The Cost of My Living Room

Marian ParsonsLiving Room, My House66 Comments

I’m sure some wallets are empty and some credit cards are smoking in the wake of Christmas, so I am going to share with you how I put together a thrifty, yet elegant living room. 

I’ve always loved the finer things.  I don’t like things that look cheap.  I also have never been super rich (monetarily speaking) and I’m a thrifty sort of gal.  I think even if I had boatloads of money, I would still buy “junk” and fix it up to make it just what I wanted it to be.  Well, maybe I would pay someone else to do the fixing…I don’t know.  Excuse me while I have a little conversation with myself about it. 

Well, I don’t have to worry about it, because I don’t have boatloads of money. 

Back to my budget living room. 

I want to achieve a custom high-end look in my home, without the custom high-end price.  It can be done if you have a few key personality traits. 

Willingness to learn new skills and put them into practice
And an eye to see past the obvious

I really believe that with those traits, a sewing machine and a paint brush, you can transform any room to look great. 

Here’s the budget breakdown…

The Curtains are made from Waverly Sunbrella fabric bought at $10/yard x 12 yards + $3/each for twin sheets used for lining x 4 + $35 total for 3 clearance curtain rods…
Total  =  $167.00

The rug, curio, piano, desk and sofa were all free.  I dug the rug out of my grandparent’s attic, the desk belonged to my great grandfather, I inherited the curio from my great, great aunt, my aunt Susan gave me the sofa and the 100 year old piano was a yard sale leftover that was given to us for free.  The only expense to make these pieces work in the room was $26 for drop cloths and $10 for piping to slipcover the sofa. 
Total = $36.00 
The quilt on the sofa was $5.00 at Goodwill, two large white pillows were $35 total from TJ Maxx and the center pillow fabric was free plus $5.00 for the feather insert. 
Total = $45.00

The French chairs were purchased for $50/piece out of a gentleman’s storage unit.  (I gave him my business card at a yard sale and he gave me first pick of some things he wanted to get rid of.)  It was an additional $33 for drop cloths and trim to reupholster them. 
Total for the pair = $133.00
The pillows were made out of a $20 antique German grain sack, less that $1 of clearance ribbon and $7.00/each for feather pillow inserts. 
Total for two pillows = $35

The ottoman was $5.00 at a yard sale and the chenille spread was $6.00 at a flea market.  It’s slipcovered in about $6.00 of brushed white cotton twill from Walmart. 
Total = $17.00

The bird cage was free from the Swanky Junque Swap, the Restoration Hardware candlesticks were $2 at a yard sale and the silver tumblers were free out of the attic, filled with boxwood topiaries I made for $10. 
Total = $12.00

The trumeau mirror was $20 at a yard sale, the chandeliers were from Lowes for $64 for the pair, the bead board door was $2 at a yard sale, the “and” sign was $5.00 from Hobby Lobby and the framed family pictures were free from the attic.  The basket was $16 at an antique store and it’s filled with free pillows made with scrap fabrics and heirloom blankets. 
Total = $107
Side tables = $10 for the pair
Piano bench = $5.00
All of the ironstone in the room = about $80 collected over time
Misc. Accessories = $25
Paint (walls, trim, chandeliers, chairs, mirror = $36
Refinishing the floors (myself) = probably about $50
Blinds and ceiling paint = free
Little boy in the picture = priceless
Grand Total for the entire room, floor to ceiling = $758.00
If you’re reading this and you feel discouraged, because you’re having thoughts like, “Well, what if my family doesn’t give me really awesome things for free?” or “My luck isn’t that good at yard sales.”  I know how you feel.  When I see awesome makeovers for nothing, I feel that way, too, but your time will come.  Be persistent and patient and you’ll build a room you love.  It does take time and it does take a bit of luck, but stick with it and stay true to your style and vision. 
Miss Mustard Seed
The Cost of My Living Room

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66 Comments on “The Cost of My Living Room”

  1. I love the encouraging words. It does take time to find things at garage sales, estate sales, etc. But I'm getting there too. I Don't have the all white, but I love your look. Thanks for sharing

  2. Hi Marion: Hope your Christmas was wonderful. Love your room redo. I was also wondering if you have a tutorial on how to make slipcovers or if you'd consider posting one? I'd love learn how to do that.

