One of the biggest questions I get asked is how to update a room. So today let’s talk about how to update or change the style of our living room. It’s hard to know what to change first, right? And most of us can’t afford to do it all at once. Here are sensible and practical tips for updating a living room.
In today’s post I am specifically talking about living rooms/ family rooms.
Many of the principles will work in any room of your home but for now let’s concentrate on living rooms/ family rooms.
I’ve had more than a few living/family rooms in my lifetime and they all went through many changes.
I know just what it feels like to so badly want to change the look or style of a room. I’ve gone down that road so many times!
One of the most asked questions, here at StoneGable, is about updating a room and specifically where to begin.
THE HARD TRUTH ABOUT UPDATING
I really want us to stay positive and hopeful and know that you can change the way a room in your home looks but we also need to be realistic!
Here are a few facts that we must acknowledge first…
- change takes time
- change takes money
- change takes effort
- the end result is worth the time, $$ and effort
Once you realize these facts you can move forward and work on creating an updated living room!
Here’s another truth we need to acknowledge…
Styles change and so does our taste.
I always get a few readers that comment either on the blog or by email that almost defiantly extoll the virtues of the furnishings they have and never want to change. And I get the feeling these readers (and I do love you) are somewhat change adverse. And that’s perfectly fine.
First, I’m thrilled if you love what they have, we should all be so lucky. We all should love our homes!
I am not trying to talk anyone out of their lovely things! I’m happy you are happy and that you never ever ever want to change!
But, there are a vast majority of readers who’s living room or family room is not everything they want it to be. And it is not everything it could be.
So this post is for you!
STYLE CHANGE QUICKLY
One truth about the decorating industry is that styles and furnishings change quickly!
There are several reasons for this. I hear quite often that these changes are some master plan to get us to buy more. But really any company that sells goods or service is all about getting us to buy it, right?
So, of course the “shelter” industry is ever changing!
Styles change quickly for many reasons. Another big reason is the accessibility of goods and services.
When my mother shopped for furniture there was one store in her town. And styles took forever to change.
People kept things until they wore out or they passed them down. Furniture was expensive!
Now because so many online suppliers are accessible to almost anyone and there are so many home furnishing at so many price points, it makes sense that we want more change in our homes!
Due to a move, my style has taken a major change! I’m fading out my beloved American Farmhouse style because I no longer live in a farmhouse.
Now I live in an open concept villa on a golf course. Very different than a farmhouse.
Many of the same items work in our Tanglewood house because I believe in choosing “new” classic big ticket items in neutral colors.
But some of my beloved pieces did not fit because of size or to be honest, style!
Here are some savvy things to think about when you are considering updating a living room.
CREATE A PLAN AND BUDGET
Repeat after me, my friend…
If you fail to plan you plan to fail!
So so right! But you ask, “how do I plan if I don’t know where to start”? Brilliant question!
Here’s my favorite analogy for planning.
I love to go to HomeGoods. When one opened in our area I was so so excited! I would run into HomeGoods so ready to buy wonderful, well-priced things for my home!
I’d look up and down the isles finding all kinds of home furniture and decor I just loved. Then I would decide what I loved the best and go back and put it in my cart.
However, many times when I would go back the things I loved would be gone or there would only be 7 of the 8 dishes I would have loved to purchase.
I did this for months and the same thing happened over and over again.
Finally, it dawned on me there had to be a better way! So I made a plan. I decided to try shopping at HomeGoods a bit differently.
I would go up and down the isles just as I had before but this time when I saw something I loved I added it to my cart right then and there. I worked this plan covering the entire store.
Then before checking out I assessed my cart (or two, YIKES) and decided what I would keep and what I would put back.
So I always got what I wanted!
Yes, it took more time to put things back but it also gave me time to look and hold and mull over each thing I considered purchasing.
So in the long run I really only bought what I really, really loved and/or needed.
And after awhile, I got very good at assessing each thing I even thought about putting in my cart because I knew it was sort of a pain to put them all away.
So, I spent less, got what I really loved and had a blast looking at all the lovely things at HomeGoods.
A plan will help you spend less in the long run, will turn you into a better and more confident decorator and you won’t worry about getting things right!
A buget is also a must and a big part of an updating plan! You need to know how much you plan to spend to update your living room!
Remember a budget is a good guesstimate of what something should cost. It’s a real good idea to work within your budget!
Here are a few other things to add to your plan…
- all measurements of your room
- a list of what you are keeping from your living room
- a list of what you can use in your living room from shopping your home
- a wish list
- a mood board of what you love
- a running list of expenses
KNOW YOUR STYLE AND COLOR PALETTE
It’s so so important to know two things before buying or adding one thing to your living room
What style will this room be and what colors will I use in this room.
If you want a beautiful room these two decisions need to be made right away!
Here are a couple things to keep in mind…
- the style of the living room should work with the rest of your house
- the colors of your living room should work with the rest of your house
- everything you put into your updated living room should work with the style and colors in your updated room
This part of your plan is the no-exception part!
I know this sounds a little heartless but I am looking out for you! Believe me, trust me, I really know what I am talking about when it comes to creating beauty.
And knowing your style and color palette will go a long way to create beauty… and save costly mistakes.
WHERE TO BEGIN UPDATING A LIVING ROOM
Your plan should have an inventory of all the things you already have in your home that you want to be part of your updated living room.
Everything you have or want in your updated living room will be funneled through your style and color palette. EVERYTHING!
So not only what you already have and want to keep but everything you bring into your living room needs to work with your style and colors!
If you don’t want to replace something think about painting it or slipcovering it as long as the style works with your room.
WHAT SHOULD I UPDATE FIRST
I get this questions so often. And this is such a tough question!
