28 Budget-Friendly Ways to Decorate Your Apartment

Small decorative touches can boost the entire feel of your apartment—and they don’t have to be expensive. From refurbishing old furniture to hanging a few mirrors, your apartment can look stylish without breaking the bank. After all, you don’t need a house to have a place that feels like home. So go ahead and freshen up your apartment with these 28 cheap apartment decorating ideas. You’ll have all of your friends wondering, “How’d you do that?

Once you’ve selected your ideas, consider a personal loan to create the apartment of your dreams, starting today.

1. Throw down some rugs

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A colourful rug can lift the aura of an entire room. Choose a large rug to fill the space underneath your furniture (like sofas and lounge chairs), and choose a small one for beneath your smaller pieces (like coffee tables and vanities).

Keep an eye out for sales at rug and carpet stores, or look in antique shops and secondhand stores. You’ll be able to find rugs with plenty of character at a fraction of the price of a brand new one.

Pro tip: Be sure to coordinate your rugs throughout your apartment. They don’t have to have the same patterns and colours, but the general vibe should be similar.

2. Add more lamps

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Though inexpensive, lamps alter the mood of any room because they impact the lighting and feel. That makes them one of the best cheap apartment decorating ideas. Place small lamps on side tables and end tables. Arrange a standing lamp behind a sofa.

Not only will your apartment literally be brighter, you’ll be able to set the mood how you want—whether that’s for reading, a low-key dinner party, or a cheery morning.

3. Incorporate candles

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Candles of varying styles and heights add dimension to any existing decor. Place them on your mantel, desk, or dresser for a textured look with plenty of style.

Arrange for the taller candles to be in back, and the smaller ones to be upfront. Be sure to choose scents and fragrances you’ll enjoy all year long.

Apartment decorating on a budget can be easy and luxurious.

4. Go green (with plants)

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Potted plants make any room feel a bit more earthy and natural. Find plants—like succulents— that are easy to maintain. Consider placing them on a shelf, bedside table, or even a kitchen windowsill.

Other green plants that are best for the indoors:

  • Spider plants
  • Philodendron
  • Aloe vera
  • Rubber fig
  • Mint
  • Cactus
  • Dracaena

You may be surprised how much these little plants boost your mood—and your decor. This is our favourite cheap apartment decorating idea.

5. Consider items from family and friends

Often family and friends have furniture, lamps, and other decor they’re not using. You can store it at your place—and get some good use out of it. You never know what you’ll be able to find.

So next time you’re at grandma’s, check out what she’s storing in her basement. Forget about cheap apartment decorating ideas – go for the freebies!

6. Refurbish older items

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Garage sales and secondhand stores often have treasures waiting to be uncovered. From old dressers to chests to coffee tables, the world of refurbishment is calling your name.

A simple layer of paint or stain can turn something old into something brand new. Match it to your desired style, and find a special place for it within your apartment.

7. Display your beer bottles and wine bottles

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Accent your kitchen or dining room with a row of beer bottles or wine bottles. Collect your favourites and arrange them symmetrically or asymmetrically, depending on your personal style. Old bottles make for great conversation pieces, and they’re also nearly free.

8. Put on a fresh coat of paint (but only if it’s allowed)

If you’re looking for cheap apartment decorating ideas to jazz up an entire room, consider painting at least one wall with a fresh coat of paint. If you’re doing just one wall, try an accent color that will add dimension and character to your room.

You’ll want to make sure your landlords are okay with the idea of you painting, so be sure to ask before you buy a can of blue summer breeze or regal ruby red.

9. Accent with fresh flowers

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Taking a walk in the park? Have a field of flowers behind your apartment building? Snag a few colourful flowers to add some eye-catching appeal to your apartment decor. Place them in vases on your tables and bookshelves for a fresh, vibrant feel. Flowers are one of the best cheap apartment decorating ideas to freshen up a space.

10. Remember less is more

Interior designers know that simple is often the best way to go. When decorating your apartment, ask yourself: how much do I really need? Scaling back and sticking to the items you love will keep your design simple and beautiful, rather than cluttered.

11. Design with washi tape

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A relatively new phenomenon, washi tape allows you to create designs full of color and texture. Use washi tape to add borders around your photographs, create stripes on your wall, or add colour to a bathroom wall.

Washi tape comes in colors like orange, pink, blue, and green, along with festive styles such as glittery gold and silver. Even if you don’t use washi tape permanently, it can be a way to boost the colour in your apartment during the holidays and other special times of year.

12. Be intentional

Before you start collecting items for decoration, think of your plan and the vision for your place. Having some ideas in mind—like adding lamps or rugs, or bringing in some fresh plants—will give you direction for your projects.

When you have a plan, you’re more likely to stay within budget when decorating, or doing anything else for that matter.

13. Use simple lines and designs

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As seen in the image above, the lines are straight, and the decor is simple. These designers utilised cabinetry that’s sleek and modern, and even the sofa has straighter lines. When you decorate with this simple approach, you have to buy less, but it also looks chic and stunning.

Use straight lines when:

  • Hanging artwork
  • Choosing furniture
  • Building shelves
  • Hanging curtains
  • Creating displays and collections

Your clean, crisp design will look professional without the cost.

14. Build your own headboard

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Purchasing large furniture pieces, like headboards, can rack up quite a bill. That’s why DIY is one of the best cheap apartment decorating ideas. Consider building your own headboard out of wood. Keep the design simple or go for something more intricate, depending on your woodworking abilities. In the end, the piece you create will be both beautiful and special, because you built it with your own hands.

