As you sit surrounded by design magazines, you might be
wondering how you will ever achieve the serene bedroom and chill
living room of your design dreams. Fortunately, a little bit of
money can go a long way and there are countless suggestions on the
web about decorating on a budget. There is no end to the creative
energy that you could put into your apartment. Here are a few
If you have been living in your apartment for awhile, try
rearranging the furniture. This may be all the change that is
required, or it will inspire you to make more impactful design
If you need furniture, visit second-hand stores; check
buy-and-sell websites; go to lawn sales; maybe even ask friends or
family for cast-offs. There are also stores that sell unfinished
wooden furniture, a cheap alternative that will allow you to be
creative with stains or paint.
Plants are not expensive and they add a freshness to any space.
A large plant is almost a piece of furniture, while plants on a
windowsill may improve a less than inspiring view. There are
endless ways of potting your plants, from old coffee cans to
second-hand store macrame hangers. Get creative with your
Most landlords don't want you to paint your apartment walls
unless it's in a neutral colour. If you want something more
dramatic, consider removable wallpaper which comes in a multitude
of colours and patterns and is easy to put up and take down. Wall
decals are another option. These also come in a variety of styles
and themes, from cartoon characters to city skylines to
The window coverings in apartments are often neutral coloured
blinds. An easy way to add life to your view is to add curtains
(either leaving the blinds or taking them down) and you don't have
to spend a lot. Shower curtains are an excellent option for window
curtains. They come in any number of patterns and are less
expensive than many drapes or drapery panels. Use sari fabric or
other colourful fabric as curtains, or drape them across the top of
the window as a funky valence.
Knobs and Drawer Pulls
The easiest way to add your own touch to the kitchen is to
change the cabinet hardware. New door knobs and drawer pulls will
give a bit of class to your kitchen cabinets. When changing the
hardware, put some thought into your kitchen accessories such as
dishtowels and canisters. Are you going for French Country or
kitschy kitchen? A consistent theme will make the kitchen feel
pulled together. If there is hardware in the bathroom, consider
changing it as well.
Tile stickers, sometimes called tile tattoos, are a bit like
removable wallpaper. They can be applied to existing wall tile to
add colour and patterns. Use them to cover up cracked tiles or use
them to create a look. They are easy to remove and won't harm the
Don't throw out your old desk, coffee table or bed if they can
be painted. Save money by painting your existing furniture. A fresh
coat of paint and new knobs on an old dresser can completely change
the look of a room.
If your ceiling lamps and fans are not your style, talk to your
landlord about changing them with your own choices. There are many
light fixtures that aren't too expensive that will allow you to
easily change the mood of a room.
Double Duty Furniture
Choose pieces that can serve two functions, e.g. use an old
trunk as a coffee table and store extra bedding inside; use a spare
chair as your bedside table; or use a ladder as a place to hang
An inexpensive area rug will brighten up a room and possibly
hide a wall-to-wall carpet that has seen better days. Another
low-cost option is to go to a carpet store and buy a remnant of
wall-to-wall carpet and have the edges bound.
Wall art is more than just a few prints or photos. Here are a
few inexpensive ways to make your own statement:
- Buy your own stretched canvas and supplies at a craft or
art store and make your own paintings.
- Create an accent wall using photos, prints or old maps -
whatever you like - overlapping like a collage.
- Put up picture rails and use them to show off your
collection of snow globes.
- Not all art is expensive. Shop online artisan stores, or
check local artist sales. Sometimes just framing a piece makes it
look classy, whether it's a photocopy or a vintage postcard.