Online shopping puts a world of decor options at your fingertips, but that doesn’t mean decorating your apartment isn’t still a challenge. How do you spruce up your living space without breaking the bank? Ultimately, the adage “quality over quantity” is a decorating best practice, no matter what size space you make your home. But when you’re living in a studio or renting out a room in a house, it’s even more important that you pick decor that will perform double-duty! Here are the items we think are indispensable to making a space look bigger, brighter, and more interesting — all without costing your entire paycheck.
1. Light It Up
While LED lights are a pretty standard way to brighten up a space, you can use them in new and creative ways to add a warm glow to your apartment. For example, you can string LED lights on the wall in a long zigzag style pattern and use small clothespins to hang your favorite photos. You don’t have to decorate the entire wall for the effect to come through! This lighting setup adds to your apartment’s ambiance and arranges your pictures in an exciting and beautiful way.
Plants can add color, life, and beauty to any indoor space. You don’t have to go for large potted leafy plants — instead, opt for a living herb wall, which serves both an aesthetic and functional purpose. Not only is a self-watering living wall is low-maintenance, but you can combine sets to grow as many herbs as you wish.
Though you may want to make your space pop with vibrant colors, consider switching out some of your standout decor pieces with items that are translucent or transparent. This decor brings light into your space and keeps it from looking cluttered. A crystal ball sitting on your desk reflects light, adds texture and shine, and can work as a paperweight when you want it to.
4. Go Vertical
Optimize your wall space and decorate it in a way that doubles as storage. Wall suckers are bars that stick to your wall with suction, so no installation is required. They come with hooks so you can store and hang any items you have that are a pleasure to look at. All the items that you had lying haphazardly on the counter or dresser — such as jewelry, kitchen utensils, decorative towels, or interesting hats and scarves — can now be organized in a way that frees up significant amounts of space! You can also add some small, hanging decorative items to bring in warmth and charm. Wall Suckers can be hung in corners or on a straight wall, and come in a variety of sizes.
Removable wallpaper can create an immediate visual impact in your space. It’s a versatile apartment decorating idea that can be removed easily when it’s time for you to move to a different space. The options are pretty much limitless. Create a faux pallet or brick wall that pairs well with your living room’s color scheme. Or make a single wall in your bathroom more interesting by applying a bright color, pattern, or texture.
If you’re working with an especially tight budget, you can always use some of your decorating budget to purchase attractive items that increase in value over time. Display coin collections, comic books, valuable paper currency, antique books, or even rare beer bottle caps in creative ways. Antique items and sports memorabilia will add interest to your walls or shelves. If you’re new to collecting, do your homework and find investment pieces that are right for you.
7. Get Glowing
There is no space that wouldn’t benefit from brightness and glow. A glowing toilet bowl, strange as it may sound, will surprise and impress your guests when they excuse themselves to the restroom. It will also warm and illuminate your bathroom at night.
Adding a glow to your toilet bowl is a decor hack that doesn’t use additional space. Toilet LED lights are available in a variety of colors and are easy to install, so no need to worry about spending extra money on installation.
Does your apartment feel smaller because of low ceilings? Use optical illusions to make your ceiling look higher. Achieve this by choosing tall furniture pieces or other items that draw the eye up.
Floor-to-ceiling curtains will make your ceiling appear higher, and add drama and beauty to your space. Tall-back chairs, slender bookcases, and vertically displayed wall art will have the same effect. You can even use paint to create a subliminal optical illusion.
Make your home feel larger and unify your space by painting your walls and ceiling the same light color, or paint stripes on one wall to add dimension and encourage a guest’s eye to move toward it.
Tap into your creative side when you put these hacks to work. When you’re considering how to decorate your apartment, use a single color palette to create the illusion of space. Then add in pops of color to create interest. Mirrors add light and depth, and also create the illusion of a larger space.
Prices are accurate and items in stock as of time of publication.
Janet Ashforth is a small-spaces design and building expert. She previously owned her own company building custom tiny homes and helped her clients create beautiful, functional small spaces. She lives in a 300-square-foot dwelling and writes about building, design, and decorating.