Moving into a new apartment can be stressful.
After splurging on essentials like couches and tables, it’s daunting to think about how to make a new place feel more like home.
But decorating doesn’t have to be expensive. Here are 11 brilliant ways to decorate your apartment on the cheap.
1. Buy removable wallpaper or decals.
Permanent wallpaper is intimidating because it’s so difficult to remove from walls. For renters or home owners who are design commitment-phobes, removable wallpaper is the perfect solution for adding colour and personal style to a room.
2. Build a DIY bar cart.
A bar cart is a fun design element, but carts from stores like Restoration Hardware and Crate & Barrel can be extremely expensive.
A better option is to find a cheap cart at your local flea market or hardware store (Harbor Freight and Ikea both have affordable utility carts, too). Spray paint the hardware or the entire cart to suit your tastes, and then add your own decorative elements, like tumbler glasses, cocktail recipe books, and bar tools. Use the bar cart to show off your favourite prints, tableware, and expensive bottles of liquor, too.
3. Make your room seem bigger with a large mirror (or two).
A floor length mirror can make a room appear larger and more open, especially in tiny apartments.
Position the mirror so it reflects a window and catches the most light, adding dimension to the room.
Browse local flea markets or Craigslist to find huge mirrors at affordable prices.
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A fresh coat of paint can liven up even the most boring desk.
4. Paint your old furniture.
When you get sick of your bed or other pieces of large furniture, consider painting over the existing finish instead of dumping your stuff. A new coat of paint on an old dresser can drastically change a piece without costing very much.
First, remove all of the hardware and wipe down the piece with a cloth to get rid of any dust. Use sandpaper to lightly buff away the glossy finish, and then either spray paint or add two regular coats of paint. After it dries, add a coat of water-based lacquer, polyurethane, or a thin coat of clear paste wax to make the new finish last.
5. Hide storage creatively.
Clutter will make your home seem smaller than it is. Get rid of unnecessary room accessories, magazines, and books, and invest in furniture that does double-duty like storage ottomans, chests, or vintage suitcases stacked to look like a table.
Another fine option is placing certain furniture — such as chairs, tables, or cabinets — at an angle in the corner of the room to create a built-in hidden spot for hiding extra stuff.
6. Update lamp shades.
To keep lighting from looking dated, switch out old lamp shades for new, clean ones. Certain older styles can date a room, and over time, lamp shades attract dust and grime that makes them look dingy. Keep the original lamp base, and buy a new shade that adds a pop of colour or a graphic pattern to liven up your space.
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Knobs like this one are available at Anthropologie for around $US14.
7. Change hardware on door handles and furniture.
New drawer handles or door knobs can transform old furniture (plus, it’s cheaper than buying something brand-new). Quality stores like Restoration Hardware, Pottery Barn, and Anthropologie all sell fancy and attractive hardware to help even a Wal-Mart dresser look high-end.
8. Swap out existing ceiling fixtures.
Chances are your current ceiling lamp or fan hasn’t been updated for over 20 years. Instead of letting these eyesores ruin your décor, switch them out for more modern lighting options. The effect this minor change will have on your space is amazing. (Just make sure that if you rent, you keep the original fan or light fixture to reinstall before moving out.)
9. Mask grungy counter tops or tile with stickers.
Just like removable wallpaper, there are tile stickers designed to add patterns to existing kitchen and bath tiling, as well as removable granite film or “instant granite” that uses adhesive to stick onto existing counter tops. Both are removed easily, and are relatively affordable, especially if you plan to stay in your place longer than a year.
10. Create your own artwork.
You could buy an expensive painting, or troll flea markets and vintage stores until you find something you admire. But an easy way to get art you love is to simply create it.
Amazon sells large pre-stretched canvases for around $US20, and you can buy paint and brushes from a local craft store. Search around for works of art online for inspiration, and then make it your own. You may want to opt for a modern-art look, so that your talent (or lack thereof) can be skewed as creative and not child-like.
For those unsure of how to create a certain effect or where to start, head over to a local craft store and ask for advice about recreating a specific painting or design.
11. If all else fails, get a plant.
Plants immediately add life to any room. The easiest options, of course, are self-sufficient plants such as cacti or succulents like aloe vera that not only look nice, but don’t require a lot of maintenance. Find an interesting pot or bowl and go to a local farmer’s market to see what flora options are available.
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