Get inspiration for your own living room transformation with these budget living room makeover before and after pics, cost breakdown, and 4 simple steps for how to do your own makeover.
Today I’m so excited to reveal my $79 living room makeover, and I’ll be sharing 4 simple steps you can take to do your own room makeover even on a tight budget.
Before we can get to that though, I have to show you the before pictures. Yikes! In July we moved to a much bigger house, as in twice as big as our previous two small houses. We suddenly had a lot of room and not a lot of furniture or decor to fill it up.
What we did have was some tired old pillows we got when we were first married, almost seven years ago! Being that this before picture was taken after we had been in the house for 8 months, we were well overdue for a serious living room makeover!
This post includes affiliate links to some resources I found helpful in our room makeover.
$79 Budget Living Room Makeover Before and After
There was just one problem, or so I thought. For so long, I was certain that with our really tight budget we couldn’t afford to do any type of decorating. Then, I opened up the book Handmade Walls and devoured all 126 gorgeous pages in one sitting.
This was one of those light bulb moments. I think at that moment, if you could have peered into my brain it would have looked and sounded like a pin ball machine going crazy.
Hello! Yes, we can do a lot to transform our home on a budget (even as renters) and make it a beautiful place to invite people into and to enjoy ourselves!
So here’s a little of what I discovered as I was reading the book that night, and the living room makeover that developed over the next three weeks.
Did I mention I’m excited about this?!
Step 1 – Rearrange the Furniture
You can do a ton to transform the look and feel of a room simply by rearranging the furniture, and it’s completely free. I went through several different possibilities on paper before settling on this new layout. If you have someone willing to help, just move the furniture around until it feels right.
If you look back to the Before pictures, you’ll see that we had the two couches pushed up against the walls facing each other. The room was so big our two couches didn’t even begin to fill it up, and people practically had to shout across the room to have a conversation.
I was really surprised just how close together the couches could get and still feel comfortable. This is good to remember if you have a small room. They’re only about four feet apart now, and I love to see how the proximity really promotes a lot of great conversations.
Don’t be afraid of trying even the strangest configuration you can imagine. It just might work perfectly.
Step 2 – Go Shopping (in Your Own House)
Another totally free thing you can do to make a dramatic impact on a room is to simply make use of things you already own. We originally got this orange rug at Ikea, but it’s been sitting in our garage rafters since we moved from Seattle.
I also brought in the chocolate brown ottoman from our bedroom. The kids love playing in there, and it will make great toy storage.
I love for any decor to be either meaningful or useful, so you’ll see in the After pictures at the end that I brought in some books, picture frames, travel mementos, and some art and pottery my husband made.
I also took some pots that had been on my desk being used as pencil holders, and (gasp) put actual plants in them. Bringing in some nature can, not surprisingly, do a lot to bring life to a room.
Step 3 – Bring in Some Color
Adding some pops of color with brightly colored pillows, a rug, or curtains is an effective and budget friendly way to completely makeover a room without buying new furniture or painting. This is perfect if you’re renting like we are because painting really isn’t an option.
I sewed very simple envelope covers for all of our old pillows, including two more regular old sleeping pillows. I also bought two new pillow forms and covered them.
It took me about three hours to make seven pillow covers.
As I was taking pictures something just did’t feel right without some Legos scattered on the floor.
I got the orange and red fabric at a local thrift store for $5. The “fancy” patterned fabric is just regular cotton quilting fabric from Joann Fabrics for $13. And the pillow forms were $5 each.
I broke my personal rule and went to Joann without a coupon, but luckily the cashier showed me you can just go to their website on your phone, click the “coupon” link at the top, and they can scan all the coupons right there. You don’t even have to download an app. Woot!
When we rearranged the couches, it opened up this funny little spot under the stairs that had previously been blocked. I decided this would make the perfect little reading nook for the kids. Within ten minutes they had ALL the pillows in the living room in there and were rolling around, reading, talking, singing, and having a great time in their own little fort!
The red book basket was $1 at Dollar Tree.
Step 4 – Create a Focal Point
Every room needs a focal point. I have always dreamed of having a living room where the TV is not the focal point. When we moved, I took the opportunity to make sure the TV did not get moved into the living room in our new house.
However, there’s also no mantel or fireplace in our new living room, though, which would lend itself to being an alternative focal point. Instead, we had to create our own.
