Decorating an apartment, especially a small apartment, seems overwhelming until you find helpful decorating tips and discover the much-needed inspiration that gets the wheels turning, bringing out your creative side. Well, that’s what I’m here for, because I decorated my small apartment by myself and I did it on a surprisingly low budget – but the final result was still chic and magazine-cover worthy. I realized that decorating on the cheap while still keeping it chic is easy as long as you’re resourceful and creative. It also helps if you’re good at choosing color trios and you’re aware that, for example, orange and green don’t match.
A cluttered apartment does not look chic, so I learned to find as much furniture as possible that doubles as storage. Sometimes, you’d never know by looking at a fashionable piece of furniture that it has secret storage space, such this sophisticated coffee table from Rove Concepts which has hidden, slide-out storage to hide all of your junk.
Home decor can definitely be found for cheap at thrift stores as well. You can even repurpose, re-paint and upcycle thrift store finds that were once old and dull, now transformed into chic decor that people will think you spent a fortune on. Anyways, let’s get to work. Here are 7 tips on how to decorate your small apartment on the cheap but still chic:
1. Buy furniture with secret storage space
My storage bed frame saved my life. I hit up my local Liquidation Furniture store and found a storage bed for under $500 that has practically invisible drawers. Let’s just say that a bed that doubles as storage was super necessary considering the lack of space in my tiny bedroom. But I didn’t stop there. My coffee table has slide-out storage, and it stores all my blankets, books, and home work-out gear. It’s so much easier to keep your apartment clean if you’re hiding all your junk in a stylish piece of storage furniture – and nobody knows anything is in there. Anyone living in a small space should buy multi-functional pieces such as beds that double as storage and side tables with a removable top to store random items. It’s absolutely necessary and your apartment won’t look cluttered this way.
2. Use big mirrors to open up your space
If there’s one thing you should invest in, it’s a big and fabulous mirror. One of these types of stunning statement mirrors from Z Gallerie is perfect because it’s going to make your apartment look bigger while doubling as a super cool piece of wall art. Mirrors like these are hardly boring. A statement mirror is often geometric, abstract, modern and artsy. Decorating your apartment on the cheap (but still chic) is all about choosing which items to splurge on (like a fancy mirror) and knowing which items are best picked up at a thrift store. Since this modern mirror acts as art and makes your space look twice as big, you don’t have to feel guilty spending money on it.
3. Use wall decals to decorate your bedroom walls instead of buying expensive art
Wall decals are vinyl stickers that decorate a wall. With wall decals, you get a lot of bang for your buck and it’s super easy to stick them onto any wall you’d like to decorate (and they’re easy to remove, too.) I like Urban Walls because their designs are artsy, trendy, fashionable and beautiful. They keep up with the trends and their designs are chic instead of tacky. They don’t damage your walls and they’ll last for years and years. I love the look of one accent wall in a bedroom, in the form of a polka-dot wall or a floral wall using peel-and-stick decals (usually it looks best if it’s the wall where your headboard would be against.) Expensive paintings aren’t necessary to transform a wall from boring to fabulous. Most of the time it costs less than $80 to decorate an entire wall in your bedroom using wall decals.
4. Upcycle old window frames to create a brighter space
Years ago, I found an antique window frame at a yard sale, and I thought it would make a unique and sort of whimsical home decor accent. The woman I bought it from suggested that I get a piece of mirror cut to size, to transform it into a window mirror. Now, I’m obsessed with window mirrors and I have two in my bedroom – and they really do look like windows. You can find vintage window frames on Craigslist or at thrift stores, and they’re never more than $20. My bedroom has a modern sliding balcony door, but no cute vintage windows. Now, my windowless bedroom looks like it has windows, which I love.
5. Shop for condo-sized furniture
Lots of companies are known for having condo-sized furniture and having furniture that is scaled to the size of a small apartment. For example, most of the sectionals I liked were too big for my space, but once you shop around, you’ll find furniture companies that specialize in condo-sized furniture such as OMG It’s Small, which is the real name of a furniture store. On a positive note, smaller-scale furniture is usually cheaper.
6. Floating shelves are way better than a bookshelf
A bookshelf takes up space. Floating shelves, on the other hand, can be placed above your dresser or anywhere you like where there’s open space. You end up saving space and creating a chic look because these days, there’s cool mirrored floating shelves and unique triangle-shaped floating shelves that are multi-functional and add a stylish flair to your apartment. Plus, you know, you need somewhere to display your cute pineapple jar and you need a place to put your cool vintage globe. To suit your budget, check Wayfair for stylish floating shelves that are under $50 for a set.
7. Don’t underestimate how cute DIY home décor can be
The cheapest way to decorate is to be crafty and buy paint and create something cool instead of going out and buying things. I just mentioned how handy floating shelves are, and you can make them yourself. You can use old wooden wine crates or pieces of scrap wood, and buy a small bottle of metallic gold paint for $3 and paint some cool gold floating shelves. If you end up with extra pieces of scrap wood that you didn’t use, you can make coasters. Oh, and DIY bookends created from two painted bricks is really cool and unique. Get crafty, because it’ll save you money.
Erica Gordon is the author of Aren’t You Glad You Read This? The Complete How-To Guide for Singles with a History of Failed Relationships Who Want their Next Relationship to Succeed, available here.