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, atCardBoardSafari.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?
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