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Designing a Budget Living Room


Saturday mornings include the following: drinking coffee on the sofa, enjoying the fact that Charlie gets to watch tv on weekend mornings so he needs me NOT ONE BIT (like he doesn’t even look at me), and then I just pin and pin and pin. Recently, as I was doing so, I found some strangely cheap but good things (as I always do) and it occurred to me that we, as “design experts” should start creating full room designs on a budget for you to order and decorate with (if you are into it). So I tasked Mel (from our team) with the challenge – see how cheap you can design a living room for, one that you really like, but REALLY cheap. Here is what she came back with:

Flower Art | Horse Print | Green Velvet Sofa | Floor Lamp | Orange and Green Pillow | White Pillow | Black Side Table | Orange Side Chair | Woven Pillow | Rug | Coffee Table | Rattan Chair | Pink Pillow | Pouf | Brass Table Lamps | Black Mirror | Credenza | Basket

I loved it a lot. It is happy, fresh, modern, and yet full of personality. But I wanted it RUHL cheap. Nothing in here is particularly high end, but a couple things, the credenza and the rug, and even sofa could be less expensive (although I loved them). I told her “What is the cheapest you can possibly furnish a mid-century boho living room for? Now go!!”

She came back with this:

Budget Living Room Boho Anthropologie Hippie Casual Emily Henderson Moodbaord Roundup 1

Flower Art | Horse Print | Green Velvet Sofa | Floor Lamp | Orange and Green Pillow | White Pillow | Black Side Table | Orange Side Chair | Woven Pillow | Rug | Coffee Table | Rattan Chair | Pink Pillow | Pouf | Brass Table Lamps | Black Mirror | Credenza | Basket

You can’t deny how cheap and wonderful that is. While three thousand is a lot to spend in one day, over a couple months it would be a really great way to guarantee that your living room looks good. Or hell, put it on your credit card.

But I wasn’t able to buy a $1200 sofa until I had my own TV show when I was 30 years old, so I sourced a few cheaper sofas that could look good in this world and we got the price down even further….then we got greedy and brought the price of the pillow, chair, and pouf down.

So without further ado a midcentury boho inspired living room for $1, 878:

Budget Living Room Boho Anthropologie Hippie Casual Emily Henderson Moodboard Roundup 3

Flower Art | Horse Print | Blue Sofa | Floor Lamp | Orange and Green Pillow | White Pillow | Black Side Table | Orange Side Chair | Light Blue Striped Pillow | Rug | Coffee Table | Rattan Chair (similar: we love this one just as much) | Pink Pillow | Pouf | Brass Table Lamps | Black Mirror | Credenza | Basket

Unless something becomes unavailable in the next few days, all of these pieces are purchasable online with the sole intention that this living room could be yours – no vintage or custom this time. If anything sells out, leave us a comment and we’ll do our best to help you find something of similar quality for a comparable price. So what do you think? Are you into these posts? We might typically JUST do the cheapest version now that Mel knows how cheap I was thinking but at the same time I love the most expensive one the best and I’m so glad it’s included here. Thoughts?

Check out our other round ups: Best Affordable Vinyl Tile, Why Matte Brass Might Be The New King Of Metallics, Shag Rugs Roundup, How To Zen Out Your Kitchen, Favorite Pastel Paint Colors (For Grown Ups), 48 Budget Friendly Kitchen Hardware Knobs & Pulls, How To Mix Multiple Rugs in the Same Room, 63 Favorite Temporary Wallpaper Patterns.

Fin Mark


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can you please share the link for the first pouf? it goes to the middle pouf instead… thanks!

Shoot. Will fix asap! Still at home but when I get to the office i’ll find out where its from. xx


Same thing with the first rug link, takes you to the other! Love seeing all 3 versions! Keep up the good work 🙂


Love it! Keep em comin!


This is a wonderful post. the strain of a small budget is a position most of us have been in at on point in time. This can give a lot of people a place to start when it can feel overwhelming. It’s not as though better pieces can’t be swapped out as you find them and can afford them. It’s a very solid starting point that relieves the pressure when you want a furnished room but can’t afford everything you want right now. Heck, it looks better than rooms that I have furnished with some misguided pricey purchases.


I definitely like seeing all three versions! I love the green sofa a lot. I also like seeing what just a little bit more could get you compared to the very cheapest version.

Buying that round mirror today. Thank you!


Come back and tells us how it looks in person! I’m unsure about the look of rubber, and there aren’t any reviews on the site yet.


Great post, I’d love to see more of these too! One thing I noticed, the mini tree in the basket isn’t accounted for in the total price.


Yes! Yes! Yes! Please do these posts on the regular!!! It IS possible to have a great room without breaking the bank.


I like playing How Low Can You Go! Show all three versions.


Oh yes. that’s what we should call it!

