57 Brilliant Apartment Decorating Ideas for Anyone on a Budget

updated Jan 22, 2024
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A living room with a gray couch, large houseplant and gilded mirror.

You might have the best design ideas in the world, but choosing the perfect decor can be difficult when you’re restrained by your budget. Luckily, you don’t need to spend a fortune on furniture, rugs, artwork, and more to make your space look incredible. To help you visualize, we rounded up these brilliant apartment decorating ideas for anyone on a budget. These easy, inexpensive, and foolproof design tricks will instantly elevate your home.

Ready to change the way you decorate? Then check out these incredible ideas to transform every room of your home on the cheap.

Living Room

1. Go big with color.

It can be scary to commit to multiple vibrant colors, but as long as they flow well together, vivid hues can make your home pop. The blue, green, orange, and purple details in this maximalist Chicago apartment add layers of eye-catching details certain to perpetually capture the attention of visitors.

Credit: Lula Poggi

2. Add some striping details.

Vertical stripes direct our eyes up, making a space seem taller and more spacious. This stylish Spanish home’s owners enhanced their couch’s striped appearance by pairing it with a candelabra fitted with candles of the same orange seen on the sofa.

3. Storage that makes a statement.

Bookshelves don’t just have to hold books. They are also great for showing off your knicknacks, artwork, houseplants, and more. But why settle for a boring bookcase to display your goodies when you can make the storage unit stand out? To see how much a bookshelf can improve the look of your home, check out the pink floor-to-ceiling bookcase wall of this tiny D.C. apartment.

Credit: Lauren Kolyn

4. Include some greenery.

Plants are one of the easiest and least expensive home decor ideas, simply because they have the ability to elevate just about any space. We love the touch of color these houseplants offer in this Toronto apartment.

5. Art matters.

A large-scale print or painting, like the colorful abstract style we spotted in Rena Thiagarajan’s San Francisco apartment, transforms a living room wall into an artful display in seconds.

6. Make a statement [wall].

Turn an empty wall into the focal point of your living room by painting it in a bold hue or applying some patterned wallpaper similar to this mural we saw inside Mila Moraga-Holz’s colorful Los Angeles home.

Credit: Viv Yapp

7. Mount some floating shelves.

Install a floating shelf (or three) on a sliver of your living room wall to score some vertical storage space, just like we saw in this stylish London flat.

8. Lean in.

A leaning ladder-style bookshelf, like the one from Wayfair we spotted in Josh Young and Ignacio Martinez’s Chicago living room, offers plenty of extra storage opportunity without taking up too much floor space.

9. Create a DIY-style display.

Hang up some of your favorite photos in clean, straight lines to turn a narrow wall into a custom art display, just like we saw in Jamie Lyn’s eclectic Los Angeles rental.

Credit: Lauren Kolyn

10. Bring in a bar cart.

A well-placed bar cart, like the acrylic one we saw in Sarah Ashley Schiear’s Brooklyn apartment, turns a cramped living room corner into a surprisingly functional space.

11. Color-code your books.

Organize your book collection by color and let your bookcase double as the centerpiece of a subdued living room, just like we saw in Cupcakes and Cashmere founder Emily Schuman’s sunny Los Angeles home.

12. Make some magic with a mirror.

A statement mirror, like the oversized one we spotted in this gorgeous Boston carriage house, is a quick and easy way to bring some drama into your living room without overspending.

13. Use your rug for color inspo.

Let a multicolored area rug serve as the starting point for your living room color palette, just like we saw in Ainsley Gardner and Brandon Stewart’s New York City apartment.

Credit: Kim Lucian

14. Pile up.

No budget or room for a bulky bookcase? No problem. Take a cue from Anna Korkobcova’s San Francisco apartment and simply make piles of your books on the floor for an unexpectedly hip arrangement.


Credit: Lula Poggi

15. Add cool seating.

A neat chair is a great way to add both visual interest and functionality to your bedroom space, and this cool armchair spotted in a Barcelona apartment is no exception. Toss a throw pillow in it for a splash of color – and comfort.

Credit: Rikki Synder

16. Lose your headboard.

An eye-catching work of art or wall hanging, like the geometric-style stunner we spotted in Megan Pflug’s woodsy Greenville, New York, home, is a clever way to create the illusion of a headboard (without actually having to buy one).

17. Float on.

A strategically-placed floating shelf turns a slanted wall into a storage-savvy space, just like we saw in the attic bedroom of Justin and Meg’s Toronto rental.

