Moving can be exciting — but expensive. Between the first and last month’s rent, your security deposit, and other costs, your bank account may be hurting. To top it all off, your new apartment feels foreign, like it’s someone else’s home. But don’t worry — you can add homey, personal touches to your new digs without digging a larger financial hole for yourself.
Know What You Can Do
In order to be able to confidently channel your inner Joanna Gaines, you need to check with your landlord to see what you’re allowed to do with the space. Often, they’ll agree to cosmetic changes that can easily be reverted when you move out. Some landlords will let you make more substantial alterations or upgrades with their prior approval. Regardless of what your plans are, be sure to have what’s OK, what’s not, and any instructions clearly spelled out in your lease before you pick up that paintbrush or nail gun.
Pro Tip: Keep the originals of anything that you replace (unless otherwise instructed by your landlord) so that the apartment can be reset to its prior condition when you move out.
Set Up Your Space
There are lots of ways to make any space more attractive and functional. Here are a few interior design tricks to try:
- Use large mirrors: They make small areas seem more spacious.
- Arrange your furniture strategically: This can turn an open area into well-defined living spaces.
- Get double duty furniture: Ottomans are for reclining and storage, tables are for dining and working, and sofa beds are for movie watching and sleeping.
- Use curtains in different ways: In addition to beautifying your windows, try curtains as wall hangings or room dividers.
- Experiment with lighting: Yes, place light fixtures where they make functional sense, but also use them to highlight your home’s best features, like built-in cabinets or a piece of art.
- Throw some throw rugs around: They can be great color accents and help to establish the borders for areas.
Small Things Make a Big Difference
You don’t have to rely solely on furniture to make your apartment give off your vibe. To pepper in your personality throughout your home, try picking up small, inexpensive items like:
- Throw pillows, picture frames, or vases: The right ones scream your style and are easy to switch up as your tastes change.
- Plants: Real, low-maintenance plants such as succulents help to beautify your abode, give your space an oxygen boost, and simply need occasional watering.
Give Items a Facelift
With a little elbow grease, you can take what you already have and breathe new life into it. Here are some budget-friendly suggestions:
- Paint the walls: Choose a color that puts you in a positive mood, but do yourself a favor and make sure it’s easy to paint over when your lease is up.
- Look into removable wallpaper or tile stickers: You can apply them to anything dingy, boring, or ugly.
- Swap out lampshades: This makes sticking to a color scheme a snap and can really modernize the look of the lamp.
- Change door knobs or hardware on furniture and cabinetry: There are so many styles to choose from and you might be surprised at how much of a difference it makes.
- Refinish or reupholster your furniture: It will look like a brand new (and totally different) piece.
- Get new light fixtures: Sconces or pendant lighting can add a dramatic, personalized flair.
Sure, you can buy art that’s pre-made. But if you want it to be perfectly true to you, you should make it yourself! You don’t have to be the next da Vinci to try these projects:
- Apply paint to canvas: Find your muse and sling the color in whatever way strikes your fancy.
- Play with clay: Whether your clay pot actually looks like a pot is irrelevant. Making your own pottery can be a great decoration and conversation starter.
- Create a collage: Your favorite photos, magazine clippings, and other keepsakes can culminate in a lovely tribute to your past, or help you manifest your future as a vision board.
Decide Where to Shop
Depending on your budget, preferences, and what’s available, there are several places to shop for home decor:
- Check out large retailers: Places like Walmart, Target, and HomeGoods may offer some deals on brand new items.
- Go used: Flea markets, estate sales, auctions, and Craigslist are all tried and true avenues for finding vintage pieces that fit your theme.
- Try an app: Technology makes it a breeze to connect with others that want to unload just what you’re looking for. Check out OfferUp and NextDoor.
- Leverage your network: Your friends and family may have things they no longer need that you can use. The best part? Chances are, they’ll let you have them gratis!
While decorating/furnishing a place can be expensive — especially for first-time renters — there are ways to express yourself without emptying your wallet.
This article was originally published at HiCharlie.com