Seven Ways to Update Your Living Room Under $500

This article is part of a new line of content here on the Sima Spaces blog called the “Sima Spaces Sunday Seven”! Each Sunday, I’ll be sharing a roundup of seven somethings- design tidbits, renovation advice, organization tips, source roundups, decoration ideas… and more! Be sure to sign up for my mailing list (in the sidebar!) so you don’t miss out.

This is part 4 of a series where I’m sharing seven updates for every space in (and outside) your home! Last week, I shared seven easy updates for your bedroom. During week two, I shared seven ways to update your bathroom, and week one was seven affordable updates for your kitchen.

This week, I’m focusing on the living room! I don’t know about you guys, but Josh and I absolutely love hanging out on the couch and watching our latest favorite Netflix shows to wind down at night. When we entertain friends and family, we usually end up lounging on the sofas and playing a game around the ottoman. A cozy, comfortable living room is a must for me, whether it’s just for our own enjoyment or that of our guests. We completely gutted it when we moved in and it’s been through a couple of design phases since then, but I am so content with its current state that I haven’t changed anything in months (other than a new rug and new decor here and there!).

I’m here to tell you that transforming your living room into a space you love doesn’t have to break the bank. As I always emphasize, you can spend as much as you want- if you want to get all new furniture, go for it! But you don’t necessarily need to spend thousands in order to make your space feel fresh and different. Below, I’ve compiled 7 ideas to update your living room, all of which can cost less than $500 (bonus points to whoever can combine as many ideas as possible and stay under budget!).


1 | Update photos and artwork

Ok, ok, I used this idea in last week’s bedroom update post, I know. But I’m repeating it for good reason- new photos and artwork can make such a difference in a space! Take a look at your current photos- do they still make you happy? Then keep them, but maybe try a fresh new spin and change up the picture frame! However, it doesn’t hurt to mix in some new photos as well. You can print them for so cheap online or in your local big box store.

As for artwork, again, I fully support keeping it if you love it, but maybe try moving it around or reframing it for a fresh twist. You don’t need to go to a gallery and spend thousands for beautiful art these days- there are so many online shops that you can order unique artwork or printables from. With printables, you can literally take a .jpg and use it anywhere- you can make a canvas, small prints, poster-sized prints, or whatever you’d like! Below are some of my favorite pieces of art these days- I’m all about watercolors, oil paintings, and line drawings, as you can see!

2 | Style your shelves.

I haven’t ever been in a living room that didn’t have a shelf of some kind, whether it’s a media console, wall shelf, shelving unit, bookcase, etc. Take a look at your shelves- are you displaying DVDs and books as decor? Although of course you want your shelves to be functional, you also want them to be attractive and not too cluttered. Sort through those books and DVDs- do you really need them all? Donate or sell any that you won’t use anymore, and stash the rest in some storage baskets. Then use the extra space to add some decor like picture frames, artwork, vases, plants, and other decorative items. I wrote an entire post on styling shelves, so refer to that if you’d like some more tips!

These shelves by House of Jade Interiors are minimally decorated, but still have added function with basket storage and builtins.

3 | Update your throw pillows and blankets.

This is an easy way to change up your decor without much effort at all. By swapping out pillows or throw blankets, you can completely change the feel of your space. I love investing in good pillow inserts and then purchasing pillow covers- they’re easy to store and take up hardly any room! You can go with a lighter color and linen fabric for spring and summer and a velvet, wool, or even faux fur in the fall and winter.

I love having throw blankets lying around year-round, because even on a summer night, I still like snuggling up under a blanket- just not necessarily a thick wool blanket. Swapping out your heavy blankets for lighter ones is not only more comfortable for you, but helps to change up the feel of your home as well.

4 | Add or replace your area rug.

We have wood floors throughout our home, so I’m all about area rugs. Even if you have carpet, you should consider an area rug for your living room. Having an area rug helps the space feel more designated and put together, in my opinion anyway. It is also a great way to add personality and color to a space. Area rugs can be extremely expensive, depending on where you’re sourcing them, but they can also be very affordable, as demonstrated by the options below. Just make sure that you’re choosing the right size rug for your space- Studio McGee wrote a great article about this. Rugs can get expensive quickly, but there are plenty of affordable options out there on sites like Etsy, Ebay, RugsUSA.com, and esalerugs.com.

You can keep your area rug understated and let you furniture and decor speak for itself, like this one by ChrisLovesJulia.
You can also add a pop of color with your rug and keep your decor a bit more understated, similar to this pretty space by Miranda Schroeder.

5 | Update accent furniture.

This is another one where you can take it as far as you want, but you don’t necessarily need to spend a lot to make a big difference. There are so many stores out there that sell affordable accent furniture. Changing out your side tables, media console, a bookshelf, or a storage unit can make a big difference in the overall feel and functionality of your living room.

6 | Add or replace curtains.

We recently added curtains to our master bedroom and it made such a huge difference! Curtains help to bring so much more depth and interest as well as adding color or light to a space. You can pay a lot for custom draperies or you can go to IKEA or Target and spend $60- the choice is yours! Make sure to follow the golden rule when hanging them, though: HIGH AND WIDE. You can make your windows seem bigger by hanging them a little wider on each side and make your ceiling seem taller by hanging them at least 6″ above your window trim.

I love how the curtains allow the windows to steal the show in the beautiful living room of Plank and Pillow.

7 | Wall mount your TV!

This is a huge one that seriously makes such a difference. To me, making the change from table-top TV to wall-mounted brings your space from short-term apartment to permanent home. It clears up space from your media console (if that’s what you’re using) and also can help to improve the view of the TV for the entire room. There are wall mounts that extend and turn outward, tilt up and down, or stay in a permanent spot. If you’re not at all handy, you might want to hire this out, but if you can run an electric drill and use a studfinder, you should be able to DIY this one. The type of wall mount you will need depends on your TV, but they can be found at almost every major retailer including Amazon.com.

Wall mounting our TV made such a difference in our living room!

I hope this article helped to inspire you as you update your living room! Which of these ideas are you planning on implementing? Comment below and let me know!

Author: Laura Sima

Hi, I'm Laura! I have a passion for all things home design, decor, and renovation. My husband Josh and I are DIY renovators, currently working on our 1952 home in St. Paul, MN. I hope that by following along with us, you'll become inspired to find and create the beauty in your home.

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