I’ve been searching for easy ways to update the family room in my house lately. And I know it’s not just me! With so many of us working remotely and spending more time in our homes than we would haveve in pre-pandemic days, it’s no wonder that we’re getting a little sick of looking at the same, space day in and day out. But, if you’re like me, a major renovation or move is not in the budget. So that’s why I’m sharing some truly easy, affordable ways to update your family room, living room, den, or just “the TV room.”
Whatever you call it, it’s where we spend the most time around the television or just sunk into the comfy couch reading or playing games. Or napping with the dog. (Hey, she likes the company.)
But, after the past two years — let alone all the years before it — I can describe every square inch of our family room and am kind of sick of It. So keep reading for 7 easy and affordable ways I’ve found to update your own family room, with the hopes of loving it again.
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1. Move your furniture around
Image: Sincerely Sara D
The easiest way to change the look of a room is to simply rearrange what you already have, as shown in this impressive before/after living room transformation on Sincerely Sara D. Don’t be limited by what you’ve “always done” — try pushing the couch against a different wall (or even pulling it away from the wall a bit), moving the television to another corner, or simply changing the orientation of a throw rug.
And don’t forget to take a look around the house to see if there’s a piece you could swap in from another room, like an easy chair or coffee table. Make sure to peek in the attic or storage space! You may have a forgotten treasure tucked away in there too.
Before you start pushing heavy furniture around the room, also check out the smart tips from Home Made Lovely’s post, Rearrange the Furniture for a New Look. Your back will thank you.
One more great resource: The Spruce has a whole list of free online room design tools that could help you reimagine your family room in ways you hadn’t even considered.
2. Try some new throw pillows
I have a tendency to think I need to make big changes in a room to freshen it up — like replace all the furniture at once. But don’t forget about the small “edits” to a room, which change the overall picture for the better. One of the easiest and most affordable options: Grab a few new throw pillows to add a pop of color and texture on the couch.
I love these uniquely beautiful handwoven tapiz pillows from Best of Colombia on Etsy. But keep in mind just popping your old throw pillows into some new cases. You can even consider seasonal changes — say, airy linen pillow cases for summer, or a heavier fabric for winter which really does make a big difference without a lot of work.
3. Rearrange your art or hang new art…like a pro
Image: In My Own Style
Similarly to rearranging your furniture, moving things around your walls can trick your eyes into seeing the room in a whole new way. Maybe that “statement” artwork you have on one wall would look even better on another wall. Or some smaller paintings might be rearranged in another pattern to look a bit different.
Using the helpful tips in Hang Art on a Wall the Way a Designer Does from In My Own Style (shown above), I feel like I understand how to better optimize the wall space I have to make my walls look more “finished” with well-organized artwork.
You can always change up frames as well — don’t keep using a frame you dislike just because that’s how it’s always been. Swapping out a new frame can be as affordable as a trip to IKEA — or a trip to Amazon. An easy change like adding a matt around a small picture and placing it in a larger frame can make your favorite family photo look more like “art.” Let alone actual art from your kids!
I fact, we all love the L’il Davinci frames for your kid’s artwork, which are dynamic frames, allowing you to easily swap in new artwork to change things up. (Also available at Hearthsong or even your local craft store.) Your kids will love seeing their latest masterpieces featured, and you’ll have something new to catch your eye when you enter the room.
4. Paint (or wallpaper) one single wall
image: 11 Magnolia Lane
Painting an entire room always seems like such a daunting project to me, but I think that even I could handle painting just one wall a bold accent color to dramatically change the look of a room.
I love how this charcoal wall at 11 Magnolia Lane adds impact against the white walls.
Not sure you want to do something as permanent as paint? I love Coloritto’s peel-and-stick wallpaper (at very top) and WallPhy’s peel-and-stick wallpaper which is easy to hang and easy to remove — making it ideal for renters too. Cut to whatever size you need, from a full wall to a partial space. Depending on your style, choose patterns from this dramatic floral illustration, to elegant Art Deco, to something geometric and modern.
Users swear that mere mortals like me with no background in wallpaper hanging can totally use this hack to update your family room so easily.
5. Throw down an area rug
Also, don’t underestimate the power of a small throw rug to change up the look of a room where it could use it. There are tons of great options on Society 6 in plenty of sizes — we like this graphic mid-century modern throw rug by Tony Magner Design. Even in this photo, you can see how it brings this kind of sad, empty corner of a room to life.
(Depending on your kids’ ages of course, you may want a darker color of course!)
6. Hide the eyesores
Families accumulate piles. So many piles! So take a good look for “not photo-ready” spots in your room and you may know just what to do when it comes to a family room update. Like moving those piles of accumulated piles of paper and junk on all your surfaces, and replacing with something you actually want to look at.
It’s easy to just replace piles with a favorite vase — this raawii strom vase is so popular in museum stores. Or, just stack a selection of coffee table books, and find a home for everything else that just feels dumped there.
For us, our eyesores are the messy open bin full of video game accessories, and the cluster of remote controls tossed all over the coffee table and couch. These little “messes” are an opportunity to add an accessory that really neatens up the room; these multi-sized lidded baskets from West Elm make a stylish and effective way to store all those little items in a way that is still easy to access but much nicer to look at.
Liz uses a small vintage bowl to store her remote controls on her living room coffee table, which is so smart because it still keeps them accessible. I think one of these pretty footed bowls from Pottery Barn placed on the coffee table or the sofa side table would do the trick, but you may already own something that works.
7. Use plants to give your family room life. Literally.
Image: Ace Horticultural Inks
A dose of greenery can really brighten up a room, especially here in New England when it’s dark at 4pm in the winter. A tall tree in a nice pot can literally fill your family room with life — cane trees are fairly easy to care for and don’t require too much light.
But since I’m not what you would call a “green thumb,” I’ve turned to easy-care succulents, which fill an entire window shelf in my family room. They come in so many interesting styles and shapes and look terrific grouped together — or plant them in a single clear vase, like the one shown above, to make more of a statement on a side table or coffee table.
A subscription to a Succulent of the Month club from Succulent Studios is a fun way to help you build your collection gradually, instead of feeling overwhelmed with too many plants at once.
If you’re a flower fan, consider subscribing to a monthly flower delivery, and you’ll have a living, breathing showpiece in your family room all year long. I love the flexible options at long-time CMP favorite The Bouqs, especially because their subscription allows you to skip months, say if you’re traveling.You can even choose which seasonal bouquet you’d like to receive.
Gifting flowers to yourself? In 2022, highly recommended.