When you consider your home and the spaces in it, what is the room that gets the most frequent use (besides the kitchen)? If you are like the majority of homeowners you likely said that it was your living room. Why? Because the living room performs multiple functions in the home: a playroom for the kids, an in-home theater for movie night, a comfortable location to visit with friends and much more. In recent years, with the increasing popularity of open concept spaces, the living room has become part of one, large great room that houses the kitchen and dining room as well. These reasons alone are all that is needed to justify a living room remodel and redesign.
Thankfully, on the scale of home renovation projects, a living room remodel can provide significant “bang for your buck” as it does not require the same financial investment as a kitchen or bathroom remodel. And because it is a “public space” in the home, the changes that are made will be enjoyed by everyone, family and friends included.
Because the living room performs multiple functions in the home: a playroom for the kids, an in-home theater for movie night, a comfortable location to sit on the sofa with friends and much more. In recent years, with the increasing popularity of open concept spaces, the living room has become part of one, large great room that houses the kitchen and dining room as well.
The following guide is designed to take you through the renovation process covering aspects regarding the establishment of a design direction, as well as important budget considerations.
A. Living Room Remodel Cost and Planning
To keep your living room remodel from spiraling out of control it is important establish a budget. Working within the constraints of a budget will ensure that you achieve the best overall result with the money you have available. Regardless of the amount available to you it is important to set aside 10% – 15% as a contingency for unexpected expenses. If you are renovating with the intent to sell your home within the near future do not allow your budget to exceed 2.75% of home’s total value. This will ensure that you receive a return for your work upon the sale of the home.
When selecting furnishings and decorative finishes for your living room keep the following in mind as well:
• Splurge on classic elements such as a timeless sofa that will stand the test of time.
• Splurge on quality. A well-constructed coffee table is worth the price as you will have it in your home for quite some time. There is no need to spend large amounts of money on items that are cheaply-made and bound to wear over time.
• Save on trendy items that will eventually make the space appear dated. If purchased for a small price, these items can easily be switched out when needed to keep the space current.
According to RedBeacon.com the national average for a living room remodel is $757. The cost per room size is as follows:
• $518 for 300-400 sq. ft.
• $782 for 400-500 sq. ft.
• $982 for 500-600 sq. ft.
• $1238 for 600-700 sq.ft.
• $1547 for 700-800 sq. ft.
2. What Is Your Design Style?
Once you have determined your renovation budget the next step is to establish the design direction you would like the space to take. Establishing a design style prior to the renovation will ensure that the completed space is cohesive and reflects the style of the surrounding rooms. This design plan can then be shared with other professionals working on the project so that everyone is aware of the desired finished product. If you are working with an interior designer, they will help you to create one a design plan from the start. If you are facilitating the renovation on your own then you can use the following tips to determine your design style and create a plan of action:
a. Consider Your Current Home
Take the time to walk through each of the rooms in your home while taking note of the colors, patterns and decorative elements throughout. Are there elements that connect the spaces together, such as paint colors or furniture styles? Each of the rooms in a home are not meant to stand alone; therefore, there should be elements that create a cohesive style throughout. This does not need to be done overtly, but can be shown through a subtle color palette or particular style.
b. Create A Mood Board
A mood board is a collection ideas and inspiration that convey a particular design style. You can gather your favorite images and ideas from places such as Pinterest, interior design magazines and from the designers themselves. Gather all of these inspirational picture and ideas together. From them you are sure to gain a better sense of your personal design style and the direction you would like your living room to take.
c. Take a Quiz
If you are still unsure of the design direction for your living room renovation consider taking an online design style quiz (Houzz, MyDesignGuide, Lonny). These quizzes can be helpful in narrowing down your personal preferences into one or a group of design styles. This may just be the jumping off point you need to create your dream space.
B. Living Room Ideas for Home Improvement
Because of the countless flooring options available it can be difficult to select the right flooring material and style for your living room. There is nothing worse than bringing home a selection of samples and still being unable to make a decision. To avoid this common dilemma it can be helpful to establish the direction you would like to take prior to entering your local flooring store. Remember that bringing home flooring samples can also beneficial as it allows you to see the flooring in the space rather than on a warehouse floor. Things to keep in mind are:
• Your current house style
• People to be using the space
• The atmosphere and aesthetic you would like to create in the room
To give you a solid foundation from which to base your flooring decision, consider the following is list of popular living room flooring options:
Hardwood continues to be a popular flooring option for living rooms. In addition to being a durable, long lasting product it adds a timeless appeal to any space it is installed in. An area rug placed in the seating area can soften the feel of hardwood while not completely taking away from its beauty. Cost: $3 – $12 per square foot + installation.
In the living room, carpet is not as popular as it once was. It can be tough to clean, especially in high traffic spaces. In addition, it can be a nuisance for those suffering from allergies as it collects dust and dander from the air. However, carpet feels wonderful underfoot and is typically less expensive than hardwood. Cost: $1 – $10 per square foot +installation.
Stone flooring is an excellent choice for warm climates as it remains cool throughout the day. In addition, it is very durable and can handle a lot of wear and tear. Living rooms with a Mediterranean style are enhanced beautifully by a natural stone floor. However, natural stone is more expensive than flooring options such as hardwood and carpet. Cost: $12 -$20 per square foot + installation.
While not ideal for all spaces, concrete is a great option for the living room. It coordinates well with modern lofts and studios, as well as industrial spaces. It can be painted, stained, polished or stamped. It is extremely durable and can last for decades. It is also easy to clean. Something to consider with a concrete floor is that it reflects sound and so it is often helpful to add a few area rugs to the space to help reduce the amount of sound reflected in the space. Cost (dependent on the type of finishing): $2 – $8 per square foot (for polishing); $7 – $15 (for highly decorative finishes).
