Awe-Inspiring Designer Makeover for Under $500

See how one designer created a vintage, eclectic look using a homeowner's existing accessories and furniture to redecorate a living room on a budget.


Photo By: Erin Cantrell

Photo By: Erin Cantrell

Photo By: Erin Cantrell

Photo By: Erin Cantrell

Photo By: Erin Cantrell

Photo By: Erin Cantrell

Photo By: Erin Cantrell

Photo By: Erin Cantrell

Photo By: Erin Cantrell

Photo By: Erin Cantrell

Photo By: Erin Cantrell

Photo By: Erin Cantrell

Photo By: Erin Cantrell

Photo By: Erin Cantrell

Photo By: Erin Cantrell

Photo By: Erin Cantrell

Photo By: Erin Cantrell

Photo By: Erin Cantrell

Photo By: Erin Cantrell

Photo By: Erin Cantrell

Photo By: Erin Cantrell

Photo By: Erin Cantrell

Photo By: Erin Cantrell

Photo By: Erin Cantrell

Photo By: Heather Hogan Roberts

Low-Budget Style

Atlanta designer Heather Hogan Roberts took objects and decor that the homeowner already owned to stay under her $500 budget for a living room makeover. She bought new curtains, a rug and small pieces of furniture, such as side tables and a woven stool used as an ottoman. Roberts, who owns , reworked and styled the existing accessories and furniture—a low-cost alternative to buying new items for a designer look.

Pops of Pink

thrift-shopping savvy uncovered this chinoiserie painted teapot for just $6 and brass pineapple for $10.

Beachy and Green

A piece of white coral, which cost $6 at a consignment shop, adds more texture to the coffee table. The accessory mimics the sculptural shapes in the succulent centerpiece.

Succulent Styling

Roberts likes using succulents because they are resilient plants that require little maintenance. The homeowner already had this arrangement in another room, so Roberts made it a key item in her coffee table makeover.

Under Cover

Look for hidden style surprises under book jackets. found a shared pink palette in a book with a dust cover and a bare book, then topped the books with a piece of inexpensive coral.

Custom Touches

Discount remnant fabric and trim made it possible for to make all new pillows for the living room for $120. The white faux fur throw cost $24.99. Working with a $500 budget, she decided to keep the circular mirror in the same spot because it fills out the wall.

Tea Time

The coffee table books designer Heather Hogan Roberts selected bring out the colors in the teapot for feminine coffee table look complemented by edgy metallics.

Collectible Container

Filling an inexpensive $8 lidded glass jar found at a thrift store with colorful matchbooks creates an easy conversation starter, a great way of reliving happy memories and a way to bring personality to your living room style.

Pretty in Pink

To save money, the coffee table remained, but moved succulents from another room to add greenery. Then she surrounded the plant with thrifted accessories and borrowed beads from the homeowner's jewelry box.

Corner Spot

When you have a small sculpture, like this $8 metal sea urchin, it could get lost on a decorated coffee table. Using it to top a trio of books gives it more prominence on a corner of the table.

Metallic Must-Have

This go-to gold sea urchin accessory used by designer Heather Hogan Roberts, sits casually atop a pyramid of books the homeowner already owned. Think of ways to rearrange favorite accessories for greater impact, or move items from one room to another for a fresh look.

Unusual Bowl Filler

Take a cheap white bowl (this one cost $2 at a thrift shop) and add interest by filing it with a unique accessory: pink beads. Then don't forget mirrors, big or small, when decorating a living space: they provide depth and bring light to your living room. Designer Heather Hogan Roberts of used a mirrored tray underneath. Beyond the table, the woven basket holding blankets on the hearth used to be hidden behind a chair.

Laying the Foundation

A new rug took up $110 of this homeowner's $500 living room makeover budget. Designer found this fleece rug with a geometric pattern on sale and saved an additional 10 percent with a coupon. She bought two ikat window panels and got one for 40 percent off. Those savings allowed her to buy discounted fabric for custom pillows and the elephant end table, which cost $40 at a thrift shop. The fiddle-leaf fig adds natural beauty to a corner with no need for wall art.

Thrifted Table

This elephant end table, a thrift store score, is one of designer favorite finds. “They add a fun little flair to the room,” she says. She adds that pieces like these are easy to paint to fit any decor and are sturdy enough to go outside.

Milk Glass Glow

A pair of blue milk glass urns, found at an Atlanta consignment shop for $4, are so pretty that they can be used empty. Think of ways to take items you'd expect to see in another room, like a dining room or kitchen, and use them in your living room design scheme.

Enticing Entryway

This table runner was elsewhere in the home, but designer claimed it for the living room. Now, it brings pattern into the hallway, which has a brick accent wall. She curated books to create symmetrical stacks on the bench and to bring blue and white into the room. 

Bold Choices

This brick wall is a cool feature that is warmed up with a cleverly edited choice of accessories. The dog statue was purchased for $12 at a thrift shop, and the homeowner already owned the zebra sculpture, which created a fun animal-themed tableau. A bouquet of flowers and houseplant balances out the console table. 

Tribal Theme

Interior designer Roberts positioned the homeowner's zebra sculpture on a pedestal of design and fashion books. When looking for books to display, find those with interesting designs and fonts on the spine.  If the book covers are worn, you can always display books with similar colored spines without their dust jackets.

Bursts of Blue

For this living room makeover, designer Roberts incorporated bursts of blue. She also took cues from fashion, such as using African beads that the homeowner purchased previously at a antique market to accessorize a console table, instead of an outfit.

Vintage Appeal

The white faux bamboo chair was brought up from the basement, topped with a pink throw the homeowner owned and a retro rattan purse from a thrift shop. The colors on that restyled seat and antique rug—moved from another location in the home—seem even more vibrant next to the brick wall.

Rattan Steal

This rattan stool was purchased for $6 at a thrift shop and helped keep this $500 living room makeover's costs low. The stool also subs for the matching ottoman, which designer Heather Hogan Roberts moved into an office area.

Fresh Cuts

Previously, the room had no flowers. often uses cut flowers from the garden as an easy way to bring life into a space. “It’s a really inexpensive way to add color,” she says. 

Affordable and Original Art

The brick wall previously held kids' portraits but is now the perfect spot for a DIY artwork, created for just $42 including canvas, paint and supplies.

Finishing Touch

A lovely live orchid, purchased at a grocery store, arches over one of two vintage elephant side tables in the redecorated living room.

Before the Makeover

Before, this room featured plenty of furniture that Heather Hogan Roberts kept while bringing in a fresh new color palette and thrifted accessories. Key items were repurposed and upcycled like the basket hidden behind the chair, which Roberts gave a fresh new placement in the makeover.

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