How to decorate an apartment

Looking for the best apartment decorating ideas on a budget? Here are a variety of ideas that are guaranteed to make your space look amazing.

How to decorate an apartment

Apartment decorating ideas on a budget are my bread and butter. I honestly feel so proud when I can find ways to make a space look luxurious for a penny of the price.

Through the years of decorating my spaces from my room in my parent’s house, to my dorm, to my apartment, I’ve accumulated a few tips, tricks, and secrets that make decorating my space on a budget easy and exciting.

I hope this will also allow you to breathe and realize yes, your space can look amazing while not breaking the bank. It’s possible, I promise!

This post is all about apartment decorating ideas on a budget.


1. Start with a vision board

How to decorate an apartment

One of the most important steps (and my favorite) is creating a vision board – this is insanely important because, just like everything else in life, you don’t want to go in blind and then end up with a disaster.

I love starting with a vision board so that I can clearly see what colors I’m vibing with, what style is speaking to me, etc. If you are ever stuck and don’t know what direction you want to go, make a vision board. Even if you don’t think the inspiration pics you are using go together, you will see in the end that they do (99% of the time).

Now the real question is: where do I make my vision board?

Everyone has their own style when it comes to making vision boards. For me personally, I love to make mine on Pinterest. It’s the simplest way I’ve found and they usually have all the inspiration I could want and more.

After I make my vision board on Pinterest, I then copy and paste the photos into a google doc, print them out, cut them, stick them onto a board and voila, the vision board is complete. Also, making a vision board is very therapeutic and motivating (can you tell I love them?).

As I said before, there are many ways to make a vision board. For you, the best way might be cutting out pictures from magazines, using Instagram, or throwing it back to Tumblr (they do have really good pictures).

If you don’t want to go through the hassle of cutting out images, you can still make a vision board on Pinterest, just don’t print it out! You’ll still be able to get a pretty good picture of the style you’re going for.

2. Stick to light colors

How to decorate an apartment

Oh my gosh, this tip is so important. For real, if you have a smaller place, stick with the light colors!! I promise you can pull out your moody dark colors when you get your mansion but light colors will make your entire space feel 10x bigger than it actually is.

Also, the paint is not expensive!! This is something you can do over the weekend that will transform your space. Dark colors suck all the light out of rooms, especially if they’re small. Now, this doesn’t mean you can only use white, if you love blue there are so many gorgeous light blues out there that will look amazing. Stick to your taste, just try to stay as light as possible when it comes to your walls and large pieces (like furniture, paintings, etc).

3. Don’t overcrowd your space

Apartments are notoriously small and you don’t want to unintentionally create an insanely claustrophobic room – this is an amazing tip for when you’re on a budget because basically, I’m telling you to not buy more than you need. Less is more. I repeat, less is more.

4. Stay minimal

How to decorate an apartment

Too much detail can do more harm than good. Simple and minimal is much better for an apartment and I promise you, when it all comes together it will not look plain! You’re trying to put together the puzzle and if each piece is insanely intricate you’re going to be way too overwhelmed.

5. Curtains will make your space feel bigger

How to decorate an apartment

Recreate this apartment decorating ideas on a budget:

The hard part is over! You’ve signed a lease, packed up your belongings, and moved into your new place. On paper, your apartment is all yours, but it won’t feel like yours until you make it so. A well thought out apartment interior design strategy will take your apartment from simply “the place where you live” to a home you love returning to day after day.

This can be a daunting task if you’re starting from scratch. It can feel even more challenging if you’re working with an eclectic collection of second-hand pieces. Use the list of tips that follow to help minimize the stress and maximize the fun that comes with decorating your new space.

Effective and affordable apartment interior design requires careful planning. An apartment is typically a smaller space than a single-family or townhome, and there may be restrictions on the types of changes you are allowed to make. However, there are plenty of apartment decorating tips to spark creativity in every space, regardless of the limits you are required to work within.

Budgeting For Apartment Essentials

Making your new home feel finished can be a challenge if you’re working with limited funds. There honestly might not be much money left over after paying for your security deposit, moving expenses, and renters insurance.

While saving for an apartment, it’s important to budget for furniture and decor too. The cost of furnishing an apartment from scratch might be more than you originally bargained for.

