5 Ways to Transform Your Living Room with Almost No Effort

If I can do it, you can do it.

If it’s on your 2017 to-do list to rethink, well, every square inch of your home’s decor, don’t panic. You don’t have to throw everything away and start from scratch. (Although, if you’re still holding on to your college futon, it’s probably time to upgrade.) In fact, you can change the entire look and feel of a room with very little money and almost no effort. Don’t believe me? Here are five easy things I’ve done in my own living room to refresh my style without a total overhaul. 

1. Start with your textiles.

When’s the last time you got new pillow shams? Or a throw blanket? Or curtains? Colorful or patterned fabrics can add a pretty pop to any space. For me, pillows are the things I tend to zero in on first. As long as you have standard-size pillows, shams are easy to find. I like my pillows to be mismatched yet complimentary, with at least two on each side of my couch to create interesting layers. Word to the wise: just make sure they are easily washable.

2. Go green. 

I’m not talking bamboo floors here; I’m talking plants, plants and more plants. You can create pretty vignettes with greenery in different sized, shaped and colored pots and planters. This year, we about quadrupled our living room plant load when we decided to salvage greenery from our patio boxes before the weather turned completely grim. The plants are thriving indoors, and I didn’t have to spend an extra dime. Plus: cleaner air! If you want to purchase a few plants, IKEA has a fairly decent selection, as does Home Depot. Believe it or not, you can also find perfectly healthy plants looking for new homes on Craigslist, like these vinca vines and this six-foot tall palm.

3. Repurpose. 

True story: One time on a whim, I bought a circular mid-century plant stand (this guy exactly, only gorgeously hot pink) at a salvage place in Bucks County. I got it home but couldn’t make it work on my patio. It just didn’t fit. Then I realized, Wait a minute, this looks to be just the right height for a side table in my living room …  Yup, I was right. The plant stand fit perfectly next to my couch, and the cut-outs where the plants would sit were the perfect spots for books. My point is, get creative. You might have a piece elsewhere in your house that could work even better as something else: Wooden wine crates mounted on a wall become rustic shelves. (I’ve also seen them stacked to make bookshelves.) Vintage plates can become artwork. A cake stand could be used as part of a centerpiece. You get the point.

4. Edit.

You know the adage, “Less is more.” Man, is it true. If your biggest issue is that you just have too much stuff, maybe it’s time to pare down to the essentials. My husband built these fantastic floor-to-ceiling shelves in our living room, but we quickly realized that displaying all of our books on them was just too overwhelming. Instead, we blocked off just one shelf for books, picked the best-kept ones, and organized them by color. So much better.

5. Let there be light. 

I’m not a huge fan of overhead lighting. I find it to be harsh and, all too often, blindingly bright. The only time it seems to work is when it’s planned, installed, and executed by a lighting professional, but I’ve never had the budget for such a luxury. And so: lamps, my friends. My hodge-podge collection comes courtesy of flea markets and vintage shops, mainly, because I like ’em mismatched. (Are you seeing a theme here?) Go for different sizes and shapes, but keep the bulbs on the warm end of the spectrum. My all-time favorite lamp? This one, from CB2, which I’ve had now for more years than I care to count. It’s worked equally well in all my rentals and, now, in my home; it gives off a nice, soft diffuse light; and it rings up at under $70.