6 Easy, Budget-Friendly Ways to Refresh Your Living Room for 2022, According to a Professional Interior Stylist

published Feb 3, 2022
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As the new year unfolds, it’s normal to look around your home and feel the need to start over there, too. Living rooms, in particular, typically get the most foot traffic and thus usually attract the most design attention, especially around the holiday season when you may be entertaining more. Now that the holidays are over, and the festive seasonal decor is packed away, you’re probably ready to refresh you space. Whether it’s just one corner that feels a little off or your entire living room needs a new vibe, you don’t have to spend a ton of money to make it happen. That’s where insight from someone like Atlanta, Georgia-based Giana Shorthouse comes in.

Credit: Marah Brown

After a decade of designing and styling beautiful spaces for a living, Shorthouse (pictured above), the principal designer and lead stylist behind Studio Giana, knows a thing or two about making rooms look picture-perfect. I caught up with her for a few evergreen tips on what to do to make a big impact in your living room on even the smallest of budgets.

Go big with greenery

Whether real or faux, plants always bring warmth to a room. Shorthouse’s go-to item for making a living room feel fresh is actually loose greenery styled in a large vase. “Sometimes potted plants can feel too restrictive,” she says. “So adding that loose — almost hand-picked — element makes my clients’ spaces feel elevated and intentional.” You can forage for leafy branches in your own backyard if you have one, but if not, grocery store eucalyptus or green filler will work well, too. Don’t be afraid to go super-dramatic and oversized if you have the ceiling height for it, as shown here.

Credit: Submitted by Monica & Adrian

Change up your pillows

In a perfect world, you’d have unlimited funds and be able to buy new sofas and large area rugs whenever you wanted. However, that’d be pretty wasteful — and sometimes, all you need is new pillows to make your current living room setup feel fresh. Use price filters on a site like Amazon or Etsy to find new covers that’ll come in under budget, and keep your existing pillows as inserts. That way, you can rotate covers in and out with the seasons or as your mind changes.

Credit: Jill Ruzicka

Rearrange (and re-pot!) your house plants

If you have some potted plant babies in your living room, consider moving them around. There’s no rule that says you have to keep them in the same exact spot, so play around with new arrangements to give the room a new look. “After the winter slump, consider giving them a new pot, too,” Shorthouse says. Just like new textiles can work wonders for your sofas and chairs, changing up the color or style of your planter offers a subtle yet effective tweak to your decor scheme.

Credit: PHOTO MIO JAPAN/Getty Images

A little paint never hurts

“Paint, paint, paint,” Shorthouse says. “Paint always makes the biggest impact in any room.” If you’re unhappy with the look of your living room, consider your walls as a large blank canvas and experiment with paint. For a professional-looking paint job, Shorthouse suggests painting the trim near your ceilings, too — not just the walls. “Touch up those walls for a crisp and freshened look,” she says. “If you’re feeling fancy, go for a brand new color.”

Invest in pretty coffee table books

A shelf full of books is a beautiful way to add both color and character to any living room. They’re also a way to add style to your coffee table. “Large coffee table books are artful and interesting,” Shorthouse says. “A beautiful stack of these books on your coffee table can instantly make your room feel more expensive and curated.” Don’t feel like you have to buy all new items here though; check out thrift and discount stores for books at a bargain.

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Apartment Therapy

Give everything a deep clean — sofa included

When talking about interior design and home decor, cleaning is the least glamours part of the conversation and often gets glossed over. Still, it’s probably the most important. What good is a beautiful space if it’s covered in dirt and dust? Shorthouse suggests giving your home a deep clean for that fresh new feeling you’re looking for. She says, “Even sending your drapes off to the dry cleaners will make them feel like new!”