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    13 Low-Budget Tips That Transformed My Rental Apartment Into My Dream Home

    Not pictured: Many, many hours of YouTube inspo videos.

    Last August, I moved into my first apartment without roommates. As well as the ability to walk around nude, this meant that I finally had free rein over how everything looked — within the confines of the fact that I was renting and my budget (which was mainly going on rent).

    @thehillsnewbeginnings / Via giphy.com

    So, here are my fave tips that I've picked up to make this place feel like home.

    Note: I'm using photos from my apartment here, which are meant to serve as a demonstration for each point. If you don't like it, that's cool! 

    1. Create a fun gallery wall. You can even save money by thrifting frames and getting downloadable art that you can print yourself.

    A wall with several framed photos.
    Natasha Jokic / BuzzFeed

    I created mine by getting a whole bunch of frames (and two vintage pieces of artwork) off of Craigslist. I then used the Met Museum's Open Access database to download free art and printed 'em at my local CVS. Everything is attached to the wall with Command strips, making it totally renter-friendly. 

    2. Experiment with peel-and-stick tiles and contact paper.

    Peel-and-stick tiles over a stove.
    Natasha Jokic / BuzzFeed

    I will not lie: The peel-and-stick subway tiles in my place were super easy, while applying the contact paper around my sink was a little tricky. That being said, for a pro finish, you can also caulk the edges — you can even get peel-and-stick caulk! What a world. The possibilities of contact paper are truly limitless, as I've even papered my fridge. Just make sure to check the instructions of whatever you purchase to make sure it can be applied to whatever surface you're working with.

    3. Consider getting wall decals if you can't paint.

    Wall decals over a bed.
    Natasha Jokic / BuzzFeed

    Wall decals have gotten pretty ~sophisticated~ nowadays — my old apartment had a big ol' accent arch that I was able to remove with no problems when I moved from that hell hole.

    4. Or look into wall hangings for the ultimate easy wall decor.

    A before and after picture of a bathroom with and without decor.
    Natasha Jokic / BuzzFeed

    I was originally hesitant to get a wall hanging, lest it give me flashbacks of my college room. However, I found that the peel-and-stick wallpaper I wanted was a little pricy, thus hurling me back into the world of wall hangings and tapestries. But I'm honestly perfectly happy about it! As well as being incredibly quick to put up, wall hangings can also cover up any imperfections — especially on older walls that have been painted about a million times.

    5. That being said, if you can paint a wall — consider painting a wall!

    Natasha Jokic / BuzzFeed

    My landlord has given me permission to paint whatever, so I've admittedly gone a little ham on accent walls. My local hardware store also sells sizable sample tins, so I've been able to paint an arch and a scalloped wall for around 10 bucks each.

    6. Or paint small accents based on existing details in your apartment.

    A painted doorway.
    Natasha Jokic / BuzzFeed

    I've seen a trend on TikTok where people paint the inside edge of their doors, and I cannot wait to try it.

    7. Look into creative open storage solutions, especially if your place is small.

    Natasha Jokic / BuzzFeed

    If you've ever seen an incredibly good-looking bookshelf, then you know that good storage will combine function and aesthetics. Consider both purpose-built storage solutions (toiletry organizers, records stands, etc.) and more general pieces (bins, baskets, etc.) for all the bits you have lying around. You can even go full Pinterest and put your pasta into nice jars.

    8. Change out the existing hardware for something a little more jazzy.

    A dresser of drawers from Ikea.
    Natasha Jokic / BuzzFeed

    Just make sure to save your landlord's old/boring/ugly knobs for when you move out.

    9. Use rugs to create texture and color.

    Natasha Jokic / BuzzFeed

    The general rule of thumb for rugs is to go big — but this can cost you a pretty penny. Try layering smaller rugs, or give thrifting a go — I actually got one of my rugs off of Facebook for free.

    10. Experiment with lighting, from small ambient lamps to changing out the nipple-light that landlords seem to love.

    Natasha Jokic / BuzzFeed

    I used to live in a room that had no lighting whatsoever, and I was too lazy to get a proper standing lamp. It was, quite literally, a dark time. 

    11. Add or change out your curtains, hanging them high to make your ceilings look higher.

    Before and after pic of a window with different curtains.
    Natasha Jokic / BuzzFeed

    For the most renter-friendly option, go for a tension rod — but don't underestimate the ability for a well-placed curtain rod and floor-length curtains to make your space seem bigger. Also keep in mind that curtains are super easy to DIY if you don't see any you like in your price range.

    12. Use real, faux, and dried plants to liven up the place.

    Natasha Jokic / BuzzFeed

    My fave plants are probably from an (un-pictured) bouquet that a friend sent me and then dried beautifully. Plus, I can't kill them!

    13. Finally, create a mood board for any big projects.

    A mood board on a computer.
    Natasha Jokic / BuzzFeed

    You don't have to get super technical here — my last mood board was cropped pics from my iPhone placed into PowerPoint. The aim is to experiment with what a cohesive aesthetic looks like to you. What's your color scheme? Your style? What existing items are you working with?

    What renter and budget apartment tips do you swear by? LMK in the comments!