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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It may be time to update your decor.
An October 2018 report from the Remodeling Futures Program at the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University projected that remodeling spending is expected to grow to more than $350 billion in the third quarter of 2019. While it’s certainly an increase from the $331 billion of remodeling spending during the same period in 2018, the expectation shows a slowing in growth compared to recent years. Whether you’re renovating your home for yourself, updating your home to sell or looking to spice up a living space that you rent, you’ll see some new trends entering the interior design field this year – and others easing out of the spotlight. Here’s what to keep an eye out for in 2019.
Updated on March 8, 2019: This story was published at an earlier date and has been updated with new information.Trends are getting a longer shelf life.
Trends are getting a longer shelf life.
An interior design trend, by definition, is the temporary popularity of a style, pattern, color or approach to decor. But as the cost of homes continues to climb and the cost of renovating spikes as well, trends are sticking around longer, explains Anna Starmer, U.K.-based author of “Love Color: Choosing Colors to Live With” and founder of color and trend forecasting company Luminary Colour. “The interesting thing about trends right now is that they are slowing down,” she wrote in an email. “A colour family is popular for longer than (one) season. This is down to many factors, but one of the main reasons is that people are living real lives – they do not have enough time to redecorate every (six) months.”Well-being comes into play.
Well-being comes into play.
The Danish concept of Hygge – being cozy and content – has been popular in the U.S. for a couple of years, particularly in the cold winter months when people bundle up to stay warm. But Starmer suggests that the current social or political mood is also encouraging people to make their home a comfortable safe haven of sorts: “(I)t is no surprise that in recent times of uncertainties in the world, we are all starting to favour comforting shades and warming colours in the home.” That extends to softer textures in furniture, pillows and blankets, rich scents like pumpkin or citrus and a setup that encourages relaxing.Design in all spaces and sizes.
Design in all spaces and sizes.
Whether you’re still holding onto your dream of a tiny home or you simply can’t afford a bigger apartment, interior design is trending toward emphasizing conscious design in all spaces – not just the palatial homes of the wealthy. For example, Pottery Barn launched its small space collection, PB Apartment, in early 2018 to cater to customers who have less space to deck out. You’re also likely to see a growing number of companies offer furnishings and design aesthetics that serve more than one purpose and can be used in a variety of rooms.Don't be afraid to be bold.
Don't be afraid to be bold.
Everyone’s comfort level is different, but those who are willing should feel free to embrace a bold, eclectic look at home in the coming year. HGTV star and interior designer Taniya Nayak says to go for bright accent colors, such as jewel tones and colors that contrast – think blue and orange – and don’t be afraid to layer. “I love doing paint techniques, and I love wall coverings too, but some people are really petrified of wall coverings,” says Nayak, who partners with FrogTape painter’s tape. When in doubt, make your statement by adding color with different types of wall decor (not all photos and prints), painting an accent wall or layering throw blankets and pillows in bright, contrasting colors to create a new focal point in the room.Shades of green will pop up everywhere.
Shades of green will pop up everywhere.
Expect interior designs to pull more inspiration from nature in the coming year, bringing lively green into the foreground. Starmer is predicting different shades of green to be more visible not just in interior design, but in fashion as well. However, she warns that you should keep texture and light in mind any time you select a color for a space. “A shade of emerald may look fabulous on a velvet-covered chair but hideous on the wall of a bathroom,” she says.Neutrals are warming up.
Neutrals are warming up.
Gray, stark white and the gray-beige combo color “greige” have been go-to neutrals for a few years. But Starmer says neutral shades in the home are going to warm up as people look to evoke the feeling of more natural settings in the home. “Neutral and natural colours now need to be soft and warm like a favourite cashmere sweater – or the colour of a baby deer,” Starmer says. Capturing these neutrals with natural items like wood, real stones and ceramic pieces help “counteract our very unnatural lifestyles,” she says.Floors are getting more natural.
Floors are getting more natural.
In 2018, dark wood floors have been on the decline, according to Lee Crowder, design gallery and model branding manager for Darling Homes, a subsidiary of homebuilder Taylor Morrison Inc., based in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Looking forward to 2019, wood floors should continue to stay on the lighter side, but many manufacturers are noting that a matte finish is gaining popularity, which makes the floor look more natural. Recycled and engineered wood remain a more sustainable alternative to the typical wood floor, and manufacturers are even increasing the variety of tile or vinyl floors that convincingly look like real wood.Mixed metals are officially a look.
Mixed metals are officially a look.
Finding the perfect match to existing hardware in your bathroom or kitchen can be difficult, which is part of the reason why mixed metals started trending to begin with. But now it’s not just about convenience. With the right balance, you can bring multiple metals into a room and create a rich, glamorous look. Nayak notes that metals don’t have to be restricted to fixtures, lamps and coffee table legs; opt for metallic paint colors and incorporate geometric shapes on the walls to tie metals into other parts of the room.Trends are catering to comfort levels.
Trends are catering to comfort levels.
Some of the looks Nayak expects to see more in the coming year vary widely, from soft, romantic pastels and textured palettes to bolder jewel tones and metals. Rather than focusing on one widely accepted trend, you have the opportunity to embrace what works for you and keep it more unique than in years past. How do you know which trend to embrace? Look at your closet. “Whatever your wardrobe says about you is very much how you should approach your design,” Nayak says. If you’re big on patterns and bright colors, the eclectic trend can make your house feel like home again. If you’re a solids-and-neutrals kind of person, working in more of a natural look at home can provide the update you want and need.Interior design trends to keep an eye out for in 2019.
Interior design trends to keep an eye out for in 2019.
Interior design trends that will be big this year include:
- Longevity of trendy pieces, colors and patterns.
- Comforting shades and warming colors.
- More furnishing options for smaller spaces.
- Bold accent colors.
- Shades of green on walls, furniture and in fashion.
- Warmer neutral colors with less focus on gray.
- Lighter wood floor finishes for a more natural look.
- Mixed metals to make replacing kitchen or bathroom fixtures easier.
- Focus on comfort in design choices.
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 email@example.com.