Family Living Room

9 Practical Home Improvement Tips That Will Save You Money (with Real-life Cost Breakdown Examples)

Around Au$6500…

According to Houzz, that’s the amount that could potentially set us back to update a living room with the size of our living space.

Around Au$5000…

That’s the initial max budget I guesstimate to do our living room makeover.

Updating any room in the house could be a daunting project due to the conceivable fund factor and the potential tradie’s skills required.

…Which I neither have.

To tell you the truth, I couldn’t imagine shelling out those dollars without a good fight.

Prior to rolling our sleeves, I put my “hometiculous” hat on and possessed by my 10 years of professional procurement spirit.  I did my due diligence and adapted ways to pinch every penny I can.

For the record, I am not a renovation expert, neither my hubby.

I am just a regular homey who loves to do bits and bobs of home improvement to give a steady refreshing feel and functionality of the nesting place which my kids are fond of calling HOMEY.

That is to say without blowing the budget and trimming every fat I can find.

Without further ado, here are the 9 practical budget makeover tips which allowed us to eliminate money waste in updating our living room space.

Family Living Room taken 2014
Original Family Living Room taken 2015
Family Living Room taken 2018
Family Living Room Update in 2018
Family Living Room taken 2018
Family Living Room Update in 2018

Tip No. 1. Define your workable budget

Any project, be it at work or home, requires to have a defined (estimated) budget to work on. This gives idea as to what is achievable to the scope of renovation including the design and materials that will be used.

Diving into the project without any budget in mind is a sure fire way to waste great deal of money without you realizing it.

I have roughly estimated my budget to be around $5000 (max) since I knew I will be replacing all the main furniture. I estimated my initial budget based on the average prices of the similar styles of (as new) furniture and potential labour I was more likely to use.

Stack of coins
Define your workable budget

Tip No. 2. Use apps for planning a room layout or design

Use of apps for your room layout or design will save you some time and headaches in visualizing what works or what doesn’t to your given room space at practically no cost.

There are tons of free apps online which you can play around and can inspire you to bring out the creative side in you.

We did some basic look test. We used Ikea’s Room Planner apps online to see if the products as well as the colours and models we were after made sense together.

We used Ikea’s BESTA and LACK range for the main wall.


Family Living Room Design using Ikea's Room Planner App
Family Living Room Design using Ikea's Room Planner App

Tip No. 3. Splash a fresh coat of paint

Applying a fresh coat of paint provides the biggest impact with the least outlay.

Most low key space makeovers are often done by just painting the walls with different shades and textures to give way to a new appealing space. There are heaps of paint colours available at a very affordable price which can please your decorating moods and styles.

I like the existing green shade of the main wall so I kept the paint; thankfully it is still reasonably good. I repaired the holes (acquired from hanging the earlier picture frames) of the adjacent wall and added a fresh coat of lighter green paint to give a different depth of feel to the room.

Tip No. 4.  Assess existing furniture

Figure out which of your existing furniture to toss or to keep.  

As the famous KonMari tidying philosophy question goes… 

“Does it spark joy?” 

If yes…then reuse or recycle it. 

If no…sell or donate or get rid of it.

Making use of existing fixture or accessories will save you not just money but some of your precious time too.  

I recycled most of my existing collections of decors which I acquired over the years as gifts and great finds from garage sales.

Family Living Room with old furniture
Assessing Family Living Room Old Furniture

In the above photo, the bulky designer-like couches (marked as A) and the TV unit set (marked as B) with timber coffee table and side table (not shown in photo) were all bought as  rummage-sale. 

This first batch of furniture served us quite well for over 8 years.

And would you believe it? I still managed to get rid of the timber TV unit set the same price as I bought them 8 years ago!

What a bonus to the pocket!

Not to mention the television (marked as C in the above photo) which was a salvaged freebie from hubby’s old work in a TV repair shop, it’s 8 years old and counting since the time hubby repaired it.

Lo and behold… it is still functional and it is the same TV unit we are using up to this day.

We tried  selling the couches on an online garage sale but we did not have serious enquiries so we have decided to give them away for free.  Besides they were quite bulky and we did not have enough space in the house to store them while waiting for a buyer.

