Weekend Projects

This Weekend, Get A Brand New Living Room for Zero Dollars

updated May 3, 2019
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As much as we love our homes, sometimes even rooms that are “done” can feel a little tired. Or maybe we’re feeling in a bit of a slump and could use the pick-me-up that an updated space could provide. As much as we wish we could plunk down the cash for that couch that’s been on our wish list or finally switch out the wall-to-wall carpet for hardwoods, there are room fixes that aren’t just budget friendly, but entirely free.

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This weekend we’re going to give ourselves the joy that a fresh new living room offers for a grand total of zero dollars.

Apartment Therapy Weekend Projects is a guided program designed to help you get the happy, healthy home you’ve always wanted, one weekend at a time. Sign up now for email updates so you never miss a lesson.

(Image credit: Cathy Pyle)
(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

This Weekend’s Assignment:

Spend some time loving on your living room.

In one hour per weekend afternoon, we’re going to transform a living room that may feel lackluster into a perked up, fresh space that we’re going to look forward to coming home and relaxing in during the rest of the week and beyond. Here’s how:

Clear Surfaces and Purge Items

Get the clutter out. Collect items that have landed in the living room that belong in other rooms of the house. Grab a trash bag and pick up any magazines that need to be recycled or other items that need to get discarded. Take a cursory look through bookshelves and other media and see if you can say good-bye to ten items that don’t speak to you (anymore or that never did). Straighten up any askew items on your shelves.

Dust Top to Bottom

Once everything that doesn’t belong is out of the room, you can thoroughly clean your living room hindrance-free. Don’t skimp. Dust every bookshelf, the mantel, lamps, items on display, picture frames, the tray on your coffee table, everything.

Clean Furniture

Next, clean your couch and other furniture. If your couch is leather, use some leather cleaner or leather wipes; if it’s upholstered, vacuum it. Lift cushions and vacuum under those as well. Next, spot clean it. Do the same with arm chairs and any other furniture. Polish any wooden components. Keep the wood cleaner out, because next you’re going to polish your end tables, side tables, and coffee table — anything that’s wood.

Clean the Floors

This isn’t going to be a quick “postage stamp,” vacuum-around-furniture session. Move the furniture and get under it. Clean hardwoods until they gleam and vacuum carpets slowly and in at least two directions in order to really suction up all the lingering dirt.

(Image credit: Minette Hand)

Edit Your Decor

We all know it: Less is more. Edit five decorative items from your living room. Maybe you’ve got a few too many throw pillows, or maybe you only need one candle in the room. Whatever you remove, know that this kind of subtracting will add space and flow to the room. Move the items to other rooms, or just keep them tucked away in a basket somewhere out of sight.

Move One Piece of Furniture

This is your decorative challenge of the weekend. Switch up the location of a side table, change the orientation of a chair, or turn a coffee table 90 degrees. (It might be hard to stop at moving just one piece; just go with the flow.) Moving furniture makes a space feel new, gives you a new viewpoint depending on what you’ve moved, and invites you to use your room in ways you may not have considered.

Live with your new living room for a week, at least. Then, if you miss any of your decor items dearly, or have really grown to despise the new layout, feel free to switch back. Creating the home of your dreams is a journey and it takes a lot of trial and error. (And you just got one step closer this weekend.)

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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

You can catch up with weekend projects right here. Share your progress with us and others by posting updates and photos on Instagram and Twitter with the hashtag #atweekendproject.

Remember: This is about improvement, not perfection. Each week you can either choose to work on the assignment we’ve sent you, or tackle another project you’ve been meaning to get to. It’s also completely okay to skip a weekend if you’re busy or not feeling the assignment.