How to Decorate Your New Apartment on a Limited Budget

cheap apartment decor

Your 20s are an exciting time — full of hopes and dreams for your future and perhaps your first foray into independent living! You’re understandably psyched about living on your own, having your own place, and maybe living with your best friend — or at least with someone that you hope will become a trusted friend as well as a good roommate!

But once those first feelings of excitement begin to fade, you look around and realize that you want more than just a place to hang your clothes, cook your meals, and lay your head at night. You’d like your new place to look good, too, but your budget is already strained! What to do?

How about a little creative brainstorming? There are ways to stretch your budget, along with your creative “muscles”, to create a place you’ll be proud to call home. Here’s a little budget decorating “food” for thought to get you started:

Experiment With What You Have

Have fun moving things around, even pulling something from one room to “test drive” it in another. Experiment with creating vignettes — groups of 3 or 5 look best to the eye — on side tables or chests.

Don’t Worry About “Matching”

Designers, for the most part, despise “sets” of furniture. You’ll end up with a much more personal, and “homey” look by mixing and matching pieces. You can even carry this idea into the bedroom by buying single sheets, pillow cases, shams, etc. that are on sale and then creating a custom look for your bed by mixing and matching colors and/or patterns.

apartment decorating

Scour Flea Markets and Garage Sales

You’d be amazed at the bargains you can find as long as you’re open to doing a little footwork (and maybe a bit of painting, too). A few tips for the novice “vintage” shopper:

  • Be wary of upholstered pieces people leave roadside with a “free” sign on them. You don’t know how long they’ve been outside, and mold — or worse, bedbugs or rodents — could be an issue.
  • Stay away from antique shops. You’re unlikely to find any real bargains. Stick with thrift shops and stores advertising used furniture instead.
  • Buy some glossy white paint to transform old wooden tables, chairs or dressers into chic-looking pieces. (Think “Shabby Chic”!)
  • Start collecting old white dishes and cups and create your own “set” of chic dinnerware. (Don’t worry if the whites don’t match exactly or if some are embossed with a design and some aren’t!)

decorate, recycle

Use Old Things in New Ways (aka “Re-purposing”)

There’s no law that says a suitcase has to be just for traveling. Old suitcases stacked on top of each other can become a novel bedside table, and you can even use them to store off-season clothing to make them both re-purposed and multi-purpose at the same time! Here are some other ideas for re-purposing everyday items:

  • Use an old window frame as a grid-like frame for a series of pretty prints. The ones shown here are pages removed from an old botanical book!
  • An old weathered door — or two — can become a novel and pretty headboard for your bed.
  • There are lots of uses for old ladders. Here, one is suspended from the ceiling using hooks and cable and turned into a pot rack. You can also lean an old ladder against the wall and use it to hang towels in the bathroom.


Fall in Love with Baskets

Baskets are great for storage in small spaces, and their woven designs add texture and warmth, especially in an apartment with white or off-white walls. You can get them on the cheap at off-price stores and even find vintage baskets in different shapes and sizes at flea markets.

With a little imagination and a willingness to bend the rules a bit, there’s no reason why your first apartment can’t be a place you’ll love coming home to!

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