  3. A lady after my own heart. I'm not surprised at the total of doing your living room. I tell people all the time that it can be done, but they don't believe me. Wishing you well in the new year.

  4. What a great room. I find that so often people look at things the way they are instead of what you could make it look like. I've loved your drapes — that's my next project. Jan

  5. I try to do what you just described and I am 'almost' successful, but there is always something that makes me feel like a room isn't quite finished – and it's usually a piece of furniture that would look better with a slipcover. And I get scared thinking about trying to do anything larger than an ottoman cover. I guess I need to work on my "I think I can" attitude and go for it.
    Thanks for the inspiration.

  6. Gorgeous work!!
    I am in need of some makeovers and have picked up some lovely hints, thankyou for sharing.
    I think the mistake I make most is to not edit enough. I need to take things away.

  7. A lovely and encouraging post. Thanks for breaking it down. It gives me hope, and besides it's so much more fun this way. You see the room develop over time and have a chance to modify or expand your vision based on what you discover — in the attic or elsewhere! I am still agog over your slipcovering skills…of which I have none!

  8. Fabulous! I am in love with those two french chairs! And to know that they were reupholstered with drop cloths…amazing! Yeah I try to thrift my way to a great home too! My tastes sometimes doesn't allow that, but I do a really good job at mixing old and new things to get the ecletic look I want. I hope you have a happy new year!

  9. I'm a saver/bargain hunter, too. Thanks for your encouraging words and for sharing your ideas so freely. Best to you and your priceless family in the coming year!

  10. It looks like Heather Chadduck came and decorated your room!! I don't give that compliment lightly as I LOVE LOVE LOVE her work and I LOVE your room. The curtains make it so elegant! Can you tell me where you got your rods? Are they bamboo like?? Need one for my dining room.

  11. Love your room! And you are so right. My favourite motto is that luck is where opportunity meets preparation. When you know what to look for, and you keep yor eyes open you'll be sure to find it ;o)

    Have a great 2011!

  12. Love your living room! As I was reading this I was thinking exactly what you said in your last paragraph! Thanks for the encouraging words.

  13. You're so right and say exactly what I think also. It doesn't need much money to have a beautiful home, but lots of good ideas and time.

    Thank you for your words!



  14. Marian,
    I love your living room and your dining room. You inspire me to try more DIY work and to keep my eyes peeled for the accessories I want at yard sales or even TJ Maxx Home Goods.
    Thanks for the details.
    Karen at Garden Home and Party

  15. Your living room is so lovely and charming! You've certainly got a gift for making pretty!
    Hope you had a wonderful Christmas.
    be a sweetie,
    Shelia 😉

  16. I think you did a jam up job pulling everything together for that amount of money. Just goes to show everyone that you can be creative and put sweat equity into your home and have a stunning room like yours for next to nothing! ~Ames

  17. What a wonderful job you've done. This is exactly the kind of thing I want to do in my rooms – the living room and the family room. I'm so happy to be interested again and I know how to make slipcovers so I'm getting excited. Still not so sure about white, but your room is beautiful.

  18. Your living room turned out very beautiful. For 1st time in many years we pledged not to use our credit cards on anything and we are even removing the recurring automatic charges so that they do not go up one more penny. It was hard this Christmas to keep that pledge but now as it ends we are so happy we did.

  19. Amazing! If there's one skill I need to learn, it's how to reupholster furniture. Thanks for all of the fantastic inspiration. I can't wait to see what fabulous projects you complete in 2011!

  20. Your room is gorgeous, Marian. I think it is all the more special for the collected over time feel and uniqueness. You have done a wonderful job. I so enjoy seeing your creative endeavours. Thanks for sharing.

  21. If I didn't like you so much I might have to "hate" you. The living room looks FABULOUS. It is very encouraging that you did it for under $1000! Little by little… with a lotta elbow grease… we ALL can have fabulous rooms! Thanks for sharing all you do…

  22. Wow. That is truly impressive!!! I wish I knew how to paint & refurnish furniture like you! Thanks for sharing your tips & "insider" info. 🙂

  23. Wow what an absolutely gorgeous room! Thank you for sharing all that with us. I have to agree that it would be wonderful if you could do a tutorial on how to make slipcovers. I want to learn how myself. Have you ever bought something and then after fixing it, decided that it wasn't what you wanted after all and if so what did you do with the piece?