TIP No. 5. Look around shops and compare if buying new stuff (online or on display)

I call this the “hometiculous shopping trick”.

…Which I bet all practical homemakers out there are very familiar too.

Shopping around and comparing can be time-consuming but it is worth every effort as you can find similar (if not the same) furniture designs or decors from different shops with a surprisingly big price difference.  A comparison of at least 2 shops to 4 if you have more time to spare will give you a sense of contribution to your family’s net income.

After seeing a number of display houses and looking at Pinterest living room designs for some ideas, I know I am up for a wall mounting fittings to provide a tidier and much open space look on the main wall area.

Prior to buying any new fixtures, I looked around shops (both online and on display) for comparison and to see what will work to achieve the new look I was aiming for with the limited budget I had in mind.

I was a bit particular on the main wall area. I wanted to make sure the TV unit and the floating shelves will match together.

As expected we ended up buying IKEA TV units and shelves.

Aside from being cost-effective, they were so easy to install (thanks to hubby’s skills and muscles).

They look so neat and sleek too!

We also bought a couple of reasonably priced decorations to add more zing to the room.

Updated family living room
Latest Updated Family Living Room
(As New Price)
ABesta TV Units (120x40x38cm)2NewIkea $     210.00 $420.00  
BLack Floating Shelves (110x26cm)4NewIkea $       25.00 $  100.00
CArtificial plants2NewIkea $       10.00 $    20.00
DSet of Zanita Tables1NewFantastic Furniture $      59.00 $    59.00
EBig Photo Frames,
Printed photos from hubby’s photography collections
3NewMostly $2 Shop $       33.33 $  100.00
       $ 699.00


Tip No. 6. Recycle or upcycle good quality secondhand or pre-loved furnishings or decorations

If you are not that pressed with time to browse around and you are not that very particular, there are lots of decent quality used items to choose from at the click of a button via MarketplaceeBay or Gumtree.

Just make sure sellers provide good quality photos and detailed descriptions, so you can easily make your own judgment if you are interested to make an offer or buy an item.

Otherwise, you can always send a message and request for more information to the seller to help you decide better.
Always submit your lowest (reasonable) offer if the price is not firm, who knows what the seller is willing to accept or not.

If online buying is not your thing, you can drop by to your nearest flea markets or trash and treasure bazaars, op shops and garage sales to choose your bargains.

Recycling and upcycling are some of the simplest ways we can do to provide mother earth the love and care she needs.

Important Side Note:

• Beware of online scammers.

I personally have not experienced online scamming myself but it pays to be vigilant.

• Make sure you give those pre-loved items a thorough and deep clean before using them – steam clean and wash if you must!

Better to be always on the safe side with or without the pandemic situation going on.
I was lucky enough to stumble upon very good quality cheap finds at a fraction of its original price which we bought via Marketplace and Gumtree.

The sofas, pillows, and bean bags were pre-loved items. But they were all still in mint condition and the quality was still very good. They did not need any repair or mending. We just gave them a thorough clean. 

Indeed a great bargain!

Updated family living room
Latest Updated Family Living Room
CodeItemQtyCondition BrandTotal Purchased PricedTotal (As New) PriceTotal Implicit Savings
FSignature Contemporary 3-Seater Fabric Sofa2Pre-ownedFreedom  $    600.00 $       3,000.00 $                2,400.00
GAssorted design pillows6Pre-ownedZanui $      50.00 $          300.00 $                    250.00
HBean Bags2Pre-ownedKing Kahuna $      60.00 $          400.00 $                   340.00
IDecors ExistingVarious $             –   $           350.00 $                    350.00
JPlants ExistingKmart/DIY $             –   $          300.00 $                   300.00
KCurtains ExistingSpotlight/DIY $             –   $           100.00 $                    100.00
LRug ExistingAldi $             –   $             50.00 $                      50.00
      $    710.00   $                3,790.00
     Money spent Money Saved from recycling old furniture

Tip No. 7. Do-It-Yourself (DIY)

DIY is one of the best savers of any makeovers which will allow you to be more creative and to put personal touches that will satisfy your creative sensibilities.

