transformation month

8 Subtle Tweaks that’ll Transform Your Living Room into a Whole New Space

published Sep 7, 2022
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Struggling with the state of your living room but wondering how on earth to upgrade the space without undertaking a full reno or spending tons of your hard-earned money? Plenty of ways to zhuzh up your living room without turning the entire space upside down exist. I went straight to the source — interior designers! — to get the scoop on small living room changes that make a big impact. Read on for eight simple, subtle, designer-approved tweaks that will have your living room looking like a brand new space in no time.

Layer in a new rug

Even if you’re not thrilled with your existing area rug, you might not wabt to part with it for good. Large rugs can be pricey, after all, and if you’re renting, some buildings require tenants keep a certain percentage of floor space covered in carpet. That means bare floors may not be an option for you, even if you want them that way. Don’t panic, though — you can definitely make your floors feel more you. “One of the simplest ways is to purchase a smaller rug to layer on top of your existing rug,” says designer Nicole Hurd of Hurd Homes in Jupiter, Florida. “For example, if you have a larger muted area rug, shop around vintage stores for a smaller rug that delivers an instant pop of color.” You can also try a faux hide, as shown above, which will add an irregular but visually interesting shape to a typical rectangular rug.

Pick some new pillow covers

Designer Amanda Jacobs of Journey + Jacobs in Louisville, Kentucky, is also a fan of invigorating a space with a new rug — and notes that doing so may bring new hues into your room’s palette. “After switching out the rug, you might find it leads to other colors and patterns strongly directing the design, which can result in the need for new pillows,” she says. You don’t have to spend a fortune to introduce some new textiles into your space. Jacobs adds. “You can shop great pillow covers on Etsy or through places like CB2, Target, or T.J. Maxx.”

Rethink your layout

This is a simple solution that costs absolutely zero dollars! “Don’t be afraid to move your sofa or chairs to get a whole new feel,” Hurd shares. “Rearranging your furniture is one of the most cost effective solutions and can have a big impact.”

Add some greenery

Don’t underestimate the power natural touches can have in making a room feel brand new. “If you can add some flowers, do it,” suggests designer Alice Kuaban of Oddessence. “Sometimes cutting branches off a tree and placing them in a vase and on your coffee table makes the room come to life yet again,” the Stafford, Virginia-based designer says. You can also add a few plants to the mix, if you don’t already have an indoor jungle look going. Think in layers for adding in plants; try smaller tabletop pots, hanging planters, and even some larger species like the palm above, right on the floor.

Install mood lighting

The right lighting can make a living room feel so much more welcoming. “Mood lighting is an easy way to refresh a living room,” designer Timala Stewart of Decurated Interiors in Tampa, Florida. “Instead of relying solely on overhead lighting, you can add a floor lamp, table lamp, or wall sconce (go for a plug in or use a smart bulb to avoid the trouble of hard-wiring) to create a more ambient feel,” she offers.

Credit: Hattie Kolp

Hang (digital) art in a spot with prime real estate

Before television became mainstream, the area above the fireplace was pretty much always reserved for artwork. These days though, most living room layouts call for hanging or placing a TV above the mantel or otherwise as the focal point of the setup (unless you’re lucky enough to have another room reserved solely for watching TV). That’s why so many designers love the Samsung Frame (as seen above), which gives you the best of both worlds: art and entertainment. The Frame’s pricey though, so designer Marlaya Ross of Studio One Nine Design in Creedmoor, North Carolina, suggests hacking your way to digital art in this prime spot. “If you don’t have an art TV like the Samsung Frame, you can still get the same look by purchasing TV artwork on Etsy and setting it as the background on your TV — or searching for TV artwork videos on YouTube that play for two to four hours,” she says. “Displaying art on your TV is so much more warm and inviting than staring at a big black screen!”

Credit: Minette Hand

Restyle your shelves

Perfect that shelfie by doing a little redecorating with conversation pieces, Ross suggests. “Styling your shelves with a variety of unique decorative items, like handmade pieces or souvenirs found when traveling, and mixing those with family photos, interesting books, and succulents or other greenery will add personality, tell the story of who you are, and finish off your living room with a curated look,” she explains.

“Shop” your own space

Last but not least, resist the urge to buy, buy, buy if you can. Instead, take a look at what you already have that can be relocated to a new spot, says designer Tricia Runkel of Tricia Runkel Home in New York City. “While it is definitely fun to collect new pieces, sometimes moving decor from room to room can achieve the same goal of revamping the space without spending any money,” she notes. “That bowl in the kitchen could look amazing on the coffee table!”

This piece is part of Transformation Month, where we’re showing off amazing home makeovers, brilliant tiny tweaks, inspiring before & afters, and so much more. Head on over here to see it all!