18. Darken up the space.

Consider painting your bedroom in a dark but sophisticated hue, like the shade of black Catherine Ashton used in her London, England, home, for a dramatic look that won’t overpower the rest of your decor.

19. Play with textiles.

Mix and match an assortment of materials and textiles, such as the fringe wall hanging and woven bedding in Ashley Hosmer’s Los Angeles bedroom, to create a layered look in an earth-toned room.

20. Lean a mirror.

Looking for a renter-friendly way to open up a small bedroom? Follow in Kate and Jennifer Hawkrigg’s footsteps and lean an oversized mirror against the wall to create the illusion of more space—no hammer or nails necessary!

Credit: Kristan Lieb

21. Add some color.

If you can’t actually paint your bedroom, incorporate some colorful decor items, such as the orange plant stand and bright blue media console we spotted in Anna Rafferty’s Chicago home, to jazz up the underwhelming walls.

Credit: Dawn Photo

22. Get graphic.

Bold geometric shapes and lines, like the black-and-white rug and artwork inside Amanda J Franz’s bedroom in Portland, Oregon, can make a big impact in a neutral space.

A room with a wooden headboard, wooden night stand and wooden picture frames.

23. Put a plant on it.

A well-placed houseplant, like the one we spotted in Andy Barlow’s Portland, Oregon, home, brings a pop of color and personality to a nightstand, while purifying the air in your bedroom.

24. Style your nightstand.

A thoughtfully arranged nightstand setup can make a stylish statement in a pared down space, just like we saw in this Los Angeles bedroom.

Credit: Emma Fiala

25. Play up imperfections.

Embrace an awkwardly-shaped bedroom wall by covering it in some playfully patterned wallpaper or an eye-catching paint job, just like Alison and Jeff Allen did inside their Minneapolis, Minnesota, home.


26. Hang a chalkboard.

A chalkboard in the kitchen is one of our favorite home decor ideas on the cheap since you can make it functional, funny, chic, or anything. Keep your grocery lists, add some daily inspo that you’ll see while sipping your morning coffee, or write notes for loved ones for a simple way to connect on the fly. We love the one found in this Seattle kitchen.

27. Get creative with tea towels.

A distinctive tea towel, like the tie-dyed one hanging from Jessica Cook and Ryan Taylor’s Ipswich, Massachusetts, stove, brightens up an earth-toned kitchen (and is super inexpensive and easy to make on your own!)

Credit: Julia Steele

28. Hang up art.

If you thought your kitchen wasn’t a good place to put art, think again. Hang an interesting print or painting up, like the colorful abstract artwork we spotted above the stove in Hannah and Marc’s Nashville home, to elevate your entire kitchen in minutes.

Credit: Liz Calka

29. Paint your cabinets.

Cover your ugly old kitchen cabinet fronts with a fresh coat of paint, like the rich green hue we spotted in Emily Yeskel Rubin’s Bethesda, Maryland, home, and it’ll look like you remodeled your whole kitchen (for just a fraction of the cost).

Credit: Sandra Rojo

30. Bring in some plant power.

Who knew a couple of houseplants brighten up a dull kitchen corner? This set up pairs herbs with a snake plant to make quite the statement.

31. Forge some vertical storage.

A tiny kitchen is no match for some well-placed wall storage. Score your own vertical storage scheme by mounting a few floating shelves around your stove, just like we saw in Elissa Hall’s Portland, Oregon, kitchen.

Credit: Bethany Nauert

32. Paint the ceiling.

Also known as the “fifth wall,” your ceiling can transform into the focal point of your kitchen with one colorful coat of paint, just like the blue one we saw in Carrie Hayward’s Los Angeles abode.

33. Find a flashy rug.

An eye-catching accent rug brings some much-needed color—and character—into a neutral kitchen, just like the Southwestern-inspired one we spotted in this Memphis kitchen

34. Create contrast.

A dark-painted wall adds depth and dimension to an all-white kitchen, just like we saw in this dramatic Brooklyn townhouse.

35. Get a storage cart.

An inexpensive storage cart, like the one we spotted in Cai Haun and Britt Maton’s San Francisco rental, turns a cramped kitchen corner into storage-savvy nook in seconds.

Credit: Evi Ritter

36. Try a hanging rail.

Searching for a cheap and easy way to carve out more storage space in your kitchen? Hanging rail systems mount seamlessly to your wall to help free up countertop space—and organize all sorts of other spaces — just like we saw inside Evi Ritter’s Scandi-style house in Västervik, Sweden.

