With so much time spent in our living space, it can begin to feel tired and uninspiring pretty quickly. But sometimes you don't have the time, nor the budget, for a complete overhaul. Cue, simple living room ideas that will make your space feel brand new, all while requiring minimal effort.
With a few tweaks, you can give your living room an entire need look and feel so that relaxing and socialising in it feels energising and up-to-date. Whether it's removing items, restyling shelves, or revamping the furniture you already own, there are multiple ways to quickly refresh a room.
Painting walls and purchasing new items might be your usual go-to living room ideas, but the changes don't always need to be dramatic to make a difference. Quick tips and tricks for rearranging the room and working with what you already own will make your lounge feel expertly designed.
Simple living room ideas to update decor
Replacing outdated cushions and lampshades with stylish new on-trend accessories in the same hue can be transformative. If your much-loved sofa has seen better days, consider having it reupholstered in a gorgeous new fabric.
Furniture placement very much determines the feel and function of any living room, meaning by merely changing things up we can help to change the entire decor.
'The way a room is accessorised is an important part of a successful scheme' says interior designer, Jenny Allan. 'It is the finishing touches that take a design to the next level. Accessories should be included throughout create a homely, dressed feel without being too cluttered.'
Ready to give your living room a beautiful new look? Take a look through these easy and simple living room ideas for plenty of design inspiration.…
1. Work in wall panelling
Looking for a simple fix to make a huge impact in your living room? Wall panelling ideas are easier to integrate that you might think.
Panelling takes inspiration from boutique hotel interiors, making an interior feel instantly luxe and bespoke. And luckily, it's relatively low-cost and simple to add into your living room. Wood panelling, in particular, is an easy way to ground a space so that it's ready-made for cosy nights in and relaxing morning coffees.
You can purchase slabs of the panels so that fitting them together and attaching to the wall is quick and simple, using Just a light adhesive. These precut panels from Homebase are guaranteed to make this DIY task a breeze.
2. Fix your blinds
Your window fittings aren't something you likely update regularly, but they can have a huge impact whether a room feels dated. Unless you want to achieve a bespoke design, changing out blinds or curtains will actually be a relatively simple window treatment idea to update a living room.
'Window treatments are a make-or-break part of a room, as they serve both a functional and decorative purpose. From thick wool curtains to woven wood shades, the key is to create a harmonious look and avoid diminishing the amount of natural light in the room', says Kelly Collins, Head of Creative at Swyft.
So if your living room is feeling dark or uninspired, consider adding a quick burst of character through ready-made roller blinds to give the whole room a new lease of life.
3. Look to lighting
'Lighting is an important part of creating the right atmosphere,' says Kelly. Whether you're anti-big light or love illuminating the entire room, updating your living room lighting is a simple way to refresh the entire look and feel of a space.
'Table lamps on in the evenings will create a relaxed, cosy atmosphere. You can also create distinctive zones in your room based on the lighting. Think about the placements of lights and test them out in the evening to determine whether each zone is covered. Use a variety of lamp styles including table lamps, ceiling fixtures, or floor lamps', Kelly recommends.
Consider the tone of your lights too. Warm white will work well for nights spent in front of the TV, whereas a cool white will be beneficial if you use a living room for working.
4. Focus on versatility
Sometimes all your living room needs to feel good as new is a simple switch around. Modular furniture offers the flexibility to try new layouts, so that you can find a set-up that works for you and your lifestyle.
Zoning will be your best friend, whether it's creating a spot for quiet reflective moments or an area that is ideal for entertaining, specific zones will elevate how you use your home. This is especially useful in open plan living rooms, as you can dictate how the room is split up to give it a completely new purpose.
'If you find yourself regularly getting bored by your set-up, modular furniture might be the solution for you. For example, a modular sofa will keep your living room suited to your desired lifestyle with flexibility for future changes,' echoes Kelly.
6. Rearrange the furniture
The easiest, cheapest and often most effective way to revamp a living room is rearranging the furniture. I have personally just done this and cannot express the difference it has made to how I now use the space! Moving an armchair to sit directly across from the sofa, with a central coffee table has created more of a social layout – while moving a home office desk and chair to the other side of the room with a bookcase has prevented it from feeling imposing on the 'living' essence of the room.
Step back and look at how you can rethink the layout to refresh the Feng Shui of the space. If space is limited you may only be able to move smaller furniture pieces, but even moving furniture away from the walls can be transformative.
