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Shuffling around your furniture and adding some built-in shelving could give your living room new life. (Getty Images)

What's the primary motivation for tackling any room renovation, whether it’s a living room, bedroom or bathroom? Aesthetics, according to HomeAdvisor’s State of Home Spending Report, released in June. Especially if you’re looking to remodel your living room, improving the appearance of the space and boosting your overall enjoyment of it are almost definitely the end goals.

However, before you make plans for a new paint color, fresh furnishings or taking down a wall, be sure you’ve addressed more dire concerns both in your living room and throughout the rest of your house.

“Aesthetic improvements have to take a back seat to systems and fundamental parts of a home,” says Chip Wade, a home improvement expert and master carpenter who has appeared on HGTV shows including “Ellen’s Design Challenge” and “Curb Appeal: The Block,” as well as a consultant for Liberty Mutual Insurance.

That means if your roof or water heater are near the end of their life spans, let the living room renovation take a back seat. In the living room itself, asbestos and lead paint abatement are costly projects that require the work of professionals, but they are worth it the end. Even if the work takes up your entire budget, removing dangerous materials from your home should always take precedence over knocking down a wall or buying a new sectional.

[Read: 7 Kitchen Remodel Ideas on a Budget.]

Once you have those necessary repairs out of the way, you may find your remaining budget is much smaller for those more fun renovations. Fortunately, there are quite a few living room projects that can help your common space look new.

Here are seven living room renovation ideas to consider when you’re on a budget:

  • Rearrange furniture.
  • Add built-in bookshelves.
  • Install or update wood floors.
  • Refurnish the room.
  • Take down walls.
  • Freshen up the fireplace.
  • Redo molding or trim.

Rearrange Furniture

Have you considered moving the focal point of your living room to another wall or opening up the conversation space to make the space look more inviting? Rearranging furniture doesn’t work in every room – a fireplace or your dedication to feng shui may make it difficult – but consider moving the couch, switching the table a lamp sits on or swapping out furniture from another room. With very little sweat equity, how you experience the room can be completely different.

How much will it cost? For moving bigger pieces of furniture, you may want to enlist the help of a friend or family member, which can be more enticing with an offer of lunch or dinner on you. Beyond that, be ready with a bit of spackle and some paint to cover any visible holes in your walls. Wall repair kits or a tub of spackling for drywall cost between $4 and $8 at Target, Home Depot, Lowe’s or Walmart.

Add Built-in Bookshelves

For an addition to the room that creates a new focal point, consider built-in bookshelves to change up a plain box of a room and “help a very cookie-cutter home look more custom,” says Kathleen Kuhn, president of home inspection company HouseMaster, based in Somerville, New Jersey.

Built-in bookshelves can be tricky for a DIY beginner who has no experience with carpentry work, but a handyman could take on the project pretty easily.

Alternatively, budget DIY gurus have been known to purchase multiple plain bookcases from Ikea, install them next to each other along one wall and add a bit of molding to make them look more luxurious.

How much will it cost? HomeAdvisor estimates the cost to have new built-in bookshelves installed by a professional will cost between $2,000 and $5,000. If you’re looking to go a little more DIY, Billy bookcases at Ikea are $59 each, plus the cost of wood and stain or paint to frame out the shelves for a built-in look.

[See: 10 Home Renovations Under $5,000.]

Install or Update Wood Floors

Old carpeting or a dingy wood floor can make any room look dated, which is why remodeling from the ground up is often your best option to freshen up your living room. “New wood flooring is a great option and can add a lot of value and open up a room,” Kuhn says.

How much will it cost? Before you buy all new wood flooring and hire a professional to install it, see if your current wood floor – or wood floor under carpeting – can be salvaged with sanding and staining. Fixr reports the average cost to sand and finish a 200-square-foot wood floor is between $850 and $1,260. Installing a new solid or engineered prefinished wood floor is between $2,400 and $4,000 for the same size of room, according to Fixr.

Paint the Walls

Painting your living room is an obvious option to make the room look new again. Especially if you’re tired of the same neutral color that has covered every wall since you bought the place, don’t be afraid to add a splash of color that complements your wall art and furniture.

How much will it cost? Painting a single room is an easy DIY project that can be completed in a day or weekend, depending on how many coats of paint you plan to do. Dropcloths, painter’s tape, brushes and rollers start below $10 each. One gallon of paint, which runs between $15 and $30 depending on the paint brand and finish, will cover 400 square feet of wall space. For a living room, budget for two to three gallons.

Refurnish the Room

With little to no skill required, you can easily transform your living room by getting rid of any furniture that’s seen better days. You don’t have to sacrifice every chair and ottoman, but a new coffee table or floor lamp can help make the space look new again.

How much will it cost? The cost of furniture depends on your taste and brand preference. While home furnishing marketplaces like Ikea and Wayfair offer plenty of budget-friendly pieces, don’t forget about other options like Craigslist, neighborhood flea markets and local thrift shops or antique stores to find slightly used furniture that costs less.



Take Down Walls

It’s a big project, but tearing down walls in your living room for a more open floor plan is a common preference among homeowners in older houses.

