Whether you’re 18 or 68, getting keys to your new apartment or house can be exciting and overwhelming all at the same time! There is so much to pack, unpack, plan, purchase, and put up…where to begin? Even at twelve years old I began figuring out how to plan for a new space (my bedroom), research buying options, and implement the intended design. But this can take years of practice. For all of you who haven’t had (or wanted) years of practice, I have summarized what I consider the MOST important tips about decorating your next living space on a budget. I hope you find them as helpful as I have.
- Have a game plan.
Before tackling your next “space decorating” project, you must have a plan. Of course, there is only so much you can plan on paper, but thinking ahead can save you hundreds. One practical way to construct a “game plan” is to find a blueprint of the place you are moving.This is likely more feasible if the space is an apartment because many complexes have the dimensions listed on their website. Print off or trace the dimensions and sketch in where you want each piece of furniture to go. It helps if you do this to scale by measuring your own pieces before positioning them. You may be thinking…that sounds like a lot of work! And it can be. But the process of thinking through what you ALREADY have and where it would best fit can prevent you from buying new pieces that don’t fit or work in your space at all.
- Determine what you *actually* need.
Sometimes we forget what we own and jump at the opportunity to buy new furniture and decorations for a new space. However, that can get expensive and unnecessary very quickly. Make a list of all the items you already own. After you’ve thought through tip #1, you’re likely to have a better idea of the empty spaces you need to fill or must-have pieces that you need to purchase. Make a list of those items as well. Keep this list to a *minimum* until you get everything arranged in your new place. You may find that you need less than you originally thought.
- Ask family members and friends if they have any furniture or items they’re looking to sell or get rid of.
The first way I found extremely helpful in the moving process was obtaining pieces of furniture from relatives. We got our kitchen table from my parents, two side tables and a bureau from a friend, two bookshelves from my uncle, a rug from another friend, and countless decorations from other family members. That saved us tons of money! That is the first place you should look before going off and spending money.
- Go yard-saling.
Yard sales are your second cheapest option for finding great pieces and a low price. These are especially easy to find in the summertime. I recommend keeping tabs on local sales to cross additional things off your “need” list. Plus, yard-saling can be a fun way to bond with a friend, fiancé, or spouse!
We found our side tables, a wreath and garland for our front door, artwork, new picture frames, vintage décor, and outdoor furniture for a grand total of $40 at one yard sale we went to. And the sale’s profits went to support missions in Guatemala! Talk about a win-win. At another sale, we found these two chicken-wire wooden-framed pieces. Even the seller didn’t know what they were. I took them home, stained them, and used them as picture holders in our bedroom.
One other tidbit I will add to this point is to shop at Goodwill or local consignment stores. This can be a great way to find nice, affordable pieces. My husband and I stumbled upon a like-new 42 inch flat screen TV at a consignment store for $100 and snatched it up quickly. We enjoy it to this day!
- Hit up the clearance rack.
I cannot tell you how many clearance racks I scoured throughout our apartment-decorating process. Especially at Wal-Mart. And Hobby Lobby. I found adorable wall art for our bathroom for under $10 and a brown wire shelf 75% off to complete our living room décor. Those kinds of deals are always in season, it’s just a matter of finding them. If you’re looking for décor items, shopping at Dollar Tree can be equally as good as a clearance rack since everything is $1!
- Make it yourself.
A more personal way to add a touch of style to your house or apartment is to make something yourself. This can be anything from a coffee table to a piece of wall art to shelving. It may require more work, but the result is almost always more beautiful than you could have imagined! In our main living space, I had a dream of installing floating shelves, but we couldn’t justify purchasing something so expensive. Instead, I went to Lowe’s and purchased wood, stain, shelf brackets, and screws. Lowe’s cut the wood for me into the desired lengths and I went home and stained and sanded them. My husband helped me install them. It was significantly cheaper than purchasing the shelves outright and we made some memories along the way.
In this day and age, repurposing an item is almost as trendy as purchasing it new!There are so many ways to integrate repurposed items into your space. Here are a few examples: We were given an old kitchen table from my parents. It was outdated, so I wanted to give it a little pizzazz. After some research, I decided to paint the legs of the table and everything but the seat of the chair white. It turned out so cute! In our bedroom, we had little space for bedside tables, but we both wanted somewhere to keep our glasses and books. We found these used stools at a yard sale, painted them to match our bedroom set, and installed shelves between the rungs to provide more space. It was perfect for what we needed. One final example, we found a barely-used entertainment unit in a dumpster. Yes, a dumpster. We cleaned it up and purchased two matching shelving units to end cap the unit and turn it into the perfect entertainment space! As you can see, the potential to repurpose items is endless. Keep those wheels of creativity spinning!
- Pinterest it!
Another tool I often used is Pinterest. This saved me tons of money because it gave me ideas I could afford and make myself. This is where I got the idea to purchase and stain a large initial to put over our bed, surrounded by a garland we got at Hobby Lobby. Pinterest can also be helpful in finding solutions for blank walls or awkward spaces. This is one site that will be your best friend for those few months of transition.
- Ask for higher-priced items for birthday or Christmas.
At the end of the day, there may be some items on your “need” list that you don’t want to or can’t go cheap on. For us, this was our headboard and mattress. A great way to obtain these items is by asking for them for your birthday or Christmas or using gift cards or wedding gifts to purchase them. Investing in new items is not always a waste because they may be pieces you have for the next 30 years.
- Make it your own
All of these ways are important to save money while still having a beautiful living space. But the most important tip in making your new place feel like home is making it your own.Add your own style and favorite colors to each of these tips. Integrate furniture and artwork that represent who you are. Make your space a place you look forward to returning to each day.
I hope these tips will aid you in your journey of arrangement and decoration.Know that there is no science to this. Each space and each person is different. May these lessons I’ve learned inspire and excite you. I can’t wait to see what you all come up with! Until then, decorate away.