Houzz Logo Print

How To Decorate a Small or Gloomy Apartment on a Budget....

13 years ago

How to Decorate a Small or Gloomy Apartment on a Budget�

If you live in a gloomy apartment, and moving is not an option, here are a few suggestions for performing Apartment Therapy and brightening up your Home-Sweet-Home!

Though it may seem daunting, decorating a small apartment inexpensively doesn't mean making do with rejects.

Avoiding crowding and clutter in a small apartment offers a challenge. Pulling this off on a budget adds difficulty--and an opportunity for creative solutions.

As Homemakers everywhere learn, foraging for deals on furniture and accessories to make an apartment a home carries the adventure of a treasure hunt.

Warning: this is an addictive activity!

� Create a Plan, Color Scheme, Style, and Atmosphere.

� Decide on one room at a time and designate a priority within your room. That's where you should begin.

� Turn the process into a game. Create a plan and hunt out the right pieces for budget decorating that doesn't look like budget decorating.


1. Choose sheets for window treatments. Sheets offer a lot of fabric at relatively little cost. Clip-on curtain rings makes sheets ready to hang with no sewing.

2. Make a list of what you need for the apartment. Walk through room by room. Start with the basics, bedroom furniture, dining set, living room seating and anything else you need and don't already have, such as a desk and a bookcase or an entertainment center.

3. Put parentheses around anything on the list you could live without for awhile. For example, in a small bedroom, a good size dresser and a nightstand with drawers may be sufficient and you can skip the chest of drawers.

4. Plan the colors for the apartment--for example, a yellow kitchen, ivory and green bathroom, taupe and aqua living room and a midnight blue and black bedroom with red accents. This prevents the risk of ending up with a hodgepodge by going out to buy what's cheap.

5. Draw a simple floor plan and make notes of the dimensions of the rooms. Make a rough sketch on the floor plan showing the locations of doors, windows, and features that affect furniture placement such as heating vents, cable and power outlets and alcoves. Decorating the apartment involves making design decisions and then selecting items that fit the design within the desired budget.

6. Shop for inexpensive wood furniture. Check that the legs are solid. Marred finishes can be spiffed up or covered, or you can spray-paint the whole piece.

7. Purchase a bed, nightstands, a table and chairs, a bookcase or cabinet and a desk and chair, if needed.

8. Buy remnant fabric at fabric stores. This fabric--the remaining yardage from a bolt of fabric sold by the yard--comes at a discount and the sizes are often enough to cover a cushion, a marred table or nightstand or otherwise brighten a small apartment for little money.

9. Arrange vases of cut flowers in the small apartment. This adds a decorator touch on a budget.

� Declutter and Minimize!

Get rid of the clutter! Clutter makes a room seem smaller. If you have things that you use regularly, consider purchasing some inexpensive baskets to conceal the objects. This includes the walls. Coating walls in paintings or photos can make a room feel closed in.

Remember the Golden Rule - More is Less!

� Paint your whole apartment!

The colour of your apartment is one of the most important features when it comes to choosing a nice place to stay in. No one would want to stay in a home where the colours of the wall are dark and gloomy. Your home should be bright and warm so therefore choosing the right colours will help you give your apartment a fantastic look.

� Repaint your Furniture White!

It reflects light, to counterbalance the dark drab apartment.

� Play with Furniture Arrangement!

Choosing Sleek Furniture (whether modern or antique) will look sharper and more sophisticated. Avoid overstuffed furniture. Too much furniture, or large bulky pieces, can make a room look smaller. No point in keeping a chair that you have, but never use.

� Maximize Light!

Mirrors and Light are great ways to open up a space!

Place mirrors near the windows to reflect light and add a brighter glow to your home.

Buy energy light bulbs to get brighter bulbs that put out more light, yet use less electricity.

Choose colorful sheets to make curtains with.

Use sheer curtains closed to give you some privacy, yet allow light in.

� Add Warmth!

Fight off the shivers and give your home a warm and cozy feel by choosing light, warm colors for walls, drapes, and furniture. Add curtain panels on a focal wall, ceiling to floor length. Candles are another great idea for Amping Up warmth and light. Also, landscape pictures which give the impression of a window with a view are great as well.

� Clean!

Take the Mr. Clean erasers to the walls, wash the windows, and clean the carpets with one of those rented carpet cleaners. You would be amazed at how cleaning can really brighten a place up.

� Throw in some Throws!

Throws and pillows are cheap and easy ways to brighten up any dull space! You can stuff pillows in corners, drape throws and pillows over old furniture that is ugly, faded, boring, or stained. It also adds a lot of texture and depth to a room.

� Bring in Nature!

Add some houseplants and fresh cut flowers. Having a fresh bouquet every week makes an apartment look and smell nicer. And incorporating elements of nature such as houseplants that can survive in shade is a great idea because it infuses life into a seemingly lifeless apartment. Plus, plants offer the added benefit of keeping air fresh--a boon in an otherwise musty environment.

� Buy Area Rugs!

Bring in rugs to add warmth and color. Get a good plush area rug that is neutral or brighter in color to offset the heaviness of the dark or drab carpeting/room. They can also be used to break up a room. Try putting a round rug under the table and a rug in the sitting area. Area rugs are a good way to protect flooring, add color, change the color of unpleasant flooring, separate areas, tie parts of a room together, and cover up worn or stained carpeting.

� Top the Tables!

Nice fabrics or Doilies draped over each table is a very inexpensive option to add some color and protect the wood.

