How to Decorate Your Apartment on a Tight Budget


Making your rental property feel like a warm and inviting space can be a challenge if you are on a tight budget, as many students are. We also know that decorating can be a tough when your options are limited by rental rules.

The good news is there are many “tricks”professional decorators use that are inexpensive and effective. Whether your taste is traditional, eclectic, minimalist or kitschy it is possible to create a desirable living space without spending a fortune when you use a little bit of creativity.

Here are 9 tried and true ideas on how to decorate your rental property on a budget.

1. Re-purpose furniture from a thrift store or resale sites like CraigsList. Not only is this a budget friendly way of finding furniture, you are recycling and that is good for your wallet and the planet. If you get a thrift store sofa, consider covering it with an inexpensive slip cover in a soft or muted color that blends with your accent colors.  You can also give used dressers, coffee tables, dining room tables and other pieces a new life with a fresh coat of paint.

2. If you must buy new furniture, find some that you can assemble yourself (IKEA is a great place to find this).  Remember- what you move in, you will eventually need to move out. So go light and stick with the essential pieces- a few living room pieces for seating and storage, a dining room table, a bed and a dresser is really all you need to get started.

3. Decide on a color scheme and stick with it…Blending colors that contrast with white walls will make the space feel more open. Cool colors like green, turquoise, blue, and purple can make a room feel more spacious and elegant. Warm colors like orange, yellow, and red can make the space appear cozy and intimate.

4. Go to the local discount store or dollar store for more basic items like kitchen utensils, trash cans and more.

5. Bring in area rugs to add more color. If you are decorating on a budget, an area rug is a big purchase. Look for bargains online and at discount stores like IKEA, thrift stores or resale sites like Ebay or CraigsList. Once you find the right rug that fits in with your color scheme, place the rug in the middle of the room to frame your space.

6. Add soft lighting throughout the apartment with inexpensive lamps. Tack a scarf or square of neat fabric to the ceiling over a drab boring light fixture. The fabric hangs far enough down that it won’t heat up or scorch, and the pretty colored light shines through below.

7. Staple fabric over a bulletin board. Hang on the wall and pin your favorite pictures on it.

8.  Make your windows a work of art. There are numerous ways to creatively dress up your windows without it costing a fortune. To make your ceilings seem taller, hang the curtains 6-10 inches above the window. Consult with a DYI website to get easy sewing tips on simple curtains. If you don’t sew, you can always use an adhesive fabric tape. Hang your homemade curtains with inexpensive clip rings which can be purchased at most hardware stores or any Target or Walmart. If you want an even easier window treatment, you can of course purchase inexpensive pre-made curtains at most stores. Fabric shower-curtains are another option, and are easy to install. You can even make a window valance using a scarf or a tablecloth.

9. Make your own throw pillows in the same color scheme as your curtains to pull together the look in your living room and bedroom.

All you need is a little imagination and even the thriftiest decorator can create a lovely and desirable living space in your apartment.  Let us know what ideas you come up with!