Interior Style

Evolving a living room for less than $500

Hello Hello and Happy Weekend!

The sun is shining and while still cold, I can already feel my spirits lifting along with the grey haze of an Ohio winter.  My cheery spirit may also be attributed to a freshly painted wall and a newly finished living area in our home.  Some people treat seasonal blues with a beach vacation or vitamin D… I choose to paint walls in a bright, summery color!

Today’s post is a reveal of our newly updated living area, which has been an evolution of style rather than a straight “before and after” makeover.  Re-purposed interior styling often requires patience as it takes time to hunt down and sometimes re-vamp the perfect piece for a room.  In the case of our living area, it has taken me 2 years not only to collect the perfect items, but really to decide how we would use the space, and what direction I wanted to take it.

The biggest challenge to the space is the size and location.  It is not a big room, and serves as the main walk through from dining to kitchen.  When we toured the home, the owners had filled the space with large furniture and accessories, making the space feel even smaller.MLSLivingArea

To spice up the space, I painted one wall a dark shade of sage green.  I added lots of earth toned patterns through rugs and pillows, and our smaller size furniture opened up the room.  I look at this photo now and laugh– I was so proud of myself, and while it is an improvement on the original layout, there are so many things not working.

First of all, that rug is too narrow– notice how it is only as wide as the couch?  It gives the room a long, tunnel-like feeling.  And the coffee table in the middle?  Not an ideal placement in an area where we are constantly walking- the hubby said it felt like an obstacle course– don’t knock over the plant in the corner, watch out for the coffee table!


A few months and several thrifted finds later, I decided it was time to tackle this living area once and for all.  I find it super relaxing to re-style a space, so I chose a Saturday morning my hubby was working to dig into my collection and get inspired to finish the space.

It was at this point I realized that perhaps I should slow down on the thrifting and spend more time on styling.  I had accumulated so much more stuff than I realized…StylingMess

By the end of the day I had gotten here, and while super happy with how the space was evolving, it still didn’t feel quite right.  The empty wall of beige on the left was driving me nuts, and it didn’t make much sense to have my plants in the darkest corner of the room.LivingArea2

A few more furniture moves and finally the layout was much improved.  I hadn’t realized how much light the couch was blocking!  I brought the wicker peacock chair down from my office– it was taking up way too much space, and honestly, its just too pretty to be hiding in a room only I see!

After a week or so of living in the new layout, I had one more issue to address.  Paint color.  I absolutely love the sage green I chose, but combined with my plants and the new addition of a green rug, the space fell flat.  I had managed to bring in color, but by using that same color in multiple places, there was no pop.  No highlight or wow factor. LivingArea3

So here we are, the final, final reveal of our living area.  In choosing a new color for the wall, I decided this was my chance to take a risk and go for something bold.  It’s one quart of paint and about an hour to paint this wall, so if it turns out terrible, it isn’t a huge investment of time or money to re-paint.  Luckily, my bold choice looked exactly as I had hoped…bright, cheery, and a highlight to the many items already in the space.

Are you ready to see it?  Any guesses as to the color?  I am 99% sure the only reason my fly-fishing obsessed hubby agreed to the color is the name… “Fresh Salmon.”  LivingFinalLivingNookVertial

My basket wall art were thrifted finds, costing me a total of $12.  I’ve arranged them in a way that allows me to add to the collection vertically, as I find more unique pieces that fit the collection.LivingBasketWall

The lamp was a dumpster find that I had stowed in my basement, knowing it would eventually find a home.  The room as well as the lamp take on a boho flair, so I chose to add fringed trim to the edge of a standard lamp shade.LivingAreaLamp

On the opposite wall I styled a few of my favorite thrift finds to add height and interest to the otherwise beige wall.  And yes, I am going to get those accent chairs re-upholstered this year.  For now though, the blanket does a fairly good job of hiding the boring grey.LivingSideTable

In addition to inspiring others to get out of the box with their use of color, I want to highlight how little I spent in completing this space.

Budget Breakdown – $485

  • Wicker Peacock Chair- $90
    • This chair retails for $399 at World Market.  I stalked it for months, then picked up the floor model, in perfect condition, for $90!!
  • Loloi Terra Rug- $100
    • This might be my best bargain buy yet.  The rug retails for $798, but I picked it up at a local La-Z-Boy furniture store during a seasonal closeout.  The rug was still rolled up and wrapped– it had never been used even in store!
  • Side Tables- $70
    • The wicker side table was found for $30 at Ikea.  The second side table was an Ikea lampshade which I turned into a table for $40.  I walk you through how to make your own here.
  • Wall Art & Shell Chandelier- $90
    • All items on the walls and the hanging shell chandelier were found at thrift stores and flea markets
  • Lamp- $35
    • The downside of working with vintage lamps is the size– it is hard, and not cheap, to find larger lampshades to fit these lamps.
  • Pillows, Blankets, & Accessories- $100
    • Rather than list out each accessory (there are a lot!) I am bundling them.  That is A LOT of stuff for $100!  All the textiles came from thrift stores, and most of the pillows I made myself, two of which are made from my favorite t-shirts.


Below is a slide show of where the room began and where I landed.  It is a fun way to take a look at the evolution in motion!

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So if you were wondering, it is possible to completely revamp a room for under $500!  The key is patience, and also defining where you want to take the space.  Had I known I wanted this to be a bright, boho-inspired space from the beginning, it would have been a much quicker process.

Hopefully you can learn from my mistakes.  The most important lesson I have learned is to tackle one space at a time.  If you focus your energy and money in one area, it comes together more cohesively, and much quicker!

I am so curious, and a little nervous, to hear your thoughts!  Please share in the comments below– do you like the color?  Hate the color?  What about all the thrifted finds?  I can’t wait to hear what you think!


4 thoughts on “Evolving a living room for less than $500”

  1. Love the “fresh salmon” color! I can’t believe how the placement of the rug changed the look of the room too. Very happy place to hang out.

    1. Thank you, I was a littler nervous about all the color but I’m happy with how it turned out.

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