'It’s a myth that pushing furniture up against walls makes a room feel bigger,' says Wayfair’s resident style advisor, Nadia McCowan Hill. 'In actual fact your room will feel far more spacious and pulled together if you pull sofas and larger items of furniture slightly away from the walls'.
7. Add style with a gallery wall
Instantly add a sense of curated style with a feature gallery wall idea. From treasured family photos to favoured artwork, covering an entire wall with framed prints helps to add oodles of personality. This idea instantly updates walls in a living space without having to redecorate with colour or wallpaper.
'An assortment of artwork in a variety of mediums works brilliantly on an accent wall' explains Benji Lewis, founder of Zoom That Room. 'Think about mixing an antique oil painting with a pair of contemporary prints, a set of watercolours and a textile. When you plan a gallery wall, lay the items you wish to hang on the floor and plan what works best where' he advises.
'If the frames don’t all match it doesn’t matter, you can even include an unframed piece. It’s all about the planning and working out the best configuration to showcase what you wish to display.'
It's easily achievable on a budget, seek frames from IKEA or by using home decor discount codes to keep costs low - or even go to charity shops and secondhand stores to source a selection of alternative frames.
8. Swap the cushions
One of the best ways to give a room a refresh is with a hit of colour or pattern, but you don't have to start repainting or pasting up wallpaper. Instead, consider the humble cushion. Whatever the current colour palette a refresh of cushions and throws goes a long way to change the decor – in an instant. Cushions are an easy way to layer colour and pattern on neutral sofas and armchairs
Add a bold accent colour or decorative pattern to work a current interior trend to breathe new life into your existing decor. When choosing cushions, take your colour and pattern cues from existing artworks or fabric designs. Here a grey sofa is updated with a collection of cushions in shades that pick out other hues in the room. By selecting harmonious colours, you can afford to mix a range of designs in different scales without it jarring.
Try changing your cushions with the seasons opting for delicate florals, painterly prints and light graphics as spring approaches and heavier textures and deeper colours in the winter.
9. Change the backdrop
Refresh a lack lustre living room with a new colour scheme. Start by painting one wall (or all of them) in sage green for a calm backdrop, then add touches of warm mustard and grey on furnishings and art for contrast.
10. Wow with wallpaper
Wallpaper is a really simple way to give your living room a completely new design. Whether you choose to wallpaper a feature wall idea, all four walls or even ceilings – wallpaper is a sure way to transform your living room.
Choose block-print patterns as a stylish neutral backdrop, create a mid-century mood with a 1950s-style design, or instantly create a relaxed coastal feel with weathered-wood effect paper.Or compliment a tonal palette, like in this grey living room idea, with a pattern that matches the colour palette exactly to avoid clashing and overpowering. Add a few decorative accessories to complete the look.
11. Get creative with walls
A thoughtful living room paint idea can transform the look and feel of your living space. An alternative use of paint can help to update the decor for a more contemporary take on using the latest paint trends, as this fine example shows. Carefully using a light tac masking tape there's a division of colour, to add depth to the decorating scheme.
The bottom half of the wall, including the door to make the space feel bigger, is saturated in a brooding dark shade of blue while the top half provides a stark contrast in a lighter tone.
12. Change window treatments
Frame the window with a new perspective by changing your current window treatment of choice. If you have the budget look to add a contemporary choice, sophisticated wooden shutters to ensure ultimate light control and privacy. If on a tighter budget look for blinds as a fitting alternative.
To add the perfect finishing touch add decorative curtains to dress the room. Even if you never need close them, thanks to the shutters or blinds below, curtains can make the room feel well-dressed.
13. Frame a window with colour
Embrace simple splashes of paint to lift a living room decorating scheme. Lift a plain scheme by accentuating a window recess or door frame with a bright, cheery shade. Create a similar effect by painting inside an alcove or unused fireplace.
14. Work in a new accent colour without paint
Transform your colour scheme by choosing a dominant accent colour to add through soft furnishings and accessories. This white living room idea welcomes a splash of vibrant yellow to add warmth to the look, giving it a more contemporary edge. The intentional bursts of the same colour lift the restful colour palette to give the whole decor a new direction.
'Neutral colour schemes are fairly timeless but adding a pop of colour through changing up artwork, accessories, cushions and throws will be in vogue in 2022' predicts Jenny Allan, founder of Jenny Allan Design. 'Adding accent colours such as cobalt blue or buttercup yellow will add interest to any room.'