But this project is not always feasible or budget-friendly, as a load-bearing wall could cost upwards of $10,000 to remove, because a support beam is needed to hold the weight the wall will no longer carry. But if the wall is merely a partition between rooms, Kuhn says it’s possible: “Opening up the space … can be done, and can even be a DIY project.”

If you’ve confirmed the wall doesn’t hold weight and have located any electrical wires, you should be able to demolish most of the wall yourself.

How much will it cost? HomeAdvisor reports removing a wall ranges in cost between $300 and $10,000, depending on whether the wall is load-bearing. Keep in mind the cost of making the now-joined rooms cohesive – you’ll have to fill in flooring and wall gaps where the wall once was.

[Read: 5 DIY Backyard Renovations on a Budget.]

Redo Molding or Trim

Interior design styles have gotten simpler over recent years, requiring fewer fancy details, but crown molding and trim can still be an eye-catching element that makes a room look fresh.

Installing molding along your living room ceiling may sound relatively simple, but Kuhn recommends hiring a professional who has experience with such a project. If you’re renovating your living room, she says you can offset the cost by doing the demolition work on a wall or pulling up carpeting. But for crown molding, “bring in a handyman for that,” she says.

How much will it cost? This is a project you may be able to do on your own, but any flaws will be easy to spot. Fixr reports the average cost to have crown molding professionally installed in a 16-by-20-foot living room is $900.


10 Interior Design Trends for 2020

It may be time to update your decor.

A marble beige painting and a sunburst golden mirror on a gray wall with molding in a stylish living room interior with a velvet, powder pink sofa and retro furniture

(Getty Images)

You may not be moving into a new house in 2020, but you can make your home feel new again by taking stock of each room and updating the design. You may want to make your living room more functional by finding a better furniture layout, brighten up a guest bedroom with new paint or go big with a full renovation of your kitchen for a more modern style. To make any design changes a success, however, you’ll want to know what styles will become more popular in 2020 and what fads are on their way out. Here are 10 interior design trends to consider in 2020.

Updated on Dec. 6, 2019: This story was published at an earlier date and has been updated with new information.

Zen dens break up floor plans.

Zen dens break up floor plans.

Hygge, Zuhause, Entspannung, Muenchen, Bayern, Deutschland

(Getty Images)

Open floor plans may be here to stay, but many homeowners are interested in creating a room that lets you separate yourself from the goings-on in the rest of the house. For some people, open floor plans are "too open,” says Tim Bakke, publishing director of online home and design plan company The Plan Collection, based in Scarsdale, New York. “If you have the TV on in the living room, everyone in the kitchen and the dining room is hearing it and seeing it.” Bakke says separate, closed-off living spaces called “zen dens,” are ideal for reading a book or having a more private conversation, and he thinks they’ll gain popularity in the coming year. “It’s not splitting up the house, but you have someplace where you can kind of get away from it,” Bakke says.

Master suites expand.

Master suites expand.

(Getty Images)

As wellness gains emphasis, more homeowners are looking at spaces where they’ll most likely benefit. As a result, master bedrooms and bathrooms are getting more love. “Maybe a little bit of square footage is taken away from other parts of the house and put into the master suite,” Bakke says. Whether it’s to expand the bathroom and add a soaking tub or to make room for a sitting area in the bedroom, homeowners are considering their bedrooms as a space where they can spend more time beyond sleeping and getting ready for the day.

Inside and outside continue to blend.

Inside and outside continue to blend.

Friends having fun at dinner party in backyard.

(Getty Images)

Outdoor living has been gaining popularity over the last few years, and designers continue to see blurring the line between outdoor and indoor as a desire among homeowners. Gena Kirk, vice president of design for homebuilding company KB Home, based in Los Angeles, describes successful interpretations of the trend as “extending the great room into the backyard,” which not only makes entertaining easier, but also allows you to relax on comfortable seating on the patio when the weather is nice. For homes that experience colder seasons, a fire pit, outdoor fireplace or outdoor heaters allow for snuggling under a blanket while still enjoying the outdoor living space when the weather is chilly.

Organic elements are here to stay.

Organic elements are here to stay.

modern table scene restaurant urban style

(Getty Images)

Indoor plants have made a resurgence in recent years because they add life to a space. Meanwhile organic elements are expanding into furniture and decor as designers incorporate more natural wood tables, natural fiber rugs, coral, dried flowers and branches into decor. While these items are no longer living, they offer a connection to nature and the outdoors. Keep an eye out for sisal, jute or seagrass rugs, which can be found at major retailers like Home Depot, Ikea and Wayfair. While it’s easy to find faux coral tabletop decor, you need to read product descriptions carefully to find real coral for purchase.

Wallpaper and texture provide depth.

Wallpaper and texture provide depth.

Contemporary  lounge / living room with sofa and ornaments in front of large window with curtains

(Getty Images)

Rather than sticking to traditional eggshell wall finishes and basic cotton throw pillows, design experts are looking to patterns and textures to make rooms feel more dynamic and personal. Interior designers particularly encourage wallpaper in a half bathroom, where you can have a bit more fun without overwhelming the space. Wallpaper is making a comeback in other parts of the house as well. Barbara Kavovit, CEO and founder of Evergreen Construction in New York City, says wallpapering a room makes a great do-it-yourself project, requiring little skill – just the patience to do it right. You can also experiment with texture on walls, whether it means creating a faux stucco look with plaster and paint or incorporating upholstered panels or reclaimed wood.

