What a Living Room Renovation Actually Costs in 2020

Brett Martin
Photo credit: Hearst Digital Media
Photo credit: Hearst Digital Media

From House Beautiful

You'll be excited to know that the living room—family room, main room, den... it goes by so many names!—is one of the most cost-effective rooms in the house to renovate. As long as you're not doing any structural work, there’s no plumbing, countertops, or cabinets, which typically cause reno costs to skyrocket. All in, remodeling a living room costs $6,705 to $7,823.

Bringing the Drama

Changing the focal point of the room makes a huge difference, and there are two key things that’ll get you there. First, there's adding a fireplace. One that runs on gas costs about $2,180, while a wood-burning model costs anywhere from $857 to $3,595, depending on the structural work that's included. (A new brick or stone hearth and mantle really accentuates the look, but it’ll boost those costs even more.) Built-in entertainment centers or bookshelves also make a great centerpiece—and who doesn't need more storage? The woodwork for basic shelving starts at $1,550 and can head upwards of $5,000 for more custom designs.

Redoing the Walls

Obviously, paint is the most basic update you can make to a your space, and while a gallon doesn't cost much more than $30, a big room will probably take at least two. Expect to pay $550 or more for a professional paint job that includes fixing dings and nail holes in the walls—or paint it yourself! If you're into drama, wallpaper can pack a punch, and rolls range from $40 to upwards of $190. Adding architectural details to the walls can make a boring space look like it has history—installing a board-and-batten design costs $600 to $900. Venetian plaster and other faux finishes are also hot right now: They're applied in coats and can have your walls mimicking the look of old-world European architecture, but will cost you about $850 or more for a 12 x 18–foot living room.

Photo credit: Hearst Owned
Photo credit: Hearst Owned

Changing the Ceiling

More and more people are looking up to add style to a room. Decorating the ceiling is a great way to step up your living room game, and for an average of $1,100 to $2,200, you can give the space a new look with an ornate ceiling. Patterns, paneling, or even mosaics are installed to create interest. Crown molding, which is installed where the walls meet the ceiling, is available in an array of styles, in both wood and composite materials. Starting at $1,030 for a 12 x 18-foot room, crown molding can make a basic space look more sophisticated and custom.

Stepping Up the Floor

Updating what's underfoot will make a huge impact in a large space—but you don't need to spend a ton to make it feel new. If you like your current covering but it needs a refresh, carpet cleaning costs about $175, while refinishing a hardwood floor runs about $1,695. But if you're looking for a big transformation, your options run the gamut from a pricing standpoint (see the chart). You'll be happy to know that "nice" doesn't have to be "expensive": A lot of the mid-priced options are both gorgeous )and environmentally-friendly!).

Photo credit: Hearst Owned
Photo credit: Hearst Owned

Treating the Windows

New window treatments—curtains, blinds, or drapes—can be an unexpectedly expensive part of a reno, mostly because people tend to have lots of window. But good treatments can pay for themselves over time by keeping your energy bills down. Expect to pay a minimum of $200 per window for a treatment and a shade.

Read More About The Real Costs of Renovations

Illustrations & Design by Nicole Pivirotto, Animation by Eddie Phan

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