Ask Jennifer Adams: How to get a new look in a living room without replacing everything

Q: I really want to redo my living area but how do I make changes without having to buy all new everything? I can’t afford new furniture and accessories!

A: I have great news. You don’t have to replace everything to get an all-new look in any room. Just have a good idea of what you want, and go from there. What is your style? What looks do you like? Pull images from online, magazines, and catalogs that interest you and notice the colors and styles that are similar.

Do you need to paint? This will probably take more than a day, though painting your walls (or furniture) is a great way to change the look of any room quickly and inexpensively. The best thing about painting is that this task requires you to first move everything out of the room and clean.

Even if you’re not painting, move everything but the largest furniture out. This helps create a blank slate for you to build the new look you want. Assess each individual item in this room carefully. Keep it if it contributes to the new look you want, such as something that is the right color or a treasured object. This includes larger accessories such as the area rug, window treatments, art on the walls, throw pillows, even the lamps. Then toss, donate or sell the items that won’t work. There is no need to keep them. These things will just clutter up some other room.

To revamp a sofa, shop for a thin quilt, coverlet or textural bedspread in a color or pattern you like, or buy long pieces of fabric. Lay one piece over the back, lengthwise, and another across the seat cushions. Tuck along the back of the seat cushions for a finished look. For a chair, consider using a throw blanket, oversize Turkish towel with a fringe, or heavy tablecloth.

Fill in with garage sales or thrift store vases, planters, new lampshades and accent tables. If you can’t find the perfect whatever, it’s better to wait, and live without, than to buy something just because it will fill the space. For more budget minded tips, see this article on my blog. Let me know how it goes.

Have a design dilemma? Jennifer Adams is an award-winning designer, author of the upcoming book “Love Coming Home and TV personality. Send your questions to AskJennifer@JenniferAdams.com or for more design ideas, visit Jennifer’s blog on her website at www.jenniferadams.com.