Although many items on the ultimate first apartment checklist are nonessentials, they’re still an important factor to your overall satisfaction in your new home. Before making a move, audit what furniture and decor you have. This will help you figure out where you can save and what you still need.

The Best 10 Apartment Decorating Tips

As you research how to decorate an apartment, use this list of 10 ideas to spruce up your new place as a starting point.

  1. Choose a theme. Pick a common decorating theme before buying any furniture or decor in your new apartment. Do you like rustic, natural wood, and neutral colors? What about bold patterns, funky accent pieces, and pops of color? Whatever speaks to you, make the theme consistent because it will set the mood in your home. Once you set your theme, build around it with pieces of furniture and decor that speak to you.
  2. Invest in multifunctional pieces. Buying your own furniture isn’t cheap. To save some money, opt for versatile apartment essentials that meet multiple needs. Storage ottomans, modular sofas, drop leaf dining tables, and other functional furniture can serve numerous purposes such as allowing for more guests or adding storage space.
  3. Maximize light exposure. Not only does natural light make a room brighter, but it contributes to the feeling of spaciousness often desired in an apartment home. Window treatments help create a finished look to your space but opt for a sheer, translucent material to maximize the amount of light entering your home.
  4. Install a gallery display. Create a beautiful display with floating shelves to show off decorative objects, framed photos, or other artwork. Simply use temporary adhesive brackets to hang floating shelves. Stagger the shelves for a unique look. This is an especially great idea for those who love to swap out décor seasonally.
  5. Make a unique piece your focal point. Pick a large, eye-catching piece and build the room around it. A colorful couch, bohemian tapestry, antique bookcase, etc. can act as an eye-magnet. Splurging slightly on one stunning piece to build off of can change the entire atmosphere of your apartment space.
  6. Hang art. Apartment decor requires creativity, especially if you’re on a tight budget. Art usually is on the pricier side, so visit local art exhibits, garage sales, or ask your artistic friends for their latest creation to make your place feel sophisticated without breaking the bank.
  7. Optimize for your apartment. An important aspect of apartment interior design is organizing your furniture in a way that is practical and conducive to your lifestyle habits. Decide what function you’ll want each area of your new apartment to serve, and then allocate accordingly. You might work from home and need a desk, or you might want a large dining room table to host dinner parties. The most important thing is to make the space work for your needs. If you live in a studio, make your living and sleeping areas feel distinctive with pieces that separate the room like a screen or tall bookcase.
  8. Add an entryway. Many apartments don’t have a designated foyer. However, it’s easy to create the illusion of an official entryway with a bookcase. Remove the top shelves and install hooks on the interior of the bookcase as a space to hang coats, leashes, or umbrellas. Add a few baskets or bins on the bottom shelves to store shoes out of sight. Voila, instant entryway!
  9. Use mirrors. Mirrors create the illusion of additional space by reflecting light. There are so many ways to use this fact to your advantage. Hang mirrors perpendicular to windows to reflect light without blinding yourself. Cluster a few smaller mirrors together to create a gallery wall. Lean a large mirror against a wall to instantly open up any space. You can find inexpensive mirrors anywhere from the dollar store to flea markets or online retailers. Regardless of where you find them, mirrors are an essential piece of any apartment interior design plan.
  10. Get cozy with a rug. One of the simplest apartment decorating tips, which will instantly transform your home, is to use area rugs. Rolling out a rug can tie the room together while adding color and texture to the space. The key to choosing the right rug is making sure it is the appropriate size for your space. Most interior designers suggest leaving at least six inches between the edges of the rug and the walls, but there are a plethora of online resources available to help you decide on the best size rug for your room.

Sign Your Lease And Decorate In Peace

Once you choose to partner with Southern Management, you’ll be able to give your new apartment your own personal flair.

Now that you have these 10 tips you won’t have any hesitations about going all-in and fully decorating your new apartment home. Once your apartment feels like home you’ll see why so many residents choose to renew their leases year after year. At Southern Management, our team is committed to resident care. We pride ourselves in building long-term relationships with those who choose to live with us.

If you’re not ready to start decorating because you haven’t signed a lease yet, we’d be happy to speak with you. If you have any questions about leases, specific apartment communities, or pricing, contact us