Remember, first you should know your style and color palette for your room.
Then there are a few “what to do first” options.
If the biggest item in the room, which is usually a sofa, is old, or overly stuffed, or print or not your color then you can slipcover it or get a new sofa.
I almost cringe as I write this. This is another hard truth. My darling friend, you cannot change the look of your living room if the biggest item in the room is the worst offender!
Just making that one change will do wonders for updating a living room!
Please choose a solid colored, sleeker designed sofa. It will look updated for many more years than a bulky or print sofa!
WHAT SHOULD I DO NEXT WHEN UPDATING A LIVING ROOM?
What if the sofa is pretty nice? Or you are committed to replacing the biggest offender? Then look at your wall color and wall coverings next.
If your walls have any wallpaper in your walls, take it down.
Wallpaper is very very dating! Even though wallpaper is trending right now it is not a good investment to put in your living room! And let me go one step further, don’t use wallpaper on your living room or dining room walls. Save the paper for bathrooms and bedrooms (maybe).
If you don’t have wall coverings do your walls reflect your color palette? Are they a nice neutral?
A neutral wall might not be as sexy as a dark moody wall or as pretty as a sky blue wall but neutral walls will look better years longer! Neutral walls have longevity!
And neutral wall show of what is in a room.
After figuring out what to do about the sofa and the walls, look at the window treatments and the flooring.
If you have heavy window treatments you might consider replacing them with simple side panel curtains. Hang them as high as you can and let them at least touch the floor.
Here is another saying to memorize about curtains…
Hang them high, swing them low.
There are tons of inexpensive curtains that would look lovely in a living room or family room.
When we moved to the Tanglewood house, our second forever home, I hung the curtains from StoneGable. Slowly I replaced them with one’s that work with this house. You can see them in the images above.
Now, let’s talk about what is on the floor of your living room.
If you have wall-to-wall carpeting you might want to get it cleaned if it is a great color that would work with your updated look and it is in good shape.
If not, then have it replaced with something that creates beauty in your room. Again, an updated carpet! There are so many great choices now!
If you have floors that are wood or tile or other hard substances you might look for an area rug that is big enough for at least the front feet of your living room furnishings to sit on it. A rug that is too small for a room just screams for attention, and not the good kind of attention!
So far we have addressed the furnishings that will update a living room with the most dramatic effect!
The sofa, the walls, the window treatments and the flooring.
Now let’s talk about other furniture in a living room or family room you might want to update.
One thing I change out often is accent chairs. I have a collection of them in the basement. They all work together in style and color. I’m just not afraid to change them out because they can be so reasonably priced!
I think, for the most part, we don’t need to spend big bucks on chairs. I have many chairs that are under $250.00 and they have held up for years! So here is where you can save! Chairs don’t have to be expensive!
And lucky you if you have chairs you can use or slipcover!
Now let’s look at coffee tables and end tables and accent tables and such.
If they won’t work in your updating project then you can find new ones that do. How about looking for them second hand? Or painting them?
If you have matching coffee and end tables break up the set. Use the coffee table and not the end tables or use the end tables and not the coffee table. Matchy-matchy will ruin the whole updated look.
Oh, another hard truth but you won’t believe the difference that change will make!
MIRRORS AND LAMPS
These are larger pieces of accent decor. Again, like chairs you don’t have to spend a fortune one expensive mirrors and lamps.
Just have enough. Lamps should have multiple functions, ambient, task and accent lighting.
I think lamp shades date a room way more than the lamps themselves. Make sure your lampshades are big enough and are classic shapes. Keep them neutral!
And mirrors should reflect light and the beautiful things in your room.
The image above, to me, is all one color! Not what I was going for! I do like the “form and proportion” of the items in this corner of my room though.
Easy fix to give it a little more life. I’m going to paint the mirror and change out the lampshade. That will give this little area new life!
UPDATING A LIVING ROOM WITH ACCENT DECOR
For me, this is just so fun! I love to embellish things!
Accent decor should finish, enhance and bring your personality to a room! And when updating a living room we want our personality to shine!
I like to update my living room with more trendy items because accent decor is usually inexpensive and I don’t mind changing it up now and then.
My mantra for accent decor is…
BIGGER IS BETTER AND LESS IS MORE
Collections of little items grouped together do not look nearly as nice as a vignette with one of those collectibles as a part of the vignette.
We should strive to enhance our living room not clutter it up! Ouch, sorry! Another hard truth!
A CURATED LOOK
This is a lesson I have learned over and over again so many times in my own home. I think a home takes time to decorate so its true beauty shows!
A developed or curated or tastefully-collected-over-time look can not be done quickly.
Just this last weekend I walked through our great room and said to myself, “finally, I can honestly say I think it looks pretty”. It has taken over a year to say that!
Not that I thought our great room was ugly, it just takes time for a room to evolve into its potential!
Over time I have changed and rearranged and collected pieces for our great room. And it is paying off.
I know my style and and love my color palette. I’ve made a plan for this room and worked it!
One of the last things I need, in this round of updating my great room, is a rug. The old sisal rug is unraveling and shedding and showing its age. It owes me nothing!
I would love love love to put the same rug that is in our master bedroom in our living room but I cannot find it in a 9 x 12 or a 10 x 14.
This rug is just so gorgeous and so much prettier in real life! You can see it HERE.
I’m still looking! And this makes the point, change takes time and patience!
So, are we still friends? I know I’ve told you some truths that are a bit emotional and hard! I know change is often uncomfortable.
The bottom line when you want to update anything is…
YOU CAN DO IT!
You just can’t do it all today and it will not be free.
But with a budget and a plan and these savvy tips and ideas, you will be successful!
Now go make a plan! And start updating your room!