    Hugs XX


  24. Well your room is fabulous…simply stunning! And you would never know that you spent under $1000.00!!! So cool!!

  25. The room is lovely! And you're so right about not having to spend a fortune to have beautiful things. Even for those of us who don't have family close by to pass on things, amazing deals and quality items can be found just by being creative and keeping your eyes open. 🙂 Talking to people doesn't hurt either.

  26. You made a beautiful room with so little money. Love how you got this here and that there. I am in love with your curtains and the little boy, hah.
    Thanks for sharing and showing us that it doesn't take a trip to the bank for a loan.

  27. All the projects you share with us are lovely and amazing. I really like the living room and its colours.I feel that I don't have this eye to see past the obvious, but I'm glad to see your creations!

  28. So wonderful! Thanks for sharing. I (like Rie) would love to know where you get the feather pillow inserts for such a great price!


  29. So gorgeous! And it's really striking how much of a difference just a few small changes made. Painting the mirror and painting/upholstering the chairs and the room looks totally different! Way brighter and airer. Love it.

    And because I'm obsessed with paint colors I have to ask if you've shared which paints you have on your walls/trim? I have Sherwin-Williams Decor White for my walls — it's a warm ivory/cream. But I can't decide if I want to stick with it or not, so I'm comparing chips!!

    ~Angela 🙂

  30. Beautiful transformation! The before shot was a tad frightening. (I have one of those shots, too!)

    I love your advice at the end and agree wholeheartedly.

    Hope you had a wonderful Christmas.

    Happy New Year!

  31. Very inspiring! I hope you are bursting with feelings of accomplishment!

    I am anxious to see your tutorial for your french chairs… the wood looks fabulous!

    Did I miss where you got your curtain rods? I really like the tone of the wood in your room.

    Lastly… would you share where you get your feather inserts?

  32. Could I just come by and oooooh and aaaaah in person? I could just live in that room with that priceless little person running around. Love the stories that are attached to each item. That is what makes a house a home.

  33. That was a fabulous, awesome, amazing, inspiring post. I LOVE the room, and the fact you did it at that price. Your living room could be on the cover of any fancy schmansy magazine cover, and anyone would think it costs thousands of dollars to create. I'm loving your blog, I've been reading for 30 minutes and have learned so much…


  34. This is incredible. Someone recommended your blog to me as inspiration for reupholstering my $5 thrift store chair. Wow. Success. I am certainly inspired.

  35. You are amazing and I am so jealous of your talent. Did you reupholster the furniture yourself? If so, was it hard to learn? Where did you learn? I would love to have that talent.

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  37. Pingback: The cost of my living room (take two) - Miss Mustard Seed

  38. I love that you are not afraid of change. Your room looks lovely! Do you have any ideas for some vintage skis? I’ve thought of a curtain rod or a coat hook, but love them standing up? I have two boys that share a room and would love to incorporate the skis some how or in the rest of the house. Inherited them from my Grandpa’s garage rafters.

  39. Marian, So beautiful and such inspiration on a budget!! When you say drop cloths do you mean drop cloths from Lowes or Home Depot for painting?? Where do you get feather pillow insert for $5/ $7? How about the antique grain sack material for $20? Last question, I think, can you tell me where you get your antique hemp fabric for upholstery jobs?
    I just bought a vintage sofa for $75, just like the one you put in the place of this sofa after you gave it back to your family. Our couch is horrible, but we can’t afford a new one. I’m also really into avoiding toxins and furniture made before 1975 doesn’t contain chemical flame retardants! So I was sooo excited and knew that was the perfect solution when I stumbled across your sofa redo (catching up on all posts after recently discovering your blog). You have totally inspired me!!

  40. Forgot to mention, the quilt on the back of the couch is beautiful!! And $5! You son in the picture reminds me of my house! So sweet.

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