15. Welcome a hint of nature
Easy house plant ideas are transformative in any room, particularly in living rooms where we look to be relaxed to enjoy some downtime. Plants have the power to add a touch of lush green to perk up the colour scheme, but also welcome healing powers. 'Add some nature to maintain endorphins' suggests Benji.
'Nature and fresh air are known to put us in a good mood. Buy some pot plants to keep you smiling. Also, I love decorating them in the festive season for a different and fun dynamic.'
16. Layer pattern and colour on floors
A simple way to perk up a living room colour scheme is with colourful accent accessories. Rugs welcome a splash of colour and pattern to liven up plain floors. 'If you have dull carpets, wooden floorboards or cheap linoleum flooring, a rug can right some wrongs!' says Heal’s Head of Buying, Sabina Miller.
She goes on to advise, 'The size of your space and furniture layout are the two main considerations when choosing a rug size. Avoid the common mistake of buying a rug that’s too small – if you’re unsure or between sizes, go on the larger side for a final look that feels thoughtful instead of haphazard.'
17. Hang mirrors
Instead of filling a wall with pictures, which can have a claustrophobic effect, why not bring interest to a room with mirrors? They will help bounce light around the room, enhancing the sense of space – a beneficial small living room idea. Don't be too regimented in how you hang them and don't overcrowd the wall - three or four designs in different sized complementary shapes will be more effective.
18. Ditch the coffee table
Free up some floor space by swapping a large coffee table, for smaller side tables, pouffes or a nest of tables. Lighter-weight pieces are easy to dot around - and to move around- so they won't obstruct the flow of the living room.
19. Enhance a point of focus
If your living room features a focal fireplace, dado rail or wall panelling to add interest to the walls look to enhance it to give definition to the detailing. This stylish living room uses a bright shade of yellow to bring attention to the detailing of the fireplace, wall cladding and display shelf. The injection of such a bold colour helps to anchor the use of colour to the bottom half of the room to avoid it overpowering.
The highlighted shelf then becomes the ideal place to draw attention to an on-trend circular round mirror, artwork and trinkets.
20. Display art on shelves
For an easy-to-change room feature, try displaying framed pictures on shelves for a stylish living room feature wall idea. Propped against the wall they have a casual yet stylish look and can easily be added to or replaced with other pictures should the mood take you. Exhibition posters or vintage adverts are particularly chic.
21. Give your coffee table a centrepiece
More than merely functional, make your coffee table the perfect place to display. In this scheme, a simple bouquet of fresh flowers adds a hint of natural beauty to the room alongside some decorative curios. Use it to display books, candles and flowers and place it close to seating. Moving your accessories around every so often will help to switch up the look.
Try to feature a range of different textures. Objects found while beach-combing, on holidays or on country walks have happy associations and will act as an aide-memoire. You could also group more decorative items, such as ceramics or other ornaments to equally eye-catching effect.
22. Paint the finer details
Want a simple and cost-effective way to add some colour to your living room? Paint a traditional fire surround in an eye-popping shade of yellow. Highlighting the fireplace creates a natural point of focus in a living room.
Give a traditional living room a surprise new element with an eye-popping paint colour. The pale grey and off-white colour scheme lacked punch before, but painting the fire surround in a bold shade of yellow helps to create a statement focal point.
Carry the colour through on one or two key pieces, such as an accent side table, cushions and patterned rug.
23. Hang simple storage
Implement a simple living room storage idea to make the space more useable. A clutter-free living space helps to restore order, changing the vibe of the room. Less clutter means it feels more restful.
Hanging easy-access baskets for storage will encourage even the youngest family members to tidy away. Fix a selection sturdy metal hooks on the wall at staggered heights and hook a handled basket on each. Willow baskets are great for quick end-of-day tidy-ups for magazines, iPads, toys and other stuff that tends to make a living feel cluttered when left out.
24. Welcome personality to walls
Love typography? Adorn a wall with a meaningful quote or phrase – it'll liven up a plain space and provide a great talking point for guests. Neon lighting is having a real moment, making it the perfect choice to add decoration and an ambient highlight to the scheme.
25. Coordinate a decorating theme
Refresh a tired living room with a cheery new colour treatment. Go for a bright contrast that will energise the space, such as this turquoise and yellow combination, or experiment with pairing colours like orange and grey, or pink and cobalt blue.
Use large blocks of colour to give the scheme more impact, such as on a sofa and armchair, against a backdrop of a plain white wall to stop the colour overwhelming the room. Finally, create a mini gallery of wall art with picture frames painted in co-ordinated shades.
