Brighten a living room on a budget

So before I start, when I say “budget” I mean that there is one, not that it is done cheaply. We all have a number in our head of what we can and will pay for an item, whether it’s a new dress, piece of jewelry, gift for a birthday, etc. This is also true when remodeling, renovating, or decorating a room or house. That being said, my idea of a healthy budget may be quite different than yours or my husband’s or the lady down the street.

For this project the budget was between $2000-$2500.

The room needed to be painted and a few major furnishings needed to be added or replaced. Thankfully, it is not a large room and the couch, loveseat, and chair were all staying. I say “thankfully” because it is an expensive proposition to replace upholstered furniture but the flip side is that I had to decorate around it and make sure the new design fit with the old furniture while still making it feel new, fresh, and upscale.

This is just the kind of challenge I love and with some hard work, cheap labor, and second-hand finds I put together a room the owners loved.

Just a note: The “before” pics were taken during the day and the “after” were at night, in case you noticed the change.

Before, the room was dark, painted a medium blue with heavy, traditional draperies, and brown upholstered furniture. It was as dark as a movie theater even though it had beautiful French doors to let in light.

I found just the right paint color for the walls, replaced the draperies, added a beautiful rug and artwork, added a floor lamp and repainted the 2 side tables. I also found a new coffee table, media console, entryway table, and side table in different places like the ReStore, Salvation Army, and Facebook Marketplace and refinished or restored these to add to the room. Pillows and decorative accessories finished the room.

So here’s a couple tricks: Since the homeowner had speakers mounted on the wall over the couch they had to be masked somehow without interfering with the sound quality. I opted for decorative shelves, they don’t completely hide the speakers but they do make them less obvious. The beautiful cream-colored console replaced the dated ’80s-style black-glass stand they were currently using, and when I found the coffee table I gave it a coat of paint to match.

The room needed a pop of color so I chose a shaded turquoise for the end tables, a favorite color of the homeowner, and I intended to just change out the shades on the table lamps but when I found the perfect lamp at the Salvation Army I grabbed it and replaced just one lamp and added a floor lamp as well. The pillows and rug tie all the colors together, and work with the existing brown couches.

The homeowner requested an entryway table and although there was not a lot of space for one, I found an old sewing machine table that fit just right, added the mirror and voilà.

The biggest chunk of the budget was spent on a splurge item, the rug. Over 1/4 of the budget but it was well worth it! You can splurge on one item as long as you are willing to compromise on a few others. In this case I was able to recycle and repurpose some of the wood furnishings to help balance the budget. This was all about bringing light and style to an otherwise dark and neglected space. I think we accomplished that!

Nancy Bradley photo

Nancy bradley

I consult, design, and remodel spaces that reflect the homeowner’s lifestyle and budget by getting the cost question out of the way and really listening to what my client wants and how much they have set aside for their project.