Rental costs are high, and that trend isn’t showing a lot of signs of slowing. You want to create a space that feels uniquely yours, but after all of your living expenses are paid, you might find yourself with a shoestring budget for decorating. That’s okay! There are plenty of ways to add personal touches to your apartment without breaking the bank.
Later on in this article, you’re going to learn about all kinds of nifty things you can buy, and DIY projects you can engage in to beautify your home. This section is about where you should shop: thrift stores, vintage clothing stores, and the clearance rack. Don’t hesitate to ask for hand-me-downs, and support your artistic friends by buying some of their pieces (if they’re relatively affordable).
Thrifting in stores is a blast; you can find a ton of small items to spruce up the nooks and crannies of your home, and you can find large pieces, like mirrors and couches, that can dramatically change the look of your apartment. Don’t limit your thrifting to physical stores, though; if you have specific items you’re looking for, go on Kijiji or Craigslist and hunt for what you want.
Humans are notoriously bad at multitasking. Fortunately, the same isn’t true of furniture. Opt for pieces that can serve multiple roles in your home. You might, for example, find a storage bed with almost invisible drawers; this saves space (essential for small apartments), saves you from having to buy a dresser, and looks good. Bar carts are another absolute must; you can use them for their intended purpose, or as movable shelving. Great for when you’re hosting, and just as good for when you need a place for your decor.
Mirrors are another excellent multitasker; they serve the practical purpose of, well, being mirrors, while also enhancing your room’s decor. Invest in a fairly large mirror that you can place so it reflects your apartment’s windows. This will serve to add light to your space and make it appear bigger (great for small apartments).
Apartment walls are often beige, white, or light grey; these neutrals go really well with everything, and they’re easy for property managers to handle. Most landlords will dissuade you from painting your walls; they don’t want to have to repaint when you leave. There are, fortunately, quite a few ways to add colour.
Globe Property Management, a Winnipeg-based property management company, has a blog with a few suggestions on how to spruce up your walls without painting them. They recommend using colourful fabric on command hooks to add a splash of colour and texture to your wall. This is an incredibly thrifty option; you can use an old scarf, a blanket, or any other fabric you have but aren’t using.
You can find easy-to-remove wall decals to create an accent wall. You can also find excellent window coverings, often for quite a good price on clearance. You might also find pieces of art you can hang from the walls. The more artistically-inclined among you might even opt to purchase your own canvas, paint your own work, and hang it from the walls! Nothing says you more than art you’ve created yourself.
Another great way of saving money and space while sprucing up your walls is the use of floating shelves. Floating shelves are cheaper than traditional shelving units, and they can add a lot of interest to your walls. Display collectibles, plants, even foodstuffs (especially if you’re creating a rustic look). Floating shelves are a great place to put succulents, too – easy to grow, beautiful, living decor.
You might find, during your thrifting and bargain bin hunting, pieces of furniture that you kind of like, but you aren’t totally in love with. These pieces might simply be aging and worn down, or they may be in a colour that doesn’t suit your place. They may also be very inexpensive; that’s an opportunity you can spring on.
While you probably can’t paint your walls, you can almost certainly paint your furniture. What’s more, you can change up the hardware, allowing you to completely transform a piece. There might be a lot of work involved – sanding, polishing, painting, and the like. The work that you do is an investment; once the piece is done, you’ll have a lot of satisfaction. The satisfaction of having done the work, and the satisfaction of a beautiful, finished piece in your home. You might even get the satisfaction of people asking you where you got a piece, only to explain to them all the work you put in.
More to the Floor
There’s a bit of a counterintuitive truth in small spaces; when you use bigger items, the space tends to look bigger. You might opt to get yourself a large area rug in order to add colour and texture to a room, all while making it seem bigger than it actually is.
Another great addition to almost any space is plants. You can get rather large, rather easy to care for plants that will make the room come alive. These plants don’t need to be overly expensive, either!
Some Final Tips
While decorating on a budget, you might consider splurging on one or two big ticket items. You don’t have to break the bank on everything, but statement pieces can really help you bring a room together, and can help guide your subsequent purchases. Rugs, furniture, and window coverings are all great options for spending a little extra.
The ultimate enemy of a great looking space is clutter; when your apartment isn’t clean, it doesn’t matter how great all the thrifted decor looks. Decluttering your space won’t just make your apartment look better – clean environments are good for your mental health. Take the time to tidy up your space before you get any new pieces of decor, and never hesitate to move things around to rebalance a room.