After all the cash you had to shell out for security deposits, parking fees, cable installation, moving trucks and late-night “I’m-too-tired-to-cook” pizzas, your decorating budget might be depleted to close to nothing. refuses to let you live in an unfinished apartment for months, here’s a few ideas that will help spice up your place for less than you imagine.

Design Basics

Make retail décor a last resort. Go to rummage sales, antique malls, flea markets and resale shops and look for shabby chic pieces (soft florals, pastels, slightly chipped paint, old-fashioned lace) or classic details (wrought iron, vintage prints, antiqued furniture).

  • Paint produces the most dramatic change for the least amount of money. Check with your landlord first, though, to make sure it’s okay to paint. Your landlord may request to see what color you’re planning to paint as well.

Main Living Space

  • Choose pieces for function versus form. A cluttered room never looks good, so keep it simple. Look for a table with drawers and foot rests or side tables that open up for storage. Consider purchasing a sofa sleeper for guests.
  • Pick a central focal point; it should not be the television. Don’t feel obligated to push furniture against the walls as you can create extra space and a cozier seating area if you create a smaller central area.
  • Make your own window coverings or slip covers by purchasing fabric that you like and then looking online for instructions on how to fashion it. You can also ask for help at a fabric store.
  • Pick out a few simple pieces that you really enjoy to add personality to the room. A simple coffee table centerpiece or a fireplace mantle decoration can add much more sophistication than a dozen cluttered pieces.
  • Use three-way bulbs to create pools of warm light around the room. You’ll have bright light when you need it and a softer light for a cozy ambiance.


  • Update appliances like the coffee maker and toaster. Choose a similar style and color.
  • Store bread, fruit and other foods you normally leave on the counter in attractive baskets or bins.
  • Remove clutter. Simplify your kitchen so that only the things you use often are taking up space.
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