Be sure to tie in your headboard to the other decor in your bedroom, so you may consider building your own bedside tables as well.

15. Focus on the essential

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Similar to using simple designs, be sure to focus on the essential items for your apartment.

So what are essential items? Things like shelves filled with books, side tables with lamps, and coffee tables stacked with magazines.

By using these essentials to guide your designs, your apartment will look naturally chic and organised.

16. Create your own artwork

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Using stencils, paints, or whatever art medium you feel most comfortable with, you can design beautiful artwork to hang in your apartment. Blank canvases can be found at craft stores, and carry plenty of potential in terms of what you can design.

By crafting your own art, you’ll have pieces that match your personality, and make for great conversation starters when guests come over. No matter the level of your art skills, you can paint a beach scene, landscape, or field of flowers.

If you’re not comfortable creating art on your own, head to a local paint and wine night at an art studio. Most cities offer places for people to come in and create their art along with the help of instructors.

17. Upholster your own furniture

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If you love DIY projects, this decorating idea is for you. Find furniture to upholster or reupholster. Follow detailed directions to ensure your piece looks professional in the end. Chairs are often simple projects that are perfect for first-timers.

18. Put decor on your gift list

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Whether it’s for your birthday, Christmas, or Hannukah, provide some wish list items to your family and friends. Include anything from lamps to rugs to artwork to coffee tables. By receiving these items as gifts, you’ll not only save on cost, but also have meaningful pieces from the ones you love.

19. Sew your own pillows

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Creating pillows is a simple DIY for anyone who knows how to sew (or wants to learn). Reuse old fabric or find discounted patterns from craft stores. The good news is there are plenty of fabrics out there to match any style of decor. Find a pillow insert that matches the size you want and follow a pattern to be sure it looks professionally done. What a great cheap apartment decorating idea!

20. Bring in wood elements

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A natural and generally inexpensive material, wood is a great way to accent a room. Use wood-sliced cookies to place under candles, vases of flowers, or to prop up on a bookshelf for a display item. You can even find attractive pine cones or other seed pods as an easy earthy feature.

Wood is a perfect addition to traditional, rustic, or chic decor.

21. Check out secondhand stores

Buying brand new items isn’t the only option. Plenty of treasures can be dug up at secondhand shops.

Great items to find at secondhand shops? Dressers, chairs, desks, tables, lamps, rugs, and much more. Head to the store to see what you can find (you might be surprised!).

22. Print and frame your photographs

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Do you have stunning photos from a recent holiday or hike in the woods? Consider printing and framing your images to create your own artwork. Beautiful photos often turn into the most meaningful art pieces in your home. Printed photos are a great cheap apartment decorating idea.

Photo ideas to print and frame:

  • Landscapes
  • Candid shots with family and friends
  • Nature, including plants and animals
  • Cityscapes and streets
  • Pets
  • Family portraits
  • Sunrises and sunsets
  • Mountains, lakes, and streams
  • Musical instruments or concerts
  • Anything else that fits your unique personality

23. Jazz up existing pieces

You can embellish an old dresser by finding new, festive knobs. You can enhance the character of a lamp by replacing the lampshade. Get creative by finding little ways to enhance the look of your existing pieces.

24. Employ a theme

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Consider choosing a theme for your apartment or for each room. Will it be a zen place to listen to music and kick back? Can it be the place to watch sports and grab a beer? Will it have a natural, earthy aura with plenty of plants and softer colours?

Deciding on a theme will help you save money by only choosing items that truly match the vibe you’re going for. You won’t feel the need to pick up everything you see—just the ones that fit into your vision.

25. Make your own shelving

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Skip the shelving purchase by creating your own. Using wood and paint or stain, you can design simple shelves that fit into any room in your place.

You can create tiny single shelves, a full bookshelf, or a row of shelves to hang on the wall. And your shelves need not be fancy. Most shelves add a bit of character and texture to a room, and can be decorated with items that bring your personality to life. Before nailing any shelving to the wall, be sure your apartment complex has given you the green light.

Items to place on shelves:

  • Candles
  • Books
  • Framed photos
  • Plants
  • Souvenirs
  • Mugs, bottles or decorative vases
  • Magazines
  • And anything else that matches your style

26. Display your collectables

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Do you love old glassware, historic cameras, or magazines? Why not use your favourite items as decor?

Display all of the things you love on shelves or in a glass cabinet.

Rather than just letting your collectables gather dust, you’ll put them to good use by having them out for others to enjoy. Chances are, they’ll spark some interesting conversation and storytelling.

27. Repurpose a ladder

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Ladders make for trendy decor, and have plenty of uses indoors. You can attach wire baskets to the rungs for more storage space. Or you can hang towels or blankets for easy access. Or you can make your ladder into a shelving unit by adding a flat piece of wood to each step.

No matter how to decide to repurpose your ladder, it’s certain to be a ‘wow’ factor in your apartment.

28. Install mirrors

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Mirrors generally make rooms seem larger, so adding them to your wall decor is beneficial, especially in a bedroom or small living room.

Arrange mirrors on your walls: next to and above your photos. Try ornately designed mirrors or simple ones. Most importantly, when choosing mirrors to incorporate, be sure they coordinate with other decor in your space.

Decorating your apartment and making it feel like your very own brings a sense of confidence and peace to your life. If you’d like assistance with some of your budget-friendly decorating ideas, apply for a cash loan to get you started. You’ll be able to kick back and enjoy your stylish apartment in no time.