Whether you have thousands of dollars to spend or are limited to a few hundred bucks, decorating an apartment can be a challenge. And when you’re working on a shoestring budget, it can be even harder.
But just because you don’t have an endless bank account doesn’t mean you can’t have a beautiful apartment that you’re proud to call home.
Here are 15 unique ways that you can decorate your apartment on a budget.
1Start With the Essentials
There are things you need, and there are things you want. The smaller your budget is, the more you’ll need to focus on the essentials.
Start by buying the things you can’t live without. For example, a mattress, bed frame, and curtains are all crucial. After all, you need a place to sleep and some privacy.
Once you have the necessities, you can start buying decorative items like accent tables and throw pillows.
2Ask Family and Friends for Hand-Me-Downs
Are you able to pay for rent and utilities but don’t have enough money to furnish the place? It’s perfectly fine to ask friends and family for help.
Don’t ask them for money. Instead, ask them if they have any furniture they’d like to get rid of.
Many people have old couches, tables, and lamps in their basements that they’d love to get rid of. By taking it off their hands, you might actually be doing them a favor!
3Shop at the Right Places
IKEA isn’t your only option for inexpensive furniture and décor (though it is a budget-friendly favorite).
Branch out a bit and spend a Saturday scouring yard sales or Craigslist ads to find used furniture. If you can only find pieces in so-so condition, that’s okay…you can always freshen them up with a coat of paint!
Just because you’re on a budget doesn’t mean you’re limited to buying used items. Major retailers, including department stores like Neiman Marcus, have clearance sections. High-end clearance sales are the perfect place to find things like table linens, curtains, and kitchen accessories.
4Choose Double-Duty Furniture
Whenever possible, buy furniture that serves two purposes.
Look for couches with concealed arm panels that provide seating and storage.
Want something that can work triple time? Ditch the coffee table in favor of two lift-top ottomans that provide table space, seating, and storage all in one!
If one item can do multiple things, you won’t have to spend so much money on furniture (or you’ll have extra money to spend on something else).
5Mix a Few Good Pieces With a Few Inexpensive Ones
If there’s an expensive item you must have, buy it! Just know that you’ll have less money to spend on other items.
It’s perfectly okay to mix one or two luxury pieces with lots of inexpensive finds, even in the same room.
6Buy Items Out of Season
Looking for a great table-and-chair set for your patio? Buy it in winter!
Already dreaming about how you want to decorate your place next Christmas? Buy holiday items in January when they go on sale!
When you’re working on a tight budget, knowing when to buy things is as important as knowing where to buy them.
7Paint Your Walls
A can of paint, a roller, and a brush are all you need to give a room a brand new look. Paint and painting tools won’t cost you much. And you can spend even less if you decide to paint just one accent wall.
8Do Some DIY
If you’re handy with a paintbrush or a sewing needle, a can of paint or a yard of fabric can transform any chair, table, stool, or shelf into a brand new piece!
9Repurpose/Upcycle Wherever You Can
Before you buy anything, take an inventory of what you have. Look at what you already own and think of some creative ways that you can transform those pieces into something else.
For example, do you have a duvet cover or a blanket that you no longer use? Fold it in quarters and stitch it together to create a cozy dog bed for your pup!
10Switch Out Lampshades
If you borrow old lamps from your parents or find an inexpensive set at a flea market, you can give them a new look by switching out the lampshades.
You could always paint the lamps or stain them a different color, but a fresh new lampshade may be all you need to make them look amazing!
Plants are a super inexpensive way to decorate, and they never go out of style. Home Depot has lots of potted plants for less than $10, and they’re perfect for decorating any kitchen, bedroom, or living room.
If you want to make them look even more unique, customize your own pots. Pick up some terracotta pots (small ones run as little as $1) and paint them or stain them with your own designs.
12Change Door Handles and Drawer Pulls
Want to give your boring kitchen cabinets or an old chest of drawers a fresh new look? Changing out door handles and drawer pulls is an inexpensive (and super easy) way to make them feel new.
13Check out Vintage Stores and Flea Markets
Secondhand stores are the perfect places to find one-of-a-kind accessories and decorative items.
When shopping for vintage items, look at the structure and shape rather than the color or finish. You can always add a coat of paint if the surface needs updating. As long as you like the item itself, you shouldn’t have trouble refurbishing it.
14Make Your Own Wall Art
If you’re decorating on a budget, there’s a good chance you don’t have any extra money for wall art. But that’s okay…you can make your own!
Frame some photo prints, paint your own canvas boards, or create a fun and funky pattern with inexpensive wall decals.
15Take a Minimalist Approach
Minimalists live by one mantra: less is more.
So if you can’t afford to buy furniture and decor, it might be time to shift your design focus. Maybe you don’t need all of those extras.
The more stuff you own, the more apartment organization you’ll have to do. So by limiting the number of possessions in your apartment, you could save yourself a lot of time and effort’
It is possible to decorate an amazing apartment and live a happy life with no extras at all.
When decorating on a budget, DIY as much as you can. Ask friends and family for donations or shop clearance sales and vintage stores to find unique pieces that you can update. Paint, upcycle, and repurpose as many items as possible.
And if you’re really strapped for cash, you can always embrace a minimalist design approach. No one needs to know that your apartment is bare because you can’t afford to furnish it. Just tell people that you’re into the minimalist look and that you’ve made a conscious decision to design it that way!
Sherry Haney is the Business Manager of Legacy Partners, a privately held real estate firm founded in 1968. She oversees the operations and efficiencies of Trivista on Speer, a luxury apartment community in Denver, as well as other Legacy properties.