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Room for Improvement: Interior Design with Affordability in Mind 

September 24, 2023
living room modern

Evolving Interior Design Trends

More than just an address on the map or a  place to hang your hat—a home is a space to take a breath, close the door, and unwind. Becoming more of a sanctuary than ever before, the last few years have shown us how important it is to have a living space that reflects who you are, suits your daily needs, and gives you the feeling of, well, home.  

Providing a juxtaposed sense of safety and tranquility that is the world beyond your front door, there truly is no place like iit. Home decor aesthetics for 2023 are all about happy hues, authentic expression, and creating an inspiring canvas for daily life. Whether you’re already browsing boards on Pinterest, videos on YouTube, or have no idea where to start, this year’s trends are rooted in individuality, authenticity, and creativity. 

From Cottage Core to Weirdcore, Hollywood Vibe to Ultra Modern, one thing’s for sure, the rule books of yesteryear have been tossed, making room for improvement.  

Modern living room

With so many ideas available at our fingertips, many of us just think interior design is all about cutting someone else’s design ideas from social media and pasting them into our homes. But interior design is much more than copying a pinterest board. The most important element of interior design is taking a serious inventory of the occupant’s tastes, news, and budget. 

Industrial rustic living room

Sure, you might have dreamt of having an all white living room some day, but with three little kids under the age of three, that just might not be the best plan.   Or maybe you have always wished for a girly, Shabby Chic, or spa-like bedroom, but you live in a studio and work from home, so maybe that wouldn't be the best style for your current situation. Much more than a pretty facade,  designing an interior space takes function and fashion all into consideration.

When it comes down to it, your home shouldn’t be a photoshopped copy of someone else’s life. We’ve put together a few ideas to get your design juices flowing and inspire you to imagine a space that fits your life.

traps living room

Elevate a Space without Raising the Roof on Your Wallet

The main living space of a home, whether it be a family room, living room, or multipurpose room,  is one of the most frequently used spaces in the home, so it needs to not only be beautiful, but it must accomodate the needs and wants of the dwellers of that space. 

Creating your dream living space doesn't have to cost a fortune.  You don't have to be rich and famous to give your home a high-end polished look. A few quick, low-cost updates can make your home appear newer, larger, and more upscale.  

Related Post: Interior Design Hitting Rewind: What is Mid-Century Modern Design

Use these ideas to refresh, rejuvenate, and elevate your space without raising the roof on your budget.First Stop:  Second Hand StoreSearch flea markets, antique shops, estate sales, and thrift stores for inexpensive decor. Consider repurposing items in unique ways to create functional furnishings with vintage style. Cut down a farm table's legs and add wheels to craft a rustic coffee table, paint vintage bar stools, add an antique ladder to store and display quilts or blankets, or use a vintage trunk to hold throws or provide seating.

Focal Point

Design with a Focal Point in Mind

The focal point is a visual anchor that can be tailored to the needs of a space and those who live in that space. Even if two homes have identical kitchens, the one in the home of a  family with small children may have a completely different focal point than that of an artist with a passion for color.

While the young family might have a mounted 60” tv as the rooms’ focal point, the gourmet may have a bright red retro stove instead. The focal point serves to highlight the room’s overall design and, at the same time, serve the needs of the inhabitants of that room.

How a focal point works in the overall design structure     

  • Serves as an anchor to the overall design theme·      
  • Serves a function·      
  • Offers cohesion to a multipurpose space 

Related Post: Room Design with a Focal Point in Mind


Repurpose, Rearrange, Recycle

To give your living room an affordable refresh, work with what you already have. Purge the items that don't belong, clear away clutter, and rethink furniture arrangements to overhaul your room without spending a dime. Recruit a friend to help you move furniture around until you have a visually pleasing layout. 

Find ways to reimagine old pieces, by upcycling them with paint or new hardware, relocating them into another spot, or recycling them into the community.Don’t get stuck in a single room mindset. Just because an antique armoire has served you for years storing your sweaters or handbags doesn’t mean it won’t work just as well (or better) in the dining room as a hutch or table linen closet.  Make a real effort to give away or sell the furniture instead of putting it curbside to get rained on, infested, and eventually become landfill.

