Decorating an apartment can be a real challenge – but decorating an apartment on a budget can be overwhelming.  Not only are you dealing with limited space, but in many rental apartments, the landlord doesn’t allow holes in the wall for artwork and they don’t want the walls painted, so you may be stuck with plain white walls, or are you? 

Even if your budget and lease are cramping your style, there are budget decorating ideas for apartments that can fit within lease and wallet restrictions!

What Can you Do?

Figure out exactly what you can and can’t do to the apartment.  It’s usually spelled out in the lease, if not, talk with your landlord.  Many times they don’t mind you painting, but may ask for it to be a neutral color or ask that you repaint before you move.

Also check about holes in the wall for hanging pictures.  If the walls are white, it shouldn’t be a problem, all you need to do when you’re ready to move is purchase some spackle to fill the holes – you can buy a little patch kit with a scraper for under $5 at any hardware store.  There are also hangers that can stick to walls without harming paint, but be forewarned – they don’t hold much weight.

Decorate the Apartment, Not the Room

For smaller spaces, decorate the apartment, not the room.  When decorating an apartment, you need to decorate the entire apartment around a theme, style or color, rather than room-by-room.    Try splashes of one bright, bold color in each room – turquoise is a hot spring look - use the color in a lamp in one room, a throw pillow in another, it can add flow to the apartment and tie the look together.

One of our readers shared a wonderful apartment decorating tip. He bought one of the Herzliya beach rentals. It was a small two-bedroom apartment on three levels facing the Mediterranean Sea. The focus here was to accentuate the sea and coastal views. He painted the walls a simple clean white and made sure not to add clutter to the small space. When choosing a second accent color, he felt it had to be sea blue. The throw pillows, the bedding and even the coffee mugs are a lovely turquoise, in perfect synch with the beach outside.

Removable wall decals are also a great way to add color and interest to plain walls. The removable designs look like murals or wallpaper, but since they are easy to apply and peel off, they're great for apartment-dwellers - and the indecisive.  Pick a theme or color to run through the entire apartment.

Watch the clutter and don’t over-accessorize – what may work in a large, formal home tends to make the room look messy in a smaller space.  When picking accessories for your apartment, less is usually better.

Use Area Rugs

Use area rugs to not only hide ugly flooring, but provide splashes of color.  Even the kitchen can be brightened up with throw rugs.  You can use an area rug over carpet – it’s not only a good look to brighten neutral carpet, but can also protect it from dirt and stains - and if you have a neighbor downstairs, they'll appreciate it as well!

Mirror, mirror on the wall – how do I decorate my ugly hall? 

Most apartments have a dim hallway leading from the living areas to the bedroom.  Try an accent table with a lamp and one or two other accessories with a mirror over it to make the hallway look bigger and brighter.  It can also extend the living space into the hallway, giving the illusion of a larger living room.

With a little creativity, you can solve any decorating challenge in an apartment, even if that challenge is your budget!