No-demo living room reno – how this dated space became farmhouse gorgeous

One homeowner created a stylish farmhouse living room – without any demolition whatsoever – this is how she pulled off the transformation, on a budget.

Light living room with crittal-style windows, blue patterned rug, cream fabric couch and wooden TV stand with black accents
(Image credit: Dori Turner)

It was love at first sight. The first time we walked into our 1970s two-story, we immediately fell in love with the living room. The vaulted ceilings with beams and skylights, and the beautiful floor to ceiling windows had us ready to sign on the dotted line. It was still outdated but we knew it just needed a little TLC to bring out its full potential.

We were on a tight budget so we had to get creative in the design, and ripping down walls wasn't an option.

Our living room before the no-demo reno...

Living room with high ceilings and wood beams mid decorating, with a covered over floor and a step ladder

(Image credit: Dori Turner)

It's not just the cost of renovating that meant it was off the cards. But, as soon as you launch a big home improvement project with contractors involved, it can be a time consuming and often stressful process – especially if you don't have time to spare to get really organized and on top of project management! 

Thankfully, one thing we’ve learned over the years is that you can have a beautiful home even on a tiny budget if you just use some creativity. Nodding to the best budget living room ideas and thinking outside the box was always going to be the way forward for us. We love the results and anyone can do it!

No-demo living room reno: after and how to

Living room with two blue arm chairs, cream couches and a blue patterned area rug

(Image credit: Dori Turner)

1. Work with the space you have

I’m a believer in working with what you have when possible. Not only does it save money, it saves time. Our living room already had an open layout and we opted to keep the wood wall paneling instead of ripping it out and putting in new sheetrock.

Corner of living room with blue armchair and white couch plus window coverings, a side table with flowers on, and a tall wooden and beige floor lamp

(Image credit: Dori Turner)

2. A little paint goes a long way

Paint is magic. It has the power to breathe new life into any room. A couple of coats of Grey Leaf by Glidden on the dated paneling along with painting the dark trim a bright white gave our farmhouse living room a fresh and clean feel, and made the beautiful ceiling beams really pop!

Design tip:

If you’re working with a small space, choose a lighter color of paint. This will make your living room look and feel bigger. Creamy whites, light grays, and earthy taupes are great options for small spaces!

3. Update the lighting

I once read that if you can only do two things to a space, you should paint and change out the lighting. Just making these two simple and inexpensive changes can make all the difference! We swapped out our dated ceiling fans for some new modern fixtures. For style and function we added gold swing arm lamps to one wall. We chose lamps that could plug into the outlet so no hardwiring was required to bring these living room lighting ideas to life!

Light farmhouse-style living room with crittal-style windows, blue patterned rug, cream fabric couch and wooden TV stand with black accents

(Image credit: Dori Turner)

4. Add an area rug

Updating our flooring was not in the budget, so we opted to add an inexpensive living room area rug to the space instead. Area rugs add depth and interest and give you something to anchor your furniture on. And don’t be afraid to layer an area rug over carpet, they don’t have to be just for hard floors! Choose a neutral rug or one with a pattern if you want it to be a focal point. Save money on an area rug by shopping around a holiday when retailers tend to offer their best deals!

5. Install simple window treatments

Window treatments are a simple addition that add so much to a space. They can be functional or purely decorative. They can provide a focal point with a pretty pattern or a neutral fabric will add texture and depth. With so many large windows, it wasn’t in the budget to do window treatments on all of them, so we opted to just install them on the back window to provide shade and privacy. We chose woven shades and layered them with long panels on either side.

Blue drapes with wooden shades on top of large windows

(Image credit: Dori Turner)

6. Strategic furniture pieces

The final part of our no-demo living room renovation was deciding on furniture. When choosing furniture there are a few things to consider. You want to think about scale and function. If you’re working with a smaller space, you don’t want to choose an oversized sofa. If you enjoy entertaining, you want to choose pieces that will maximize seating while still being comfortable. Since our living room is a large open space, we opted for two of the best sofas and two accent chairs to help form the perfect living room layout. Adding cozy throw pillows and blankets added style and comfort. We got rid of our old TV stand and found plans online to build our entertainment console for around $300. Now it’s a beautiful piece that hides our game system and other electronics!

I still can’t believe the before and after! Our farmhouse living room looks completely different – and it was accomplished with absolutely no demolition.

Dori Turner

Dori Turner writes blog posts and feature articles on affordable design and DIY from her home in the heart of Oklahoma. She has a passion for teaching others how they can transform their home on a budget.