You don't have a lot of coins to toss around, but you want your apartment to look more like a grown-up's with taste than a mish-mash of free stuff &mdash isn't that what Apartment Therapy is all about? Here are 10 make-it-classy-with-less tips.
• Only buy things that are on sale. Although you may be tempted to buy the bath towels you want from Macy's just to get it done and over with, you'll save money in the long run if you wait until they have a home sale or a holiday sale. If you are diligent, you'll begin spotting sales everywhere and resisting full-price items.
• Prioritize where you spend your money — mix high and low. We bought a bed frame from West Elm, (on sale!) and then sheets from Target (on sale!). The bed frame mattered to us because it centered the room, design-wise, and got our mattress up off of the floor, but we are borrowing our dining room table from family.
• Limit your use of fave stores. Even if you only buy from Target, IKEA and CB2, you should mix up how much you depend on one store or your home will look like a catalog. Instead of buying one bathroom set from Target, we bought the trash can and soap pump from Target, the bath mat and toothpaste jar from West Elm, a Q-tip container from The Container Store and a tray and cotton pad jar from Crate & Barrel.
• Paint, paint, paint! House Beautiful editor Elizabeth Mayhew's theory is that no matter what color you paint your wall, it will look more refined and deliberate if you paint trim and molding white. We agree. Also, if you can paint, your colors will make much more of a statement than the standard-issue apartment-beige.
• Paint picture frames all one color to unify. This is a great project to do if you are combining frames with a significant other. We had silver, gold and black frames &mdash I spray-painted them all black and hung them on a small strip of wall in our entryway. More "edited collection" and less "frame mish-mash?" I think so.
• Eliminate clutter. This rule is especially pertinent if you're combining stuff with a S.O. Edit, edit, edit and you'll have more open spaces that breathe. A special chair will make much more of a statement if it's not surrounded by piles.
• Create decorative vignettes. Intentional and organized decorating. A lot of decorators advocate for the uneven number rule, as in, put three identical vases on a windowsill, not four.
• Make a list of guidelines, such as, "I will only buy things with a subtle nautical theme," or, "all dominant colors should be neutral, with accessories in orange." That way, when you're shopping, you'll pick things out that will generally match, but not be too matchy-matchy.
• Add plants. Inexpensive indoor plants from Target or IKEA add life and interest to any room.
• Be patient. If you're surfing Craigslist for a non-IKEA-but-cheap sofa, or hunting vintage stores, wait until it's absolutely perfect for your price range and décor desire. You'll be so much happier in the long run than if you rushed it just to have your apartment finished.
Do you have more tips, readers?
(Images: House Call: Kibwe & Emily's Eclectic Combo; How To: Create a Visual Vignette; Look! Black Study Room; Lindsey Roberts)