Credit: Dean Fisher
Credit: Dean Fisher

When Molly Marcucci contacted me with a plea to redo her living room, I immediately ran out to assess the dire state of her digs. The walls of the third-floor Ukrainian Village apartment were painted a pastel green, reminiscent of a hospital, and the space lacked cohesion. Molly and Mister Marmol (her greyhound) were in definite need of a budget-friendly makeover, so I set out to make magic happen for $150.

The first and most important step was to give the walls a fresh coat of paint. We used Behr’s Paint & Primer in One, as it’s a more affordable option than buying the two separately and—bonus!—it’s way less time-consuming. Say what you will about Martha Stewart, but I love her new line of hues for the Home Depot; we went with “Popcorn,” a warm white that instantly made the space feel cozy and fresh.

From first look, I knew I wanted to introduce a rug into the space. The Dude is right, it really does tie a room together. Molly, 29, is a baker for Gonnella and has an adorable blog called Making Our House a Home, so when she blogged about a splatter-dyed rug, I became seriously inspired. While that rug cost nearly two grand, I found an 7 x 9 cream-colored carpet remnant for $40 at Olympia Carpets (they are super nice and have a huge selection) and picked up a few boxes of Rit dye at Jo-Ann Fabrics. Then I mixed concentrated buckets of each color and we unrolled the carpet in the yard. As soon as the sun came out, I did my best Jackson Pollock, haphazardly spilling and sloshing dye, even allowing it to pool in some areas.

In keeping with the vibe, I dip-dyed a pair of Ritva curtains I picked up at Ikea. I’m a huge fan of these curtains, as they have a linen-y texture to them that implies a much higher price tag. I wanted their pop of color to be very subtle, so I only let the bottom half of the curtains soak in a gray-purple bath for about an hour. The results were soft and dreamy, the perfect complement to the rug.

Molly had been storing a chocolate-colored velvet slipper chair in the basement, which we brought up to offer more seating in the room. The photos above the mantel were taken during a trip Molly and her boyfriend took to Europe, and the art that hangs over the sofa portrays the one and only Mister Marmol, painted by Cory Norris. All of these were things Molly already had but just wasn’t sure what to do with.

What was once a cluttered catchall of a room is now a pleasantly composed den. By revamping the walls and bringing textiles into the space, the room now feels graceful and finished. Here’s hoping Mister Marmol approves.

What we bought:
Paint (The Home Depot): $67.96
Dye (Jo-Ann Fabrics): $12.29
Carpet (Olympia Carpet): $43.90
Curtains & Rods (IKEA): $25.16
Total: $149.31