Deirdre Cerasa

I love this! Lots of fun and great ideas. More please!


Love this post and would love to see more. I cringed a wee bit at the credit card comment, but this is a blog about pretties not about finance so I’ll get over it. I really got over it when I saw the room total go from $4k to under $2k. Great job, guys!

Ha. I probably shouldn’t be recommending that … 🙂

It’s a lot more work but you can find similar items to those shown here on craigslist or at garage sales. The price would be far less, and you would have the satisfaction of having recycled/upcycled something.


I thought the same thing, but in this context it’s really handy to have links to widely available items – design for the masses, if you will.

Susie Q.

Exactly. Some things I’d never buy used (like throw pillows), but side tables, coffee tables, and lamps are especially easy to find.

Ya’ll know I love to thrift but like you said we can’t link to thrifted stuff (even CL or etsy means it would be snagged immediately) but it is certainly the best way to get an inexpensive home. I will say that every home needs some pieces that feel fresh and new to help it from looking/feeling like a thrift store. Its all a balance.

Also this way people can sub in whichever pieces they DO thrift or find on CL or whatever but the overall design isn’t hinging on something they can’t necessarily find. I love this and I love seeing all three.


Agreed, Kate!

I love posts like these! It also shows how you can mix higher end with more trendy pieces that you can later swap out.

Sarah E.

Really like this post! Thank you! Super helpful! And yes I would love to see more of these!

L O V E this post!! Keep ’em coming!


Love posts like these, and please keep all 3 versions! I think the sofa and credenza are worth the splurge (especially since the rest of the room is so budget) but it’s nice to take all price points into account. 🙂


Thank you for this post! I was just thinking recently that I wished you had more info on pricing!

this is so wonderful!!! all are beautiful rooms 🙂


LOVE LOVE LOVE this post!!! Please keep them coming. This is why I love you – you do incredible work on a budget!

Would love to know what the first rug is – it links to the 2nd Ikea rug.

Again, kudos for this post, it’s AWESOME. I love seeing the 3 options (appeals to a variety of styles and budgets) and would love to see more!!


LOVE LOVE LOVE this post!!! Please keep them coming. This is why I love you – you do incredible work on a budget!

Would love to know what the first rug is – it links to the 2nd Ikea rug.

Again, kudos for this post, it’s AWESOME. I love seeing the 3 options (appeals to a variety of styles and budgets) and would love to see more!!

Shoot. Now I can’t find it. I don’t think its this one but I thought it was WEst Elm. Stay tuned:


Where is the first rug from? All links go to the second rug. Thanks!

On it. Stay tuned and sorry!!


Great post and beautiful room!! I love the progression of the room from inexpensive to really inexpensive. I would love to see more!


So much love for this. I have been trying to design EXACTLY this type of living room for myself (orange chair included) so this post was perfect!

I also like seeing all of the price options just so I can tell what I might want to save up for vs buy now. I know it is more work for you, but I think it helps to see the progression from, let’s call it “mid-range” to low. Great job team!


Yes please keep doing these posts! I appreciate you understanding that a $1200 sofa is just not in the cards for a lot of people.


Love seeing all 3 versions! Falling in love with your blog all over again now that I’m buying my first house! Especially find posts like this, your color exploration for pastels, and, of course, Target styling helpful!! Would personally love a porch styling for 2016!

Emily R

I LOVE this post! I always admire the design I see on your site, but spending thousands of dollars on a room refresh, much less convincing my husband that it’s worth it, will never happen for us. It’s so refreshing to see some beautiful and truly affordable options! I’d love to see a minimalist/zen/Scandinavian version of this post soon.


Great post! And I really need the green couch! Do they deliver to Holland?


Keep all 3!!

I like being able to see them all, plus there are some people who might be willing to buy the expensive couch but go for the $50 side chair, you know?

Sarah D.

Love this idea! Please keep a higher end look in the mix since this momma likes to splurge on occasion! I struggle with buying mass produced items and like to recreate your looks with vintage items whenever possible. Great work Mel!

Ellie K.

Wonderful concept. Keep them coming!


Love this post and seeing the different versions. Great idea!


Superb post, thank you. More of the same! xxxx


I LOVE this post and would love to see more! This particular room isn’t my style at all, but I love the concept, especially seeing the different price points. Please keep it coming!


Love love love this post.
Thank you.


I LOVE this post. Please do more of these!


This was an awesome post! I am willing to splurge on one-two pieces but do so within an otherwise sane budget. This shows it is possible. Really appreciate the links.


I loved this post! I would definitely love to see others like it in the future. And I like the scale from cheap to cheapest rooms- keep it up!


Oh YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! These posts are fantastic!! They gave me butterflies, made me a little sweaty and totally got goosebumps. Pretty please continue with these – how low can you go – all 3 designs. They are a GREAT working foundation for whatever stage of life/budget you are in. So good.


