How to Decorate Your Home or Apartment for Cheap

Whether you are moving in to a new home, or just want to spruce up your current space, there are many resources out there to help you decorate on a budget. You don’t have to own an electric drill to re-purpose some new items to fit into your apartment or home.

Give yourself a budget and stick to it – start off with a number that you would like to stay under. Staying within this budget will take some time, research, and elbow grease. One of my favorite scenes in Friends is where Rachel brings home a beautiful apothecary table she bought for a fortune at Pottery Barn, but had to lie to Phoebe that she got it at a flea market. Later in the episode, they go to Ross’s apartment, where he proudly shows off the same exact apothecary table he had also picked up.

I love Pottery Barn, my wallet doesn’t.

Keeping up with the Joneses and buying from big name retailers is a quick way to break your re-decorating budget. Just like fashion, home decor trends come and go, so it is much more practical to buy pieces that will grow with your style and that can be painted, re-stained, or altered. Pinterest has tons of Pottery Barn hacks. Shows like Flea Market Flip have created an online community for re-purposing furniture and home decor for a fraction of the price.

Great DIY Hacks: Pottery Barn Hacks

One Crazy House: Pottery Barn Hacks

The Cottage Market: Pottery Barn Projects  

Do your research – before buying anything, I will spend hours on different online outlets.  I have had incredible luck on Craigslist, OfferUp, Facebook, (for my NYC and New Jersey readers). Check your area for estate sales, garage sales, Goodwill, and other hole-in-the-wall thrift stores and warehouses.

Be patient – My grandpa told me once “if you want something, it’ll have a way of falling into your lap”.  In college I wanted a Himalayan salt lamp SO bad, but at the time they were like $80, so I waited, and sure enough I found one at this hole-in-the-wall thrift store in Mansfield, Connecticut for $3.

I moved into a new apartment over a month ago, and it is probably only 50% furnished and decorated. It’s exciting moving into a new place and decorating, but I promise, good things come to those who wait.

 Don’t be afraid to haggle – people are constantly moving around from city to city and will be pretty generous with giving away their stuff for the sake of convenience. 

In college, I did not plan well and needed to drive up to my apartment in the summer and move out in one day.  I posted on Facebook, if you can come pick up my stuff, it’s yours for free.  I gave away a queen mattress and bed frame and a kitchen table I re-purposed and repainted (I also had acquired these things for free, so minus paint supplies, I broke even). 

Another tip: if you are picking up a bunch of items from a thrift store or garage sale, bundle the items together and make an offer. More than likely, the seller will be happy to let the items go for a little less money.

Look for furniture with “good bones” – don’t be afraid to pick up a tv stand or coffee table with a horrible 1980s wood finish, or a kitchen table with some minor flaws.  A can of chalk spray paint and some new knobs will run you around $15 and will give a new life to furniture destined for the dumpster.

Cut down on the clutter – picture frames, throw blankets, throw pillows, an area rug, coasters, candles, candle holders, coffee table books, fake plants, wall art, mirrors – these will quickly add up and quickly blow that budget you set for yourself. A clean and uncluttered apartment will not only look more chic and expensive, but it will save you money.

A minimalist approach to decorating will give you the expensive and trendy look, without having to blow your decor budget.

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