� Work with what you've got!

Create a space that accepts itself and takes advantage of architectural idiosyncrasies. For example, got a low ceiling? Consider painting ceiling tiles or draping fabric.

� Think outside the box!

By placing tall, floor-to-ceiling bookcases in a small room, you will actually make the ceiling look higher. Consider a low-hanging chandelier over a dining or side table. String lights behind curtains or ceiling drapes to create soft, filtered light.

� Add some detail to your kitchen and bathroom!

Sew fabric edging to your towels, add a shell for a soap dish, and stitch up a pretty shower curtain to cover that vinyl one. Hang some calendar pictures on the wall in dollar store frames�perhaps of a faraway place you can dream about as you soak away your cares? If you have natural light in the room from a window, add a plant or two.

Now light up some candles, turn on some music, and fill the bath with sweet smelling bubbles. Your getaway waits!

� Add some Bedroom Appeal for all Five Senses!

1. Touch. The bed is the focus of any bedroom and the most romantic rooms make it as cozy as possible. Luxurious sheets and plush pillows are wonderful, but the real key is a comfortable mattress, so make sure to have one that feels heavenly and caresses both you and your partner.

2. Sight. Lighting should be soft and filtered; bright lights can detract from the ambience. Use lower wattage light bulbs or those with a soft pink hue. And, for special evenings, nothing adds romance like the warm glow of candles (be sure that lit candles are never left unattended).

3. Smell. Gently wiping your light bulbs with a thin coat of perfumed oil can send calming or sensual scents throughout the bedroom. In addition, sprinkling dusting powder on your sheets can make them fragrant and silky. Scented sachets of lavender and rosemary also add to the air of romance.

4. Sound. Keep your favorite CDs at your fingertips; soft music is one of the easiest ways to elevate your mood. If it's noisy outside your bedroom window, hang thick curtains to muffle the sound. A peaceful bedroom retreat is the place to focus on each other, so keep distractions such as the television in another room.

5. Taste. For a late-night indulgence, place strawberries and whipped cream on a small tray next to the bed. Champagne and champagne glasses also are ideal at the start of a romantic evening at home.

"Evaluate your bedroom, starting with the sense of touch, making sure your bed and mattress are as comfortable as possible. Then, consider the rest of the senses. Because a romantic bedroom can set the mood for the evening, doesn�t risk having an uncomfortable bed or a noisy bedroom destroy the moment," says Andrea Herman, director of the Better Sleep Council.

TIPS & Warnings:

� Let people know you're decorating. Often people are happy to pass along furnishings in good condition that they're simply tired of.

� Create the illusion of more space by selecting light colors for most rooms. Avoid breaking up the space with area rugs, wall tapestries or large artwork.

� Usually a love seat or small profile armchairs work best for a small living room. If you prefer a full-size sofa, make it work by streamlining everything else in the room--select one small end table instead of two and a low-profile TV table instead of a hulking entertainment center.

� Iron-on hemming tape, available from fabric and variety stores, works well to hem curtains, tablecloths, dresser scarves and other decorative fabric.

� If you have a window, open it as much as possible! Let in that fresh air!

Avoid dark, gloomy colors.

� Avoid the kind of clutter that we negatively associate with a basement-the place for storing our junk.

� Avoid fluorescent lights.

� If you place lights near or behind cloth make sure they do not get hot as this will be a fire hazard.

� Tea Candles � These candles work best for the about type of holders because they burn clean with no residue or wax drips. Buy these in bulk! These are usually inexpensive at $1.00 � $2.00 for a pack of 10. They come either with or without fragrance. Using your thrift store glassware, put one tea candle per glass and line them up on a window sill or group them together on a plate for your end table. Use them as a temporary alternative for electricity and place 5 -10 tea candles in the middle of a platter as a center piece for a dining room table with a sprig of greenery to finish the look! (See Reflective Platter Project) llenge with this type of candle is they need to be replaced often due to fast burning.

� Quality - Obviously the higher quality candles have a slower burn and have a more intense fragrance. Depending on how often you burn candles, it may be cost effective to spend a little extra money for a these "high quality" candles. Use the power of concentration thinking - if it lasts longer your paying less!

1. Painting your apartment �

Make a list of your favorite colours and from that pick up three, followed by selecting two and last, select the best one.

The basic thing is to first ask yourself as to which colour makes you feels comfortable. You can start by selecting a pattern which is the easiest way to create a colour palette for your decor.

Get a paint sample board before you begin to paint your room. This will help you to find the right colour. All you have to do is to keep your wall plain and using the sample boards you can get the correct contrast of your favorite colours that you wish to apply. When ever you plan to paint your wall always test it. The lighting of the room will affect the way the wall looks. So it�s best to see the colour during the day as well at night.

Light, Medium and Dark � How you use these colours will affect the overall appearance of the room.

Light Background � When you select a light background colour, the room seems to be bright during the day as well as the night when the lights are turned on.

Medium Colour � If you have a medium combination of light and a darker shade mix, the room can be adorned with good furniture giving it a good foundation.

Dark colour � Usually a dark colour will make the room look smaller and compact. The light will be very much dull and will give you a gloomy look whenever you enter the room. But, if you are persistent in getting your favorite dark colour done, make sure to decorate your room with bright accessories.

Comments (2)

Bull Run Kitchen and Bath
Average rating: 4.9 out of 5 stars280 Reviews
Virginia's Top Rated Kitchen & Bath Renovation Firm I Best of Houzz