9 Helpful Apartment Decorating Ideas & Tips When Working on a Budget

apartment decorating ideas

Your home, even if it’s just an apartment, should have elements that make it inviting—the ultimate welcoming haven to return to each day. However, not everyone can afford an interior designer! Use our apartment decorating ideas to DIY and do it on a budget.  

Let’s help you step inside the mind of a professional designer or even architect! Using their insight, you can create rooms in your apartment that will wow your visitors and combine the most important in design: functionality and beauty.

And yes, you can achieve this without breaking your limited budget. 

We’ll even guide you with apartment decorating ideas and tips that will turn you into a first class project manager! 

Bonus: Enzo always helps users get the job done easier. 


Expert Apartment Decorating Ideas for Limited Budgets

Apartment living—whether with roommates or family members—usually has certain characteristics, such as limited floor space available and a lack of storage. The good news is that our apartment decorating ideas show how you can solve challenges like these, purely through a smart creative process. 

First tip: don’t get overwhelmed by trying to implement all the apartment decorating ideas and tips below. Pick a few you find relevant and create decorating milestones, so you can track your progress and stay motivated. 


Have a Vision—Stick to a Vision

You may have heard of vision boards? Mood boards? 

These can be physical boards, or perhaps you’ll like going digital and use Pinterest? The purpose is to put together ideas of what each room should look and ‘feel’ like. You achieve this vision through elements like color and décor. 

The benefit of having a vision when working on a budget? It helps to quickly identify what to invest in for each room. You may see a rug or lamp you like, but if it doesn’t fit with your vision, you know it will make the apartment seem disjointed and you’ll leave it behind in the store. Smart decision! 

Rather spend your money on apartment decorating ideas that will ensure the best possible—functional and aesthetically pleasing—outcome.  


Prioritise Functionality

We’ve mentioned the importance of beauty and functionality—don’t underestimate the importance of the latter!

Picking out furniture and decor items that won’t serve much purpose, means you’ll waste valuable floor, counter or wall space. Also, you’re spending money on something, but you’ll need to spend more money to ensure the room is an efficient space. 

Therefore, first purchase functional items and only spend on more décor items if you have cash left over. 

The following table lists the most important functional elements in each room. Keep it in mind to make smart decisions while shopping:

Bedroom Bed Mattress Bedside table Cupboard Mirror
Lounge Seating Table e.g. coffee table Media stand
Dining room Table Chairs or benches
Home office Desk Office chair Storage and/or bookcase

In apartments, one room may host more than of the categories above. Below we’ll share tips on how to make open plan living seem organized and beautiful. 


Find Multi-purpose Features

Another way to ensure you don’t waste valuable floor space is by investing in furniture pieces and décor that serve more than one purpose. Consider these creative ideas:

  • Coffee tables that have storage space.
  • A table that’s appropriate as bedside table AND a small desk. 
  • A mirror is decorative while also reflecting light, which could mean you’ll need less lighting.
  • Innovative furniture that can transform into a different setup is helpful. For example, a small desk can fold out to accommodate multiple people for dinner. 


Make Non-permanent Changes

You have no guarantee that your financial position will change in the foreseeable future. What if you want to make decorative changes somewhere down the line?

To make it easier on yourself in the long term, consider apartment decorating ideas that don’t require permanent changes. Many effective decorating techniques are affordable and easy to adjust when trends change, or a new roommate prefers a different approach. For example:

  • Instead of a new couch, cover the existing one with a throw and some scatter cushions. You can simply purchase new ones in a different color or theme when you’re in the mood for change. 
  • Don’t rip out flooring just because it’s outdated. A stylish rug can make a huge difference and when you decorate the apartment again, you simply replace it with a different one. 


Let Financial Limits Boost Your Creativity

So, you’re strapped for cash. 

Not a problem if you start browsing second hand stores, flea markets or online marketplaces. Somewhere, someone is selling a used item you’ll love, and it will be much cheaper than buying new. 

