Is your living room looking dull? Has it started to look scuffed and faded, or are you simply bored of it? Whatever the case, you can bring it back to life with the right care and attention. You don’t need a big budget to do this – just a willingness to put in the work and hone your DIY skills. The simple techniques discussed here will make that tired old room into a place you can’t wait to show off.
Get creative with paint
There’s nothing like a fresh coat of paint to brighten up the walls, but why settle for plain colors? Learning a few painting techniques can give you designer walls at a very low cost. Among the simplest techniques is scumbling, where you paint a coat of one color and then make a glaze out of another and used scrunched-up newspaper or a rag to pad it across the wall, adding contrast or depth. You can use multiple layers for a richer effect, or mix plain colors with metallics. If you prefer something more linear, then use a long ruler to help you paint stripes or even plaid. If you like the idea of permanent pictures, letters or flourishes, then consider using stencils.
Make your own frames
Even old mirrors and mediocre paintings that you want to keep for their sentimental value can look amazing with the right frames, so why not make your own? Plain, unadorned mirrored glass is cheap, but you can spend a great deal on an ornate frame – or make one using wood, varnish and metallic paint. Blurring the paint against the surface of the wood uneasily gives the impression of age. Alternatively, invest in a mold and make your own plaster shapes to add to a frame. These can look stunning when painted. You can even carve your own mold or sculpt one out of clay.
Create a photo wall
Odd-shaped walls where it’s hard to fit much around the furniture make ideal places to hang photos – not in the orderly way that you’ll see on most walls but all jumbled together in small frames like a collage. This can produce a dramatic effect and it’s a great way to celebrate your loved ones or recall happy memories. If you don’t have suitable photos, then consider using postcards and maps to help you remember places you’ve visited.
Fit wood paneling
There’s nothing like wood paneling to make a room look truly elegant. Traditional hip-height wainscoting is surprisingly easy to create using new wood or, more cheaply, wood reclaimed from old floorboards or pallets. After nailing it to the wall, simply run a straight piece of wood along the bottom and a molded piece of wood – or a thin strip – along the top to finish off. The trick to getting it to look good is to use a sander to even out any unwanted bumps once it’s in place, and then use a woodstain or paint to create an even appearance.
Make more of your windows
Windows should be fantastic features, but they’re sadly neglected in many homes. Do away with drab old drapes and fit some DIY shutters, which you can stain, varnish or paint any way you want. This gives you the option of making a dramatic color statement and it immediately adds elegance to the room. It also gives you much more control over light, helping to ensure that the rest of your décor is shown off to best effect.
Re-cover your soft furniture
If you can’t afford to replace your old sofa and chairs or can’t find replacements that really suit your style, why not re-cover them yourself? It’s not difficult to do, though you will need a sewing machine to do it well. It’s important to find a fabric that’s sufficiently hard-wearing and fireproof. You can even embroider your new covers for a unique look, but don’t embroider the bits that you’ll be sitting on as you’ll end up uncomfortable and they’ll end up tearing.
Let loose the plants
A bit of greenery always helps to bring a room to life, and you don’t need to restrict it to your coffee table, mantelpiece and window sills. You can fill shelves with plants, use hanging baskets for trailing plants, or train climbing plants up netting placed against your walls. Just make sure that you match the amount of light that each plant needs to its position in the room. Although they require ongoing care, plants freshen the air in the room in return and can add wonderful scents.
These simple techniques will give your living room a new lease of life. You’ll also feel revitalized when you spend time in it.