5 Thrifty Ways to Update Your Living Room


By Anne D' Innocenzio -- AP Retail Writer

NEW YORK (AP) — Staying home this summer to save some money but not interested in hanging out in a living room that's tired and outdated? No worries.

There's no need to splurge on a fancy sofa and curtains when less expensive changes like a fresh coat of paint and accessorizing the old sofa will have the same effect.

"There are certainly many ways to perk up your place and spend nothing," said Sue Perry, deputy editor of ShopSmart magazine, published by Consumer Reports.

Here are five ways to update the entertaining showpiece of your home without spending a lot:

1. Reshuffle Items From Another Room:
Try moving the rug from the den or the standing lamp from the bedroom into the living room. Reshuffling items like rugs or pillows from other rooms gives the living room a new feel, Perry says, without costing a dime.

"You're just giving it a little air," she said.

2. Accessorize: Buy decorative pillows from discounters like Target Corp. or TJX Cos.'s HomeGoods, to update your sofa, or stack stylish oversized pillows on the floor to give the room a cozier feel, Perry says. New candles or photo frames go a long way to personalize and update a living space.

3. Cover Up Flaws: A washable cotton throw adds color as it handily covers the faded or threadbare arm or back of your couch. Washable slip covers from IKEA and other discounters — which come in a variety of sizes and fit many chairs and sofas from other stores — also can transform stained, worn or damaged furniture.

4. Repaint the Room: A fresh coat of paint in a vibrant color like goldenrod is "an affordable way to transform" your living room, says Shilpa Bharne Rosenberry, senior retail consultant at WSL Strategic Retail. Just be sure to test a sample on the wall before spending big! Good paint can run $40 a gallon or more; figure a gallon for every 350 square feet and plan on doing two coats. You will also need paint for the trim and ceiling plus funding for rollers, brushes, drop cloths and other supplies.

The Web sites of home improvement leaders Home Depot Inc. and Lowe's Cos. offer guides and videos on surface preparation and painting techniques, as well as the materials you need. Homedepot.com also has an "interior paint calculator" that allows consumers to estimate how much paint to buy. And sherwin-williams.com has a tool that helps you get a sense of how colors will look on the wall before you start.

5. Treasure Hunt: If you do need to replace a big piece of furniture like a sofa or entertainment center, take the time to shop at flea markets, secondhand stores and discount stores and search online at sites like Craigslist.org. In particular, Rosenberry recommends scouring the aisles of off-price shops like Ross Stores Inc. or HomeGoods, which have begun offering the same merchandise — in season — as full-price outlets.

Mall-based furniture and department stores are still aggressively cutting prices on big-ticket items as consumer demand remains weak. Offer to buy the floor model, usually for a savings of 50 percent to 75 percent, Rosenberry said. And remember the small furniture shops closing down that may be desperate just to move their merchandise out.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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