Friday Five: Cheap and Easy Apartment Upgrades

The dilemma: You want your apartment to be a kick ass extension of yourself but you don’t want to dole out the dough on a pad that technically belongs to someone else.

The solution: Put these tips to use and be well on your way to cheap apartment chic.



Photo Credit: amiefedora via Compfight cc

The best way to add personality to your place in a hurry is to paint. Paint the walls, paint the doors, paint the floor– whatever strikes your fancy that won’t get you thrown out. This cheap fix can have your apartment gleaming at only $30ish bucks a can with endless color possibilities, but the catch is that it can be very labor intensive. So call some friends, order a pizza, and make a party out of it for the least-stressful (and fastest!) results.



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Stop, wait, I know what you’re going to say… furniture is NOT cheap. Here’s where we 99 percenters need to get thrifty. See what your grandparents have in their basement and check craigslist for solid furniture that’s usually better than what they’re selling in stores.

One thing we have going for us… people must always have new things, which gives us no shortage of old pieces to choose from to furnish our modest apartments. Be sure to invest the effort in searching for items that fit your taste and personality. The right pieces will have your place feeling like your very own, and the best part– you can take them with you when you leave!

Starting from scratch? Lookout for my “How to Furnish Your Apartment for $300” post coming soon.



Photo Credit: Martin Cathrae via Compfight cc

I think hardware is often overlooked as a way to make your mark on an apartment. The give here is that most hardware you can’t take with you, so you’ll be investing in this particular pad but it’s definitely worth it–especially if you plan on staying put for awhile (and it’s a great way to earn points with your landlord, which can come in handy!). The take is a clean, updated feel to your place courtesy of your own creative ambition.

When I first moved into my apartment I swapped out the white plastic bathroom accessories (shower curtain rod, toilet brush, mirror, shower head, etc.) for stainless steel options I found on amazon for a total of less than $75. I recently revamped my dingy, knobless kitchen cabinets with glossy white paint and added new brushed bronze hinges and handles, a project that took two days but cost less than $20 (plus my trusty $30 can of paint).

The same can be done with doorknobs, furniture items, and anything else with hardware attached, so get creative! Love your new finds too much to leave them behind? In some cases you can simply reinstall the originals when you leave so be sure to hang on to them!


Sometimes I feel like TJ Maxx is my true best friend. It’s there when I’m down, excited, bored. It knows my weakness for throw pillows and candles, and it always inspires me.

Anyway, accessories are the fastest and most versatile way to change the entire feeling of a place, so retail love affair or not, I suggest you pick up a few things to make your apartment rock with little cash or labor commitment.

If I had to limit myself to 3 items for the biggest bang for your shop I’d go with an area rug, curtains, and a lamp. Area rugs add color, pattern, warmth, and can define a particular area. Curtains soften a wall and make a place feel cozier (not to mention the convenience of being able to sleep past dawn!), and a lamp provides instant ambiance while serving as an attractive ornament even when not in use.

These items can be found at reasonable prices at the right stores, but be sure to check out thrifty options as well for optimal cheap chic. Other favorite accessories of mine are mirrors, art, personal photos, plants, sporting equipment, and of course throw pillows and candles!


Photo Credit: ohsarahrose via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: ohsarahrose via Compfight cc

The coolest thing about temporary living is that each new place has its own character and quirks. Lacking storage? Turn your personal effects into a decorative display using bookshelves. Embrace awkwardly shaped rooms by highlighting the weird angles instead of hiding them. Turn that awkwardly placed  closet-like area into an office or reading nook. Don’t see oddities as limitations, see them as potential that is exclusive to your place!

What makes your place feel like home?
Feature Photo Credit: Ruth L via Compfight cc

4 thoughts on “Friday Five: Cheap and Easy Apartment Upgrades

  1. This is good advice for people starting out and for those who own their home and want to refresh without breaking the bank. You reminded me that its high time I approached my basement with a paint brush in hand. Thanks for the tips.

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