How I Furnished My Family Room on a Tight Budget


Today the Nester over at Nesting Place has challenged us to tell the world what we spent on furnishing one of our rooms. Oh, boy. I’m almost embarrassed to tell you how cheap most of my family room furniture was.  Even I was surprised as I went back through our records and saw how truly little we spent on this room. But here goes.

Round mirror over the fireplace: $89 at Bombay Company (R.I.P. Bombay Co.)

Fireplace screen: a T.J. Maxx find for $45. Looks almost exactly like the $250 screen I wanted from another store. Yee haw.

Daisies and marigolds: free from my garden.


Old black student’s chair: free. A friend who failed to sell it at a yard sale gave it to me.


Two toile side chairs: $480 each from a store that went out of business several years ago.

Coffee table and side table: I paid about $500 for both. Betcha can’t guess where I got ’em.


Value City Furniture. Seriously. They’re solid wood and have sturdy baskets underneath that are great for storing things like Nintendo DS’s and Littlest Pet Shop animals. They also have deep drawers where we stash all of our remote controls, etc.

Wall paint: Pecan by Eddie Bauer. Two gallons, on sale for $20 each. Woo-hoo! (I went through four other colors before landing on this one, so if I tallied all those up, the total would be a lot higher! Let’s just pretend I only painted it once, though, okay?)

I keep the walls and furniture neutral and change the other colors with the seasons. In a couple of months I’ll put away the blues and yellows and bring out the oranges and golds for fall. Then red will come out to add some cheer in winter.

Round table: Picked this up for the other side of the room at Target for about $80.


Unbelievably comfortable striped sofa: $600 (from that same store that went bankrupt). Amazing price considering I chose the fabrics for it and the chairs. No, they won’t last forever. They’re so light I can move them around the room by myself. But it’s been five years and they’re doing great so far, especially considering how hard they’re used.

Black and white painted bookshelves (in the background): I bought these on clearance at Pier One for our first home after we were married. It was probably $40 bucks or something. They hold stacks of family photo albums and, as you can see in this shot, little speakers for my husband’s Surround Sound system thingamajiggy.


Black-painted TV armoire that I forgot to take a picture of (sorry): a floor model at Pier One marked down to $599.

Small painting on my mantel: You may recall that Fifi Flowers painted this picture of my childhood home (love her!). To see the photo she based it on, click here.


Yellow basket: I ordered this from Crate & Barrel on clearance for $25. As I mentioned on Beach Cottage Love, I’ve been craving yellow lately, and adding bits of it everywhere I can. This basket makes me so happy, it’s ridiculous. It was my gift to myself for completing a very arduous writing project last month under deadline.

White settee with black painted legs (in the background): $450.


Children who can hang out in the family room without worrying if they’re going to break something expensive: priceless.


When we moved in five years ago, we had to start from scratch to fill this room. Lily was a baby and I had taken time off work, so things were really tight. It certainly isn’t fine or fancy, but it works for us, for now.

So let’s see, the total for my family-room-on-a-tight-budget (drumroll): $3,428 .

Head over to Nesting Place to see how everyone else has priced rooms in their homes. Should be fun!


P.S.  I’ve got a Movie Monday post coming later today. If you’re a “Twilight” fan and you like Edward Cullen’s contemporary house in the movie, then you won’t want to miss it. I found photos of the actual home they used and it’s a beaut! (Update: I posted it here.) To see the post I wrote a few months ago about both Edward’s and Bella’s houses, click here. Or check out all the Houses Onscreen I’ve featured.

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  1. says

    Girl, I love it! AND Value City Furniture is da bomb! I actually rented a UHaul trailor when we lived a few cities away from one–I got my keeping room sofa there for $499 and my two black plaid chairs with the ottomans are from Value City!!!!
    .-= Nester´s last blog ..Price My Space Party :: 8 PM Tonight! =-.

  2. says

    Great work decorating your beautiful room, Julia.