26. Shine a light on statement designs
If it's instant glamour that you're looking for, invest in one piece that will transform the room. Consider fitting statement lighting, such as an oversized chandelier or an on-trend pendant. As the central focus of the room, even more so at night when the lights are on, a new statement design goes a long way to lift the rest of the decor.
27. Be bold with block colour
Love dramatic colour? Transform your living room space by painting a feature wall in a bold paint shade to command attention. Copy this simple room by incorporating the radiator into your decorating colour of choice, to conceal it. Keep floors and furniture choices neutral to let the colour pop.
28. Rotate collections on display
Use your living room's natural focal points as a means of displaying favourite pieces. If the room doesn't have a built-in feature such as a fireplace, create a focal point of your own with a striking console table or pair of bookcases.
Rotating your displays regularly provides an instant refresh and prevents a scheme from being too static. Vary height, shape and texture, but stick to a palette of two or three colours for a cohesive look. As well as hanging artwork, trying propping it too for a casual look.
29. Add a bookcase
Bookcases needn't be traditional or built into alcoves. Instead try an asymmetrical approach. In this scheme, a unit made of assorted cubby holes provides an intriguing storage solutions. Colour is added through books and accessories.
To break up the repetitive nature of a book collection, trying creating 'breathing space' in a scheme by using some shelves for decorative accessories, again tying in two or three colours for a unifying effect. This will add texture and depth to a room as well as essential storage.
What are simple living room ideas to update the decor?
There are plenty of simple ways to liven up a living room scheme. If plain walls need to be banished, one of the best options is to create a feature wall. Which is not only quicker than decorating an entire room, but wallpaper will introduce pattern and colour to the room on a smaller scale. You could also get a similar effect with a bold paint shade, such as deep blue, to create a cosy and inviting room scheme.
Bring a living room to life with decorative wooden lettering on the walls, or choose a bold, oversized artwork. And if you love the idea of wall pattern that can be easily changed, choose a wall sticker with stylish typography and a quote that makes your heart sing. Why not paint some inexpensive wooden picture frames to display cherished family photographs or travel photos? This is a great way to create a colourful display on a plain wall, or above a fireplace.
If you've been inspired by a designer piece that's out of budget (that gorgeous cushion you've had you eye on, perhaps?) get creative and either sew your own soft furnishings in a similar style, or update existing accessories. Or, you might decide to brighten up an unloved corner (space under the stairs is top of our list) with a new table lamp with a colourful, hand-painted lampshade.
Have fun with these simple but creative ideas that'll ring the changes without turning into a full room redo. Be inspired by the gorgeous ideas in our photo gallery and start planning your next weekend project.
What is the easiest way to decorate a living room?
When exploring simple living room ideas, you might be looking for quick fixes that will only take an evening, or part of your weekend. After all, with work, social plans, and life admin, it can be hard to fit interior decorating into the mix too.
There are plenty of ways to easily decorate a living room, without requiring too much forward planning or trips to the shops. One of the easiest ways to update a living room is with items that you already own - so try swapping some accessories over from elsewhere in your home to give them a new lease of life.
As Kelly says, 'Personalise the space with photos or artwork items that you have collected on your travels. Plants are also a great way to accessorise and they are relatively inexpensive.'
After all, the easiest ways to create a personality-packed living room will be in small, simple ways that add up over time.
How do you update a simple living room on a budget?
If you're trying to keep your living room simple and pared-back, then your redecorating focus should be more on the layout of the space, as opposed to adding more objects.
'Consider the placement of furniture and make use of natural light', says Kelly. If your living room feels stagnant and is due a refresh, it might be that the layout isn't working for you and your lifestyle. Sometimes all it takes is rearranging furniture to make a place feel brand new - and even better, it won't cost a penny.
Kelly recommends, 'When re-arranging your existing furniture, consider what is the primary use of your living room and how people move around the space.'
'What is your focal point? What area or items do you want to see first as you walk through the door?'. These are questions you should ask yourself when undertaking a simple living room update so that you can get the most out of your interior with minimal effort.
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Tamara was Ideal Home's Digital Editor before joining the Woman & Home team in 2022. She has spent the last 15 years working with the style teams at Country Homes & Interiors and Ideal Home, both now at Future PLC. It’s with these award wining interiors teams that she's honed her skills and passion for shopping, styling and writing. Tamara is always ahead of the curve when it comes to interiors trends – and is great at seeking out designer dupes on the high street.
- Holly CockburnContent Editor
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