Related Post: Easy Being Green:  How to Shop for Sustainable Furniture


Bring the Outside In

Plants add a sculptural element to a room and you can often find low-maintenance varieties for spaces with limited natural light sources. If your room lacks windows or you're not confident with your plant care abilities, go for realistic-looking faux plants instead. Vary your selections with Interesting leaf shapes or colorful foliage to add a little extra life to your space. If your room has an abundance of windows, take full advantage by letting the view act as natural artwork.

Try placing a potted plant on your dining table to serve as a centerpiece or fill an empty corner with a hanging vine or tall floor plant. Natural grasses or dried stems can also bring nature inside. Gather some from your backyard or a nearby park, then place them in a vase to create an interesting  natural arrangement.

Related Post: Current Attractions: Contemporary Interior Design for Modern Living


Dance All Over the Color Wheel

A new coat of paint can completely transform a room. Paint offers a budget-friendly living room idea that can be easily applied by DIY decorators. Use it to color walls, update flea market furnishings, refresh beat-up floors, or showcase a room's architectural features. When considering wall colors, choose hues that further a mood and complement your style.

Trimwork highlights your home's features, drawing extra attention to walls, windows, staircases, and ceilings. Painting trim in an updated color can further define these elements and contribute to a more refined and polished  look. Cover dated woodwork with a fresh coat of white paint, or choose a contrasting trim color for a distinctly modern effect.

Related Post: Family Room Updates You Can Do on a Weekend


Update Doors

Entryway or interior doors don't have to be basic brown or builder’s grade white. Painting one side of a door or adding space-saving pocket doors or industrial barn doors are worth the splurge. Not only do they elevate a room's style, but they also can be used to create separation within open floor plans.  


See the Light!

If that eyesore over your head makes you cringe every time you flip the light switch, ditch it! Swapping out an old light fixture for a new one instantly updates the ambiance of your space. You can easily tackle the job yourself with no electrician needed.

 Related Post: How Give a Small Space a Huge Update


Easy Hardware Upgrades

To instantly add character to any room, even a rental, simply switch out the knobs and pulls on cabinets, drawers, and doors. Upgrade a kitchen or bathroom by replacing builder-grade hardware with higher-end materials like brass, matte black, or polished chrome. Or add an instant creative edge by finding hand painted enamel knobs, easily found on Amazon or Etsy, or DYing them yourself. 

And don't underestimate the power of a new faucet. Give your bathroom or kitchen an immediate upgrade for less than $100 with matching faucets, easily sourced at big box stores like Home Depot, Lowes,  or Ikea.For renters, you can take it with you!  Just save the original hardware so you can take the upgrades with you to your next place.

Make an Easy Switch

For a style boost, swap out old plastic light switch covers for leveled-up looks that coordinate with the room’s hardware.  Start with just the light switches and then move on and replace the outlet covers as well for an instant uplift to any room. If you rent, save the original switchplates and swap them back before you move.

Gallery wall

Get Personal

Let Your “You” Shine ThroughIncorporating items that reflect your travels, hobbies, and cherished memories can make your living room feel extra special. Display ancestral portraits, framed genealogical charts, historical maps, and framed photos of family and friends.  Display family heirlooms like baby blankets, baby’s first shoes, and awards in shadow boxes to original artwork. 


Bold Can Be Beautiful

Create a stylish room on a budget by employing just a few statement pieces. Purchase furnishings with high-impact fabrics or finishes, eye-catching silhouettes, or bold pops of color. You'll only need a few dramatic elements like an upholstered headboard, mid-century modern chair,  or a striking piece of wall art to create a stir. Paired with neutral walls, versatile upholstered pieces, low-key window treatments, and subtle accents for an appealing  contrasting effect.

Related Post: Dramatic Effect: What is Hollywood Regency Style?

Built ins

Faux Built-Ins

If you like the look of library-like shelves but don't want to splurge on a custom design, use bookcases to create the appearance of floor-to-ceiling built-ins.To reinforce the built-in look, add trim along the tops and bottoms to cover seams.  

I hope this guide will inspire you to create a welcoming and beautiful entryway.  If you’d like a little expert support, contact VTD for a free style consultation.

Related post: Room for Improvement: Interior Design with Affordability in Mind