Your apartment is more than a street address the pizza delivery kid happens to know by heart; it's more than your safe space to frolic about naked with bongo drums; and it's more than the place your rest your percussion-weary head at night.
Your apartment is your home, and the way your home looks not only reflects your personality, but actually impacts how you feel about yourself.
So how can you quickly improve the look of your apartment without spending a fortune on new decorations, buying random trinkets that'll only add clutter to your life, or bringing in an interior decorator for hundreds of dollars per hour?
5 Cheap, Creative Ways to Make Your Apartment Look Amazing
Presented in order from quickest / easiest to requiring the most effort, here are five ways to completely transform the look and feel of your living space:
1. Add flowers to add life
But flowers are impermanent and expensive! Well, the very fact that flowers are impermanent is the point: they bring a freshness and vitality to your living space. And really, how hard is it to stop by your local florist or corner grocer to pick up a bouquet?
As for cost, at approximately $10 for a bouquet, flowers are actually one of the most affordable tricks for changing your apartment's feel on a regular basis.
2. Well-placed mirrors can make a cramped apartment with low ceilings feel spacious and warm
You don't have to be a swingin' bachelor or bachelorette to appreciate the effect of a well-placed mirror. Depending on the effect you'd like to achieve, here are a few suggestions on using mirrors to great effect while remaining super lazy about the whole thing:
- "Double" your best window by placing a mirror across from it: This will give the psychological impression of there being an additional window, and the natural light from your actual window will bounce off the mirror and fill up your apartment -- giving the entire space a more open, airy feel.
- Create coziness: position a mirror behind a lamp, a candle, or other soft light source to bathe your apartment in a glow of "warmth" that so many apartments in the city seem to lack.
- Elongate a wall: take a lengthy, skinny mirror, turn it on its side, and place along any wall in your apartment. You should notice the wall-lengthening visual effect immediately.
3. Temporary wallpaper offers customization with no strings attached
So you're either a renter or just the commitment-phobic type. We can't help your relationship issues, but temporary wallpaper was created for you!
Once a niche product with little variety, the temporary wallpaper category has exploded with options. Today almost any color or pattern you could want is available. For a nice roundup of the options, see Apartment Therapy's temporary wallpaper roundup.
4. Garbage bags and The Container Store are your new friends
This one is pretty simple: city living is a lesson in cramped living, and clutter is the cruelest teacher of them all. Clear out some space and your apartment will feel renewed (plus, post-cleanup all the other suggestions in this list will see their positive effects boosted).
- Begin by ruthlessly tossing out anything you don't believe you could reasonably sell
- Take anything you believe you could sell and stop kidding yourself: bag it and take it to a shelter or goodwill, or else put it up on Craigslist to be given away for free (the time and mental anguish you'll save from getting rid of this stuff is more valuable than the few bucks you'll find yourself haggling over with random internet people).
- Use modular bin systems (The Container Store!) to store away seasonal wear (winter coats, ski pants) under your bed.
- Install some basic wall shelving to display any knick-knacks, items picked up during your South American adventure, etc. that you can't bear to give away but you can't figure out another place for in your apartment. (If you recoil at the thought of using basic tools, you can hire a handyman off Craigslist to bring their own tools and do a gorgeous shelf-mounting job for less than $50).
5. Pick up a paintbrush or roller
You knew this one was coming. But it's true: the fastest and most impactful way to transform the entire look and energy of your apartment -- short of buying new furniture or breaking up with your significant other -- is to paint your walls and major surface elements.
Nothing demonstrates this concept better than a set of before-and-after photos:
Ok, to be fair, these guys did replace their fridge -- but just look at the enormous change this kitchen experienced from simply painting over the walls and cupboards. There are more great before-and-afters on Oh Happy Day.