    There are several Value City pieces in our home, very sturdy. I miss Bombay outlet. We have several pieces from there, too. Perhaps I should have done this challenge. hmmm
    .-= Pat´s last blog ..~A Bench Makeover~ =-.

  3. says

    Great job Julia – I loved reading this. What about the little white birdie and the turquoise plate on the side table? Those are two of my favorite things in your beautiful room!
    .-= christy´s last blog ..Another interruption =-.

  4. says

    Beautiful room! I love the colors and the mood you created! Comfortable, crisp and neat! Oh, the yellow basket is my favorite part!
    .-= Amy´s last blog ..Say cheese! =-.

  5. hookedonhouses says

    Turquoise plate–Target. I bought a set of them last summer. Not expensive at all. White wooden bird–clearance shelf at Garden Ridge for about $2.99, as I recall. -Julia :-)

  6. says

    Fine and fancy are seriously overrated! This room is fun and friendly and your family is so lucky to have such a warm and lovely space to spend time in. That you pulled off a whole room for the price of the Pottery Barn sectional I’ve been considering is pretty remarkable. Well done!
    .-= Tracy´s last blog ..The Bluest Blue =-.

  7. says

    Thank you so much for sharing this! I love the room – really, really love it (not just the kind of ‘love’ that pops up in lots of blog comments) and am blown away that you can change your accent colors to such great effect. I am also feeling encouraged that I’m not the only person who goes into real shops and pays real money (albeit at clearance prices), rather than arriving pre-dawn at garage sales and scoring 50 cent miracles. :)
    Your kids look lovely and as you say, removing the fear of messing something up, is priceless.
    Please could you post a similar pic when you change the colors? I’d love to see it.
    .-= Struggler´s last blog ..Giveaway Winners! =-.

  8. says

    THIS IS THE LIVING ROOM THAT WAS MY LIVING ROOM INSPIRATION!! Omg, the day I “googled” black & white decorating and your URL popped up, was when I feel in love with blogging. It was the first time in my life that I realized someone else “got” my obsession with home/house and all things home/house!

    Love you!!!!! XOXO
    .-= Beachbrights´s last blog ..Could You Live in 450 Sq. Ft.? =-.

  9. says

    Oh, Julia, I LOVE this room. THAT’S the room I want. Can you just ship it to VA, and I’ll swap out everything I had in my Family room? 😉 The mirror is so pretty, and I really love the storage you have under your coffee table. I like that your room is beautiful without being uptight and fussy…clearly your kids can enjoy it too! Thanks for your sweet comment on my post. :)
    .-= Amanda @ Serenity Now´s last blog ..She Hung WHAT On Her Wall?! =-.

  10. says

    Julia, I adore your black and white with the punches of color! I have found myself sort of addicted to turquoise/aqua this year, so I’m adding it everywhere I can. I would love to see your living room again in the fall! :)
    .-= Kimm at Reinvented´s last blog ..Reinventing Old Windows =-.

  11. says

    Loving your ideas!!! I like how you use the main pieces year round and add color with the accent as each season rolls around…works perfect! Thanks for sharing with all of us.
    .-= Mary Catherine´s last blog ..EAT MOR CHIKIN =-.

  12. Colleen P. says

    LOVE those toile chairs. Seriously. In Love With Those Chairs.

    What a gorgeous room!

  13. says

    Good for you! It looks terrific! I’m really impressed how everything hangs together. Did you have a plan ahead of time, or did it just all fall together as you randomly found things?
    .-= Heather´s last blog ..Ta Da! =-.

  14. says

    I love your family room.
    I’ve also been craving yellow lately and have added little touches of yellow to my porch and laundry room.
    .-= Emily B´s last blog $pace =-.

  15. says

    just love it – looks like a $15k room to me – you are a star ! I have a new job that comes with a furnished house so it will be a real task to make it feel like home … I am taking some ideas from this room … my best le
    .-= le´s last blog ..Whoop Whoop =-.

