10 ways to update without splashing the cash

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  • Looking for super stylish living room ideas on a budget? Living rooms are the hub of the home, where we relax, watch TV, spend time with family, occasionally eat, drink and generally spend most of our time at home. But if you are looking for a revamp and don’t have a lot of money, where do you start with budget living room ideas? Think about putting up wallpaper; painting a wall; upcycling furniture or just adding new accessories, there are plenty of cheap ways you can get a new look.

    Budget living room ideas

    As the saying goes, don’t move – improve, and with housing in short supply and the high cost of moving, staying put but changing up your interior has to be a better plan and can be totally transformative at very little cost.

    Check out our inspiring simple living room ideas…

    1. Update your walls with artwork

    neautral living room with gallery wall of white frames

    Image credit: Desenio; All prints and frames, from £8.95

    Have you got plain walls and don’t want to decorate? Then fill your walls with art. Buying prints and framing has really come down in price in the last few years, so you can dress your walls with very little money, it’s the ideal budget living room idea. Choose a theme, like this neutral palette and make sure you got the spacing right, about 5cm between each frame is a good benchmark. And if you are renting, use Command 3D picture mounting strips to put them up which peel off easily without leaving a mark.

    2. Use plants to decorate

    Living room wall decor ideas with panelled walls and hanging plants

    Image credit: Future PLC/Joanna Henderson

    Plants are a lovely, and inexpensive way to add life to your living room, and they are proven to be good for our mental health and wellbeing too. Arrange them in corners, next to the sofa, on the sideboard, on shelves. Mix faux with real ones and add to them whenever you have some extra cash, or better still take cuttings and grow your own, or ask friends for cuttings of their plants that you particularly like.

    3. Rearrange the furniture for free

    white living room with chairs and side table

    Image credit: Future PLC/ David Giles

    For a no-cost update try rethinking how to arrange living room furniture. It’ amazing the difference simply moving the furniture around can make on the feel of your living space. Better still, get someone else to do it for you, so you can step back and act as the curator. A fresh eye on your space could give you a completely different perspective.

    4. Zone with a new rug

    living room with multicoloured geometric rug

    Image credit: The Rug Retailer

    Rugs are the best way to zone a space to create a different perspective and there are plenty of designs that are inexpensive. Wayfair and IKEA have a good selection. In a plain white room with grey and navy sofas, adding colour really brings this room alive. Place the rug between the sofas to ‘anchor’ the space, then you can use the accent shade to add colourful cushions too for a quick room refresh and a great budget living room idea.

    Buy now: Reef Geometric rug, from £119, The Rug Retailer

    5. Paint the walls

    living with wall panelling two tone in beige and blue

    Image credit: Dulux

    Freshening up the walls with a coat of paint is such a simple thing to do for a new look and doesn’t cost the earth. These panelled walls have been painted in two colours, a café au lait colour, Brave Ground at the bottom and a pale blue, Faded Sky on the upper part, both Dulux.

    Two soothing neutrals, there is just enough colour to make it interesting without being overpowering. It’s the perfect look for an alcove. The door and door frame are also painted in a matching shade to add further interest – without costing anything more.

    6. Welcome a wall mural

    Floral wall mural on wall behind grey sofa

    Image credit: Wallsauce

    Go for the wow factor and paper one wall with a mural – a great way of decorating the wall behind the sofa. Choose a big design like this, to really make an impact, then pick out the colours from the wall for cushions and other accessories in the room.

    Buy now: Floral wallpaper mural by Burcu Kprkmazyurek, from £30 m2, Wallsauce 

    7. Introduce warm wood

    living room with wooden feature wall

    Image credit: Naturewall

    Wall panelling ideas and rustic wooden walls are big news in interiors right now, but they can be expensive. However, there is an alternative budget living room idea – sustainable, real wood wall coverings for the perfect quick-fix design update. Wooden wall panels are so on-trend right now and will give your living room instant style and character. And there is now a really inexpensive way to get the look – real FSC Certified wood self-adhesive panels! Lightweight and easy to fit, you could have a new look in a day.

    ‘Choosing small areas to focus on can brilliantly transform the feel of a home. Your walls are the main feature of any room, by refreshing these you’ll instantly impact the look and feel.’ Says Olivia Crosher, lead interior designer of Naturewall. ‘Accent walls are great for emphasising the atmosphere. Use them to zone a space or create contrast, give them a dual purpose and you’ll immediately breathe new life into your room. We have on-trend slat wall options, 3D and Reclaimed wood panels that are stunning and less expensive than you think. But for an even better budget option, self-adhesive planks have to be the way to go.’

    Buy now: Rustic Brown planks, £49.99 for a 1m pack of 7 oak planks, Naturewall 

    8. Jazz up your lighting

    grey living room with brown leather sofa and picture ledge on wall behind sofa

    Image credit: Future PLC/ David Giles

    Dated lighting can really let a room down, so look at the latest styles and find inexpensive alternatives. Places like Aldi, Wayfair and B&M have some great lighting styles that are bang up to date and more importantly super on budget.

    If you have a floor lamp that looks a bit old- fashioned, just change the shade, or you could try making your own in a funky fabric with a lampshade making kit from Amazon. Even something as simple as changing light bulbs from warm white to cool white will make everything seem brighter or switch it around if you want a cosy feel.

    9. Update with throws and cushions

    Small living room lighting ideas with cream sofa and floor lamp

    Image credit: Future PLC/Joanna Henderson

    Yep, one of the simplest, new cushions and throws can really change the look of a room, and again you don’t have to spend a fortune. Or maybe think about adding embellishments to cushions you already have? There are groups online who sell inexpensive trims, tassels etc. to add a personal design touch to your cushions or think about adding a bobble trim to a throw in a contrasting colour.

    10. Create a cost-effective library corner

    Library corner in living room with IKEA Billy bookcases

    Image credit: IKEA

    If you would love a library corner but are worried about the cost, you can do it yourself by cleverly using the classic Billy bookcase from IKEA. The 202cm high version is £40 so it won’t break the bank. Measure your space and buy enough to fit, then you could paint them the same colour as the walls so they blend in. Job done!

    Be inspired by this masterful before and after living room makeover with savvy IKEA shelving hack.

    How can I decorate my living room on a low budget?

    ‘If you’re looking for a way to transform your living room on a budget, introducing a feature wall by using eye-catching, patterned wallpaper is a good option.’ Says Susie Spence, Trend Expert and Head of Interiors at B&Q.

    ‘We offer a wide range of styles that suit all tastes from contemporary to rustic, with brick-patterned wallpapers in particular being used as a clever way to bring an urban or rustic flair to interiors without breaking the bank. Some great options from include our Tanlay Red Brick Effect Smooth Wallpaper and Fine Décor Ledgestone White Stone effect Smooth Wallpaper.’

    ‘Another effective way to update your living room on a budget is to embrace the biophilic trend and bring more indoor plants to your space. From air purifying peace lilies to prickly cacti, B&Q has a large range of house plants to choose from that will bring a whole new meaning to the term ‘living’ room.’

    And don’t forget local charities, The British Heart Foundation have shops that sell second hand furniture across the country. Also Sue Ryder is another charity with an online shop that sells new items at reasonable prices.

    How do I make my living room cosy on a budget?

    ‘Create a cosy home that is both aesthetically pleasing and liveable in equal measures.’ Says Annica Wallin, Executive Creative Director at Desenio. ‘By using expressive paintings and illustrations in creamy beiges and warm colour tones then add family photographs to form a cosy and inviting space for friends, family and pets.’

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