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Designing an Elevated Apartment on a Budget

When you move into an apartment for the first time, or you’re getting a new space that you can truly “deck out” for a change, it’s normal to want your personality to shine through. Apartment living can get a bad reputation when it comes to design and decorating, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

While you may not be able to make major renovations, there are plenty of things you can do to decorate your first home exactly the way you want it – even on a budget.

Between putting down a deposit, the first month’s rent, and possibly buying new furniture and necessities for your place, you might feel like you don’t have the funds to let your personality shine through the decor. But, with a little creativity and some expert shopping advice, you can design your dream apartment on just about any budget.

Let’s look at a few tips that will help you bring your vision to life.

pexels ketut subiyanto 4246193Finding the Right Apartment

If you’re currently apartment hunting, take the time to really explore potential options before signing a lease. The space should be functional and fit your needs, of course. But, you should also look at it from a design perspective. It’s important to envision the entire home and what you can do with it. Does it have specific quirks or a unique layout you can use to your advantage? Can you picture how each room might look?

If you want to go the extra mile, consider bringing paint samples with you to hold up to the walls in different rooms. The more you can bring your design to life before you start renting, the more confident you’ll be that you can turn the place into something special.

It’s also a good idea to start saving money even before you rent an apartment. By shopping around, you’ll have a better idea of which properties are legitimate, and where you might be getting scammed. Some red flags to look out for when you’re hunting include:

  • An apartment that sounds too good to be true
  • Poor grammar in the listing
  • No screening process
  • You can’t see the property before signing a lease

So, while something might seem like a good deal on the surface, paying attention to potential cheaters is crucial.

You can also save money during the move itself and add those savings to your design budget. Create a budget for the move and your basic needs when you’re on your own. You can quickly decide where you can cut back to put more money into other more important areas.

deborah cortelazzi gREquCUXQLI unsplashUse What You Have

If this is your first apartment, you might not have much to bring with you. Unfortunately, you’re going to have to spend some of your budget on necessities like furniture. It’s important to know how to look for the best deals and avoid scams when shopping for major home items. Some common furniture-buying mistakes include:

  • Not measuring the space ahead of time
  • Choosing impractical pieces
  • Buying things too impulsively

By taking your time and doing your research, you’ll be able to find furniture that works for you and your new space.

But, if you’ve lived elsewhere before, you can bring your belongings with you and give them new life. Old furniture can be reupholstered easily, which will allow you to completely change the look. If you have an old table or chairs, they can be painted or refinished to look new. The “shabby chic” and farmhouse looks are both in style, so using things like chalk paint or milk paint can let you keep your existing furniture and make it look completely different.

Don’t be afraid to reuse and repurpose as many of your existing belongings as possible. Personalities change over the years. Something you once liked might reflect your taste now. But, that doesn’t mean you need to get rid of it. Find a way to make it yours again with a little DIY work.

DIY What You Can

Speaking of doing it yourself, handling home projects on your own is one of the best ways to save money and ensure things will look the way you want them to. Apartments typically don’t have a ton of space, which means you can elevate your decorating ideas to make the most of what you do have.

A good rule of thumb is to “splurge” on one item that you want to be a focal point in the room. Then, build around it with budget decor that you can create yourself. Go thrifting or visit garage sales for inspiration or repurpose things whenever possible.

Mix patterns and textures in a room to bring it to life without affecting your budget. You can do that by painting a room in more than one color or switching out pillow covers or blankets. If you want to get creative, hang pieces of your own artwork. You don’t have to be an artist, you just have to create something that lets your personality come through.

Even if you’re not necessarily “crafty”, there are plenty of small changes you can make in your home that will create a major design difference. So, whether you’re moving for the first time or you just need a change, keep these tips in mind to stay within your budget and design an apartment that truly feels like home.

Sam Bowman authored this guest blog post

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Karen LeBlanc

Karen LeBlanc is a travel host and writer with a popular travel show, The Design Tourist, and a companion lifestyle blog. As a widely published travel journalist and content creator, Karen is a member of the North American Travel Journalists Association. She also serves as the Design and Travel editor of the national lifestyle magazine, LaPalme. Karen believes that every destination has a story to tell through its local art, architecture, culture, and craft. This immersive creative exploration begins with authentic accommodations where the narrative of place unfolds through art, accessories, accouterments, furnishings, fixtures, and food. 

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