Velvet becomes a staple.

Velvet becomes a staple.

Europe, UK, England, London, Belgravia: View Of Hand-Made Custom Fabric Couch With African Hardwood Flooring

(Getty Images)

Velvet is becoming a preferred furniture fabric over microfiber or leather, since it offers a soft texture that looks luxurious in bright, bold colors. Expect to see more bedding accessories and throw pillows in velvet, which can provide additional texture in a bedroom or living room. This trend isn’t just for winter, either – if it's the right color and paired with other textures and materials, velvet works in a room year-round. Light pink or mustard velvet pairs well with just about any color.

Blue is the color to incorporate.

Blue is the color to incorporate.

Modern interior of living room with armchairs on white flooring and dark blue wall

(Getty Images)

Both Pantone and paint company Sherwin Williams have announced that their colors of the year for 2020 are dark shades of blue: "classic blue" for Pantone and "naval" for Sherwin Williams. Dark and navy blues can serve as neutral colors for a room and pair well with lighter colors, bold jewel tones and even metallics for an art deco look. Lighter blues and greens are also popping up more in furniture, decor and paint palettes, which can make for a soft look or a bold statement in different combinations. As a wall color, navy creates a darker setting, leaving room to play around with lighter neutrals and pops of color in the decor. It can also be used as an accent in a lighter room.

Say goodbye to gray.

Say goodbye to gray.

London, England.

(Getty Images)

If you’ve been watching HGTV renovation shows or have toured homes at just about any point over the last decade, you know that gray has been the go-to neutral for walls, furniture and even home exteriors. But over the last couple of years, other neutrals have been threatening gray’s domination of the color market. “Those very cool grays – they’re dying. They’ve been dying. Everything’s starting to warm up,” Kirk says. Interior designers are seeing a return to shades of brown and beige, as well as navy, to offer a warmer palette. Don’t be afraid of looking outdated if you use gray in your color scheme for a room, but if your entire house is painted in the same gray shade, it’s time to add some variation.

Computer rooms are out; charging stations are in.

Computer rooms are out; charging stations are in.

Men connected charger to tablet computer after four digital devices already charging

(Getty Images)

If you’re still dedicating part of your kitchen to house the family desktop computer or it has its own designated room, rethink that space. With everyone using laptops, tablets and smart phones to browse the internet, do homework and pay bills, there’s no need to take up space with a bulky desktop that no one’s using. A family computer room can be converted into the "zen den" your house has been missing, a guest bedroom or another space your family would use more. But there’s still something you can do for the family electronics: “Phone, tablets – all those things need to be charged,” Bakke says. He recommends creating a charging station with enough outlets to plug in multiple devices, located in a common drop zone where people enter and exit the house like the mud room.

Minimalism moves over.

Minimalism moves over.

Living room with high ceilings and architectural featuresLiving room with high ceilings and architectural features

(Getty Images)

People still like clean lines, but these days designers are seeing more homeowners embrace eclectic decor styles, with modern vases and bowls as well as imperfect antiques that add variety. While a simplistic, uncluttered look is still popular, designers and homeowners now look to "incorporate focal points with an older piece," says Jim DiGiacomo, board member for Olde Good Things, an architectural salvage store based in New York City. Flea markets and antique stores are prime shopping targets. The opportunity to find one-of-a-kind pieces has expanded online as well, as eBay, Etsy and more specialized stores like Olde Good Things offer extensive online inventories, allowing you to find vintage prints, vases and even architectural gems like mantels, doors and ceiling tiles to incorporate in a room remodel or new home design.

Interior design trends to keep an eye out for in 2020 include:

Interior design trends to keep an eye out for in 2020 include:

Interior decor photographs of stylish luxury bohemian style home

(Getty Images)

  • Zen dens break up open floor plans.
  • Master suites expand.
  • Inside and outside continue to blend.
  • Organic elements are here to stay.
  • Wallpaper and texture provide depth.
  • Velvet becomes a staple.
  • Blue is the color to incorporate.
  • Say goodbye to gray.
  • Computer rooms are out; charging stations are in.
  • Minimalism moves over.

Read More

Tags: real estate, housing, home improvements


Devon Thorsby is the Real Estate editor at U.S. News & World Report, where she writes consumer-focused articles about the homebuying and selling process, home improvement, tenant rights and the state of the housing market.

She has appeared in media interviews across the U.S. including National Public Radio, WTOP (Washington, D.C.) and KOH (Reno, Nevada) and various print publications, as well as having served on panels discussing real estate development, city planning policy and homebuilding.

Previously, she served as a researcher of commercial real estate transactions and information, and is currently a member of the National Association of Real Estate Editors. Thorsby studied Political Science at the University of Michigan, where she also served as a news reporter and editor for the student newspaper The Michigan Daily. Follow her on Twitter or write to her at dthorsby@usnews.com.

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