I do like this type of post and I really like that you gave the three ranges!

Emily S

I just wanted to stop in and say I love this post! I love the different levels and prices. Would definitely be interested in more posts like this! Great inspiration for people on a budget!

Caitie Mears

I love this post and the price range options. Even though the cheapest round-up is the most realistic for me, it was fun to compare and dream. I would love to see more posts like this.


Really love this w/ all 3! It gives you the option to mix and match if your budget allows. I struggle with trying to find great pieces that fall at my price point and definitely can’t afford a designer, so getting your expertise, the full vision, and so many options is amazing! Extra points for everything being accessible to the masses and online to boot.

I love the styling and seeing the different budget option, but it does raise some questions. Is the quality the same ? How are we to determine whether we pay for quality or for marketing ? I’m completely lost each time I have to buy something for my house, and I end up not buying a lot because of that feeling. In my experience, I’ve regretted buying prints or reproductions every single time, no exception. I have some bare walls now, still looking for the perfect original pieces, and I’m happy that way. But art is easy. How about furnitures ? You show two almost identical rattan chairs, and a 220$ difference… why ? Is one sturdier ? How much sturdier ? Is it about where they’re made ? Labor cost ? What ? I’m puzzled. Our philosophy is to scout the internet and thrift shop for that one perfect piece we love, than either wait for it to be available, or put money aside until we can buy it. I find that the waiting augments my appreciation of our new buy and prevents regrets (some of them at least). But I can’t help but wonder whether I pay too… Read more »


Please keep doing these!

And I’m so sorry to be negative but I think the lamp might more accurately cost $49 each…the base is $29 but the lampshades are an additional $20. I feel like maybe this is obvious to design people but wasn’t super obvious to a recently graduated law student.

Uh Oh. if you are right then we should adjust. Will look into it now!


As everyone else has said already, I almost cheered out loud at my desk at work (oops) when I saw this post. Amazing! Especially since I had no idea what was considered an “appropriate” budget for a room–I just knew that moths were flying out of my wallet and I needed to save SOMETHING. Thank you so much! If you need ideas, I would LOVE a bedroom version…

Will do. On it now!


Love this post, thanks! Love all three price variations!


so i was surprised that you kept the mirror throughout all 3. I’m pretty positive that target has a similar round mirror for much cheaper – which is about 8 inches smaller. but i still think it’s a GREAT option:

They do! And it’s a great one! We considered it, it just feels a bit too small for the credenza so we didn’t feel comfortable recommending it 🙂


This is why you da boss!
We wouldn’t know that.


I loooooove including cheap, cheaper, cheapest. Looking at these, I love number 1 the best. Maybe I would be willing to switch out a few things in number 1 for things in the other two looks to get the look a but cheaper, but maybe I look at these boards and decide that if I wait one more month and save up, I can in fact splurge on my couch or credenza more than I originally thought. Seeing all three levels is awesome. Please do this again (and again and again).

Thank you SO MUCH for doing this. I really can’t afford to drop $1,000 on any one piece of furniture (let’s be real, I probably can’t afford to drop more than $500 on one thing, unless I want to eat nothing but open faced sandwiches for the next month) but I want my place to feel lived-in and comfortable, so this is really helpful.


I love this post, thank you for doing this! I’d love to see more like this. One thing I noticed when I clicked the links…those Land of Nod lamps are $29 for the lamp only, no shade. And that horse print is $89 with no frame. Great inspiration but not 100% accurate pricing. Regardless, this is my favorite post you’ve done in months. Very relatable and useful as I try to decorate my new place on a budget!


I love this post as well! Really fun to see three beautiful rooms at different price points. The only thing is, shipping is not included in any of these rooms, I would imagine each room would go up by hundreds or dollars if the price of shipping each item to your home was included, especially for the big pieces of furniture. Maybe you could could include an estimate of shipping for each room? That would help for people who are on a budget.


Love this — would love to see it as a regular feature. And love seeing the different price points — helps understand where to save and where to “splurge” (but while saving still…)


I love these! Thank you for showing multiple options at different, but all affordable, price points. It’s great to have choices to get to a similar look depending on budget and other restrictions.


Yay, I like this post and the idea for a series!! I actually don’t love the colors of this one but I really like how it’s all formatted – especially the costs pointing to each piece. That’s super helpful. I hate having to click through to a bunch of links only to find everything is out of my price range.

(PS I don’t think the $49 Rattan Cole Chair from World Market linked to in the third look is available anymore.)

Aw dang, we thought it might sell out pretty quick. This Anthropologie one is only slightly more expensive (but still cheaper than the 1st option) and a great alternative:


I LOVE this post. I really enjoyed seeing the evolution of the room. Please keep em’ coming!

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