Thrifty & Chic: The Living Room Edition


I’ve been looking forward to sharing my living room with you for some time. Like 7 months. While moving sucks, the silver lining in the crappy moving cloud is redecorating. I LOVE the chance to decorate a new space. There’s nothing that makes furniture and wall hangings look new again like a completely different space.

Our new place is completely different from our old apartment in Menlo Park. Our old apartment had SIX south facing windows with flat-white painted walls. Everything about our last apartment was bright white. Our new house has dark brown hardwood floors, tan travertine tile, tan walls with a little bit of white trim. It doesn’t scream bright white; so my black, white and rainbow wall decorations I used at the Menlo place wouldn’t have really worked.

Coloring aside, we sold most of our furniture before we left California so I pretty much had to start from scratch anyway. While it’s taken a good six months to collect all of the furnishings for this room, I’ve managed to do it all under $390! The only reason why it’s that high, was because 70% of that was spent on the couch.

Here’s the breakdown:

  • couch – $300
  • coffee table – $35
  • tufted bench – $15
  • 2 red chairs – $10
  • lamp – $15
  • side table – $8
  • rug – FREE thanks to my parents
  • 2 large frames $6

Not bad, right? I have to tell you about the couch. I was planning on splurging big time and buying a {new!} couch from Urban Outfitters, but I kept wimping out at checkout. I really didn’t feel comfortable spending $600 on a couch that I’ve never seen in person {I’m really that cheap}. Would you? Well, I waited too long. Before I knew it, OU sold out of the MCM Couch I had been eying. I admitted defeat and decided that I really didn’t want to spend that kind of money on a couch, anyway. I spent a few days scouring KSL {SLC equivalent to Craigslist} where I found THE OU couch I had been eyeing, for half off ! WHA?!? I quickly called the girl and bought it that night. I swear it was nothing short of destiny.

The coffee table and tufted bench were also a thrill to find. I went thrifting at a pretty child-unfriendly thrift store (multiple levels are just so annoying when you’re hauling a baby and a cart full of goodies) and I went to the as-is section and found my gorgeous coffee table. I quickly pounced and awkwardly stuffed the coffee table in the cart, because some equally savvy shopper was eying it, too. Phew! About 5 minutes later, the same thing happened with the tufted bench. I love my bench.

The red chairs are so dear to me. I love furniture that remind me of my friends and family. We were up in Idaho visiting our dear friends Chad & Alexis and Alexis showed me 6 of the raddest chairs she bought for $5 a piece at an estate sale up there. She totally saw how jealous I was and sold two of them to me. Alexis is a really nice friend, one day I hope to have the same shopping and style savvy as her and her mom. One day I think I’ll recover these chairs, but the upholstery is good enough to hold off for now. Maybe I can be cool like my other friend Susan and take an upholstery class.

I’m really happy to have one room in our house decorated and complete. When the rest of the house is a mess, I just sit on my new favorite couch and revel in the complete-ness of the entire room. Ahhh. The next big projects are finishing Penelope’s room and working on our master bedroom (aka the hopeless cause). So, have you found any sweet furniture finds recently? Please share, I’m listening!! Cool stories behind cool furniture are such a favorite of mine.

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    1. Erin says:

      Your place looks beautiful Melissa! The built-in really gets me. Love those!

      Everything fits together perfectly. I love that everything is secondhand. I don’t know if it is the season or what but I have had terrible luck thrifting lately.

      p.s.- My bedroom is currently a hopeless cause too. I’ll be you get yours sorted out before I do mine :)

    2. Shannon says:

      Okay, I’m totally jealous… I love the sofa & tufted bench, but I really love the coffee table! I so wish I had the style sense to pull together a room like that. My living room is all ‘matchy’ from Roomstore. I love my cushy couches but I wish the rest of the room had some more character to it. I can’t commit to hanging stuff for some reason so I always have frames sitting on tables or against walls. It always looks like I just moved in or am about to move out.

    3. Megan Elizabeth says:

      The couch is gorgeous but I LOVE the red chairs. They look like they belong in a library :)

      Your living room should be in a magazine!

    4. You already know how much I love your living room! Come over and decorate ours!!

    5. susan says:

      Thank you for sharing! I love seeing rooms decorated on a budget with great creativity and style sense. It gives me hope for some of my own spaces!

    6. Sarah says:

      Hi Melissa! I’ve recently stumbled upon your blog and absolutely love it. It’s so fresh and clean and full of inspiration. I currently do a Saturday morning post on my blog entitled “Around the House Saturdays” where I feature interior design and easy home decor ideas. A lot of the time I post about things in my home, but occasionally I feature other bloggers.

      Well, since I love your living room redesign so much, I was wondering if you would allow me to feature this post on my blog this Saturday? I would love to be able to share your “thrifty & chic” style with other readers. I would be sure to credit all of your photos on my blog and have as many links back to your blog as possible.

      Thanks so much for the constant inspiration. Hope to hear from you soon!


    7. Lillian says:

      Oh my gosh you are a genius. And I am super jealous! Did you make that boppy cover? Because if you did, will you teach me? My boppy is ugly and I don’t want to spend money on a new cover.

