A living room is a gathering place for friends and family, so its furniture should be tasteful and reflect your personal style even if you have to keep it on the inexpensive side. If you're the kind of person that has a champagne taste with a beer pocket, don't despair; you can find furniture that will suit your taste and budget! If you've just moved into a new apartment or home, you should size up the room and take measurements before buying larger pieces of furniture, such as sofas and tables. You don't want to waste time and money on pieces that simply will not fit into the room. If you have been living in the same place for a while and just want to snap things up a bit, there are a multitude of cost-effective methods you can use.
Because how much you spend is a priority, you will need to have an idea of what various pieces of furniture go for and their value and quality. But first you need to know what you want to put in the room, and the look you want to achieve. For ideas, you may want to flip through some magazines, such as Better Homes & Gardens, that provide useful tips on decorating for less.
To get an idea of what sofas, tables and chairs cost, if you are purchasing them, online resources are invaluable for comparison shopping. For example, nextag.com provides prices and useful descriptions about sectionals, sofas, sofa-chairs, loveseats, chaises or tables, and whether they are appropriate for small or large spaces. A site called Overstock offers a wide variety of items, including furniture, that have been drastically reduced. You can also look on eBay for new and used pieces, or check out Craigslist to see whether there are any estate or moving sales in your area. Though you should be careful when purchasing used furniture; many advise against this now with the potential for bed bug outbreaks.
If you'd rather touch and see firsthand the furniture you intend to buy, try stores such as Ikea for tasteful, Scandinavian-style furniture at rock-bottom prices. Ikea's online site is a great reference point before you trek to the store. The user-friendly site's photos offer inspiration on how to combine and arrange furniture. Here are some other helpful tips that will help you save money on furniture and accessories:
Sofas and Loveseats
Decide what your living room lacks or has too much of. For instance, does it need more color or less? A Nutmeg Paisley loveseat would be a great choice as a contrast against light-colored walls, and will make an otherwise nondescript room pop. Such a loveseat can be ordered online for under $400, for example, at Overstock. Or for something more subdued, try an apartment-sized Khaki-colored chenille sofa, also for less than $400. A word of caution: When ordering online, check if assembly is required and read consumer reviews to see whether that was a drawback for customers.
Tables are a necessary element in any living room, and because they come in so many shapes and sizes, you can put them almost anywhere. You can economize on space by using end tables, which are less expensive than coffee tables. If you really want to save money, you can make an end table instantly with a stack of books. It's easy. Just stack up your favorite hardbacks and place a wood tray on top. But remind your guests not to use it as a library after they put a Bloody Mary on top!
Speaking of books, another great addition to a living area is a bookcase to show off your intellectual side. A more frugal alternative to a traditional bookcase is a bookcase ladder. Bookcase ladders fit almost anywhere and they are as beautiful as they are utilitarian. The ladder allows you to reach books that are higher up. You can purchase one for under $100.
Lighting is another element that can't be ignored, and the choices in this department are infinite. There are lamps of every type, including jelly-jars and torchiere floor lamps, an economical choice that also conserves on space and energy. Wall sconces provide beautiful ambient lighting. Chandeliers always add a touch of class, but they can be expensive. For a table lamp that has a vibrant modern look, go to Lamps Plus. There you can find lamps for under $100.
Patterned rugs can add tactile and visual excitement to a room. Traditional Persian-style rugs can cost a few thousand dollars. Consider eco-friendly fibers such as sisal, seagrass or jute. A natural fiber rug will add an earthy feel to your room. Depending on the size, you can pick one up for under $89. A B C Carpet & Home is a good source for a wide variety of rugs and floor coverings, but you can also find reasonable rugs at Home Depot and home improvement stores.
Art is a matter of personal taste, but wall hangings and artwork speak volumes about you, and create important focal points. Avoid cheap-looking, mass-produced artwork that looks like it should be hanging over a motel room bed. You can also easily make a wall hanging of any size. Just put together a wood frame, and staple a fabric with an eye-catching design over it. How about hanging a series of three clocks with different time zones? Or visit an outdoor flea market, and you can support a local artist and get a great deal at the same time. For the best art, hang artwork of family and friends, like your niece's oil painting of a farm scene she painted years ago. Don't underestimate your talents either, Renoir. Frame and hang your best artwork.
Mirrors can add dimension to a room and can channel positive energy by bringing views from outdoors into a room if placed correctly. You can either hang a mirror, or for one with a large, ornate frame, prop it against the wall and save yourself the effort and the hole in the wall. You can pick up a used one at a flea market or garage sale for practically nothing. You can also buy attractive mirrors at places like Home Depot, Kohl's or Target. A Martha Stewart Carbon Black 26 inch-by-36-inch mirror, for example, runs under $200.
You can't sing their praises enough. Flower arrangements in attractive vases offer unparalleled elegance. No need to buy a costly dozen roses at a florist anymore. Most grocery stores have their own floral departments today. You can get a bouquet of your favorite flowers on sale any day of the week.