How to Create a Cheerful Living Room on a Budget

Have a bare living room that needs some major décor attention? Or a blah living room that needs some spicing up? If so, here are some tips on how to go about creating that cheerful, welcoming space…and ways to save money doing it.

1. If you haven’t already, decide on what your style is. Are you a rustic-lover at heart? Or do you feel more comfortable in spaces that embrace modern minimalism? Does the cheerful simplicity of Scandinavian style speak to you?

Before you begin to decorate your living room, it will save you time and money in the long run if you determine from the beginning what style you’re after. Look through design books and magazines, check out the Internet for ideas, observe the homes of people around you and figure out what resonates with your design aesthetic.

2. After determining your style, create two lists: one list of what you already have (to attain that style), and the other list of what you need/want. It can be overwhelming to begin anew in a design sense.

But chances are, you probably already have a lot of the essential pieces you need. Simply identifying the major components of your style, and recognizing that not all of those need to be purchased because you have a similar item already, will save you money. It’s a little more work upfront, but worth the budget help.

3. Draw up your budget. This one is made much easier if you’ve faithfully completed steps 1 and 2. At this point, you now have a feel for what the real needs of your living room are. Perhaps you already have the major furniture pieces but are lacking in unique accessories. Or maybe your antique mirror will be a fantastic accent over a certain contemporary sofa. With your budget, begin to draft where the dollars will go. You’ll probably have to decide on where, if anywhere, you’ll need to splurge and where you can get by with less, such as DIY throw pillows or artwork.

4. Do your research and shop creatively. We no longer live in the times where your shopping options are limited to the furniture stores and boutiques down the street. Online options abound, and you can often find sales and deals if you know what you want and are patient. (But don’t buy stuff just because it’s on sale. Stick to your lists and your budget!) Don’t forget about Craigslist, eBay, flea markets, and yard sales. Sometimes (often?) the best cheerfully unique stuff is found in out-of-the-way venues!

5. Box stores can help you out. Of course, no one wants their space to be straight-out-of-the-catalogue with matching oversized taupe living room sets. Those days are long gone. You can, and should, mix and match to create the cheerful space you’re after.

But every piece in your living room doesn’t have to be unique and quirky and stand-out. In fact, it’s best if many of the pieces take up the distinguished background space. For this type of purchase, I recommend Ikea and other box stores. Just make sure these purchases don’t take up the entirety of your space.

6. Arrange, hang, and lay out your pieces…then do it again and again until it feels like home. There’s no quick way to create that homey atmosphere that is present in the best of living rooms. It takes time, and life, to figure out what truly works for your space and your lifestyle. But as you choose the right pieces and slowly organize your space, your true style and personality will ultimately shine.

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