1. Clearing up is the cheapest decorating idea

Yes, I know it’s boring and I know your fingers are poised to go online shopping for pretty things. After all, you spent the past hour on Pinterest looking at living room ideas on a budget. Whittling away cash on small purchases stops you saving for the dream sofa.

Stick with me. Grab a pair of bin-bags - one green and one black and toss out 27 items. “Why 27?” you ask. It’s a magic number. Don’t debate it, just do it. Once you get rid of those items (not hide, not stash get RID) there is a strong chance that the next person who walks in will ask if you have “done something” with this room. That’s the magic, the new clear spaces are gentle on your eyes and mind in a way that objects are not.

2. Curation is a low budget trick to improve your living room

Now is a good time to take a look at your belongings. Maybe while you were throwing things out you did Marie Kondo’s “Spark Joy” test. The Japanese tidying expert tells her clients to hold items close and see if they feel loving towards them. That’s how it’s done in Ireland these days thanks to Netflix.

So, you now have a pile of items that are not going in the bin. Well, if you love them that much, display them. This is another magic trick. Your personal taste and loves are priceless. When you need DIY small living room ideas on a budget, remember that the letter Y in DIY stands for you. Your book, your ornaments, your trinkets are precious because YOU chose them.

Take a little time, maybe with music playing, to arrange and rearrange the things that warm your heart. Like a gallery owner putting on an expo you are curating a display about you.


3. Shelves work hard to lift a small space

Did you do a shelfie last year? This trend for colour coding your bookshelves may have been started by the Harry Potter fans. It continues to spread and people are arranging books, plants and ornaments often on very plain shelves.

It is normal when you visit a furniture store to imagine how a new sofa would transform your living room. It would, but look away for now. The little items in the background like shelves, stands and holders are what you need to complete the job of curating.

4. Plants work hard to make your living room lovely

Ok, I will briefly loosen my grip on your purse strings to suggest you buy a few cacti and green plants. Snake plants were a big hit on Instagram last year but remember this is Ireland not California. Boston ferns and spider plants clear the air too. 

If you are good with plants then a striking San Severus plant can add structure and height to your shelfie but cacti are easier.  

Cute cacti pots with little faces are a very cozy living room idea for anyone on a budget. Frida Kahlo is the mini plant pot hit of 2020. Living room ideas for 2021 will see more cute pottery.

5. Storage suits small spaces

In a small living room the rule with storage is “use it then lose it.” As Irish people, we can be clutter bunnies with attics, sheds and cupboards full of stuff. For that very reason some people avoid items like storage footstools and chests of drawers. In a small room you really do need a place for everything.  

Magazine racks, TV units with shelves and storage boxes have to be emptied regularly but, hey, that costs nothing. If you are doing interior design in a living room on a low budget then keeping a lid of the clutter allows the furniture you already own to (Mister) shine.


6. Tricks with mirrors

You probably already know that carefully placed mirrors can create an illusion of space. Anyone who has lived in London, New York or Paris with a small garden or flat will know that cheap but effective trick. It need not be a wall mirror either. A mirrored chest can lift a dark corner.

7. Transparent furniture

That’s glass. It’s transparent because it’s glass, ok? A low coffee table of dark wood can feel like a dead weight in a small room. A glass table will need to be kept tidy but the glass will add airiness and light.

8. Lamps are in demand as night shorten

A new lamp is the ultimate in interior design ideas on a budget. I’ll be pass-remarkable here. Many Irish homes have horrible old lamps.  

The next time you go to the furniture shop to visit ‘your’ sofa, try taking a very good look at the lamps. Do you normally avoid the modern unusual ones? Well, don’t. Try to imagine how that odd lamp will light up your living room. If it is change you want, then lighting is a powerful secret weapon.

9. Texture, wood grain shimmer and sparkle

All I’m saying is think about it. In terms of low budget decorating, it pays to think about textures. It is so often the one final missing element in a nice but bland room. A metallic or furry something can add personality. And speaking of personality, we must talk about art.


10. Art - do you know what you love?

If you want cheap decorating ideas for living room walls then art can go a long way. If the budget is tight, avoid paint. It’s pricey. End of. There are two main rules to decorating walls: 

  • The first is to go high. How many rooms have you seen where the ideas end at the top of the sofa?  Prints and sculptures add texture and personality to a space. They also add height.
  • The second rule is this isn’t your ma’s house. It’s yours. If you are in the mindset of taking your tastes and choices seriously, then it becomes easier to look at pictures and know what you want to share your living room with. Maybe you have a spirit animal? Rar! It is likely you have photos on your phone. Grab a gorgeous frame and print up pics of people you love. Gallery walls are a trend that’s here to stay.

Your budget may be little but you have one thing in abundance - and that is time. Take your time. Enjoy the process. A big budget is not the ‘be all and end all’. A gallery wall built gradually after a few pay days will be different from one made with a speedy purchase of frames and artwork.  

Did you find these tips helpful? Please share with anyone you know who could use some ideas about interior design, styling on a budget, and buying furniture online.

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