Sure, I can hear you thinking, as you flip through beautiful spaces on Apartment Therapy, my home could look that great too, if I had beautiful hardwood floors and 14-foot ceilings. But the good news is that, even if your apartment isn't so genetically gifted, there are things you can do to fake the appearance of a better, brighter space.
The problem: Ugly wall-to-wall carpeting.
The solution: A big, cheap rug.
You'll hardly notice that icky carpet when it's covered with a big, beautiful rug. This will put the attention on the rug, and not on those funky stains. Here are 10 choices for under $300.
The problem: Low ceilings.
The solution: Some clever paint tricks.
Low ceilings are the curse of renters everywhere. Long ago, before architects figured out that making any space two feet taller makes it look about ten times better, all apartments were built with proportions that were distinctly cave-like. If this is your apartment, painting your ceiling in a high-gloss paint that's at least a shade lighter than the walls will help your ceiling seem a bit taller. Here are 10 other tricks for making your ceiling seem taller.
The problem: Not enough light.
The solution: Mirrors.
This isn't new advice, but it's good advice: mirrors are a great way to trick your eye into thinking a space is larger and brighter than it is. Here are 5 ways to use mirrors to brighten up a space.
And if that doesn't work, try: Thoughtful window treatments.
Window treatments are always a good thing to have, but many people make the mistake of swallowing windows and trapping light with ponderous, too-small window treatments. If your windows are on the small side, you can fake the appearance of larger windows by hanging curtains all the way at the ceiling, instead of right at the top of the window, and by moving the curtains away from the side of the window so they're not blocking any light (and so they give the window the appearance of being larger).
The problem: A nasty, cringe-worthy bathroom that's seen better days.
The solution: Renew that gross old grout.
Tile is quite durable, but grout, not so much. Many, many old apartment bathrooms have tile that's in fine conditions, and grout that's seen better days. Regrouting can be cheaper than you think, and can make a huge difference in the look of your bathroom. Check to see if your landlord is willing to to go halvsies with you or shoulder the cost. Alternatively, you could do the job yourself, or try out one of those nifty grout pens.
What's your best advice for turning a not-so-great apartment into a dream home?