It’s hard to believe that I’ve been moved out of my parents’ house for over a year and a half. Needless to say, one of the things I was most excited about was the opportunity to decorate my first apartment from scratch (although I was not psyched about all the money I’d undoubtedly spend in the process). However, I found ways to make my apartment my own without breaking the bank.

Although furniture is essential, my number one priority was decor. Although I’d love to fill my apartment with all things Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie, if I did that I’d no longer be able to afford food. That being said, I do occasionally splurge on decor, but for the most part I try to be thoughtful in my spending.

Here are 3 ways I decked out my first apartment on a budget:

Tapestry on the Wall

In college, I bought a $25 tapestry at Urban Outfitters for our common room wall – it definitely helped jazz up the bleak cinderblock walls in our suite. A tapestry served the same purpose in my apartment. Because there was a lot of white space to fill, a tapestry was a cheap and easy way to quickly add some color and character to the room.

I also put white Christmas lights around the entire perimeter of the ceiling, which made the room really cozy and feel like home. I framed the tapestry with lights too (you can get $15 white string lights from Target) to tie the whole room together and give it a warm, soft glow. It made the perfect atmosphere for lounging and watching Netflix.


Artificial Plants & Succulents

I love the pop of color that plants can add to a room, but unfortunately I lack a green-thumb. Beyond that, I don’t currently have the patience to care for a living creature other than myself. The alternative: an ever growing collection of artificial plants and succulents that I’ve collected from Target or HomeGoods.

My first apartment was full of mismatched artificial plants of all sizes (and, admittedly, so is my current apartment). You could argue that it’s overkill, but to me it adds life to my living space. I have almost as many fake plants as I do candles, which may be an even bigger weakness of mine. While I get the majority of my candles from HomeGoods, I’ve found most of my candle holders and vases at thrift shops and typically spend no more than $5 on them.

Speaking of thrift shops! The mirror pictured above cost $7 at a thrift shop. I hot-glued $6 crushed shell fragments from Michael’s on the frame, which was originally a super boring off-white color with a dingy yellow hue. The shells added both dimension and texture, and helped to make the mirror a unique piece that was one of the main focal points of my room.


Jewelry & Trinkets

I’ve found one of the easiest ways to decorate is to use jewelry you already have. Rather than storing it in a jewelry box as I had often done in the past, I decided to showcase it by hanging it on my walls. One of my favorite pieces in first apartment was this functional wall art from Target. It was easy to install and an aesthetically pleasing way to display my jewelry, as well as other small items like nail polish, candles, and – you guessed it – artificial plants.

In my first apartment, I also hung larger statement necklaces from small white command hooks on the wall, which was a super cheap and easy way to fill up white space with pieces I already owned.

There are many ways to make a first apartment look great without spending a ton of money. I definitely recommend checking out thrift shops and cheaper stores like HomeGoods, while keeping in mind that finishing your apartment will take time. A year and a half later in my second apartment, I’m still rearranging and adding new pieces all the time. I think my apartment will always be a work in progress, but that’s one of the things I love most about it.

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