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Creative & Cost Friendly Ways to Decorate a Living Room

Often at UVA, transitioning from first year to second year means transitioning from dorms to apartments. While apartments provide more privacy, freedom, and room, they also lack one very important feature: furniture. Walking into an empty space with blank walls may be intimidating, but with vision, creativity, and resourcefulness, anyone can turn a room into a living room. We transformed ours using these simple steps:


Step 1: Use What You Have

The main problem with transitioning from dorms to apartments is that dorm furniture is provided while apartment furniture is not. However, there are certain personal items that come from dorms that can be contributed to a communal living space: pillows, wall decorations, rugs, comfy chairs, blankets, etc. Start by documenting what you have, and use those items to help determine a scheme.

From dorms, we had 2 foldable fuzzy chairs, decorative pillows, a throw blanket, and “UVA” wall letter.

Step 2: Get the Big Ticket Items for CHEAP

What are big ticket items? The sofa, the kitchen table, the consul, the coffee table. This is where costs could easily skyrocket, so try to avoid buying anything new. Texting fourth years who are moving out for pass-downs, asking family friends for unused furniture, and going on Craig’s list are great options for finding discounted/free big ticket items. If there is something that you cannot find by being resourceful, get handy and buy something that requires assembly for a cheap price (ie: Target coffee table for $24).

We bought our sectional for $100 from a graduating student and were loaned a consul, as well as dining room table from a family friend. 

Step 3: Pinterest

Based on what you were able to gather, look for common colors and themes. Now it’s time to create “the vision.” Visiting DIY sites like Pinterest can help you imagine your items together in a cohesive way.

Once we found out that our sectional was navy blue, we typed in “navy-blue-themed living rooms” on Pinterest and chose this as our inspiration:

Step 4: Attack the Wall Space

When it comes to the walls, there are a few methods to filling blank space. If you want to avoid the tapestry fad, eclectic decorations are the way to go. This means collecting various sized frames, mirrors, and paintings and laying them out in an interesting fashion.

We went primarily to TJ Max, Marshalls, Walmart, and Target for decorations ranging between $10-17.


Step 5: Decorate!

Once purchases have been made, lay out the decorations on the floor and map out exactly how you would like to hang them. Masking tape is your friend.

Our final product:

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