  16. says

    Hi Julia.
    Your living room is lovely.
    It caught my attention that I have the EXACT same black chair. Seriously, same color, w/ almost the same wear marks! Weird. 😉
    Love it all!
    .-= Tricia´s last blog ..Easy Peasy Transformations =-.

  17. says

    Julia, months ago I actually saved the picture of your living room/family room on my decorating folder/picture file. I loved it so much because it felt like a real room, that was comfortable and so pretty to look at. I have looked at that picture several times thinking you really had the right chemistry with all the furniture, shelves, pictures, etc. My picture has your room with fall pumpkin or orange pillows! hahaha….I love it. Great job. I enjoy visiting your blog and seeing all the inspiration. Keep it up girl!
    .-= Debbie´s last blog ..Cross stitch Watermelon Pillow =-.

  18. says

    I love that everything is neutral so that you can switch out the colors (I am mentally remembering that for the next time I decorate my family room). I love that you have a place for Littlest Pet Shop toys, I seem to find those adorable little guys all over my house.
    Can’t wait for your Twilight house post, I recently read all of the books and just watched the movie last week.

  19. says

    I love your family room! I love how you have the neutrals and change it out with pops of color! Genius!!

  20. *Christy* says

    What a gorgeous room! *swoon* You did a fantastic job making it feel pulled together and elegant, and yet still homey and comfy for a family. I love the accent colors. My color scheme is also black/cream/khaki, but I have been aching for more color. You gave me some great inspiration!

  21. hookedonhouses says

    Wow, thanks for all of your kind comments! Heather–last summer I got on an aqua kick and decided I wanted to add some to my family room and kitchen (the kitchen is also neutral and gets redecorated for the seasons), so I started buying anything in that color that I could find, like the blue throw, the plates, little fingerbowls that I put flowers in, etc. This summer I decided I needed some yellow and bought a few things to add, like the frame, the vase, the basket. Doesn’t take much to make a difference.

    I’ll be sure to show you how it looks this fall when everything turns gold and orange. -Julia :-)

  22. says

    Awesome post! Just what I have been looking for!

    Julia, pop over to the patio today. You have to read today’s post. When I wrote it, I thought of you!! Tomorrow’s post is up your alley too! xox MBM
    .-= Melissa´s last blog ..My Neighbor’s Castle =-.

  23. says

    I love your room! The black & white toile is the best!! I also love neutrals to pair with seasonal colors, so this was very inspirational! :) Thanks for sharing all of your deals with us!
    .-= Stacey @ The Blessed Nest´s last blog ..Price My Space =-.

  24. Lindy says

    What a pretty room! I love the versatility of being able to change the accent colors for each season.

  25. says

    You have a really charming, tasteful room here. I love those toile chairs! Prettiest chairs I’ve seen in a long time. I read your other blog regularly and like the yellow additions. As I’m a yellow girl! Have to have the sunshine color in my rooms. This really looks like it came straight out of a magazine. And you have kids and it still looks stunning! Just saying, kids are usually hard on furniture! Raised two myself.
    .-= Brenda Kula´s last blog ..Price My Cozy Space =-.

  26. says

    I really love this room! (and the picture of your kids is awesome)

    I need to overhaul our sofa pillows. Where did you get yours, if you don’t mind me asking?

    I also love the splashes of yellow and blue.

  27. hookedonhouses says

    I ordered the pillows to be made in those fabrics when I ordered the sofa from the store that went out of business shortly thereafter. I wish I could get some new ones made–after 5 yrs they are showing some wear. My kids like to throw them at each other and make forts and things out of them. They were used as “stepping stones” for the neighborhood kids to walk across the foyer (which was a creek) last week. They get no respect. 😉

    The blue pillows I found last summer on clearance somewhere–TJ Maxx, maybe? Or HomeGoods? Can’t remember. -Julia

  28. says

    Oh, a little toile makes my heart pitter patter! I love the turquoise and yellow accents! Super cute!!