In some cases, you may need to customize your purchase, such as adding a layer of paint to furniture so it will match, since you’re not ordering the exact color you’re after. Or, perhaps it will pay off learning a new skill like upholstering. If it works out cheaper to renovate old chairs than buying new AND you can make them look exactly the way your vision board prescribes, it’s worth the little more time and effort. 

Bonus: by upcycling these items, you’re implementing apartment decorating ideas that support sustainability.


Bargains Only Matter if You Need it

Now, don’t think that each pretty second-hand item you find is the ideal buy! First ask ‘Do I even need it?’.

This is where a priority list like the one mentioned earlier comes in handy. If it’s not on the list, don’t buy it, even if the price is low. When there’s money left over after you’ve kitted out all rooms with the necessary, then you can pick out something ‘extra’.


Create an Accent Wall

Of course, we’re not saying you should ONLY focus on functionality. But how do you create beauty if you don’t have a lot to work with?

Accent walls have multiple benefits:

  • You don’t need a lot of paint.
  • For renters, if you move out one day it won’t require as much painting to leave the apartment as you found it. 


You Can Hide a Lot Under Rugs

Need to quickly update a room? Try a rug. 

Whether it’s upgrading a room’s outdated carpeting, ugly tiles or out-of-style laminated flooring, rugs are easy and affordable temporary solutions. It’s even an effective strategy to hide stains and other markings that previous occupants left behind while you save up money for renovations.

Rugs also help you bring order to rooms that serve multiple purposes. A large rug under the dining room table and another nearby to show where the living room area is, will help define spaces, anchor your room and make it seem more organized. 

The perfect example of functionality AND aesthetics!


Mirrors and Light—Always Good Investments

If you do want to add something pretty to a room, it’s a good investment to buy a mirror. It has functionality and the shiny surface always looks gorgeous. In addition, you have a way of reflecting light around the room, making small apartments seem roomier. 

Investing in other items that will lighten up rooms will also be smart buys. With more light the room will have a more cheerful feel. It can result in more positive moods AND you’re making the area look bigger. Consider the following:

  • More transparent lampshades that allow for more light to reach the room. 
  • Glass décor to reflect light throughout the space.
  • Overhead lighting or a desk lamp to turn an unused corner into a home office for remote workers


Small Renovations—Big Change

For newbies to DIY decorating, it’s often daunting getting started. Need some motivation? These small changes will have a huge impact and show you it’s worth it to keep going:

  • Add a stick-on backsplash in the kitchen. 
  • Swap out light fittings and hardware, such as door handles, for something more modern.
  • Add a plant or two and see the power of color and nature to transform the ambience of a room.


How to Make Apartment Decorating Ideas Become Reality

Working on a budget to implement your apartment decorating ideas probably means you’re doing a lot of the work yourself. Here are some project management tips to ensure you reach the goal created on your original vision board: 

  • Create and stick to a budget: Create a budget, remember to work in a small buffer and don’t buy beyond what’s on your list. Renovations shouldn’t ruin you financially. 
  • Get a team together: Get your family’s or roommates’ buy-in on the plan so they’re motivated to see change. Also confirm their commitment to help.
  • Assign work: Others may not be as impatient as you are to see change. Delegate work even to the kids, to keep the transformation going. 
  • Spread it out: Prevent feeling overwhelmed by creating a realistic plan of how you can achieve your decorating goals in your spare time. 
  • Do jobs in the correct order: Consider how tasks will affect each other. Rather paint first before laying new flooring and pick out furniture colors after installing lights, so you know how the light will showcase the fabric hues you picked out. 


Your Dream Apartment CAN be a Reality

Start putting together that vision board and bring your apartment decorating ideas to life!

Enzo can be your key to keeping your team—family, friends or roommates—up to date on which decorating task comes next. Combine technology and expert design tips, and you’ll have the apartment you’re hoping for.