Congratulations on your new apartment...now all you have to do is decorate it without spending more than the rent. Decorating on a budget requires some extra time as you search for free or inexpensive pieces for the new home. You can try steps such as painting furniture and re-purposing accessories to achieve a fashionable look for less.
Copy Chic Rooms
Study images of rooms in current magazines to find an appealing style. Stay on the lookout for furniture and accessories to mimic the look. Most people find a room more appealing if it lacks clutter but contains good lighting and a dramatic focal point. Limit the number of knick-knacks, and choose just one or two large pieces of art. Accessories in dramatic colors can be found at low prices and they should suit the neutral or white walls found in most apartments.
You can still get the look you want even if your budget requires an apartment full of second-hand furniture. Paint and fabric work wonders, so paint the hand-me downs a glossy black or white, and reupholster them in textured natural fabric. Review the garbage pick-up schedule in your area for large-item removal dates. Your new neighbors may have no use for chairs, tables, shelves or other items that will suit your apartment and your budget.
Rugs, Accessories and Lamps
Chic is in the eye of the beholder, but you may surprise yourself with what you can do with over-sized rugs, accessories and lamps. Check local classifieds for free items in your neighborhood, and visit thrift stores, yard sales and websites for local second-hand items. Stick with simple black, white or pottery-style lamps and just one or two accessories in a vibrant accent color. The rug also doesn't need to be fancy as long as it includes the color of the accessories.
Make Your Art
Don't despair if you can't buy fashionable art for your apartment. A scanner, color printer, variety of flat leaves from nearby trees or shrubs, and three inexpensive black frames are all you need to make a simple but elegant collection of botanical prints. Alternatively, use one large frame to showcase a large-print wallpaper or wrapping paper scrap. Drape a fabric remnant over a hardware-store dowel rod for an inexpensive yet stylish wall-hanging.