9 DIY Projects for Updating Your Living Room

grey gallery-style wall
Photo: William N. Hopkins

Take a look at the clever projects that make this living room personal and photo-worthy, then update your living room with budget-friendly color accents, a little bookcase rehab, and easy furniture fixes.

01 of 09

Laying the Groundwork


The brown, gray, and aqua color scheme makes a gender-neutral space filled with great ideas you can do.

How to Do It

  • Choose a neutral color for the wall (a creamy latte color works in this living room).
  • Paint all your trim white for a crisp foundation for the pattern and color to come alive.
  • Choose your favorite colors for accents and start shopping around for pillows and fabric you like.
02 of 09

Bookcase Facelift


Revamp built-ins for display over storage space.

How to Do It

  • Remove any shelves from the built-ins.
  • Coat the back of the shelves with a three-step Kelly green strie treatment.
  • Install floating ledges and top with display pieces.
03 of 09

Ouch-Free Ottoman


This ottoman doubles as a coffee table and the pillows can be pulled off the base and used as floor cushions. Make it yourself out of high-density foam and durable fabrics.

04 of 09

No-Sew Valance


A tailored window treatment without dragging out the sewing machine? Yes, you can do it, and here's how.

How to Make It

  • Cut a 1-x-6-inch board a few inches wider than the bank of windows and cut two 6-inch-long pieces for the returns. Screw the returns to the board.
  • Cut fabric to a height of 10 inches and to the desired width (leaving allowances for hems, the returns, and at least 8 inches for each box pleat) and hem all edges using fusible webbing.
  • Position the board under the fabric, 3 inches from the top hem. Staple the fabric to the board, folding in pleats every 12 to 15 inches and wrapping around the returns.
  • Hide the staples with glued-on ribbon and buttons.
05 of 09

Curtain Detail


Adding fabric bands—such as this check and solid—to curtains (especially inexpensive store-bought solid panels) is a sure way to boost style. Sew the fabric band to existing curtains, or use fusible webbing for a quick fix.

06 of 09

Ready-to-Finish Furniture

dining room overall

For affordable new furniture, paint unfinished dining chairs and a table with black semigloss paint. For durability, add three coats of polyurethane.

07 of 09

Plate Art


Here's the dish: Glue contrasting colors and sizes of plates together with epoxy or all-purpose glue (clamp them with a belt or bungee cord while the glue dries) and hang with plate hooks in columns on the wall.

08 of 09

Window Seat


A window seat adds seating and storage without adding more furniture. The center section features a lift-up top with storage inside. The strie paint treatment around the bay window makes the dining area feel like a separate room from the living room it's attached to. For playful pillows, embellish with inexpensive belts and buckles.

09 of 09

Silhouette Art


Can you spot the TV in this picture? It's creatively camouflaged by a wall of silhouette artwork.

How to Make It

  • Choose frames, then photocopy images to size.
  • Tape each image to heavy black art paper and use a crafts knife to cut through both layers, protecting your work surface with a crafts mat.
  • Use spray adhesive to adhere the silhouette to white mat board.
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