… Decorate with (next to) nothing
The lease is signed and you’ve hauled your two bags of clothes, a dozen or so pairs of shoes, and the few odds and ends you own into your first apartment and … the place looks completely empty. Decorating can be intimidating, especially if all you have left after moving expenses and stocking your fridge is the change rattling around in your pocket. Scrape together those dollar bills and quarters – you’d be surprised at how much you can actually get done with it.
First things first – decide on your style. It helps a lot when you hit the flea markets, garage sales, and closeout stores if you have a general idea of what you are looking for. It may even help to write it down. Think about what you already own. Is there one color that you tend to choose most often? What about collections? Perhaps you have a hundred PEZ dispensers. Or perhaps your prized collection consists of antique chickens or New York Yankee baseball cards. Write down the colors you already love and your favorite things to collect. Use this information as the basis for your décor.
If you collect unusual or pop-culture memorabilia, decorate your apartment with funky, fun items. Use items in unconventional ways – an outdoor wicker lounger in your living room scattered with mismatched pillows. If you find a great old surfboard, put some castor wheels on it and use that as your coffee table. A wrought-iron plant stand in the entry way is perfect for keys and mail. Find things you can repurpose at yard sales and flea markets – the shabbier the better. Think outside the box – if you find an old window, for example, paint on the glass and prop it on your fireplace mantel. Same with an old door – put it against the wall and tape vintage photographs, wine labels, or old postcards to it.
If you have a collection of antiques, look for vintage finds. When decorating small spaces, find items that offer plenty of storage. An old pie safe, for example, could make a great hallway or bathroom cabinet. Or put it in the kitchen and store dishes in it, freeing up cabinet space. An old filing cabinet can work as a side table, using the drawers to store the TV remotes, magazines, and mail.
Sports fans can decorate with old jerseys — frame them and hang them on the wall or stuff them to make unusual throw pillows. Screw hooks into a baseball bat and hang it in the kitchen – the perfect place to hang your cooking utensils. Decorate with old pennants or decoupage a large bowl with the sports page and put it on a side table.
It’s considered chic, frugal, and green to reuse, so don’t be afraid to go junk-hunting, even if it means grabbing that old, wooden table a neighbor tossed out on garbage day. Follow some basic rules for junking and have fun with it! Mix colors, fabrics, styles, eras – anything goes. Your apartment will be your own unique space – and you’ll still have some of that change left in your pocket.