Where to spend and save on a living room to get the most out of your budget

These expert tips will ensure you allocate your living room budget wisely

A modern living room with a grey sofa and plants
(Image credit: Future/David Giles)

If you're looking to refresh your living area, whether that's with a full-blown renovation or just a few tweaks, it's helpful to know which areas are worth splurging on, and which ones you can afford to strip back. 

Knowing where to spend and save on living room ideas will help you allocate your budget wisely, and create a space you're happy with. There's nothing worse than splashing the cash on something to then discover you could have saved the money and put it towards something else.

So you don't make any costly mistakes when planning your dream living room, we've asked interior design experts to share advice on how best to spend your budget. Getting clear on where to spend and save on a living room is something you're going to thank yourself for later.

Where to spend and save on a living room

Just like with where to spend and save on a kitchen, you need to get clear on your living room priorities before you go out and buy anything. If there's one element that stands out above the rest as being important to you, then naturally you should allocate more of your budget to it. 

That being said, the experts are pretty much agreed that there are certain areas of the living room that are worth investing in, and other areas where you can save your money. Here's everything you need to know about where to spend and save on a living room.

Where to spend

Sofas and armchairs

Living room with white walls, modern art painting hung above a yellow sofa with cushions

(Image credit: Future PLC/Joanna Henderson)

Sofas and armchairs are often the focal point in the living room, so if you're going to splurge in one area, the best sofa is a good place to start.

'Your largest investment should be on sofas and armchairs that reflect your design aspirations, but also offer comfort and will stand up to the rigours of everyday life,' says Danielle Le Vaillant, Head of Photography and Film, Cox & Cox. 'We recommend focusing on sofas and armchairs that are designed to last and will weather fluctuations in style.'

'You’ll likely spend a lot of time sitting on your sofas and armchairs, so you’ll want them to stand the test of time,' agrees Lena Gierasinska, Head of Product & Displays, Barker and Stonehouse. 'A good quality frame upholstered in a beautiful, yet durable fabric is key.'

Like the experts say, the sofas are an investment that will pay off over a lifetime, so it's worth shopping at the highest price point your budget allows.


Living room with blue bookshelf on wall and armchair

(Image credit: Future)

Having ample storage space in the living room means your space will be less cluttered and more organised. This makes living room storage ideas the key to achieving both style and functionality.

If your budget allows, we recommend investing in bespoke storage solutions, to really make the most of the space and incorporate storage into the design. For example, any alcoves or corners in your living room could be fitted with open shelving instead of going unused. You can mix open and closed storage for versatility. 

It's important to invest in hard-wearing storage, be it shelves, bookcases, cabinets, or baskets. Good-quality pieces will allow you to use your living room storage for whatever purpose you need, without having to replace them down the line. 


Neutral living room with task lighting on different surfaces.

(Image credit: Future)

Living room lighting ideas have a big impact on the space, which is why the experts recommend investing in good quality light sources that will do a good job of illuminating the room.

'I recommend investing in lighting as this will have a big impact on the look and feel of the living room, completely transforming the atmosphere at the flick of a switch,' says Lena from Barker & Stonehouse. 'A statement chandelier looks luxurious, and looks as good off as it does on.'

It's best to have multiple sources of light in the living room, so you can cast shadows and create ambience in a relaxed, easy way. Upgrade to smart lightbulbs and you'll have more control over the level of light in the space, which is a clever trick for making your living room feel more luxurious

Where to save


white boucle sofas in neutral living room

(Image credit: Barker and Stonehouse)

Though your living room floor will hold a lot of traffic, it doesn't mean you need to break the bank for it. Vinyl flooring is a budget-friendly option that looks just as good as the likes of stone or hardwood floors.

'Designed to look like solid wood, real stone and ceramic tiling, vinyl flooring gives the authentic appeal of hardwood flooring without the expensive price tag, providing remarkable durability, particularly for families with busy homes,' says Carly Greening, Creative Product Manager, The Floor Room. 'It’s far more affordable than real wood and even offers non-slip qualities.’ 

You can even install vinyl flooring yourself, saving further money on costs which you could invest in other areas of the living room.


Living room with built in shelving and decorative furnishings, large pink L-shaped sofa

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Though accessories are integral to the living room's aesthetic, you don't need to spend a lot of money on them. There are a lot of affordable living room accessories on the market that look just as good as their more expensive counterparts. 

Living room accessories also aren't going to experience the same level of wear and tear as furniture that's being used or sat on. You can also swap out your accessories to reflect seasonal changes throughout the year, which is even more of a reason to save some cash when shopping for them. 

'If your budget is tight, save money on smaller accessories like cushions,' says Lena Gierasinska. 'Stylish scatter cushions are an affordable and effortless way to update your living room and can be swapped out seasonally.'


A modern living room with a grey sofa and plants

(Image credit: Future PLC/Anna Stathaki)

If you want to layer your living room floor with a gorgeous rug, don't feel like you have to spend an extortionate amount on one. Like with accessories, there are so many affordable options on the market that can add the perfect finishing touch to your space.

With small living room ideas, saving on a rug is even more wise, as much of it may be covered by furniture. Living room rugs are added as an extra element to elevate your living room's final aesthetic, which is why it's an area you can save money on. Think of it as a bonus rather than a fundamental aspect. 

Try shopping for a living room rug at a thrift store. Vintage-style rugs add a touch of luxury to living rooms and will make your living room look expensive without a hefty cost.


How much should I spend on my living room?

'Choosing how much to spend when designing your living room comes mostly down to personal preference and budget,' says Sam Greig, Senior Designer, Swoon. 'Once you know your budget, you can choose which items to invest in, and which to save on.'

How much you should spend on your living room also depends on how much of an update it needs. Structural changes like knocking down walls or rewiring electrics are going to need a much higher budget than projects that focus on new furniture and accessories. 

'Unlike kitchens and bathrooms, the living room is a bit of a moveable feast when it comes to allocating budget, especially if larger projects like updating or adding a fireplace are already covered,' says Danielle from Cox & Cox.

As the experts say, make sure to set a realistic budget for your living room before you purchase anything. 

Is it worth spending money on a sofa?

When it comes to where to spend and save on a living room, the sofa is firmly up there in the spend category for most experts. 

'Buy once, buy well, is our approach to buying any substantial piece of homeware. There is so much to be gained in terms of comfort and durability in a premium sofa that far outweighs the initial investment,' Danielle says. 'While a cheaper sofa might be sitting in a skip in a few years time, a custom made piece is made to last, with a hard-wearing frame that can be reupholstered rather than replaced in years to come.'

It's especially worth spending money on a sofa if you want it to be a focal point in the living room. However, living room budgets are ultimately personal, and you may feel that you'd rather save money on a sofa and invest in a statement coffee table instead. 

Knowing where to spend and save on a living room is the first step to creating the ultimate stylish - and functional - space. Where will you be splashing the cash on your living room?

Katie Sims

Katie Sims has been writing for Ideal Homes since spring 2022. She qualified from her Master’s in Media and Journalism in 2021 and has been writing freelance since. She has worked on Ideal Home’s ecommerce team where she researched the best home products on the market, and on the news team, researching the latest trends for feature pieces.