For this, I turned again to Handmade Walls. It has detailed instructions to make 22 amazing projects that can be built for under $35.
I didn’t end up following one of their tutorials exactly, but definitely made good use of their tips and ideas to do our hexagon wall shelves.
First, I cut 31 identical pieces. Ours were 9 inches wide on the long side. You need to cut the ends with a miter saw at 30 degrees to create the hexagon. There’s a more detailed tutorial here.
My husband took over from there. He made a jig to hold the pieces while he screwed them into place.
“Hey honey, it looks like this just might work!”
He stained them, and then hung them on little angle brackets.
Living Room Makeover Budget
Book Basket – $1
Orange and Red Pillow Fabric – $5
Patterned Pillow Fabric – $13
Pillow Forms – $10 ($5 each)
Wood – $22
Brackets – $3
Wood Glue – $4
Screws – $6
Stain – $5
Plants – $10 ($5 each)
Total Living Room Makeover – $79
Turn Your House Into a Home
…the part where I get emotional.
I actually got choked up as I was editing the before and after photos of this post and thinking about just how much my heart has transformed during this makeover.
Before reading Handmade Walls I didn’t believe I could do anything to make my house a home when a single pillow or decoration costs $20-30 or more in the stores.
In the book the Mills share their story about how they were so frustrated by the astronomical prices and the cookie-cutter style available in stores. And they were tired of waiting until they knew more, or had their dream home, or were less afraid of ‘messing things up’ to put their own personal stamp on their home.
In the pages that followed I was drawn in by how they had created some of the most beautiful rooms I had ever seen using some really simple DIY techniques that truly anyone could do. Even me! I think you’ve already seen that they made a pretty big impression on me.
I feel like so much more than just our living room was transformed. We now have a lovely place to snuggle, play, learn, and chat right at the heart of our home. I’m so overjoyed by this experience, and I can’t wait for all the possibilities that lie ahead in the rest of the house!
13 thoughts on “$79 Budget Living Room Makeover Before and After + How to Do Your Own”
I love this!!! Not only do I absolutely love Before and After pictures – I love this content. You made this seem totally doable regardless of budget. I felt the same way you did and now feel as inspired as you are. Thank you!!!!
Oh that makes me SO happy to hear! It was hard for me to even convey in written words how much of a transformation this was. I can’t wait to do more!
I love the honeycomb shelf!!! This is a lovely and inviting space! The pillows are definitely something I could do. I just need to sit down and do it!
I am pinning this-I love decorating and I love doing it cheaply!! Your living room looks great!
You did such a lovely re-make of your living room. I am inspired! Thanks for sharing.
Shannon, your new room is beautiful! Truly. I always joke about not being a home decorator and use it as my explanation for why my home is spartan. Truthfully, though I do love a simple and uncluttered room more than anything, I also long for beauty. Between my lack of skill, small budget, and full schedule I have never even tried. You have encouraged me to give it a try. Thank you.
Quite a few years ago I used to watch a show called “Room by Room”. They would go into someone’s home and would have a make-over for one room. Now what I really loved was the “filler” part of the show where they would feature some redesign of a room without any cost at all; they would snatch things from other rooms, basement, attic and then rearrange the furniture and add the “new” things.
Wow, that’s an amazing transformation for only $79. I’ve been griping to my fiance of how drab our living room looks and I’ve been wanting to update it for a while. Thanks for all the wonderful tips!
This is so inspiring! I love decorating and transforming our spaces, but its tough on a tight budget. Ill have to check out that book at the library!
Wow, I feel inspired now………thanks!
I LOVE shopping from my own home! I’ve had to balance saving with hoarding over the years (haha) because I always find a way to repurpose things. Example: I just emptied a divided wire basket of a few expired medicines and plastic medicine cups, that had been hiding under another basket under my bathroom sink. I’m going to find a way to attach it to the wall to store paints over my desk (which is a folding table that we used to use for family dinners… which we no longer host since moving out of state!). As I write this from said desk, sitting on a repurposed fine wooden folding chair (which has already been repurposed as a dining chair – not buying new dining or office chairs anytime soon!), I am looking at a display frame that my brother-in-law made for my last baby shower, that I’ve stolen from the kids’ room (they weren’t using it anyway) and placed over my desk to hold artworks-in-progress and art gifts from my preschooler. :)