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Easy Living Room Updates That Won’t Break The Bank


Making over your living room doesn’t have to be a long and expensive process. With these quick and easy living room updates, you can change your room’s look in a couple of hours without spending a ton of money.

Easy living room updates: 10 quick ways to makeover your living room

If you’re getting bored of your living room decor, but don’t want (or need) to do a full room makeover, this post is for you!

These easy living room updates will give you the change you’re looking for without requiring a lot of time and money.

Before we begin, as you’ve probably heard a gazillion times before: A new color of paint is one of the easiest ways to have a massive impact on how your living room looks. (And if you’re looking for ideas, you can find 25 ways to paint walls HERE and read 10 ways to paint patterns with tape HERE).

But since you have heard that advice so many times before, I didn’t officially include it in my list of quick and easy living room updates.

1 | Change Out Your Sofa Legs

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Living room sofa with new acrylic legs

If you have a couch (or chair) with remove-able legs, you can give it a subtle makeover by swapping out the legs.

Measure the height of the legs that are already there.

Then find out the size of the screw that is attaching the leg to the sofa. (You can usually find a screw size chart at the hardware store, or you can buy an inexpensive one HERE*).

Pay attention to whether it is a metric or U.S. size since they aren’t interchangeable.

Then find some new legs that have a little more pizzazz. Like these acrylic ones* I put on my sofa.

2 | Get New Throw Pillows

Black sofa with new cushions

Swapping out the cushions on your chairs and sofa is another easy living room update.

You can find many inexpensive throw pillows* at discount stores like TJ Maxx.

Or if you don’t mind a sewing project, use our tutorial to make new covers for your existing pillows.

3 | Makeover Your Shelves

Gray sofa in front of living room bookshelves

Because shelves take up such a large area of the wall, giving them a makeover is an easy and quick way to update your living room.

Whether it’s paint, wallpaper or fabric, adding something interesting as the backdrop to whatever you have on your shelf makes it more of a focal point.

Hanging some artwork or a mirror as part of the display breaks up the large surface area.

Bookshelves with mirrors on the front

Or, if your shelves have a lot of books on them, give the fronts an update by gluing on thin pieces of mirror.

Get more ideas for bookshelf makeovers HERE.

4 | Put Down An Area Rug

Black sofa with blue and white cushions on a black and gray area rug

I admit it.

I have a thing for area rugs for many reasons:

  • They are one of the easiest ways to break up a big, open room into functional areas.
  • Area rugs make groups of furniture look like they belong together.
  • Changing the look of your floor can have almost as big an impact on the room as painting it a new color.

And with all the great colors and patterns available, it’s easy to find something new to match your decor.

For rugs that can take a beating and are easy to clean, try out the newer versions of indoor / outdoor rugs.

They look and feel just like regular indoor rugs but you can take them outside and hose them off if they get dirty.

You can find my favorite place to buy area rugs HERE*.

5 | Get New Lamps

Blue and white lamp in a small living room

Okay, I probably should admit that I have a thing for light fixtures and lamps, too.

But I think lighting can make a regular room look awesome…or pretty awful.

How you light a room affects how everyone and everything looks in it.

And it’s the only way you see what’s in the room for at least a few hours every day. (If you aren’t working at home, you probably see the rooms of your house with the lights on more than you see it with them off.)

So installing light fixtures and lamps that you love and that make the room look good is important.

Crystal lamp on a living room side table

If you know me, it should come as no surprise that I particularly like lamps with crystals hanging from them. They add a bit of glamour to the room.

6 | Upgrade Your Lamp Shades

Crystal lamp with a cheetah lamp shade on a table

If you happen to like your lamps but want to change them up a bit, try putting on a new lamp shade.

Adding a pattern or color on top of your lamps may be just the extra bit of flair your room needs.

I replaced a plain white shade with the cheetah print one above and it definitely adds more flair to the room.

The Etsy store where I got this cheetah print lamp shade has all kinds of patterns and sizes. (You can find them HERE*.)

7 | Install Bookshelf Lighting

Bookshelf with lights at the top

If you have bookshelves in your living room, adding lights to the top of them can give them more of a custom look.

This doesn’t have to be complicated lighting that requires all kinds of money and an electrician to hook up.

Bookshelf with LED lights pointing down on the top shelf

I bought some plug-in under cabinet LED lights (like these)*, drilled holes through the top of the shelves for the cords to go through and stuck the lights to the underside of the top shelves.

When they’re on, they highlight the accessories I have on the top shelves. But I’ve been thinking about installing glass shelves which would let the light go all the way down.

And they come with a wireless remote so I can turn them on and off easily.

8 | Add Trim To Curtains

If you don’t want to spend money on new drapes, or you find some you like but they need a bit of pizzazz, try adding your own trim.

White and purple curtains with tassel trim behind a console table

Gluing or sewing some tassel trim part way up the curtains makes them feel custom, and works especially well if there’s a change in the curtain fabric at that point.

Greek key trim on white living room curtains

You can also glue or sew ribbon along the edges as another option.

9 | Nail On Upholstery Tacks

Armoire with upholstery tack detail on the front

To upgrade the look of an old piece of furniture, try adding some nail head trim.

You can do this the traditional way with metal tacks around the edges of chairs and couches.

Or go with a less common application, like I did with these crystal upholstery tacks* on the doors of my armoire.

Find out how to keep the tacks going in a straight line.

10 | Rearrange Your Pictures

Living room gallery art wall

It’s a really simple thing to do, but it’s amazing how different your living room will look just be moving pictures around.

If you’ve had the same pictures hanging in the same place for a while, you’re brain gets used to seeing them and stops noticing that they are there.

Changing the location of your artwork will break up that same-old pattern and make your brain take notice.

It’s even better if you can swap pictures with another room, or put them in a totally different place (like on your fireplace mantel or at the back of your bookshelf display).

Well that’s it for my quick and easy ways to update your living room. Hopefully, you’ve found some inspiration to do your own mini makeover.

Other living room decorating tips you might like

Do you have suggestions for any other quick and easy living room updates? Tell us in the section below.

This post was originally published on September 3, 2020 but was updated with new content on April 17, 2021.

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