Decorating an apartment can be a bit of a puzzler, especially if you’re renting. On top of this, if you’re a struggling college student, not only are you limited in your choices but you’re probably limited on funds. So here are a few great tips for decorating your apartment on a budget.
These things are a genius invention. Wall Decals don’t require nails or paint and are perfect for a rental space. You don’t just have to pick from a life-inspiring quote, either. Today there are wall stickers that are complete murals or even wallpaper. Not only are these a cheap alternative to fixing holes or painting, they are also so easy to apply and even easier to take down. And they don’t leave a mess.
Next to wall decals are furniture decals. You can stick a fun polka dot sticker sheet on a desk, fridge or cabinets and really spunk up your place without spending an arm and a leg. Or even too much time. If you have a bit more money ask your apartment manager if you’re allowed to get some etched glass. Installing etched glass can really change the look of an apartment and add an upscale feel, the only downside is it is expensive.
Furniture can become extremely expensive. But rather than paying an arm and a leg, you can easily learn how to build pieces yourself. Try building your own desk, bookshelf or even closet doors. There are many great how-to’s to follow and many lumber yards will sell wood for pretty cheap if you buy directly from them. You can even do this for a stunning headboard for your bed. If you plan to cover the headboard in fabric, then you can easily pay for inexpensive hardwood for underneath.
Buy Good, Not Price
Rita Konig, interior designer and European Editor for The Wall Street Journal’s WSJ, says that “it’s easy to buy things for the price, rather than buy good things. But if you guy good things, they will always be with you. If you buy the bad couch, for instance, you will always want to replace it as soon as you can.” It’s kind of like clothing, you can buy a new pair of $12 jeans every six months or spend $40 to $60 and have a pair that last a few years or even longer. This may mean that you only have a few key pieces while you slowly build up your collection.
Konig and Emily Henderson, host of Secrets From a Stylist, both suggest that you focus more on the shape of a piece of furniture rather than the fabric as you can buy a cheaper couch and easily reupholster it. By doing this you could end up spending less to buy and reupholster a couch rather than paying for one that is all around perfect.
Another thing to keep in mind while reupholstering is that it doesn’t need to be super expensive. Instead of spending lots of money on expensive cleaning supplies start to research things you already own that you can use to help you out. For instance I found out that some lemon juice, white vinegar, and refined coconut oil can be used to polish wood furniture, so I went out, bought some old wood tables and chairs and cleaned and polished them up to shape. I ended up with furniture that looked new at less than ten percent of the cost.
Jamie Drake of Drake/Anderson says to first start by re-envisioning your place before spending any money. Flip a floor plan, move a piece into a different room, reupholster or spray wood pieces. This can be one of the most inexpensive ways to decorate your apartment.
Sew your own quilt or comforter. Make your own throw pillows. Paint your own art. There are so many great projects out there that you can learn to do yourself that you could practically decorate your entire apartment with the talent of your own hands!
If you can’t go buy brand new furniture at the moment or don’t want to throw something out, try repurposing a few pieces. You can turn a mismatched or rickety chair into a great bedside table. Or take an old duvet or comforter and repurpose it into a pet’s cozy sleeping spot. Turn an old door into a tabletop, old curtains into napkins, and so much more. You can even turn no-longer-used sheets into light and airy window treatments. The possibilities are endless!
Purchasing your first home might be one of the most expensive purchases you’ll make, which makes it even more important to do it right. The best way to go about shopping for a house is to line yourself up with a good realtor, explore financing and determine the priorities you seek in a new home. Most first time buyers make one or two mistakes during the process of buying a home. However, using these tips can help you to avoid mistakes and highlight important items to consider as you begin shopping for homes.
Determine What Features You Need
Before looking at homes, make a checklist of the features you need. For example, you might list the number of bedrooms, a large yard, fencing, home office and a family room. Next, you could list features that would be nice to have like a swimming pool, garden or patio.
Contact a Realtor
Ideally, if you’ve never been through the home buying process, you should consider working with a realtor to find a new home. He or she can show you several homes, write contracts, make recommendations and provide guidance for you as you complete the home buying and closing processes. Working with a realtor to find homes in the neighborhoods you like can save you time and money.
Realtors have access to the MLS (Multiple Listing Service), which is essentially a huge database of home listings supplied by real estate brokers. The listings include details and features about each property that is for sale. Your realtor can use the MLS to choose homes to fit your budget and location requirements, which makes it faster and easier to find your dream home.
Unfortunately, many new home buyers fail to take into consideration the importance of where the home is located. For instance, you may have found the perfect home, but if it’s too far from work it may turn into a major problem. Before choosing neighborhoods, consider these questions:
Is a short commute to work a requirement?
- Does the home need to be in a good school district?
- Do we want nearby access to entertainment?
