How I Transformed My Family Room

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Those of you who know me personally know that my family has been through some recent struggles.  My husband and I started a hardware and lighting business several years ago before the economy took a nosedive.  For a while, things were good.  Fast forward a year or two and things became not so good.  Anyway, moving forward, my husband after many months of looking, found a job and we are beginning to dig out of our hole, one shovelful at a time.  Can I just say that I am thankful to have a husband who is a wonderful role model to our boys and who never gave up no matter how hard it was at times.

With all the changes that have taken place in our living room, you would think that finances were not an issue.  I am about to share with you how I made these changes without spending a dime.  This is not say that I owe anyone an explanation on how I spend money, but if this helps one person devise a plan for their home who feels that they can't afford it, then my time will be well spent with writing this post.  That said, grab some coffee, then come right back.

There was a time when my living room looked like this.  Not entirely awful, but not quite what I envisioned either.  As I have mentioned before, the scale of the sofa was wrong for the space and the ottoman looked like a blob.  Too many solid darks and not enough brightness and pattern.

I came up with a plan to sell the ottoman and sofa, and depending on what I could get out of them, I would then decide my plan for how to replace them.  Our local news paper has a deal allowing you to list items valued under $1000 for free.  Each week if the item hasn't sold, you can re-up the ad.  I did this and the ottoman sold the first week for $100.  Sweet.  Timing is everything.  Thanks to Erica, I found an ottoman at Walmart that had been marked down to $49.  This leaves me money to recover it with and room to purchase a pillow or three.  I know that many of you wouldn't step foot in Walmart let alone order furniture online, but I did.  Walmart offers  "site to store" which translates to free shipping to your local store.  I will say that the service I recieved at our local Walmart exceeded my expectations.  The employees were courteous, timely, and a nice man carried my package to my car and loaded it for me.  
Here she is with new fabric and a coat of glossy paint black.
The next week the sofa sold for $450.  Yippee.  The Ektorp from Ikea was our first choice and the $399 price tag made it even better.  Is this a sofa that will last a lifetime?  No, but honestly, the thought of 20 years worth of dead skin cells and cheese-it dust gives me the willies.  We purchased the white slip cover which is machine washable.  The Ektorp comes with lots of color options.  We wanted the washable option, but may revisit this at a later time.  Also, many of you have asked me to post about the Ektorp.  I plan to do so once the slip cover has been washed because I want to share with you everything I know.

Fast forward to now and here is what we have.  An ottoman that has air around it in a neutral pattern that adds interest to the room.  A sofa that is lighter and brighter with appropriate scale for the space.
Pillows that add a playful dose of color and reflect the turquoise that is also found on our front door and  accessories.  Mom made the throw and we adore it.  Also, the throw breaks up the sameness of the wing chairs a bit.

There you have it...the free re-do.

Amy Butler pillows - Etsy, Idari Shop
Chevron Pillow - Etsy, Nena Von
Pillow insert for Chevron pillow - Crate and Barrel
Sofa - Ikea
Ottoman - Walmart
Greek Key ottoman fabric - 1502 (High Point, NC)
Tree of Life pillow - Marshalls

 Other links relating to the room:
The curtains here and here


  1. I personally love WalMart. LOL. I always feel a bit embarassed telling people that things came from there when they ask, but at this time in our life, we HAVE to stay on a budget. If it means me NOT getting an item I want, vs. getting it at an affordable price, I'm all for it. I could list, right now, 10 items without even thinking, that we bought at Walmart and have held up REALLY well over the years.

    haha, this comment wasn't supposed to be about my love of WalMart, but it turned into that, didn't it? :)

  2. I love this post! Just goes to show how much you can do if you think before you spend. Beautiful updates.

  3. And that's why I'm a fan. I still need to paint my curtains.. I'm re-inspired.

  4. Rene, what a great post. I need to follow your advice for my living room--now that I work for myself I can't afford to spend to redo it. So, sell, and then buy carefully, like you. Your pillows are all fantastic and they really pop. The white sofa is smart and classic and fresh. Love it all! Thanks!

  5. What a wise - seller, shopper, and re-doer! Looks great.

  6. GREAT job! We've been through the wringer financially too, but I firmly believe that tight finances make you more creative. (I started painting because I needed some extra cash - I LOVE painting plus I have a need to be creative and have now been able to make that a fun "job" - thanks to tight finances!)

  7. That is so great! You did such a wonderful job and it just goes to show you that you don't have to spend a ton of money, or any money at all to spruce up or change a room! I would love to sit by that fire and drink some tea and chit chat! Very cozy!

  8. Thanks everybody and just in case you don't know about Trish's etsy shop, here is the link
    Her art is gorgeous!!


  9. I love your living room! Especially those Amy Butler pillows. After seeing that bedding and this ottoman, next time I am looking for something, I will have to try Walmart!

