After a few weeks visiting my parents at their very grownup house in Chicago, returning to my own cute but tiny and not-nearly-as-nice apartment (left) in New York was a bit of a challenge. I think my roommate and I have done a lot with fairly limited resources, but my mom’s museum-like stylings reminded me of the seemingly endless ways we could improve our own place. But while some– antique French chairs, for example– remain out of my price range, others– like switching out our crappy kitchen knobs for cute ones– are easy and affordable. After the jump, a few tips on instantly improving the look of your apartment.
- A fresh coat of paint does a lot. If you’ve been living somewhere for a year, consider spending a weekend repainting a room or two. The supplies will be around $40 and you can probably sucker a friend into helping. My mom, an interior designer, suggests doing an accent wall, which involves painting just one wall– like the one behind the couch or your bed– a color. For renters who later have to paint back to the original color, this is a good compromise between painting everything a fun color and painting nothing at all.
- Seriously, change those crappy knobs. Stores like Anthropologie and websites like eBay have awesome substitutes for the boring, junky ones that come standard in most apartments.
- If you can’t spend much on your couch and other furniture, invest in (or DIY) quirky wall art and side tables. We have a striped Ikea couch, a cheap red coffee table and cute but fairly standard book shelves. To balance out the boring, I bought a $20 side table at a secondhand shop and decoupaged it with miniature vintage posters. We also bought Bucky, a cardboard deer head, at CardBoardSafari.com and spray-painted him red to go with our color scheme. Little things like this totally tie a room together.
- Take down or frame those posters. I don’t care how much you love whatever old movie it is you love, that crappy movie poster has no business on your walls unless it’s in a frame. You don’t have to spend a ton on a frame, but a flimsy, junky one looks almost as bad as the poster alone, so keep that in mind, please.
- You’d be stunned by the difference a decent-looking garbage can makes in a kitchen. Ditto for a fun shower curtain (see our shopping guide) and cute soap dish/toothbrush cup in the bathroom. Just saying …
Any other ideas?