12 Ways to Liven Up Your Living Room

Jacqueline Zenn
Written by Jacqueline Zenn
Updated August 27, 2021
Wallpaper accent wall
Photo: Onzeg / E+ / Getty Images

You likely spend lots of time in your living room, so it's only natural that you might want to refresh the space

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If you’re ready to refresh your living room but aren’t sure where to start, the creative spark may be closer than you think. Social media, your friends and family’s homes, restaurants, boutiques, and other spaces that you love, are teeming with inspiration. Take what you love and adapt them to suit your budget, home, and preferences with these 12 ways to update your living room’s interior design.

1. Repaint or Add an Accent Wall

Repainting the walls can be the best way to make a room seem fresh and new, whether you go for a major change or a subtle shift. A bold or bright color in an otherwise neutral room might be all you need to liven up your space, but a fresh coat of paint in any color might make the space seem brand new and different. Torn between an accent well and a total paint refresh? Do both.  

And don’t forget to consider texture and pattern when you are selecting the colors for your walls. Many types of wood paneling, tiles, and other wall treatments can bring a unique aesthetic to your living room. Try a new trend like beadboard paneling or go more classic with wallpaper.

2. Wallpaper and Wall Decals

Bring some pattern and texture into play with wallpaper or wall decals. If you think wallpaper is dated or old-fashioned, think again because there are so many new options available. From designer prints made to mimic the look and feel of fabric to easy-to-apply wall decals that offer a ton of impact for little commitment, there are so many stylish options available. 

Gallery wall of trendy posters
Photo: Photographee.eu / Adobe Stock

Showcase your existing art collection or find new ways to make your favorite pieces shine with a gallery wall. You can make seemingly contrasting works look coordinated with matching frames, stick with a certain color palette, or use a theme like landscapes or portraits to tie things together. 

Your living room should reflect your personality and style, so a gallery wall is also a good way to highlight things you love. Pictures, travel souvenirs, wall hangings, ceramic pieces, wood carvings, or even pieces like records, tiles, rugs, pottery, and more can all work as part of a gallery wall.

4. Add a Mantel or Floating Shelf

Need more space or a flat surface to properly display your treasures? Add a mantel over a fireplace or install a floating shelf (after all, interior design professionals say that floating shelves are the new gallery walls). You can use your new shelf to hold plants, sculptures, vases, books, pictures, and other beloved items. You can buy pre-made mantels, picture ledges, or floating shelves and install them in an afternoon, or even have a contractor build you something custom. 

5. Hang Some Mirrors

Mirrors can make a room seem larger and more spacious and even brighten things up by reflecting sunlight and artificial light. A large mirror or two can be an excellent addition to a plain room or one that’s on the smaller side. Plus, you can find mirrors with fabulous frames or get one cut to fit in a frame that you already love. 

Hang mirrors parallel to each other on the walls across from a window, on opposite sides of the room, or perpendicularly in a corner to make the space look bigger and create the appearance of more light. 

6. Get Some Plants

Room with plants
Cavan Images / Cavan via Getty Images

If it seems that photos of plants have taken over your social media lately, you are not alone. And whether or not you have a green thumb, there’s no denying the fact that any kind of lush greenery can upgrade a room. Get artificial plants if you aren’t ready to maintain living ones, or go for a mix of real and faux flora. Just make sure you pick plants that work with the natural light in your living room so they’ll thrive.

7. Switch Up the Window Treatments

The type of window treatments you have makes a huge impact since window coverings influence the lighting and mood of the room as well the style. 

Putting up some new curtains or even choosing different types of blinds or shades makes a huge difference. After all, the windows are the eyes of the room, so switching up their style might be the quickest way to make a substantial shift in perception. Even smaller windows can benefit from special treatment, so don’t neglect them when you are livening up your living room. 

Changing the curtains might be simple to accomplish on your own, especially if you use the existing rods, but installing mini blinds or other more complicated window treatments might require a general contractor or handyman.

8. Get New Interior Trim or Moldings

The moldings and trim might seem like minor details in the grand scheme of your living room, but swapping them out for new ones can alter the look of the space. If you have some free time and have DIY skills, you can tackle this project yourself or hire a general contractor or similar home maintenance professional near you to replace the trim or moldings in your living room with an updated style. 

9. Expose the Ceilings

If you know something like a vaulted ceiling is lurking underneath a drop ceiling or similar feature, removing the old ceiling and opening up the space might be a worthwhile investment. Talk with a ceiling contractor in your area to get an idea of the cost of uncovering the hidden gem above your head or tips to dress up your ceiling in general.  

10. Get Some Slipcovers (or New Throw Pillows)

If you follow any home decor or interior design blogs, you likely know that slipcovers have been updated from the protective drapes that covered your grandparents’ couches to luxurious design elements in their own right. Plus, getting a more current slipcover will make your old couches and chairs look new again. You can even just toss some fabulous cushions or pillows on your furniture to get the same effect—and at a much lower cost than a new living room set.

11. Update the Lighting

New lighting or lamps can go a long way towards making you see your current living room differently. 

For example, brighter bulbs or lighter-hued fixtures can open up a small or dark room, while dimmer bulbs and jewel-toned shades can make a large small feel more intimate. Swapping overhead fixtures for floor and table lamps can result in a cozier atmosphere while bringing up the lighting to the ceiling with taller lamps expands the space and draws the eye upwards. 

12. Declutter Everything

Sometimes all you need to do to liven up your living room—or any room—is to get all the clutter and extra stuff out of the way. Giving your living room a good cleaning followed by removing any extra decor, fussy pillows, or no-longer-needed items might be the perfect refresh. You can take on the project yourself if you’re feeling ambitious or hire a professional organizer to get some fresh eyes on your space.

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