  29. says

    My favorite is your dark wood and teal/turquoise accent mixes. I long for a coffee table with pretty items on top…but with toddlers with oral-fixations, that is a while off for our family. Beautiful room! Abbie
    .-= Abbie´s last blog ..Create Inspiration and Beauty at Home =-.

  30. says

    Julia, love your room when I first saw it! You did great shopping on a budget. I didn’t get my post together, but I’ve done pretty well on all my rooms too. Love your toile and adding in the blue & yellow is so pretty for summer. You did great, girl!
    .-= Rhoda @ Southern Hospitality´s last blog ..More Estate Sales =-.

  31. says

    Love the Aqua. I got into it about 3 years ago and have it in almost every room including the kid’s rooms now. They are all different shades but I really like yours. I know you’ve seen my website so you know I’m all about the Black and Ivory. Here are a couple ideas for rehabbing the pillows. If one side is still okay you can use something new on the other side. You can also use the old stuff for piping on some new pillows. The stripe on the bias( this means cut on the diagonal) on a solid fabric looks great. If triangles can be cut you can use four to form a square and add a solid back and solid piping. If you can’t sew, ( I wish I could) many alterations places at drycleaners can handle pillow covers. Finally if you use a down insert that freshens them up too. My children use my pillows for building forts so I know how much of a beatin they take.
    .-= Kristin´s last blog ..The Time Has Come….. =-.

  32. Kathy :) says


    What a comfortable family room you’ve created and YES your babies are the most priceless “) Everything looks so inviting….nice job.

    All the best,
    xo Kathy :)

  33. says

    I love this room. You have a good eye for finding good things on sale and clearance, whereas, somehow I’m still attracted to junky lokking crap, even when I know better. I’ve never heard of Value City Furniture, which means we don’t have one anywhere close to us. Utah is such a good furniture store desert. There is NOTHING and moronic RCWilley has the monopoly. It’s so sad.
    .-= aubrey´s last blog ..You know it’s time to fold the laundry when… =-.

  34. Linda/ Mom in AZ says

    * What a TRUE DELIGHT to enjoy ALL of this, your charming writing style, your two “oh-so- precious” blessings AND a warmth one doesn’t see everyday… I’ve always known I would “like” you as a person… now I SEE WHY, in your home…. It’s just WUNNNNAFUL, and I thank you for sharing it!!!!

    Warmest blessings,
    Linda in AZ *

  35. says

    Hello Julia – love your living room! The color choices are fabulous. And I’m with you on that yellow – so beautiful! Thank you for sharing!

    .-= Marie´s last blog ..price my space party =-.

  36. says

    I love how you keep the main things neutral & then change out accessories with the seasons! I especially love the toile & the round Bombay mirror. (I’m still in mourning for Bombay Co.!) Patti
    .-= Dreams and Decor´s last blog ..COTTAGE DRIVE-BY’S =-.

  37. audra says

    This is such a great room.lovin it…But please tell where did you get the Toile drapes.thanks so much

  38. hookedonhouses says

    Audra–they’re Waverly curtains. I bought them 6 years ago when we moved in, but I’d think you could still find them somewhere. -Julia

  39. says

    Love your family room Julia. The colour combinations are really soothing and I like your idea of changing out the accessories with the seasons. Something that I never think of doing but now will. Becki
    .-= Becki´s last blog ..Hey, Day Camp! Hey, What? =-.

  40. Nita Hiltner says

    I love your fall room! I am a midwesterner, a prisoner in southern California and missing my homeland of Indiana. It’s hard cozying up to keep warm when it’s Sept-Oct and 100 out.

  41. Karen says

    Love the toile chairs…but wow, wish I had your “budget.”

  42. Elizabeth says

    I just found your blog and I’m in love!! I also love black and white. I have similar curtains to yours but I’m having a hard time imagining them paired with a rug. I was wondering, if you had neutral colored tile floor in your living room and wanted to put an area rug, what color would you use, would you pick pattern or solid color?

    • hookedonhouses says

      The sofa is off-white with black stripes. -Julia