  10. Your room looks fresh and very up to date. Great shopping advice. Love your new look. Hugs, Marty

  11. So inspirational! I love how light and bright it is, and I ADORE how you did it all without spending money. I've really got to get on the ball.

  12. I love the living room redo, Rene. It's looks great. The ottoman redo is my fave! That greek key fabric is gorgeous. And I love the Ektorp. We have the Ektorp corner couch and we love it. White slipcover. I am going to wash it this weekend for the first time... can't wait to see how it turns out. :)

  13. Great post and very inspiring...the update is great with the perfect price tag! I always think it is smart to shop your own house first when beginning a project, so many things are hiding in corners and tucked away on shelves. Janell

  14. Great redo! I love that you used an Ikea sofa - it's what I'm asking Santa for this year :)

    Seriously beautiful transformation!

  15. Rene, what a wonderful post! Your changes have been thoughtful in more ways than one, and that is what design is really all about! I love the throw made by your mother too!

    I hope to replace our living room sofa with an Ektorp at some point. And one of my very favorite comforter sets came from K'Mart back in the day, and it's held up better than much more expensive ones I've purchased since! I'm a bargain shopper through and through so there's nothing wrong with finding things at great prices that work best for you, no matter where you shop!

    Kat :)

  16. This couch is at the top of my wish list! I have a completely empty formal living room and hope it turns out as nicely as yours :)

  17. I LOVE this post Rene and your honesty. It sounds like we are living parallel lives. Last year my husband got laid off from not one but two jobs within 8 months. Life as we knew it changed just like that. He has gotten a job with a great company since but he is in sales... it takes awhile to get the ball rolling. Your room looks beautiful. Oh and I currently have a jar of change on the kitchen window sill titled the ektorp jar! Let me know how that cover washes! Happy Thursday!

  18. I love your room -I would love to have the sofa from IKEA ( and I thought at one time I would never say that either ) But after being married and four boys one in college and three teenagers at home Let me shout from the roof top I LOVE WALMART and IKEA Ha lol Your home is absolutely beautiful and you cn tell there is a lot of love in your home -Enjoy your week-end

  19. As always, completely impressed. I think it is so good to illustrate that you don't have to spend an arm and a leg to have a beautiful home, AND a little bit of ingenuity and PATIENCE really pays off! Bravo!

    (Glad to hear things are looking up.!)

    --Gretchen O.

  20. You are so savvy and trifty...I love it! What a great idea to sell what you were not in love with to get what you really love! I am so impressed with all that you do...please keep sharing!!
    PS..Thanks for the info on the colors and mulch!

  21. Rene, this is such a great post illustrating how small things can make a difference even over time, on any budget.

    The ottoman looks so cool, I really like the fabric. The white sofa makes the biggest impact and those fun pillows are so, well, fun!

  22. Rene,
    Your home looks beautiful. Your living room is perfect. You are such a great example of being happy with what you have and making it wonderful! I think your sofa looks way more expensive than ikea. I am sorry you and your family have had some recent struggles. I do believe you are stronger getting through it together.

    Amy R.

  23. I love that you did all that with just selling and rebuying with that money. It all looks great. I love the pillows. Something I need to get.

  24. Brilliant! This is so inspiring and so REAL! Thank you for shedding some light that even through temporary financial difficulties, you can STILL live in a beautiful environment. Cheers!

  25. I love what you did and appreciate the creativeness you used to accomplish it so inexpensively!! Sometimes it doesn't occur to me re-vamp something new like you did with your ottoman. But that is the way to go really. It's clean unlike most of what you find in a thrift store...less elbow grease and you end up with a new and custom piece. Thanks for posting your game plan!!

  26. Your room is fab. Love your style. thrifty chic and tres chic!..Sinead

  27. Well, you have come through in style. One of the reasons I stop by your blog is for that very reason. We never have to sacrifice living well because of budget. Great ideas and inspiration.

  28. Your room looks beautiful! I can't wait to read your post about your Ikea sofa. I am trying to decide do we slip cover our current or by a new sofa.
    Isn't it awesome when you can make wonderful changes and not spend money!!
    P.S.(I love walmart!)

  29. Rene, I didn't know you had a business. My husband was laid off and looking for something else for 6 months last year, it can be scary. Your living room is beautiful! The new sofa and ottoman make all the difference.
    I love the idea of selling unwanted things on CL, we cleaned out our garage last year and went on vacation!

  30. I love the new look! The throw made by your mom is so pretty and adds some lovely texture. I posted this week about selling some pieces of furniture that were only likes, to get some items that are loves. I agree that it is a great way to get what you want, and sometimes make some extra money in the process.

