Wednesday, November 16, 2011

8 Tips for Decorating Your Apartment {…When You’re Poor}

apartment-aapartment-b

Truth be told, I’ve been somewhat reluctant to decorate this humble little abode of mine.  The main reason being that I am not much of an interior design buff (the other reason being that I’ve always, always been outnumbered by Y chromosomes here).  Enter Pinterest and my ever growing collection of interior design and décor inspiration.  On top of that, I rediscovered my love for HGTV and BAM, now I want to make this place feel a little more like a home.

But making a place feel like a home on a wee little budget is pretty hard.  Add to that the fact that I live in a city with an exorbitant sales tax rate (What? I’m from NH!  I’m all sales tax?!  What IS this??) and it makes it even harder.  So what is a girl to do?

Well, first of all, an entire overhaul is not realistic.  But adding a few things here and there can really make a difference.  Also… know how to shop.

{And I’ll let you in on a little secret.  If you know how to shop for clothes… you know how to shop for anything!  Yay.}

So, not that I have any expertise here (that’s never stopped me before!), but here are my tips:

1. Gather inspiration.  Watch design shows (HGTV has full episodes online!!), scour the internet, linger in pretty houses… do whatever it takes to assess what you like in home design.  Again, you can’t afford a home makeover, but it’s good to figure out what you prefer and what makes you feel all homey and happy.  It’s also good to know what your style is ahead of time.  It’s easy to get caught up in what’s popular or what’s on sale, but if you know what decorating style you truly connect with, it will help you focus when it comes time to look for pieces.

2.  Assess what you have.  Chances are you’ve already gotten a few things that go with your style of choice.  Understand what you like in your home and understand what pieces really don’t feel right.  You’re probably going to have to keep a few things that you don’t like, but it’s good to prioritize which things you wish you could replace.  Also, common sense here, but don’t go chucking anything of your roommate’s without discussing it with them (even if your roommate is your significant other… trust)!

Now on to the fun stuff: decorating!  And I promise, we’re going to keep it on the cheap.

3. Use your resources.  I’m talking about family and friends here.  If you live near your family then goodness gracious you are lucky because chances are they’ve accumulated some awesome stuff that they no longer use.  Shop their attics, storage units, whatever.  If you ask really nice they’ll probably give you some things for free.  And free is pretty damn cheap.

apartment10

Our newest roommate moved in with a lot of cool antiques that his parents gave him, like this lamp and the table it’s sitting on.  I only wish I lived closer to my parents/family.  When I lived in Boston my apartment was way more furnished and with lots of really awesome things that were not cheapo Ikea finds.

With that said, use your friends and coworkers too.  Our couches were from our former roommate’s coworker and free.  Yay!

4.  Street furniture.  This is James’ forte, he spots free furniture like it’s his job.  I’m always a little weary of picking stuff up off the street, but he gives it an intense cleaning before bringing it inside and obviously uses common sense.  So far our street finds include our bedroom dresser (re-stained by James), a wicker loveseat for our porch and James’ office chair.  Note: this tip is probably better for city dwellers, but keep your eyes peeled regardless.  If you live in a college town (Boston!), move in and move out days are prime for amazing finds.  Prime, I tell you!

5.  Craigslist.  I admit that I’ve been a little slow to jump on the bandwagon, but Craigslist is where it’s at.  Depending on where you live, you might have better luck at flea markets, but I’ve found that in LA they can often be super overpriced.  Either spot can be amazing though. 

When my old roommate moved out, he took his coffee table with him and our new roommate had a pretty lackluster Ikea one.  He was totally down with me finding a replacement and Craigslist came through big time.

apartment6

$50.  Hand painted.  Solid wood.  No particle board here.  Craigslist is my hero.  I nearly died when I saw it online for so cheap and was super fangirl in my email, but whatever, it got me the table and I am happy.

apartment7

I also found one of these CB2 stools for next to nothing and since, personally, I really like a sort of industrial mixed with rustic style, this was absolutely perfect for me.  I’m thinking of using it as a makeshift nightstand since we don’t have room for a real one.

6.  Discount stores.  Marshalls, TJ Maxx, Homegoods and the sale section of Urban Outfitters are my absolute favorite places for picking up knick-knacks.  The top left photos of this post feature my finds from said stores.  The throw pillows were from Marshalls, the duvet cover was a cheap Urban Outfitters find and the intricately detailed spoon rest is from TJ Maxx.  All these stores have a little bit of everything, so stop by often to see what’s new and what matches your style.

7.  Ikea.  Well of course I’m going to touch upon Ikea because it really is awesome… just don’t go overboard.  Ikea stores have a way of making you buy a lot of stuff that normally you’d never even touch.  Go in with a plan, that’s my advice because impulse buys are what Ikea runs on.

apartment8

Right now my local store has really cheap (think under $10) faux sheepskin throws/rugs.  I think they’re a perfect example of a great Ikea find.  Throw a sheepskin on something and it just gives the whole room a cozy touch.  It’s also a cheap way to hide a fabric pattern that may not go with the rest of the room.

apartment9

Ikea also has great little rugs.  This one is in our kitchen and was some ridiculous price like $3.  Rugs are a really simple way to pull a room together and Ikea is a great place for cheap ones (also try Overstock.com).

8.  Know your limitations.  This may not apply to all of you and can be interpreted broadly, but it’s worth mentioning.  Personally, I am thinking of this:

photo (51)

My cat.  Who opens drawers.

However this could be anything, really.  Children, animals, male roommates.  It all applies.  Don’t buy things that will conflict with your limitations.  I’m not going to buy glass vases and little decorations because my cats will steal and break them within seconds of me putting them down.

Another example?  The balance of which I’ve really struggled with?  Eventually I want to move back east.  So buying big items, like couches and whatnot, seems a little silly to me.  I do, however, want to live in a place that makes me happy and feels like a home.  So you have to find a balance between your limitations and what you really want.

So that’s what I’ve learned thus far.  I admit, I’m still a total newbie though.  If you have any tips and tricks that you’ve picked up along the way please do share in the comments!!

16 comments:

  1. Street furniture is AWESOME. And it's great for getting rid of stuff too. I put a sofa sleeper on the edge of my driveway with a FREE sign and before I could walk back into the house 4 college students were taking it.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Your home is lovely!! And these are great tips. I too like to assess what I have, & also switch things up in our home every few months - it keeps it feeling fresh without spending money! And I also LOVE to paint furniture, such an easy & inexpensive revamp! Hope your week is fab, girly!! xo V

    ReplyDelete
  3. I hate it when people go overboard with Ikea... actually, I think I dislike it when things become highly recognizable. Like how if you see that ikea poang chair you know in an instant that is where it came from. No mystery, no "ohhhh, what a unique piece, where ever did you find it?"

    Unless of course you've never stepped foot inside an ikea and are genuinely dazzled by the chair, I guess that is another story.


    I think vintage is a good way to go, especially if you've got a little time and know how to refinish/paint/make it your own.

    It's amazing how cheap you can find furniture made out of actual wood!

    ReplyDelete
  4. love the pictures! thanks for the tips! Resale stores are amazing if you know how to look!
    ~Veronica

    ReplyDelete
  5. These photos are stunning! I don't know why, but strong depth of field wins me over with photographs... so gorgeous.

    Aya ♥ Strawberry Koi

    ReplyDelete
  6. Great tips! The stool would make a really unique nightstand.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Oops, sorry I commented on you other post, it should be here that I like your black kitty cat. He is cute.

    ReplyDelete

Let's chat. What's on your mind?

Web Analytics