How to Decorate Your Apartment on the Cheap

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One of the most exciting aspects of having your own apartment is being able to decorate it. While decorating can be costly, it doesn’t have to be. You can decorate your apartment on the cheap by following these general guidelines:

Before You Begin, Have a Plan

Seems like a no-brainer, but it’s best to begin decorating only after you’ve mapped out your interior decorating ideas. Strategize and itemize the process and think about the overall look you’re trying to achieve in each room. While you may find inspiration on a whim at a store, it’s easy to overspend if you come home, completely change your mind and have to start all over again. Look through magazines and online to get ideas of what you like and don’t like. Make lists of key items you need and stick to it.

Begin With the Walls

Adding color to the walls has more impact than any other decorating you may choose to do. If your landlord allows you to paint, you can use color to add personality to your place for as little as $50. If painting all the walls in a room seems too tedious (or will require too much paint), consider painting only one wall for big impact with little costs and effort.

If your landlord prohibits painting, you can still hang pictures and mirrors on the wall is still a great starting point in the decorating process. Stores like TJ Maxx and Marshall’s typically have great selections of wall hangings for low prices (be sure to check out their clearance items). If you’re feeling a little more creative, find some old calendars you like and use the images as artwork. You don’t have to buy expensive frames to showcase the images. Trim the calendar images yourself and attach them to pre-cut mattes or place them in inexpensive picture frames. Find interesting ways to group the pictures on your walls. You’ll be amazed at how quickly your place will feel “whole” after decorating the walls.


The same way accessories make the outfit, they also make the apartment. You can add color and personality to a room for little money with pillows or a fun rug. Consider buying a variety of table lamps and floor lamps to provide lighting and dimension to a room. Visit thrift stores or check out Craigslist for bargains. Ask friends or family members if they have any items they’ve been looking to donate and would give to you instead. Free is even better than cheap! You can easily slip cover your mother’s outdated pillow with some fun fabric or paint an old lamp from a friend.

Use What You Already Have

The cheapest way to decorate is to take what you already own and make the very best of it. Invite a friend over and rearrange your furniture. Simply moving pieces around could lead to a more cohesive look. Place key pieces in the rooms where you and guests will spend the most time. There’s no point in focusing all of your decorating efforts in rooms rarely used or seen.

With a little bit of strategy, effort and creativity, you can decorate an apartment you’ll be pleased to call home.


Rachael Weiner: I’m a communications professional for a non-profit, which financially necessitates my status as an apartment dweller. Constantly “on-the-go,” I’ve resided in five different apartments across the United States over the past five years. Roommate issues, budgeting, organizing and handling problem neighbors are my specialty.

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