Landing a great apartment doesn’t always mean you have the budget to furnish it. As great as any pad might be, guests won’t be too impressed if they have to sit on the floor.
Luckily there are ways to spruce up an apartment without spending too much money. Here are a few:
House plants can liven up a room, said Brian Davis, a real estate investor and director of education at SparkRental.com. “Some plants, such as aloe vera, can actually filter out toxic chemicals and improve the air quality in your apartment,” he said.
Mirrors can make your apartment seem much more spacious. “If you have plain doors, they’re the perfect place to add mirrors,” Davis said.
Renters can also upgrade the plain mirrors that come with their apartment with mirrors that match their tastes, said Brentnie Daggett, a real estate writer for Rentec Direct, which specializes in renter trends. “If you don’t want to toss your existing mirror (or it came with the apartment), find a DIY project that offers instructions on creating a damage-free frame to give the mirror more style.”
DIY mirror projects abound on sites like Pinterest. (If you’re an aspiring do-it-yourselfer, make sure you avoid these common DIY home repair mistakes.)
Area rugs can help cover up old flooring you hate or new flooring you want to protect, Daggett said. “Eclectic and traditional designs are easy to find these days, making it simple for you to find something inexpensive that will give your space a pop of color while covering the existing carpet or vinyl,” she said.
4. Large Cutting Boards
Renters can take the same approach with ugly countertops by covering them with large cutting boards or a butcher’s block, Davis said.
5. Removable Wallpaper
“Creating an accent wall with removable wallpaper is an affordable weekend project that can transform any home,” said Karen Hoxmeier, founder of MyBargainBuddy.com.
Back on the theme of covering up stuff you don’t like, curtains can help hide your view of the dingy building next door or the dingy window itself.
7. Door Knobs
You can give your kitchen or bathroom an updated look by changing out the door knobs that came with the apartment. Just make sure you hang on to the originals so you can swap them back in when you move out, Hoxmeier said.
8. Cabinet Knobs
The same goes for the knobs on your kitchen cabinets. Landlords often opt for durability over style when picking products, noted Daggett of Rentec Direct. “Give your kitchen an instant update by replacing the hardware on your cabinets to create a more modern look.”
A simple matching set of dinnerware and flatware can go a long way toward making your dinner party seem more fancy, Daggett said. “If your table settings consist of hand-me-downs and a hodgepodge amassed from yard-sale finds, it’s time to upgrade.”
10. Steam Mop
It should go without saying that your apartment won’t really be fancy unless it’s clean. Daggett said upgrading from a sponge mop to a steam mop can make your apartment look nice and make cleaning easier, which your landlord and guests will appreciate.
11. Shower head
Speaking of clean, an upgraded shower head could make getting ready for work feel more luxurious, Daggett said. Installing a new one might require permission from your property manager, but you’ll see the dividends pay off in your routine and possibly your water bill if you pick up a low-flow shower head.
12. Coffee & Side Tables
A set of coffee and side tables that match your style and room can help tie your apartment together. You can find deals at your nearest flea market, Daggett said.
Remember, overspending on decorating is one of many mistakes first-time renters make. Don’t buy a coffee table at the expense of making rent on time. Missing rent can leave a mark on your credit reports, not to mention make it harder for you to get an apartment in the future. (You can check two of your credit scores free on Credit.com). Make sure you know to avoid these other apartment errors as well.