Taking a blank slate and making it feel like your own is a big task. There are so many elements you can include as you furnish and decorate your home so it becomes yours. Deciding what to do, how to style things and what to spend money on can be hard. Especially if you're operating under a tight budget, customizing your home decor can feel like an impossible task.
“I think a common struggle among homeowners and renters alike is creating a space that represents YOU," says Chelsea Coulston from Making Home Base. “Oftentimes, renters have the added struggle of limitations of things that are permanent fixtures."
With careful planning and realistic expectations, even on a hundred dollar budget, you can bring your favorite ideas to life to decorate your apartment.
“Even though many of the elements in your apartment may seem out of your control," says M.E. Gray from Curbly. “There are plenty of ways you can make it feel like home – temporarily, and in ways that are easy to reverse."
The secret is to begin with an awareness of your limitations. The first thing to do is to review your lease. It will cover anything you can't do as far as decorating. Common restrictions include:
Some limits may have special caveats if you're willing to put in a little extra work right before you move out. A property manager may allow you to paint your walls, as long as you paint them back to their original color. You may also have the ability to change items like drawer pulls as long as you swap them back before moving.
With only a $100 budget, a little bit of money needs to go a long way to decorate your apartment. Cutting costs by shopping smart is one way to stay within budget, but consider using items you already have when possible.
For more specific ideas, check out these affordable solutions to keeping your decor under budget.
Decorating your walls with personal items is a great way to repurpose what you already have and show off your personality all at once. Framing a series of your own photographs not only tells visitors a story about you but allows you to show off your favorite moments.
Share a collage of a trip or photos from a special event. Introduce your friends to your family with a photo wall. The ability to print photos in a variety of different sizes can create a dynamic display.
This helpful infographic provides tips on the best places to hang your pictures.
If you're the artistic type, you only need a few essential supplies to create masterpieces to decorate apartment walls. A package of blank canvases isn't usually more than $15 and a starter pack of paints averages around $25. Brushes and other artistic accessories vary in price, but nothing will break the bank.
Moving things from the counter or cabinet onto your walls is another easy and affordable way to decorate. It can also help you make a bold design statement or add a colorful touch to a room.
In your kitchen, consider hanging up your cooking utensils instead of cramming them into a drawer. They'll be much easier to find this way. You can buy a set of stick-on hooks and hang each spoon or spatula individually or, for about $15, purchase a special rack.
Putting up a wall tapestry, guitar or even your bicycle adds drama to a room and doesn't require a huge financial investment. They can fill a dull corner or large area of a wall with something unexpected.
If you've got boring blinds on your windows, you can add a decorative touch for as little as $7 a panel by hanging curtains on either side. Stores like Target or Walmart will have a good variety of curtains at a low cost. You can also put up curtains even if you're unable to use nails in your walls. To install a curtain rod without nails, you've got a few options:
Another idea for decorating walls that doesn't involve nails is removable wallpaper and decals. You can add any design or color to a room with something that sticks to your wall and peels off without leaving a single mark.
The removable wallpaper can get expensive but makes a great statement piece as an accent wall in a studio or an apartment with a smaller living room. A single roll, 24 x 144 inches, will cover a 12-foot wall and costs around $95. Decals range in price based on size and detail. You can most likely find a design that fits your style and budget.
The variety of stick-on decorations continues to grow, giving you options for more than just your walls. Tile stickers can convert a bland bathroom or a boring kitchen into something colorful and funky. Ten stickers, enough to make a funky design the centerpiece of your tiled wall costs less than $9.
Removable granite or marble styled covering can upgrade your kitchen or bathroom counter into a high-end piece that's easy to pack up and move out. This decorative trick costs around $20 per roll. The size of the area you want to cover will dictate how much you need to buy.
Whether repurposing something old or painting a piece to breathe new life into it, furniture can be more than just functional. A painted chest or dresser can continue to hold blankets or clothes, but with a vibrant facelift, can serve as a focal point in a room.
If you're able to buy something new, a stylish ottoman can double as storage for $17. Unique shelving, either freestanding or mounted to the wall, can transform a room from anywhere between $30-$60. If completely new is a little too expensive, consider looking for statement pieces at consignment shops or discount furniture stores.
Sticking with the theme of decorating your home with the affordable items that once belonged to someone else, there's a treasure trove waiting at your local flea market. Funky cushions or throw pillows, scented candles and holders, bud vases and inexpensive stools or chairs are often hidden in places like these.
The bonus of buying from a flea market is you'll have original items that are unavailable anywhere else. They'll become real statement pieces with a story to tell about how you found them.
Equally affordable are finds at hardware stores or the ever-popular IKEA. It's always good to price compare with these stores, as well as your other favorite places to shop.
Megan Willett, from Business Insider suggests finding a, “cheap cart at your local flea market or hardware store…spray paint the hardware or the entire cart to suit your tastes, and then add your own decorative elements."
This creates a refreshed item for your home that you can use for more than decoration alone. It also looks really good.
When you've done all the decorating you can, but something is still missing, have a fail-safe decorative item to use. Your best choice is plants. Many different varieties are good indoor plants, easy to care for with bonus effects like improving wellness and air quality.
Succulents, in particular, make a great versatile option. They, “come in just about every color, and are so cute, we think their popularity is long overdue," says Lauren Smith from House Beautiful.
With both large and small varieties, you can find the right succulent for your home. They add color and texture to any room regardless of other decorative elements you've already incorporated.
Now that you know what's possible as far as decorating, it's time to start brainstorming. It's best to do this without thinking about your budget. You can recreate many expensive ideas for a lot less once you find inspiration.
Create a Pinterest board of all the decorative ideas you'd want in your apartment if money was no object. This helps establish some guidelines as you're shopping and looking for bargains.
While you might not find an affordable version of everything you like, thinking through things in advance helps you bring together a cohesive design concept to help create cute ways to decorate your apartment within your style. After building your design, then it's time to get serious about your budget.
As long as you have a plan of attack for your home's decor and a realistic set of expectations, nothing is impossible.
Even on a slim budget of $100 you can fill your home with enough personality, color and boldness to wow any visitors with your sense of style.