The Living Room of Your Dreams
Is your living room looking a little too...lived in? We asked a group of interior designers to reveal some of their best (and most affordable) decorating ideas.
blue rug
Work from the Ground Up
"Buy a new rug! That will instantly change the look of the room and introduce a new color palette. Then, you can re-cover pillows with new fabric and add some throw blankets to give the whole room a facelift." — Alex Papachristidis, author of The Age of Elegance: Interiors By Alex Papachristidis (Rizzoli)
white book shelf
Go for Semi-Homemade Built-ins
"Buy a standard, unfinished bookcase and elevate it on a six-inch platform. Then cap off the top with a similar platform, connecting the bookcase seamlessly to the ceiling with some off-the-shelf crown molding. Then paint the whole thing in a satin paint. It looks like custom carpentry for a fraction of the price." — Darryl Carter, author of The Collected Home: Rooms with Style, Grace, and History (Clarkson Potter)
Make the Walls Seem Sky-High
"Vertical, hand-painted stripes add height and a sense of grandeur to any room, and when the color progression is subtle, as in this living room designed by Carl D'Aquino and Francine Monaco, the wall treatment radiates a sense of calm and whimsy." — Linda O'Keeffe, author of Stripes: Design Between the Lines (Monicelli Press)
green couch
Get a "Custom" Piece for Less
"One way to stay within budget, but still maintain a unique look, is to buy a store-bought piece but provide your own fabric, instead of choosing from the standard options. An economical fabric could mean a minor uptick in price for something that feels completely custom-made for you." — Kelly Wearstler, author of Rhapsody (Rizzoli)
blue ceiling
Look Up, Way Up
"One of the easiest, and most inexpensive, ways to add a pop to any room is by painting the ceiling. It can be a subtle difference or a bold statement." — Nathan Turner, author of Nathan Turner's American Style: Classic Design and Effortless Entertaining (Abrams, 2012)
pink wall with paintings
Pick Your Battles
"Don't focus on what you hate about the room, especially if it can't be changed easily, like trading out wall-to-wall carpeting for gorgeous wood flooring. Instead, focus on what you love that you can highlight—maybe it's your sofa, a beautiful view, a great fireplace. Once you decide on your focal point, make magic there first by highlighting it with a bold wall color, a favorite piece of art or graphic pillows, then build the rest of the room around that." — Holly Becker, author of Decorate Workshop: Design and Style Your Space in 8 Creative Steps (Chronicle)

Next: 5 more (not impossible) ways to amp up your living room