Budget Decorating: Apartment Living Room

We’ve downsized big time!  In the past couple moves we’ve gone from 4500sqft. to 3500sqft. to now 1500sqft. (and I’m not counting the 600 sqft. apartment we stayed in for 2 months in NYC!) I love being an empty nester and getting rid of all the excess “stuff” we’ve been moving around throughout the years!  It’s amazing how little you really need and it’s such a great feeling to unload and start fresh.  That was my goal with that last move, lighten up and start fresh.  But since we decided to just rent an apartment for a year before we decide where to settle, I didn’t want to spend a lot of money to decorate this place.  I thought it would be a fun challenge to see if I could do a little budget decorating in the apartment living room and still make it look good without breaking the bank. Actually, I knew I could…I did have a successful Home Staging business for several years!

Budget Decorating: Apartment Living RoomBefore this last big move I came up with a brilliant way to get rid of  most of my furniture and decor.  I had a big party and gave everyone yellow stickies and a pen and told them to put their name on anything they wanted, then we talked garage sale prices for it.  I was pretty much cleaned out except for a few things I didn’t want to sell.  I started off in this apartment with the TV, table lamp, bar cabinet (not shown in the above picture), stick screen, some decorative items and 3 of the 5 toss pillows.  So with that being said, it was time to get some furniture and put a room together.  

The Rules:

I really only had 2 rules that I set for myself to follow:

1.  Inexpensive (remember, I’m budget decorating here)

2.  Quick delivery (it needed to be readily available – no waiting on special orders)

With those rules in mind I went to work decorating my apartment living room. The biggest challenge of this apartment was the odd shaped living room. Check out my post on how I made an awkward shape living room work here.  The space isn’t very large, so I knew I needed smaller scale furniture.

First up was purchasing a sofa.  I knew I wanted a tight back (no loose pillows), light neutral color and clean lines.  Unfortunately, all the sofas I found that I liked were much more expensive than I wanted to spend for this project and were special order.  Remember, I’m budget decorating here and that broke both rules. Not a good start. So I googled cheap sofas and found some local stores online.  What I came up with is this sofa from Bob’s Discount Furniture.

Budget Decorating: Apartment Living Room - SofaI bought it off the website, without seeing it in person, because the price was right, it had a tight back, clean and simple lines, and only two bottom cushions instead of three.  I knew I could dress it up a bit with some toss pillows and a throw and it would work.  I wasn’t quite sure what the color actually would be but knew I could work with it.  I’m very happy with the color and style of the sofa, but it’s not the most comfortable sofa I’ve ever sat on.  I’m sure it will be fine for a year, but next time I will definitely splurge and buy a more comfortable sofa.

One of my favorite sites to purchase items online is Overstock.com.  I signed up for Club O (minimal price) quite a while ago so I got 5% rewards and free shipping when I was doing a remodel of our condo out in Hollywood.  On top of that, I always seem to have a 10-15% coupon from them in my email.  Here’s a little hint…put something in your cart, then leave it there. Before you know it you will have a coupon in your email, then purchase it.  I’ve never paid full price!  And I always use my Club O rewards dollars.  From Overstock, I bought a gray upholstered chair, two wooden side chairs, tv console, gray sisal rug, and a floor lamp.

The other place I picked up some inexpensive items was the old standby, Ikea.  I got some curtains, a coffee table, bookcase, and rug from them.  I splurged just a bit with two pillows and a small side table from West Elm, however I did get a great sale price on the side table.  The other side table next to the sofa was purchased at Ross.

Here’s a little collage of the items I bought:

Budget Decorating: Apartment Living Room

Items Purchased/Prices

Here’s the itemized run down of what I bought (I’ve included links if it was still available online at time of this post):

From Bob’s Discount Furniture:

Colby Sofa $449.00 (plus tax and delivery)

From Overstock.com

(prices may include discounts I used):

Moretti Dark Grey Linen Modern Club Chair –  $311.55

Lawrence Entertainment Center  $440.99

Ella Tripod Syle Adjustable-Height With Bronze Finish Floor Lamp  $98.99

Hand woven, Natural Fiber, Uni Grey Fine Sisal Rug (8×10)  $212.39

Reaves Walnut Effect Mid-Century Modern Accent Chair (Set of 2) 170.99

From West Elm:

Pillow Covers $34.00 & $24.99

Martini side table Orig. Price $149, I got mine on sale (floor model) for $89

From Ikea:

Vittsjo Nesting Tables $59.99

Alvine Ruta Rug $249.00

Ritva Curtain Panels $24.99

Kvartal curtain rod $5.99

Kvartal ceiling fixture (4) $2.50 each

Kvartal glider and hook $2.00

From Ross:

Metal side table $29.99

Total:  $2,213.86  (plus some tax that may not have been included)

You might look at the above and think my rugs and TV console aren’t very budget friendly.  Yes, they were a little on the expensive side for this type of a project, but the quality is fantastic and well worth the money. I started with the rug from Ikea first as the inspiration for my colors, but felt it was a little too small so that’s why there’s a second rug. Typically, you’d only need one if you bought the right size, however, I’m liking the look with the two. The TV console is solid wood and a piece I’m sure I’ll keep around for a while.  But if that’s over your budget, Ikea has a lot of really great less expensive options!

Have you had success at budget decorating? Please share!

You can still get a designer look when decorating your apartment living room while on a budget. Here's how I did it!
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  1. highglossluxury says

    Hi! I am in the process of decorating my condo and I saw the same Colby Sofa at Bob’s Furniture online. I put this sofa on my list as a potential purchase. I, too, am looking for a sofa with clean lines and such and would love detailed information on the sofa before I jump in and make the purchase. Your place looks great, BTW!

    Any information you can give would be most appreciate!

    • Judy says

      Sondra, if you’re looking for a sofa that will get used a lot this might not be the one for you. It’s pretty firm so it’s not all that comfortable (to me). It works well for us because it’s rarely used, but I will be looking for a more comfortable one when we move to a more permanent house. I do love the look of it however, color is good and I love the lines and solid back. And the price was right! Let me know if you have anymore questions I can answer for you.

    • Anonymous says

      Hey, you know i was looking into the purchasing the same sofa, did you puechase it? What has been your experience with it?


      • Judy says

        I like the look of it but you pretty much get what you pay for. It’s not very comfortable and the bottom cushions tend to slide out. It works for us because we don’t use it much but if you are looking for a sofa that will be used, I’d recommend spending more money and getting something of better quality.

  2. Gina says

    Hi!! Great job decorating your apt. living room! I am trying to do the same and have looked everywhere for an affordable cleaned lined sofa and the one I like best is The Colby at Bob’s!
    How is yours wearing? I’ve read that you feel it isn’t as comfortable as you like, but it does look beautiful!

    • Judy says

      It seems to be wearing well. Admittedly, it doesn’t get a lot of use as it would if I had kids still home. Aside from not being the most comfortable sofa, the other thing that’s not ideal is the seat cushions don’t stay put. They tend to slip out and get crooked. All, in all, it’s an inexpensive sofa and you pretty much get what you pay for. I still love the look of it and would recommend it, just not for a space that gets a lot of use.

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