- Is public transportation a requirement or just a bonus?
Household Costs and Other Expenses
It is smart to get a rough estimate of what your monthly expenses will run for a new house before purchasing. To start with you’ll have the principal and interest on the home. Add in insurance and taxes. You may have to factor in home owner association fees. Next, you’ll want to consider power and water utilities. Don’t forget telephone and internet services.
The home and location can affect the cost of homeowners insurance, which is required when carrying a loan on the property.
- Homes located near fire stations or hydrants usually result in a discount.
- Home security systems may qualify for better rates.
- Neighborhoods in high crime areas cost more to insure.
- Homes in known flood zones or areas prone to earthquakes are more expensive to insure.
Ordering home inspections on new or used homes isn’t a requirement for purchasing but it often proves to be a smart idea. Home inspectors provide an unbiased home inspection and cost about $300 to $500. They inspect the main household systems such as heating, cooling, electrical and plumbing.
Credit Check and Financing
Contact one of the three credit bureaus, and pull a free copy of your credit report before you consider financing and shopping for a home. Make sure the report appears to be accurate. The best interest rates for loans are offered to those people that have a good or higher credit score rating.
Keep in mind that you may have to put down as much as 20 percent for you down payment on the home. However, it’s possible, you may qualify for federally-backed loans, which often have lower interest rates, small down payments or no down payment required.
Before shopping for a home, contact several banks and loan institutions to check their interest rates. It’s also a smart idea to get pre-qualified for a loan before home shopping.
Take your time to find the right home that meets all you requirements. Consider working with a realtor and a home inspector for professional services and recommendations.
Use What You Already Have
One of the easiest ways to decorate cheaply is to use what you already have. From artwork to collectibles. Often times, art pieces can be pretty expensive, but you can easily create a beautiful gallery of pieces by framing children’s pieces or even painting or sketching a few yourself. Even small 5×7 sized pieces can be great to pair with larger pieces.
As for collectibles you can easily create a beautiful statement piece. Place them on a pair of shelves on an empty wall or fill a bookshelf. If you’re like me and collect rocks, try framing them in a shadow box and then hang it. Don’t let them just collect in tins that slowly stack up. From floral arrangements to movie tickets, display nostalgia pieces loud and proud.
Update Your Furniture
Now you don’t necessarily need to buy a whole new set of furniture for this one. Instead, try painting your bookcase or wallpapering it to give it a bit of a new look or boost. If you’re feeling creative, try painting just the back of the shelves to give a pop of color to the room. Other ways to update your furniture is to apply furniture decals with a pattern or favorite print, or to reupholster a chair or couch yourself rather than having an expensive professional do it.
One of the cheapest interior design tricks is to use less and to create an illusion. Use mirrors to make a room look bigger and use a bigger rug. A larger rug can actually make a room look bigger. If you can’t afford an expensive large rug, try stitching a few smaller ones together. Also clear out extra pieces and knickknacks that you don’t need around the house anymore. Doing this alone can help a room feel neater and more idealistic.
Another key to making a room look bigger is glass. Glass windows and doors give the illusion that the room is much bigger than it is. If you are worried about privacy you can try etched glass that will allow light and space, but also offer privacy.
If you’re looking for a little something to put on the walls, try custom wall decals. These are inexpensive, especially if you order straight from the decal manufacturer easy to install and won’t ruin paint when they come off. Today, there are more than just the typical vinyl quotes. You can find them in a variety of patterns or shapes to create a stunning look in any room. Whether you get sheets in place of wallpaper or even if you do pair a beautiful piece with your favorite quote, custom wall decals can be one of the best design tricks.
Molding or Railing
Another unique design trick is molding or railing. By this, we mean chair railing or crown molding. Installing structures like these throughout a room can change a room from average to beautiful. Both of these can be do-it-yourself projects, which will save you a little bit on hiring a professional. If you do install chair railing, try painting the bottom half of a wall one color and the top half another or alter two different shades of a color. This can create a bold statement in any room.
If you’re feeling especially adventurous, try your hand at wainscoting. A little more labor intensive, however wainscoting creates a more unique and vintage look than you’ll find elsewhere.
The Little Things
Another one of the best ways to decorate without spending too much is to focus on the little things. Throw pillows, hardware, rugs and so much more are great ways to bring uniformity and spice to your house. Door knobs and drawer pulls can be switched out cheaply, take a day to poke around a flea market or two and find some classy pieces. They don’t even have to all match, you can pair several different shapes and styles together.
Throw pillows and rugs and throw blankets are also a cheap way to design a home on a budget. These can easily be switched out for different seasons which can help freshen up a room on a regular basis, and pillows and blankets can be so much cheaper than full repainting jobs.
Though we’ve only mentioned five tricks here, there are still so many different interior design tips you can use to help spruce up your home without spending too much.