With the advent of new technology, vinyl tile has become an attractive and cost-effective option for living room flooring. Many of the types available very closely mimic the texture of pattern of hardwood and natural stone. Vinyl tile is also soft underfoot and easy to take care of. Additionally, it is relatively easy to install and so costs can be reduced by installing it yourself. Cost: $2 -$6 per square foot + installation.
2. Ceiling Treatments
While many of us don’t think twice about the ceiling, as long as it is drywalled and painted white, interior designers often refer to it as the 5th wall. This means that we should consider the ceiling when planning our design for the space. Rather than simply performing a function purpose, a ceiling can be designed to enhance the space by adding depth and texture. There are many tasteful options available to do just that in your living room renovation.
Ceiling tiles often come in squares of 12 x 12 and 16 x 16 and can be attached directly to the existing ceiling or as a suspended ceiling. There are a lot of options available in ceiling tile design, particularly those that feature antique tin designs. These panels can be made from original antique molds or reproduction molds. If possible, choose those made from antique molds as they will provide a more authentic feel. The cost of panels varies greatly based on construction, reproduction, and installation. Cost (varies greatly): $10-$70 per panel.
Ceiling Tile Installation Cost (Armstrong™)
Tongue and Groove
A tongue and groove ceiling provides a textural element to any living room. The wood tones create a warm and cozy atmosphere. This type of ceiling treatment looks great on tall, vaulted ceilings and in homes that have a cottage, country or rustic design style. Faux wood panels are a less expensive option that requires virtually no maintenance. However, real wood panels are truly authentic. Tongue and groove panels can be installed directly to the ceiling or on a suspended grid (faux wood panels). The average cost of a real wood tongue and groove ceiling is $2600.
However, this will vary greatly depending on the dimensions of the ceiling, installation and type of tongue and groove panels used.
Tongue and Groove Ceiling Installation Calculator (Natural Wood)
Whether structural or decorative, exposed beams add interest and depth to a living room. Exposed beams work well in many styles of homes, from country to industrial chic. The beams can be painted, left natural or feature a combination of metal and wood. For more pictures of living rooms with exposed beams, look here.
The cost of adding exposed beams to your living room will involve a number of factors:
- number of beams
- type of beams
- installation cost
- length of beams
- type of installation site
Coffered ceilings create a textural, cozy feel in spaces they are installed in. High ceilings can be made to feel lower by the addition of a coffered ceiling. You can purchase pre-fab coffered ceiling panels for $3 – $30 per panel (plus installation). These panels are then attached to a suspended grid that is attached to the ceiling. Traditionally, coffered ceilings have been created with real wood and crown molding. These are typically attached to a grid of wooden beams attached to the ceiling.
As with tongue and groove paneling, coffered ceilings can vary greatly in cost based on the type of materials used, ceiling dimensions and installation cost. A rough estimate for based wood coffers installed in a 150 square foot space is $3750.
Removing Your Popcorn Ceiling
The presence of a popcorn ceiling in the living room can effectively date the space. However, the removal of this type of ceiling treatment is both messy and time consuming. If you wish to return the ceiling to its original drywall form it will require you to first seal off the area with plastic wrap. Then you will proceed to wet down the ceiling and scrap the textured material off. The process is not difficult, just extremely tedious.
Another less messy option is to cover the existing ceiling with another materials such as metal ceiling tiles, wood panels, beadboard or, if there the ceiling height is sufficient, you can drywall on top. These options will add to the cost of your living room renovation but they are likely to cause less of a headache.
A fireplace, whether gas or wood burning, is a beautiful addition to any living room. It provides a functional role by warming the space in which it is installed and reducing heating costs. Aesthetically, a fireplace creates a cozy atmosphere in which to spend time with family and host friends. However, the addition of a fireplace can be costly and so it is important to be aware of the benefits and requirements of installing one in your home. The information below will give you a foundation in understanding the type of fireplaces available, the cost of installation and the benefits.
Wood Burning Fireplace (Pre-Fab)
For homeowners working within a limited budget a pre-fab, wood burning fireplace can be a great option over traditional masonry. An energy efficient, pre-fab, wood burning fireplace costs approximately $2000-$3000. Pre-fab, wood burning fireplaces are cheaper and easier to install than their traditional counterparts. In addition, a variety of styles are available to suit home of every design aesthetic.
For those who want the real thing, a fireplace installed and surrounded by traditional masonry is the way to go. However, the cost of a brick fireplace and chimney is at least $15,000 depending on the size and materials used.
A gas fireplace is another option for many homeowners and is ideal when you want the look and feel of a fireplace but want one with minimal maintenance. A gas fireplace does not require the stockpile of wood that a wood-burning fireplace does. In addition, direct-vent gas fireplaces can be installed anywhere as they do not need a chimney. This makes finding a spot for a fireplace in the living room just a got a little easier.
The cost of a gas fireplace can vary anywhere from $1000 – $8500 plus installation. It is also very important to hire a professional to install your fireplace, as this is a job that needs to be done right.
Electric fireplaces are designed to provide the sensory experience of a fireplace, as well as the warmth, without the cost of gas or wood burning options. Portable units can be placed anywhere within the home as long as it is close to a plug in. Electric fireplaces require no ventilation and have no live flame. They are also available in a variety of colors and styles.
However, the majority of electric fireplaces are not energy efficient and will add to the cost of your monthly energy bill. This additional cost if offset by their purchase price of somewhere between $300 and $500.
For more ideas and inspiration for your living room remodel, check out the following articles on our website:
D. Additional Resources
Living Room Remodel Cost by Red Beacon.
Living Room Remodeling by Homewyse.