpected element (i.e. purple amethyst accessory).
  • Every space needs a little bit of black.
  • Indoor/outdoor rugs are inexpensive and super low maintenance in busy households with lots of traffic.
  • If there are kids around, tuck away your floor lamps behind furniture, such as end tables and sofas.
  • Make sure your art and rugs are large enough!
  • Bring the outdoors in: buy some fresh flowers, style a vase with fruit or veggies or use a diffuser with essential oils.
  • Have fun! OR, if it’s not your thing – hire a pro and include this cost as % of your makeover budget.
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About the author

Ilana Cohen

Ilana has been designing beautiful interiors since 2003 and has been the Owner and Creative Director at her company Designelle Interiors since 2013. The common thread among the many styles of residential interiors she has designed is fresh and luxurious aesthetic, yet practical for busy families to live in.


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