Living Room transformation on a budget

I went out for a walk this evening and met my neighbor, a lovely polish woman who just announced that she can finally walk without a cane, only five weeks after her hip replacement surgery. As we walked she told me about her place, she’s new to the neighborhood, just as I am. She moved in last winter, while I just moved into my apartment in June.

She wanted to know all about my place and I welcomed her to a tour as we walked back. When she walked into the living room she said “Oh isn’t this beautiful!” and she was really impressed. I thanked her for her kind words, but the truth is, I had help. The truth is making a new space feel like a home is a talent I’ve never had. I didn’t even know where to start.

When I told my friend Lisa that I’d signed a lease to an apartment in Harrisburg, she offered to help me with the interior design and I couldn’t say no. I’d been to her home, in the suburbs of Philly, which is amazing. I’d also been to other properties she has worked to style, and I knew she could help me. She’d recently started a new venture, Tangerine Sky Home Consulting, and was eager to offer suggestions.

I didn’t know what to expect. I’d never made intentional decisions about any furniture in my living spaces. I’ve lived in several homes and apartments, and I’ve always sourced the cheapest thing I needed from Craigslist or family furniture that I’ve inherited. This apartment I had decided would be different. I wanted to be intentional about what I brought into my space.

When I was working with Tangerine Sky Home Consultants, I completed a survey that helped me define how I wanted to feel in my new home, and how I wanted others to feel. The first word that came to mind was calm. 

Earlier this year I started to cultivate an idea around finding calm in the present moment. I had started writing and sharing photos from destinations I’d traveled to and highlighted how I was mindful in these moments. This is now my new website, Find Calm Here. I decided that my home was the first place to start to feel calm and so that’s what inspired the mood board we created, which helped identify the furniture and artwork in the apartment! Having a clear, defined theme helped me make decisions on what to buy and what not to buy. This was always the biggest challenge for me, I always found things, but didn’t consider how they would look together in a room.

TranquilBohoLivingroomDebSchell (3).pdf
Mood Board for Living Room 

Working with the mood board that Lisa and Diane created in July, I selected similar furniture over the next few months. I sourced two matching bookshelves from Target, for $15 each.  I knew I needed two bookshelves to offer balance on either side of my fireplace. Lucky for me, that they had them. I also found a nice little accent table on sale for $53 with a marble top (normally $100) that went well with the whites and greys we had chosen.

The largest piece was the couch, which I found on and was purchased using gift cards (Priced at $684 when I used a 20% off coupon for new movers) I’d earned at my sales job. I called and talked with the manager who kindly walked me through the process, and followed up with me along the way. It took over a month to get my couch, but I’m really happy with it now that it’s here. The carpet was found on Amazon and was a steal at $53.

Based on the travel theme since I’m developing my skills as a travel writer, I wanted to add in a unique look and found these themed throw pillow covers on Amazon for $16 and inserts for $20 for a set of two, which I used Amazon gift cards I also earned at work.

The curtains were provided by my landlord and I got a sheer curtain from my sister, thanks to her I saved some money. I found a curtain rod that attached to the one already installed with the curtains to hang it on at Bed, Bath, and Beyond for $13 and found curtain ties for $3 as well.

PlantI scored the mirror in the mood board at Kirkland’s for $41 after using a 25% off coupon I found online. I found some cute plants at Home Depot for $5 and a pot to switch the peace plant that my mom gave me into for $10. I also found a cute plant from Plantscapes by Design. ($25) I was given two other plants by friends who recently moved to California. (And they are all still alive amazingly!)

For the fireplace, I had a candelabra that was there when I moved in but wanted to get candles for it, since I’m not using it for an actual working fireplace. I found these flameless candles on Amazon for $25.

I also picked up some photo frames at Michael’s on sale for $15. The lamps were given to me by my mother, who recently sold her home and was looking for a home for them. I was so glad that they fit with this room so well!

I knew that I wanted a desk for my space. I’m currently looking for remote work and wanted to have a home office. I found this desk ($79) and chair ($50) on Amazon.

Above my desk is a piece from my friends Nancy & Gary Fobert of Fobert Designs. I met them years ago during Artsfest (An event that I used to volunteer at each year). I have loved their ceiling tins and always wanted one of my own. Luckily I found them this year at the Mt.Grenta Outdoor Arts Show.  Nancy helped me pick out the perfect piece that also doubles as a vision board. How unique!


The final piece of this room was the artwork. I had been debating on what to include in this space and knew that I wanted to have a piece from my friend Elaine Brady Smith, who has a studio in the Millworks. I’ve been friends with her for years. She’s really a close friend who I’ve learned from and talked with, so I knew I’ve wanted to include her piece in the space.

During a visit a few months ago, I’d looked at a few pieces, and then went back a month ago and found “the one” that I just knew I needed to have. She even came to visit me in my home and helped with confirming my decision and the placement of the piece. (Pictured below on the wall.)

Apartment 1

Living Room Expense: Total Spent: $1,580 (a savings of over $2,000 from retail- local store and based on discounts provided using coupons and online sales as well as time in finding the right items by using Tangerine Sky Home Consulting

My costs after gift cards: $800

As of now, the living room is finished! And onto the bedroom, which I’m still working on right now. I hope to share that room and the porch in October. I’ve recently announced an open house scheduled for November 3. If you are intersted please let me know.

2 Comments Add yours

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.