blue rug

Photo: Tria Giovan

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

Photo: Gordon Beall

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)

Photo: Jamie Midgely

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

Photo: Grey Crawford

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

Photo: Oberto Gili

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

Photo: William Waldron/The Interior Archive

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