Whether you’re a beleaguered graduate student tired of campus life, or you’ve just finished your undergrad degree and landed your first real job, moving into your first apartment is often a time of both celebration and trepidation.
The responsibility of maintaining your own space, paying bills on time, and otherwise acting like a convincing grownup can seem daunting — especially if you’re also dealing with the complications of repaying school loans. But the rewards of being able to set your space up exactly as you want to has the potential to outweigh any worry. If you’re a young twenty-something about to embark on renting a living space all your own, here are five tips to guide you in decorating that won’t leave you penniless.
1. Paint — But Do a Good Job
It’s amazing what a well-chosen coat of paint can do to transform a living space on the cheap, so choose well by perusing house design sites like this rug and décor blog to assist you in your selection. Of course, even the most divine color will fail at its transformative duties if the paint job is lousy. Because of that reality, do the following:
- Prepare the walls. Clean the walls you’re going to paint, and then lightly sand them with a fine-grit sandpaper to ensure the new paint sticks and covers. Wipe them down again after sanding with tack cloth to make sure they’re totally free of debris.
- Tape off edges, corners, ceilings, etc. Unless you’re a professional painter lauded for your steady hand, use painter’s tape to guarantee yourself a clean edge at baseboards, ceilings, countertops, and the like.
- Use paint with primer in it. While it does cost more, paint with primer in it covers better and will save you time.
Plants can instantly create a sense of home, and they look good in almost any space. Choose hearty species unless you have a proven green thumb, and place them in living areas so you and any guests can easily enjoy them. There are plenty of interesting and practical plants you could get, including:
- This bright green and easy to care for plant has medicinal qualities that can help ease burns.
- This charming clover comes in a variety of colors, and its leaves open to light and close in darkness.
- String of Pearls. This creeping succulent looks like strings of cascading green pearls.
3. Get Cool with Curtains
Curtains can remake a space in an instant, cozying up a sterile room or providing color and personality where there had been none. If you’ve got access to a sewing machine, select fabric from a local store, or get it secondhand. Choose lightweight airy fabric in spaces where you want to let in plenty of natural light, and opt for heavier thicker fabrics in bedrooms.
If you don’t have time or inclination to sew, you can also use shower curtains, which come in a wide array of colors, styles, patterns, and prints. Attach the rings like you would for your shower, and place them along your curtain rod. If you’re really hard up and don’t have a crafty bone in your body, sheets can work wonders as well. Simply safety pin or staple them around the curtain rods.
4. Think Secondhand
From garage sales and Craigslist to thrift stores and flea markets, you can meet all your apartment needs secondhand. While doing so may take a bit longer than just driving a truck to a department store, you’ll end up saving money and finding more interesting, one-of-a-kind pieces if you opt for a secondhand approach.
From the art you hang on the wall to your couch and dining room chairs, you can begin to define your aesthetic on financial terms you can afford.
5. Creative Shelving
You don’t need to spend an arm and a leg to supply yourself with creative shelving to hold knickknacks, plants, or photos. Buy some cheap shelf brackets; anchor them into the suds in your wall, and place anything with a relatively thin and flat surface on top. Bring driftwood home from a nearby creek and use it as a shelf.
Buy some old encyclopedias or snow shoes at a thrift store and use them as single shelves to showcase family photos or small sculpture. If it doesn’t extend too far beyond the brackets, has a flat presentation and is sturdy enough to hold whatever it is you want placed on it, it can be used as a shelf.
Moving into your first apartment is a rite of passage you’ll never forget. Follow these five suggestions for frugal decorating, and you can make the space memorable and personal without going broke.