Doing it yourself could be as easy as doing your own wall painting or upcycling your great trash and treasure finds. The aim is to ensure your DIY is not going to be more expensive than the product or service you can equally get from outside.

So it pays to plan and know what to do beforehand.

I hung curtains which I previously sewed as an accent and paired it with the sheer ones I bought from Spotlight earlier.

Wall art decor
Wall art decor

Tip No. 8. Add plants

Plants are generally low-cost decorative items that will surely liven up your space. You can opt for artificial (faux) or real ones depending on what you like and what you can sustain.

I always prefer real plants over faux ones as I enjoy growing them. You can get plants free from your own garden or your friend’s garden which can thrive indoor.

You can buy young plants at a really cheap price from your local greenery shops and ask how to care for them to avoid wilted plants hanging around your space.

Well looked after indoor greeneries will provide a refreshing vibe as well as purify the air inside the house.

I arranged existing potted plants and made DIY indoor plants which I have personally grown myself. I am very pleased with the atmosphere these greeneries have provided our new space.

Indoor plants
Indoor plants

Tip No. 9. Fragrant touch

Newly laundered sheets or clothes seemed quite unfinished if they do not smell good.

Same way as to any refurbished room, it feels more relaxing and inviting to come back or stay if it has the aromatic smell of your favourite scents.

You can use scented candles, wax melts, essential oil diffuser, or whatever you have available on hand.

If you don’t have any of the things I mentioned, I am pretty sure you have something in your kitchen or pantry you can use to make your room smell good, like coffee, vanilla, cinnamon, citrus fruits, and peelings.

I made use of the essential oil diffuser and the wax melt burner that I already have to give finishing fragrant touches to the room.

Finally, the living room that appeared to be quite unfinished is now looking homey and complete!

Hubby and I both felt inspired and accomplished with the outcome of this living room makeover.




We chose a simple and easy layout design this time as we wanted to do all the updates ourselves without a leg up from outside trades.

This project can certainly be completed within a day provided all necessary materials and resources are available.

Below is the summary of savings I gathered for this exercise.

My Estimated BudgetActual SpentSavings
(Budget – Actual)
% Savings
 $                   5,000.00 $                     1,409.00 $                     3,591.0072%
Implicit Savings$ 3,790.00 ~ total indirect savings
 $                    2,990.00amount saved in opting for recycled or used furniture alone
 $                       800.00amount saved in reusing existing accessories and decorations

Going by the Houzz estimate of $6,500, we have implicitly saved a whopping $5,000!

That’s a winner. I COULDN’T BE HAPPIER!

The above $ values are all in AUD and the comparison exercises were utilized just to show the benefit of the tips provided. The estimates were regarded to be as accurate as possible.

If you are a newbie to the realm of a makeover, like us, and on a shoestring budget stage of your life, dare to start with something easy and simple to do.

As a general rule of life, as you gain more practice you will be more comfortable and be better at it.

Of course, it is considered as an advantage if you have a little bit more budget to spare with in any home projects.

But remember this…there is always a way to feed your interior decoration cravings whatever budget you may have.

I hope you find these applied simple and practical tips useful.

What are your own tried and tested tips which helped you saved money in your makeover journey?

Please feel free to share your tips on the comment section below.

I also want to learn from you! Happy makeover guys!

Ann of Hometiculous

I am a busy mummy to 2 and a wifey to one. I am very careful when it comes to the needs of my family and home. I am particularly lazy to look for things and thoroughly crazy to do everything that’s why I am thankful for organizing. I am a certified meticulous when it comes to anything that involves effort, time, and money at home and beyond our home. In my spare time (if I am lucky), I engrossed myself reading, experimenting in the kitchen, exploring my tiny little garden, learning and saving from DIYs.

2 thoughts on “9 Practical Home Improvement Tips That Will Save You Money (with Real-life Cost Breakdown Examples)”

    1. Ann of Hometiculous

      Thanks Cathy of First Home Buyer Loan for taking the time to read and comment. Your kind words mean so much to me! Coming from a home specialist like yourself, thank you!

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