Ten Tips for Decorating your Apartment on a Budget

At my Gasparilla pirate party, I was routinely asked “where did you get all this cute stuff?” and “how did you get your place so nice?” Apparently, my apartment decor was a hit. Even if I don’t know how to put more than basic things from Ikea together, just bought my first small drill, am allergic to wet paint (so no painting for me unless it is done when I am far far away!), and didn’t want to buy anything new that wouldn’t fit in my car easily, had complicated instructions, or cost more for delivery than the actual furniture. And yes, I did just learn how you are supposed to hang things in dry-wall. And what dry-wall is. And about studs, screw types, grown-up hammers (I only had a teensy one), and the ever importance of step stools and tall friends.  And I doubt I am alone.

My apartment still has a ways to go, but I am happy to share my few (but growing) secrets for small apartment living and interior design for those of us who have to follow a budget and are overly girly….

My top ten unofficial rules:

1. Patience, patience, patience!

  • You do not need to complete your place all at once. REPEAT: you do not need to get your apartment done all at once!! This is the biggest pitfall of so many people I know. Impatient to get a place “done,” you buy things you don’t like (meaning you have to get rid of them down the road), accidentally get over-priced things (eep!), get furniture that doesn’t really fit your dimensions correctly, or just end up with a hobbled together look you don’t love.
  • Take your time! It means you may be living out of some plastic bins instead of a complete dresser for a while (totally me), but hey! That’s what plastic bins are for!!!

2. Know what you like AND what you don’t like.

  • Order every catalog you can–even from stores you don’t plan to shop at. I get giddy like a kid before Christmas when I get a new Ballard Designs, CB2, or Pottery Barn catalog… I like to highlight on them, rip pages out and make them into a dream board, star them, put them in my purse, you name it!
  • Scour pinterest.  Seriously SCOUR pinterest.  Because I guarantee someone else has made a living room vaaaauuuugggeely similar to the dream one in your head.
  • Chuck everything you hate. Get rid of it. Re-purpose it. Give it to friends. Even if it’s sentimental. If you don’t love it, leave it. Don’t try to “a way” to use it…GET RID OF IT!!!!!

3. Ikea, Home Goods, Target, and H&M online…. How I love you how I love you…

This is my cute shower curtain from H&M. I have received RAVE compliments on it and it (or similarly awesome curtains) could be yours! Check it out at H&M’s website.
  • The key with these stores is to find staples, pieces you can “improve upon,” and fun stuff.  
  • Ikea, Target, and H&M all have cute things online that ship cheaply…  Seriously, devote an afternoon and play online!

4. DIY details. Improve what you can by using your own awesome skills.

  • Make your own art!
    I made this, I made this!!

5. Vintage markets, consignment shops, garage sales, craigslist (I’m a tad scared of craigslist, but if it’s your thing… go for it!!)

6.  LOVE YOUR FRIENDS!!! YAY FRIENDS!

  • Your friends, co-workers, neighbors, church pals, facebook connections…Preferably only talk to people you think are clean or have good taste. But if you hear “I just moved…” in a conversation, perk up your ears. Real estate friends can be especially useful in this arena.  Know EXACTLY what you are looking for and don’t be afraid to say “does anyone have XYZ….” And be a GOOD friend. Don’t accept anything you can’t use and don’t like just to make someone happy.
 

7. Shop the sales for a few awesome pieces from your favorite big stores!

These bunny salt and pepper shakers (on sale at Anthropologie) make me happy every day!
  • Anthropologie–I inspire to make my home look like it all came from here
  • West Elm, Pottery Barn, Z Gallerie, Crate & Barrel, Restoration Hardware, you know the stores. If you don’t know them. GET to know them! ๐Ÿ™‚
  • One Kings Lane is great for “discounted” beauty pieces…where do you think  I got my AWESOME reindeer?

8. Decoration and furniture that doubles as function

  • Ottomans that open up
  • Side-tables that open
  • Cute organization that doubles as decoration

9. Keep the place clean!!

  • Small spaces seem bigger when everything has a place
  • Get containers that match your style to keep things in its place!

10.  Throw a party!

 My Gasparilla crowd!
  • It will force you to  get rid of stuff you don’t like, clean, hang curtains, and get your act together
  • It’s fun!!!!!
  • You have to clean before it AND you have to clean afterwards…It’s a pain, but your place will be clean afterwards!!

What are your favorite budget decorating tips? 

      3 Comments

      1. xiomara @ Parkesdale January 29, 2014 3:06 pm  Reply

        I love to check Marshalls, TJMaxx and Ross for budget items. Also, Kirklands has some cute stuff too. But you nailed it with Z Gallerie, West Elm, Pottery Barn and Anthropologie. I so love those.

      2. Business News Australia February 4, 2014 10:59 pm  Reply

        Minimalism is the way to go when you are in a budget. And hey, everything needs a celebration. Cheers!

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