7 Ways to Change Your Living Room from Drab to Uplifting

You can change your living room from a drab to an uplifting space if you are fed up with its tired and dreary look. When you start to feel this way maybe it is time you consider an affordable but effective makeover.

You can plan to create a simple makeover especially if it’s not been budgeted for. Perhaps it’s a whim, something that hits you while sitting comfortably on your sofa watching TV. You look around the room and dislike the bland lacklustre or even dated look. It may have been a tastefully put together concept a couple of decades ago, but it is definitely out of style.


If you feel this way about your living room, it is time to liven it up and make it an uplifting space. If you want a new look but don’t plan to spend much money, there are a few simple and budget-friendly things you can do that will not only be attractive and pleasing but will also mind-elevating as well.

To achieve this may involve adding some new features into the room, refurbishing old furniture, changing the colour of the main (focal) wall, or simply removing those things that add no aesthetic value to the living room.

Budget-Friendly Ways to Change the Look of Your Living Room

Transform your living room into an attractive space using any of the following budget-friendly ways. Some of them may inspire you.

1. Indoor Water Features

You can introduce an indoor water feature in the form of a table-top waterfall or a standalone (floor) waterfall. You can display one on your coffee table, mantelpiece, or on a simple display stand. Standalone floor waterfalls are great indoor decor features that can be placed in vantage positions, making them serve as a focal point for the living room.

Wall-mounted waterfalls are also great additions to uninspiring rooms and can serve as focal points on feature walls of living rooms.

*Suggested budget: from $50
Distressed pots waterfalls - Indoor floor water fountain

2. Throw Pillows

Liven up a plain or dull sofa with brightly coloured throw pillows or cushions to introduce perky catchy colours into your sitting room. Use cheerful colours like fuchsias, turquoises, oranges, mustards, sunny yellows, lime, etc. You can use a mix of any of these colours as long as they complement the sofa’s upholstery fabric.

For instance, use a mix of small, medium and large patterned pillows with a block colour upholstery fabric and if your sofa is patterned, use pillows with solid bright colours. Ensure you add some pillows made with a couple of different textures.

Bold bright colours and patterns in accent pillows are a great way to brighten up space with strong colour shades without having to add expensive décor items to the room. And you can make them inexpensively by buying fabric pieces to make your own pillows.

*Suggested budget: from $40

3. Global Design

An inexpensive look that is quite popular today is one that’s referred to as “Global Design”. It is a trending look that features a collection of all your mementoes, collectables, art, and pottery collected over the years. Your collective display may include things you’ve collected from travels and tours or they may be items acquired through inheritance.

They can all be arranged on a low but sizeable coffee table, displayed on bookshelves (without the books) or on purpose-built display stands. Your book collections, vintage magazines, framed photographs, earthenware, art pieces, and even colourful throw rugs can be strategically displayed in ways that tell your guests the family history.

*Suggested budget: from $75

4. Wall Decals and Stickers

This is one of the cheapest ways to transform any room. You can totally alter the look of your interior space with decals and wall stickers. Choose any décor theme or simply apply inspirational quotes. From traditional to contemporary themes, wall decal stickers are just the right decorations to turn your living room into an exciting space. 

The designs available are endless and include skyscape themes that can give the illusion that you live in a penthouse, picturesque scenes of exotic beaches that will turn your living room into an enchanting seaside getaway, and ski resort themes with mountain-top cabins surrounded with pine trees.

*Suggested budget: from $100

Wall decals can transform your interior

5. Upgrade Old Furniture

Finding old furniture, upgrading them, and adding them to your living room décor can add a new and stylish dimension to your sitting room. It can be an old furniture piece or pieces that you found at a garden or garage sale. Finds include worn antique tables, unusual floor or table lamps, a period cabinet, end tables, corner units, etc…

You can apply some creativity in turning the ‘old to new’ by adding or replacing legs, replacing all hardware, adding a little style to make it complement other furniture and furnishings, spray-painting with a complementary colour, or lacquering to a high sheen. You can also use whatever you get for a totally different purpose. If you can bargain well and nicely, you’ll get most pieces for a song.

*Suggested budget: from $50

6. Create a Gallery Wall

Adding a gallery wall is a great way to cheaply update a living room. It will not only add interest to a blank wall, but it will also give a room a much-needed personality. You can use framed family photos, framed textile prints, vintage record jackets, framed artwork, black and white prints, framed bits of wallpaper, or anything framed. It is a good idea to have them all framed in different frame colours, shapes and sizes. You can arrange them symmetrically or asymmetrically in a group or in clusters.

*Suggested budget: from $99

7. Renovate your Bookcases

If you have a bookcase in your living room, you can jazz it up and turn it into an artsy piece in a number of ways. Line it inside and out with hand-painted wallpaper, chequered wall fabrics, mirror tiles, or even stick-on decals. Try removing the middle shelves to create a display space for tall glassware, a large bowl of seashells, a fishbowl, a plant terrarium, ceramic ware, sculpture, and elaborate metal artwork. 

Regularly switch around what you display on the bookcase.

*Suggested budget: from $60

You can give your living room a new look within 24 hours, cheaply and affordably. If you can implement at least a couple of the living room upgrade ideas above, you will succeed in changing your living area from dreary to cheery.

Window and sliding door decals


Other Living Room Upgrade Ideas

  • Add plenty of greenery with house plants. Whether you use natural or faux plants, greenery is a great way to add nature, colour and shape into a living room. Place a large potted plant or two at the edges of your room and add smaller plants to shelves, mantelpieces, windowsills, and other available surfaces. 
  • If you can, invest in a new floor rug. A new colourful or textured rug can have just as much of an impact as a new sofa. 
  • If you don’t intend to spend any money, swap furniture and furnishings around the house instead of buying new items. For instance, you can switch the bedroom rug with your current living room rug or bring your accent chair from the bedroom to the living room and replace with one of the sofa set singles. You’ll be giving two rooms a revamp. 
  • You can use window art to transform your living room and make it appear as though you are looking out to some great scenic view; a beautiful garden, a patio pool, or a wonderful landscape. Window decals are best to use if you don’t have a nice view when looking out through your window. 
  • Never under-estimate the transformative powers of wall painting. Create a feature wall with paint. It is cheap, fast to apply, and very effective and since you are painting only one wall a different colour, invest in a colour that works fabulously with the rest of the interior. 
  • Paint the floorboards. It won't cost you too much and it will completely transform the look of your space. The colour you choose is up to you but if you are interior décor savvy and quite bold, you will love the trending black floorboards.

Further reading:
How to Develop an Interior Design Concept - 5 Basic Principles
How to Style an Entrance Hallway
10 Ways to Add Charm to Your Bedroom