  31. LOVE it all. What a great post. And I was laughing so hard when you talked about skin cells and crumbs giving you the willies. Isn't it funny how we are trained to think we should keep something forever? Love what you did. You have inspired me to do a little updating without spending money.

  32. LOVE your new room redo on a budget!!!! I have the ektorp in white too and love it!! I agree with you..I dont want 20 years of dead skin cells either!!LOL..LOVED your post!! Hugs~ Rachel ;)

  33. WONDERFUL post Rene! I love the changes you made and the fact that you did it without spending anything makes it all the better. Thanks for the inspiration!

  34. The room looks great and all for free! Great job. I am glad your husband found a job. I just keep praying the bank my husband runs stays afloat.

  35. So pretty and so appropriate for the times. You amaze me.
    Hugs for a job well done.

  36. You did an amazing job transforming your room! Doesn't it just make your day to find a great bargain and be creative with it?

  37. A beautiful transformation, and very inspiring to see anyone can make inexpensive changes for huge impact. Thank you for sharing.

  38. Rene, you're such an inspiration and you have talent! Wow! I love your drapes and lamps - LOVE them!!

  39. Rene, I love what you did with your zero-budget make over... And everytime I see a picture of your living room I drool over your curtains... oh these stripes ;)!

  40. LOVE what you did,
    Rene! Wal-mart is
    a fine US company
    and my only beef is
    that so much comes
    from China. That said,
    you do what you have
    to do : ) !! I hear you
    on color...I just ordered
    two yards of Suzani and
    one yard of Ikat from
    a seller on e-bay in order
    to make a slip for my
    ottoman and a lumbar pillow.
    Maybe it's the economy,
    but I want to lighten and
    brighten, too....on a budget.
    I've got my first headed to
    college in three years and
    every penny counts. Thanks
    for sharing your great re-do!
    xx Suzanne

  41. thanks for sharing, rene! i work on pretty much a zero budget as well, so when i want to redo a room, i sell what is in it as well and make more than i spend. it works so that i get to keep on decorating, and i can stay within my limits. it's so refreshing to have real people on real budgets sharing beautiful rooms. i watch sarah's house sometimes on hgtv, and she'll say something like, and my budget for this room was just $20,000! and i think, wow- if i had that much i would be doing a kitchen and bath remodel, not decorating one piddly room!

  42. Love it! It must give you such satisfaction! I can only think of one furniture piece in my house that I paid full price for, I have lots of thrift re-do's, and all kinds of clearance pieces. It makes it somehow more rewarding when I think it looks ok. Great looking can be inexpensive, just like expensive can be ugly! :) It's all in what you do with what you've got, I say!

  43. First of all, I want to say that you are a silly goose for thinking that we would judge you for having things that aren't super high end. The economy is bad across the board. I hate that it's like that - but I think it's great that it has allowed us to stretch our imaginations and our budgets!
    If there are furniture/accessory snobs reading this, then they are going to be impressed that you pulled this look off without spending money!! Heck, I think everyone will be impressed.
    You did an outstanding job, my friend, and this room has a designer look that you should be very proud of!

  44. What an amazing transformation! The openness, light airy feeling it gives to your room is refreshing. Thank you for a lovely post and for inspiring all of us to use what we have and what we're given in trying times as these.

  45. It looks terrific! I love the splash of bright orange in the pillows. Fabulous, just fabulous!

  46. I love it. My husband and I are both out of work right now. We have really had to tighten our belts.

    I sell stuff all the time to buy new things. Very Smart.

  47. We don't have Walmart around here, but I've heard only good things about them and that ottoman is very nice!

    I'm very curious to how the slipcover handles life - does it wiggle and look sloppy if anyone sits there ? That's always my greatest fear - lol !

    The room looks gorgeous - great job !!!!!
    thanks for sharing,

  48. I love what you have done! This has to be one of my favorite things to do---redesign using what you have already! I really loved the pop of orange color in the pillows. Beautiful and refreshing space. Love it!

  49. Oh, your living room looks so beautiful! Love your changes and your furnishings are so lovely! Love your winged back chairs and that pillow. How wonderful to know you stayed on a budget! You did good!
    Be a sweetie,
    Shelia ;)

  50. This is stunning. The ottoman/ coffee table is beautiful and perfect for the space, as it is a lot lighter feeling than the first one. Yay for affordable rooms that are stylish, too!

  51. This looks so great!
    I'd love to hear what you think of my living room over at my blog if you ever had the time
    Loving your style!

  52. Rene, I love this post. First of all I'd never guess that your living room was decorated on a budget. That fabric on the ottoman, the pillows and the window treatments give it such a custom feel. Plus so hip with the white couch! Thanks for keeping it real.


Thanks so much for stopping by! Your questions will be answered here or you can email me at

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...