Dining Room

Credit: Janet Kwan

Your dining room doesn’t have to be boring just because you’re on a budget. For dining room decor on the cheap, simply grab some eclectic items and hang them on the wall gallery style. We love the wicker collection in this Toronto home, but you could use just about anything, from framed photos to mirrors or even postcards. 

38. Find some stools.

A petite pair of stools turns a tea table into a dining nook in no time, just like we saw in Savannah Farris-Gilbert’s Los Angeles home.

39. Add some color.

Colorful dining chairs, like the pale blue ones we spotted in Diana Marsh’s Michigan abode, bring a pop of personality to an earth-toned dining table.

Credit: Ana Kamin

40. Put a throw on it.

Take a cue from Ana and Patrick Kamin’s San Francisco home and throw a furry textile, like this $13 faux sheepskin rug from Amazon, on the back of a dining chair to instantly elevate your dining space on the cheap.

41. Mix and match materials.

An eclectic mix of materials and furnishings, such as the rattan chair, glass-top table, and beaded light fixture in interior designer Tanya List’s Canadian home, creates a luxe, layered look for your dining room without breaking your bank account.

42. Make a well-lit statement.

A stunning light fixture, like the sputnik-style chandelier we spotted in Melissa Miranda and Ulises Serret’s home in Boston, adds a touch of drama and grandeur to a subdued dining space.

43. Add artwork.

Follow in Meghan and Jesse Arlen’s footsteps and hang up some eye-catching wall art to help define the dining zone inside an eat-in kitchen.

Credit: Lauren Kolyn

44. Shape up.

The clean lines of curvy furnishings do the talking in a monochromatic dining area, just like we saw in Signy Roland’s Toronto condo.

Credit: Lauren Kolyn

45. Paint the walls.

Transform a cramped corner into a dramatic dining nook by painting the walls in a vibrant hue, just like Sydney Krause and Fabrice Bouty did inside their Montreal apartment.

46. Go green.

An interesting plant display, like the hanging heartleaf plant and succulent setup we spotted in Summer Rayne Oakes’ Brooklyn apartment, livens up a neutral dining nook with all-natural elements.

47. Throw down.

A patterned area rug, like the rainbow-colored one inside Rachel Kaplan’s Oakland apartment, helps carve out a distinct dining area in an open layout space.


48. Add a unique DIY piece.

If there’s room in your bathroom, it’s the perfect place for a small DIY cabinet. And what better way to hone your renovation skills than to display your piece and add a bit of functionality to your bathroom.

49. Upgrade your showerhead.

Switch out your humdrum showerhead with a newer fixture, like the modern style we spotted in Sara Blake’s New York City apartment, to upgrade your entire bathroom in seconds.

Credit: Monica Wang

Whoever said gallery walls couldn’t be functional has obviously never seen Sweatson Klank’s Hollywood, California home. Klank forged a salon-style display, complete with art and two tiers of wall-mounted shelving, on an empty bathroom wall for a stylish and storage-savvy display.

51. Apply some wallpaper.

A little patterned wallpaper can go a long way in a tiny bathroom. Take a cue from Rachael and Rob Wetherington’s Philadelphia home and employ some printed wallpaper to make a big impact in a super small bathroom.

Credit: Brit Arnesen

52. Go deep.

Dark painted walls, like the charcoal-colored ones we spotted in Brit Arnesen’s Kokomo, Indiana, house, are an easy way to bring some unexpected drama into a small bathroom.

53. Have a seat.

A dainty side chair doubles as a chic surface for storage when thoughtfully placed in a bathroom, just like we saw in Brittany Shields’ Atlanta, Georgia, home.

54. Color-block.

Who knew you could use your bath towels to create a colorful bathroom display? Clearly Joy Lofton, who used a couple of brightly hued towels to score a mod color-block-inspired scene in her Los Angeles bathroom.

55. Switch out your mirror.

Searching for a quick and ultra sleek way to upgrade your bathroom on the fly? Switch out your sink mirror with one that better represents your own unique decor style to create a whole new vibe for your bathroom, just like we saw in Jesse David and Cali Green’s Traverse City, Michigan, abode.

Credit: Julia Steele

56. Throw down a nice rug.

Why use a boring old bathmat when you can have a gorgeous rug in your bathroom instead? An eye-catching accent rug, like the vintage Persian-style one we saw in Jordan and Ryan’s bungalow in Nashville, Tennessee, will elevate your bathroom decor in no time.

Credit: Liz Calka

57. Get playful.

Incorporate some fun (but storage-savvy) accessories, like the dinosaur toy-turned-toilet-paper holder we spotted in Grace’s Washington, D.C. studio, to bring some whimsy into your bathroom.