      • Melissa says:


        The boppy cover was originally some gross light-blue velvety mess before I recovered it. It’s SUPER easy! All you really need is about a yard of cool fabric, an 11-13 inch zipper and a sewing machine. I just took off the gross cover and traced the shape over my desired fabric, and sewed it together. I guess you could do without the zipper, but it is nice to be able to take it off and wash it when it gets gross.

    8. Tiffany says:

      what a lovely living room. i likey!

    9. Michelle says:

      I adore the tufted bench. What a great find!

      Love your style! This is the kind of style I’m working toward for our apartment as well. Well done!

    10. Heather says:

      I really love this room! Interior design is my passion and I can’t get enough of it. Thanks for sharing. The balance of furniture and color really work well in this room. I love the red chairs! A couple great finds that I’ve had are a $5 asian bench-thingy from the D.I. that I still need to paint and find a place for it and the other is a cute child size hutch that we found in the crawl space of our home. I’m going to paint it soon and put it in the new nursery, I’ll post pics on my blog. Good job on the decorating!

      • Melissa says:

        Heather, you’d better be posting pictures of your cool finds.

        Have you seen the latest episode of Modern Family? It’s called, “fears” and Phil and his son discover some hidden treasures under their porch. It’s super funny. Your story about the hutch in the crawlspace reminded me of it. If you haven’t discovered the glory of Modern Family, stop everything you’re doing and watch it RIGHT NOW! You can thank me later.

    11. Marissa says:

      Um, can you come do my living room next?! ;)

    12. Kristina Lemons says:

      Marissa and I secretly talked about how cool you guys are today. Did you feel it? She sent me to this rockin site that I will now leave comments on and oogle.

      Miss you guys like crazy!

    13. Laurie says:

      Looks like those pictures were taken right out of a magazine! Amazing job!

    14. Faith says:

      It looks fantastic! It’s very impressive that you were able to put it all together on a budget.

    15. Jenni kaufusi says:

      Love everything you did! You are super talented, I want to sit and chat with girlfriend in there!

    16. christina says:

      Hi Melissa,
      I am curious to know what thrift shop you went to get the bench and coffee table.

      Will you please share?


    17. Britta says:

      Great room – the furniture is fantastic, but I’m really loving the art. I have a lot of original art in my house, thanks to artist parents, but it means that I struggle with what to put up on other walls. I just can’t buy a print that everyone else has (I have – but I’m never happy with them).

      Anyway – your walls look fabulous. Love the frames within a frame.

    18. Charlotte says:

      It looks great – I love how you have really personalised it, but without painting the walls or doing anything permanent. We’re renting at the moment, which I always use as an excuse not to decorate, but really it’s because I’m lazy!

      Love the red chairs too – in fact all of the seating is ace!

      Charlotte xx

    19. Alex says:

      This is the room I’ve been dying to create for some time now! Lovely!

    20. Anna says:

      So beautiful … and attainable! So many room-makeovers are gorgeous but not for the average gal. Really, really lovely.

    21. alexis says:

      wow! it looks soooo good. i love it and just want to come sit in it too. thanks for the compliments. there is so much i need to learn from u too! i cannot wait to be in a new home some day n use those red chairs! i swear i bought sis subconsciously knowing u’d need two. we love u guys.

    22. Tanya says:

      I love that tufted bench! Where did you find it? And the color is lovely. I can’t wait to see what you do with the rest of your place.

    23. Melissa M says:

      Hi Melissa…I stumbled upon you blog a few weeks ago and LOVE everything about it. I’m trying to get started in thrift-ing but am having a horrible time. How/where do you find awesome stores?? Every store I’ve been to only seems to have really used things that are just not really cute and are horribly overpriced ($55 for a no name love seat that is threadbare and stained and obviously needs to be reupholstered before used seems rather high). It’s really frustrating because I want to much to find great pieces and I take my time looking, but I almost always walk out empty handed. Any advice or suggestions would be so welcome. Keep up all your inspiring posts, I love your blog so much!!!
      + M

      • Melissa says:

        Melissa M,

        Thank you for your comment!! I think good thrifting take time and patience. I definitely had those same feelings when I moved to California. I had a hard time finding good thrift stores for about 6 months, then I got the hang of it. It’s so different everywhere you go. When we lived near San Fransisco, Goodwill was often times a huge disappointment, but delivered EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. Now that we’re back in Utah, Craigslist isn’t as strong as KSL classifieds or Deseret Industries. Even after growing up in Salt Lake City, and living here for the last 7 months, I’m still discovering new and great places for thrifting.

        Where are you from? Maybe I can help you find some good places to go. Also, check out this little interview I did over at the D.I. Denizen, it’s about what I look for when thrifting:


    24. Autumn says:

      That looks so cozy! I’m proud of our whole apartment–everything but 2 pieces comes from craigslist. :) It took me awhile, but I’m really happy our home doesn’t look like we spent one day at the mall and came home with stuff that doesn’t suit our style (and would have depleted our bank account).

    25. Melissa M says:

      Thanks for the advice Melissa! I also read the article and you have great tips!! I live in Orange County, Cali but can definitely pop up to LA every now and again…so, if you know of any Thrift Stores that you could pass along that’d be awesome. I will probably stay away from Goodwill as it really has been disappointing…but I’m going to start looking for “thrift stores” when I’m out and about and on the web. Thank so much and I look forward to reading more about your thrift-ing adventures!!

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