How to Decorate Your Apartment on a Budget

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Moving into a new apartment in September, part of me was excited to have a new space to decorate, part of me was slightly overwhelmed with the process of moving and starting fresh again. As a renter, you don’t have complete freedom to change and make major updates to the space, so you really have to lean on decor to curate and make the space your own. Though sometimes it’s possible to make small updates such as changing out light fixtures, swapping out hardware, etc, for the most part the bones of the space are what you have to work with. If you’re moving into an older building, the wrong decor can quickly make the space feel dated. Making the space feel cohesive plays a big part in this - your pieces and decor don’t necessarily have to be matchy-matchy, but having them all play together makes a huge difference. For me, I knew I wanted to create a cozy and homey space while being smart about my spending.

Now that I’ve been living in the space for four months, it’s beginning to feel less like a temporary living situation and more like a home. Although I’ll continue switching things around and introducing new pieces here and there, it’s finally starting to feel like it’s coming together. Read on to see how I did it without breaking the bank.

  • Gather inspiration: I started by sifting through Pinterest, home design blogs, and my favorite Instagram accounts for inspiration. Completely re-creating a space is difficult to do, but taking bits and pieces you love and making them your own is much easier and cost-effective. After pinning and saving an assortment of images, you’ll begin to see your style and design preferences emerge. I noticed many of the spaces that stuck out to me were a mix of mid-century modern, cozy, minimalistic, and girly - all elements that you’ll see in my bedroom. Emily Henderson, Jaclyn Peters Design, and Patti Wagner are a few of my faves to follow. Also check out my home Pinterest board to see where I gathered much of my inspiration.

  • Take your time: Patience is huge when you first begin to decorate a space. Whenever I first move into a new place, I’m beyond antsy to have it put together right away. Take your time to collect various pieces to decide exactly what you need. I moved in with a few items and filled in with new furniture and decor over the next few months.

  • Repurpose pieces you already have: Many of the things you see in my space have been repurposed from past apartments. For example - I have a denim chair that’s a hand-me-down from my aunt and uncle, the navy dresser I found at an antique shop and spray painted navy (I plan to replace the pulls with something a little more modern), the rug I purchased for my bedroom in my last apartment, and many of the frames, throw pillows, and other decor items I already had. Often just a little creativity for how to update and recycle things you already have is a great way to cut back on spending.

  • Bargain shop: The secret here is splurging on a few pricer items (for me, it was my bedding from Anthropologie), and bargain shopping from places like Home Goods, Target, Wayfair, Ikea for others. Often times, you can find furniture with the look of pieces from brands like CB2, West Elm, and Anthro for much less. For frames and decor pieces, Michael’s craft store and Home Goods are my go-to’s.

  • DIY: I’m definitely not a huge DIYer, but for updating the home I’m all about it. A few easy fixes you can do yourself include hanging pictures and open-shelving, change out light fixtures and hardware, and give old furniture a refresh with a fresh coat of paint. To fill a large wall, I created a photo photo gallery wall parallel to my bed using just a level, a lot of double-sided 3M tape, and even more patience.