If you spend a lot of time reading interior design magazines or blogs, you’ll quickly notice a trend: Every room seems to contain thousands of dollars in furniture and art. But does it have to cost a fortune to create a beautiful home?

Absolutely not! In fact, you can transform any room with little more than a coat of paint and a few inexpensive accent pieces.

To get a sense of just how easy it is to go from messy to Martha Stewart, take a look at the following simple living-room transformations. Your friends will be amazed by your new low-cost luxury look.

Consider Your Colors

The first step toward creating a cohesive living room design is to choose a color palette for the space. If you prefer to do it on a budget, start by looking at which colors already dominate your home.

Usually you want at least one neutral, such as black, white, or tan, and at least one bright color that will draw the eye. Any new pieces or paint will then make use of this color palette.

Light It Right

Lighting is another key feature of living room décor because it can make the space bright and welcoming -- and this is especially true of natural light. That’s why you should consider equipping your living room window treatments that enhance the ambiance.

As light filters through the shades during the day, the room will pick up those natural cycles: brightly lit in the morning and afternoon, and dimming into the evening.

As for artificial lighting, you have several ways to create an elegant, attractive display. First, consider arranging a number of small lamps throughout the room with shades that match the color scheme of the space.

Or for early evening lighting, try creating a cluster of pillar candles on a central surface. Candles make a room feel warm and intimate, at a minuscule price.

Free Up Your Fireplace

In many homes, the fireplace is the visual center of the room, but if you want to use it at all, you’ll have to do some upkeep. Instead, consider repurposing your fireplace as a decorative storage space by filling it with plants or stacking books in it.

Both foster an appearance of abundance, which can help you make the most of your fireplace in a less-than-conventional way.

Bountiful Books

Speaking of books, your library is an ideal decorating tool, especially if you have a lot of empty space under benches or tables, or need to add color to your living room. While you’re redecorating, why not put your books to work by arranging them based on spine color, stack them to display your favorite tchotchkes, or disperse them on shelves with vases, certificates, and plants.

Beautify the Basics

Finally, don’t be afraid of a taking a DIY approach to upgrading your furniture. Sick of that boring side table? You don’t have to spend a few hundred dollars on a new one.

Instead, add a fresh coat of paint or use interesting hardware to upgrade a basic piece. Countless resources online can guide you through the process so the finished piece reflects your vision.

Remember, you don’t have to revamp your entire living room all at once. Take your time and consider what you want the end result to be, then gather what you need to achieve it.

Maybe you’ll find the perfect lamp in a thrift shop or a pile of candles in the dollar store. Envision the space you want first, and it will steadily come together.

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